I was not always the Apple fanatic that I am today. A couple of years ago, I was dead against buying Macs because I thought they were pricey machines that do not offer anything special to justify their price. I still think they are expensive, but I understand the competition just can not parallel the experience that comes along with a Mac. Still, let the record show that I currently own a PC and any problems I have with Windows 7 are minimal.
However, I have always loved my iPhone. My first was a 3G — the 2008 model. Then last year I upgraded to the iPhone 4 after my two-year contract with AT&T expired. I honestly do not consider myself biased toward Apple. There is a difference between being biased and being loyal to a product. If another company makes a better phone than the iPhone, I would happily push Apple aside and use that phone. But no one is making anything better.
A lot of people think Google has successfully created a better smart phone product with Android. I have spent some time with Android, though not a lot. I used phones like the Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid Incredible for maybe an hour each and formed an opinion. I never spent an extended period of time with an Android up until last week. I received my Kyocera Echo review unit in the mail and recently posted my full opinion on the device to Skatter Tech. It is not exactly a reputable phone.
But despite the gripes I have with the Echo, I did get to experience Android for an extended period of time. I understand that the hardware can dramatically affect the software, but that is not what I want to comment on. Is Android better than iOS? That is the simple question I found out for myself.
First, let me talk about what I did enjoy in Android that I wish Apple would implement in iOS. I really like the widgets. In my experience, they are a useful way to check small bits of information without having to launch an app and close it again. Society today is constantly on the go and we need our smart phones to support that. Android has widgets, Windows Phone 7 has live tiles, and Apple just has a sea of icons that require activation.
Now about the whole Flash thing. A lot of people complain about the lack of Adobe love on iOS, but I never really had a problem with it because I rarely visit websites that require the plugin. On Android, is it buggy? In a nutshell, yes. I would not go as far as to say Flash cripples the experience, but it absolutely has its flaws. I always thought Apple should at least give users the option on iOS. Even if they turn off Flash by default because they feel it degrades the browser, a switch in the settings to turn it on could do no harm. If the user agrees with Apple, then by all means turn it off again.
There are other small things worth noting like the great notification system, but since Apple is improving that in iOS 5, it is no longer an advantage to Android.
Time for what I do not like about Android — the part everyone anxiously awaits. Some people do not care about this, but there is absolutely no polish or attention to detail. The subtle animations in iOS and the consistency of the UI just make my iPhone a pleasure to use. There is nothing to figure out. It just works.
I have yet to encounter a single Android smart phone that has a touchscreen as smooth and accurate as the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. It has been years since the iPhone came out, and why manufacturers can not perfect touch technology beats me. Switching over to the Echo was almost frustrating in this regard.
With over 200,000 apps, everyone is going to find something in the Android Market to pique their interest. The problem is that most of the apps are just not good. Thanks to the approval process in the iOS app store, developers must maintain a high standard of quality, and they do. On Android, if an app consistently crashes or does not work correctly, it becomes the user’s problem instead of the developer’s problem. And if it means anything, the apps are ugly too.
Finally, some may just dislike the iPhone for hardware reasons. The latest Android phones have dual-core processors at blazing speeds, while the iPhone is single-core and experts believe the speed is slightly less than 1 GHz. This is true, but Android is such a resource hog that the less powerful iPhone is still comparable in speed.
So, now that I had a more in-depth experience with Android, does it defeat the iPhone once and for all? No. I am still a loyal Apple fanboy and I am sticking with my iPhone. Of course there are more small details I left out — good and bad — but these are my main findings. I do have a bit more respect for Android, however. It gets a lot of bad press when I consider it a fairly worthy competitor. If the operating system evolves and proves better than the iPhone, as I said, I will make the switch. Currently, my iPhone provides a great experience that Android has not yet matched.