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May 29 2014

iPhone or Android?

android-vs-iphone

android-vs-iphone

If we pull all the questions ever asked till date, about phones, since EPOCH in a single room and play them at the same time. The loudest of the chorus would be: iPhone or Android? Mobile owners, geeky or otherwise, have asked this question multiple times.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”30%”]iPhone is a hardware, a product that you can hold and feel through your 5 senses where as Android is an operating system, a software that you can experience with your 6th sense, if possible![/pullquote] Well, for me this question is the most stupidest of all I have ever heard! “iPhone or Android” is like “Dell Laptops or Linux” or for the non-geeks “Apples & Oranges.” They ain’t the same. So, the actual question should have been: ‘iOS or Android‘ or to be easier on non-geeks, “iPhone or Android-based Samsung phones.” Yes, there is a generalization here that android phones are Samsung phones. Because, for all practical purposes, the actual question in head is “Should I spend money on an Apple phone or a Samsung phone?” Who is bothered about HTCs, LGs and Motorolas in the market? Even the patent wars are only between these guys!

Anyways, to return the question, how does one decide? There are plenty of parameters to be considered than just loyalty or fan-club or status. Some very valid useful day-to-day parameters. Some technical. Some not. I listed the things I considered while I picked my phone.

Hardware Durability

broken-smartphone

broken-smartphone

First and foremost in my list is the hardware durability. Note, I am gonna be spending 1/2 a month’s salary on a minor aspect of my life: phone to connect to people. So, I want my phone to last as long as it is possible. I don’t wanna pick up a phone for Rs. 20,000/- to be replaced in 18 months! That is expensive! That is twice my mobile bill per month, i.e., twice the money I spend on talking is spent on the medium to talk!!! Just go over the internet to check for the durability of each of the phones you have considered. Since typically we consider only Apple phones and Samsung phones, here some of the links I came across in the 1st page of google search:

The gist here is that do check the durability first. Don’t worry about if iPhone will give you more jealous stares than Samsung or if Samsung has a 5″ screen! Durability is extremely important esp in the over-priced Indian mobile market.

Hardware Capability

Now this is the next big thingy. Obvious next, wasn’t it? This section is _not_ about the hardware features but the capability. Yes, two totally different things! 🙂 The questions are in these lines, is your hardware capable of:

  • handling many things at the same time? In other words, if you open your FB app and Twitter app as well as wanna upload a picture on Instagram can you mobile hardware handle this? Is it fast enough or will it crash?
  • running the latest version of the operating system?
android-memory-usage

android-memory-usage

Actually, this question is more relevant to those who are picking up Rs. 7,000/- android based phones because they are android!! Don’t! You will feel miserable even before you have uploaded your first selfie on all social media! Imagine a phone with 256MB RAM but 16G extendable card slot! The card-slot can be just like an USB for computer, just a storage and means nothing more than that. So check your hardware capability. Don’t get deluded by the “16MB camera” or “Gorilla glass” or “Bluetooth 4.0.” This is specifically applicable for Android based phones, check if the current hardware is capable of running the latest version of Android. Updating the OS (i.e., Android or iOS) regularly is important from security perspective as well. What is the point of an Android based phone that is capable of supporting only Android v2.3 esp when the current version is 4.4?!!

Just to put into some perspective, in the initial days of Samsung Android phones, those who migrated from Blackberry couldn’t handle the slow speed (& of course, the frequent crashing) of the email app on the Samsung phones. Let us face it, Blackberry was a phone for the corporates & hence its focus on the email speed was obvious. So, now for such use cases, an Android based phone was a strict no-no (at least, in the early days). So, understanding the hardware capability in line with your requirement is extremely crucial.

Useful feature set

iphone_screen_size

iphone_screen_size

Now we come to the features. Quite a few features that are marketed as the single most reason why “this” phone is better is pure gimmick. Unfortunately, it is working. A damned marketing gimmick that is working. Why will I need a dual screen? I mean, what scenarios I will _not_ be able pause whatever I am doing and switch the app for a while? I mean, seriously? Those who have used a ‘dual screen’ phones can you list out the number of opportunities that came by to use this feature? I doubt it!
So list out the truly useful features for you. For example, if your family & close friends have iPhone(s) then iMessage service could be an useful feature for you, which is not the case, say, for me. So my set of useful features will differ from yours and most of my friends. Like wise, will you be watching movies off your phone often? If not will a 5″ screen make any difference as compared to a 4.5″ screen? Keep in mind, bigger the screen means bigger the battery but again higher the battery-consumption. So more-or-less the battery consumption ratio should be proportional between 5″ & 4.5″ screen. You ain’t gaining much, IMHO!

Usable feature set

The above section, i.e. Useful feature set, was an unbiased objective look at the feature set of the phones available. Now let us be a bit subjective. Let us get biased with our own requirement and reassess the phone’s capability. Obviously, the first step is to identify why we need a smart phone. 🙂 Once that is done, let us, again, list of the features that will _positively_ make a difference to our lives.

nfc use case

nfc use case

Do any of the following make any sense to us Indians ever ever in our daily lives:

  • NFC?
  • Heart rate monitor?
  • Finger print sensor?
  • Samsung Gear or (proposed) iWatch?

or, do these make sense:

  • Better camera (not just mega pixel)
  • LTE support
  • Better battery life
  • Dust resistant body

Take a stock of useful mandatory features. Don’t get seduced by a near useless feature, say, Bluetooth 4.0. What is the point? How often we use bluetooth now-a-days? Ever since ‘cloud’ has taken over sharing of data across devices the usage of bluetooth has nearly dropped to zero. So why do I need to pay for a super fast bluetooth that I will never use? Similar questions to other useless features like NFC! NFC? Really? Tell me one place you get to NFC in the 2nd populated nation in the entire world?! Useless feature, at least, for the next 3 years in Indian scene. Rather look into useful things, battery life or better camera.

But if you are geek who love to play with things. Suppose you have a raspberry pi and integrate your phone with it then, of course, your requirement is totally different. Out of the ordinary and this blog post isn’t for you. 🙂

Tablet

This is the next big thing at least for me. Let us face it. Phones has their limitations in terms of size. I, for one, don’t like browse using the phone unless forced to. I prefer a slightly bigger screen. Same when I am trying to read an eBook or a blog post. Phones are not meant for reading but I don’t wanna reach for my laptop for every quick look ups. That is where tablets come in. It is a perfect compromise between smaller screen phones and bulky laptops. So, tablets are the future whether we like it or not!

Why is that important in choosing the phone? 🙂 This where the lucky knowledge of working in an IT industry comes in use. Let us take a scenario about an year into the future. Say, you own a laptop, a smart phone and a tablet. Obviously, you gonna share your data between these devices. But what you might not realize is this sharing of data will be much more frequent. For instance, you were reading an article on your laptop but you gotta rush out now. Then you want that same article in your tablet and at the same page you stopped. Another example, podcasts. You want the podcast to start exactly at the same place where you left earlier. Now, obviously, if you have a cloud-sync all of these will happen in the background for you. But is cloud the _only_ answer to such trivial but significant use cases?

3devices

3devices

Considering the above use cases, how will you handle if your laptop is Windows 7 + tablet is iOS 7 (i.e., iPad) and phone is Android 4.4?! How will you able to sync all of them?! 🙂 The point I am trying to make is, if at all possible try to sync up the operating system of tablet and the phone. This way the apps are the same and the synchronization is easy. For instance, both iPad and iPhone uses the exact same version of iOS! So, configuration of one can be used in the other. If suppose, you got a MacBook as your laptop then you are in the sweet-spot of sync. All your devices are aware of each other & know the language the other speak. Isn’t that the best? 🙂

So invest time in understanding if you gonna go for iPad or a Galaxy Tab. If possible, synchronize your operating system between these two. Extremely useful in the long run.

Ecosystem

Finally! This is the most important consideration in my perspective. The rest of the above are convenience issue but the ecosystem is direct money! What I mean by ecosystem is “the operating system” + “infrastructure that supports” + “development & support”. By purchasing a phone what you have done is actually purchased an ecosystem. You have purchased all of the above and hence your smart phones are costlier than the stock phones. Ecosystem investment is kinda no-return path (at least, a no-return-without -loss path). [pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”30%”]Invest in a mobile ecosystem and not in a mobile phone.[/pullquote]

Lemme explain it differently. Suppose you bought an iPhone 4 (which is running at a low-cost of Rs. 16K as of this blogpost) because it is cheaper now. Obviously you start loading the system with all possible “free” apps like FB, twitter, gmail, google maps, bookmyshow, etc…. Soon, you will run out of the useful free apps. Sometime in the future you will be so reliant on your phone and you would not mind investing in a $.99 app. Before you know you will have apps worth $10 (i.e. Rs.600/-), which is _not_ an high amount. But what this has done to you is: you are not tied to iOS!! Soon iPhone 4 will be too slow and you wanna upgrade. The newere iPhone could be around 50K (or even more) but you cannot _not_ buy this as you have invested in the iOS ecosystem. If you decide you would rather go for a less priced Android phone then you burdened with starting all over from scratch. You gotta start from identifying similar apps (not all apps are available in all mobile platform!). You should consider yourselves lucky if you can find one. But then how will you set up this app with the data from your iPhone?! The ecosystems are incompatible, to say the least!! Ain’t easy, folks! Ain’t easy to begin from the top in a different ecosystem!! I am not saying it is impossible just saying it brings its own set of damanges.

mobile ecosystem

mobile ecosystem

So, do your diligent analysis of your requirement & verify which of the ecosystem you wanna invest.

Throw in your thoughts if it differs or agrees with mine. 🙂

About the author

Praveen

2 comments

  1. vinod

    to be noted : I just own only an ipad and an ipod . not an iphone not a mac

    Especially in India the smart phones are not used to their fullest potential. Most of the usages

    1. photos/videos : which as you said i agree, phone is not meant for viedos and photos
    2. whatsapp,fb/mails : this can be independent of ecosystem what you mentioned.
    3. games : this can be independent of ecosystem what you mentioned.
    4. browsing: go to the store . pick what you like . know the prices . search online to find the best deal. order online and leave the store. : Even this can be independent of ecosystem what you mentioned.
    5. listening music : to some extent sync might be useful but going with cloud i doubt this would help being in same eco-system. But would this drive us to choose iphone.
    6. maps : independent of OS .actually Nokia Maps are much better than any maps. If planning to buy a phone for maps go for Nokia Lumia 😉
    The mobile industry is saturated. And it is in similar state as what laptops were in 2006. Surprisingly even now Intel advertises with the caption “ finally a product that meets customer expectation” and everyone knows that it happened long back.

    I would say tablets have future in replacing the laptops and I think Microsoft surface is combo of mac-air and ipad .http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/05/microsoft-surface-pro-3-review/ . there are other solutions on ipad+ipad-keyboard but why they weren’t successful .
    I think if the Mircosoft Surface comes up with Microsoft Professional or windows 7 then it is good chance that majority of office machines and generally usage can shift to MicrosoftSurface . it is just my guess.
    Basically I am not that convinced just for the cloud-solutions sync we should be in apple eco-system .
    So please give the list of application/requirement that make people to upgrade iphone 5s and next gen.

    For all our usages I still say iphone 4 is more than enough for our usage.

    “handle if your laptop is Windows 7 + tablet is iOS 7 (i.e., iPad) and phone is Android 4.4?”
    Isn’t it with the apple-itunes you can easily sync any device?
    I like apple products for below reasons
    1. reliability : software , device ,
    my friend owns mac-book for the last 6yrs and it is still working as it worked when it was bought.. my dell laptop went to trash within 3yrs. Many dell laptops story is almost same. Hp is even worse.
    2. service : if the product is damaged pay 25% and you will get refurbished ( almost new) personally I experienced for my ipods
    samsung and others horrible: one of my friend’s mobile screen broken. the service costed 75% of the phone cost.
    3. most of the time user-required features.

    So if we want a product that last long and meet your requirements ( most of the time yes ) then choose Apple.

    why Nokia symbian failed . Mainly it wasn’t compatible for touch screen I guess , but all functionality could be done even with present NOKIA ASHA keypad model phones as well.
    The touch introducing by apple actually opened to lot of apps,features , usage of phone for
    1. browsing becoming much much more easy
    2. lot of games .. even for kids
    3. easy to navigate especially and the big list goes on
    After iphone , ipad bridge the gap between phone and laptop . was a competitor to Kindle .
    Too lengthy though and some unnecessary info , I might be wrong i guess 😉 . So please give the list of application/requirement that make people to upgrade iphone 5s and next gen.

  2. Praveen

    Vinod
    A late response like always 😉

    [Rp] “handle if your laptop is Windows 7 + tablet is iOS 7 (i.e., iPad) and phone is Android 4.4?”
    [Vinod] Isn’t it with the apple-itunes you can easily sync any device?
    Naah! itunes can handle only apple product. So, if you got an awesome photo in your Android phone & wanna view it in your iPad then you gotta share it using 3rd party cloud solutions like dropbox et al. This solution is _not_ a deal breaker but just mentioning that being in the same ecosystem provides you much better & fluid movement of data.

    [Vinod] 3. games : this can be independent of ecosystem what you mentioned.
    Not entirely! Some of the games are available on both platforms but most are not. iPhone has definitely a much richer gaming ecosystem compared to Android by the virtue of being the early bird. Both in terms of high-performance mobile device (be it iPad or iPhone) and in terms of high-resolution graphical display. Android has definitely caught up with iOS but it will always play the catch up game & can hardly become the leader in the mobile gaming market. Or at least, not until something fantastic happens along the way.

    [Vinod] So please give the list of application/requirement that make people to upgrade iphone 5s and next gen.
    Actually I don’t have one handy. If I did then I would have upgraded by 4S long ago! 🙂

    The point of this blog was to tell the world, “Don’t be a blind-hater or a blind-lover” of a product without realising how much it can be of use to self. For me iPhone has been a revelation. I bought it because I wanted to be a proud of owner of one and now I can’t live without!! As to how I would have fared with Android ecosystem is anybody’s guess. For all you know I might have been as happy & excited as I am today! But if you must know I don’t think I will ever enter Android ecosystem in the near future. If at all I wanted to, it would have been because of the large screen of some of the Android-based phones. But with iPhone 6+ in the wait, I will not look into Android soon. Additionally, my photography is kinda taking me towards MacBook Pro and if it happens my Androidness is dead for good! 🙂

    This is what I meant by buy into an ecosystem and never come out. Because of my (possible) MacBook, I am tied to iOS. JFYI, there is a iOS version for Adobe Lightroom but no Android version in the near future!! More reasons to consider iOS 🙂

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