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.
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:
- Galaxy S5 More Durable Than S4, But iPhone 5s Wins (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2456657,00.asp)
- New study suggests Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is more breakable than the iPhone 5s (http://bgr.com/2014/04/15/galaxy-s5-durability-test/)
- For the sake of completion, the best durable smart phones in the market at the time of this article are:
- Your HTC One might never need its screen replaced after all(http://bgr.com/2014/02/20/htc-one-screen-replacement-breakability/)
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.
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?
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
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.
Do any of the following make any sense to us Indians ever ever in our daily lives:
- 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. 🙂
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?
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.
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.
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. 🙂