Google Android or the iPhone?

Published: September 30, 2010

Google's Android phones work very well with Google's web applications. PHOTO:GOOGLE

Google's Android phones work very well with Google's web applications. PHOTO:GOOGLE The Apple iPhone4 has the best screen, good music playback functions and an amazing camera. PHOTO:APPLE

Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are the two best operating systems (OS) currently available in Pakistan’s mobile phone market.

A mobile device cannot really pass off as a ‘smartphone’ these days without having either of the two installed. Nokia’s Symbian^3 and RIM’s Blackberry OS 6, the two newest entrants to the mobile OS market, show a lot of promise but they have only just arrived and their user base is still comparatively low. But the platforms are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future as they mature.

So which of the two reigning operating systems is really worth choosing if you are in the market for a new phone?

The first thing to know is that the iOS is only available on Apple’s iPhone whereas Android is used by manufacturers ranging from HTC to Sony and Samsung, meaning that there is the added advantage of having a lot of different hardware (and prices) to choose from if you are buying an Android Phone.

The two OS’s are actually very similar in terms of their functionality and UI. Both emphasize web connectivity and offer a superb web browser that is based on the open-source webkit engine. Both heavily use touch input for text entry and for navigating the user interface (UI). Both offer storage options to suit your needs, and offer multi-tasking functionality. They also offer geo-location functionality through GPS. Both can check your email. And both can make phone calls, SMS and the like.

App battle

They both offer Applications (Apps) through their respective app stores, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. The App Store has the dual benefits of having wide support of the developer community (Android is catching up fast) and being a closed ecosystem which makes it a bit more secure than the open nature of the Android OS. It also has a wide variety of content in the form of podcasts, movies, TV shows and music available in the iTunes store.

The Android OS does not offer that many content options but Google is working on an online store for content too. Android is criticized for being less secure but Google has been taking measures to make it more secure and it is not that big a problem if you just install trusted apps from the right sources.

Where the Android really shines is how well it works with Google’s web apps. The Gmail app in Android market is better than the iPhone’s. Other features such as search by voice, free navigation and Google Voice (not yet available in Pakistan) among others make the Android a must-have.

Camera wars

In the iPhone4, Apple added a 5-megapixel camera and flash making it among the best cameras in a mobile phone yet. The results speak for themselves. Google’s phones have had 5-megapixels for some time now but they don’t shoot pictures as well as the iPhone4 can.

All about display

The iPhone4 again beats out any Android phone currently on the market with one of the best screens available that boasts a screen resolution of 960-by-640. The Samsung Galaxy S, probably the best Android phone currently in the market has an OLED screen that works very well in sunlight though.

Multimedia playback

Music and video playback is another area that is a tie. While the iOS does not play well with a lot of video formats and you have to convert the latest TV show or movie you just downloaded off of torrents and add them to iTunes before you can start watching them on your phone, Android can easily play a variety of movie formats. The music playing capabilities are where the iOS wins hands-down. The built-in app for music in Android is just not good and it comes nowhere close to the quality of the music player built-in to the iOS.

Battery

And finally, the phones battery lives. Android is a battery hog and you need to fiddle around with the task manager to make the battery last longer whereas the iOS is optimized well to make the battery last longer so that phones with iOS last longer on a charge than Android phones.

Google’s Android operating system has been gaining a lot of market share at the expense of Apple’s iOS recently. And with Android 3.0 supposedly coming out later this year, we might need to revisit this topic again as the first Android 3.0 devices start hitting phone shops here.

Reader Comments (11)

  • Zain s
    Sep 30, 2010 - 7:02PM

    The open nature of android is the key difference, and you should have emphasised on that more. It’s the same with mac or pc. Android will very soon outstrip the iOS in terms of apps due to being opensource. this also means more bad apps. But it means that android users will have more control over their phone and what they do with it. This analysis misses the main factors and mentions them only in passing.Recommend

  • Samreen A.Khan
    Sep 30, 2010 - 7:17PM

    Thanx for the information! :)Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 7:41PM

    nice comparisonRecommend

  • Sep 30, 2010 - 8:07PM

    @Zain,
    Desktop Linux has demonstrated that being “open” does not guarantee marketshare success.

    However, being “open” has granted Android the dubious honour of becoming one of the most popular targets for malware in the mobile world. The Wallpaper trojan that was downloaded over 4 million times from the Android Marketplace and which sent large amounts of confidential user details to China is a prime example, not to mention the particularly malicious Russian “MoviePlayer” premium-rate SMS texter app and the continuous stream of bank phishing and spyware apps plaguing the Android Marketplace.

    Then of course there is the side-loading of apps a terribly easy route for any nasty trojan to gain access to Android phones and no review of apps at all in the Marketplace and we are talking a completely different level of insecurity and exposure.

    Being “open” also means Carriers are free to load up their Android phones with all sorts of crapware and refuse to provide the latest Android OS updates to users.

    If you are at all interested in games, you don’t want an Android phone. Here are the stats for numbers of big name game titles released by two of the largest mobile Game publishers:

    Gameloft:
    – 12 games for Android vs 136 games for iOS
    Capcom Mobile:
    – 4 games for Android vs 27 games for iOS

    And total number of games:
    Android = 13,000 vs iOS = 38,000

    This disparity is not about to change with iOS developers making 50x the income ($1 billion) compared to Android ($21 million) over a similar timeframe.

    Yes, quantity matters as well as quality. With no review process, rampant piracy (50-97%) and fragmentation, Android suffers from a lack of both.

    -MartRecommend

  • NY-ker
    Sep 30, 2010 - 8:33PM

    Really surprised to read the battery review…have you tried the iOS battery ? It dosnt last more than half a day !

    Also, would be great if you could update it to mention if Apple 3G or 4 would be compatible with any of the data networks in PK or would it run on edge?Recommend

  • Mohsin Hijazee
    Sep 30, 2010 - 10:39PM

    iPhone for the sheep and Android for the geek!Recommend

  • Faria S
    Sep 30, 2010 - 10:41PM

    Great piece Hassan!Recommend

  • Oct 1, 2010 - 6:25AM

    Hassasinator, good to see you in your element. Good, straightforward comparison.Recommend

  • Shabnam Khurshid
    Oct 1, 2010 - 10:56AM

    Thanks for the update! You are very kindRecommend

  • YMK
    Oct 18, 2010 - 1:21PM

    The review doesn’t really do justice to the topic. You are comparing iPhone to Android.
    iPhone = a hardware phone + the iOS.
    Android = simply Google OS for smartphones

    You will have to limit the scope to software comparison, if not then add more things covering the hardware aspect of the technology :)

    There are some other things that we can take notice of:
    For example:

    Flash Content:
    Android supports flash content on websites which iPhone/iOS doesnt.

    Price:
    IPhone retail price is 4 times higher than the manufacturing cost. One handset and all the technology wrapped up in it. (see my reply in http://tribune.com.pk/story/63595/android-digs-deeper-into-pakistan/ ) Android-based phones give the potential buyer a whole world of exciting options and designs to choose from in terms of the handset. The software is the same across all of them!Recommend

  • YMK
    Oct 18, 2010 - 1:26PM

    I personally use a Google Nexus one, and might have a slight bias but when i made the choice in early January 2010 on which device to buy: between the iPhone 3GS at that time and the HTC-based Nexus, i did it in all the possible aspects that you can imagine.

    And i am happy with the choice i made. Both on the software (OS, apps, “delight of use”) and the hardware side, like the weight, portability and battery. Regarding the battery: the Android OS 2.2.1 Froyo OTA update i got on my Nexus, took all my battery worries away. Using the 3G internet for a hard couple of hours each day, my battery lasts well into 40+ hours on a charge.Recommend

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