Android vs. iOS: Which Smartphone Platform Is the Best?

If you’re buying a new smartphone today, chances are extremely practiced information technology will run one of two operating systems: Google’s Android or Apple tree’southward iOS. These two platforms account for most all new smartphones shipped in the final couple of years, co-ordinate to the IDC. In fact, the “other” category is so modest that information technology doesn’t even account for 0.i% of sales.

That’s some serious say-so past the ii biggest players, and the skilful news is that both smartphone operating systems are first-class. They have quite a bit in common with each other, but there are some important differences y’all’ll want to consider when you’re trying to decide betwixt these twin giants. We’re going to pit Android against iOS in several categories here and pick a winner for each one.

However, don’t become into this expecting at that place to be a black and white answer. Ultimately, the best platform for you depends on — well —
you.
Selection the things that matter well-nigh to you and count the wins in those categories, and you have a personalized recommendation.

Affordability

The Google Pixel 4a 5G
Google

Apple has ever been at the loftier-end of the market in terms of pricing, but the iPhone X took things to a whole new level with a starting price of $1,000. Apple’due south iPhones oasis’t gotten much cheaper since, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,100. They do come up a little more affordable, but not past much. The iPhone 12 starts at $800, and the iPhone SE (2020) — the cheapest iPhone Apple tree sells — starts at $400. Apple continues to expand its offerings, but $400 is as cheap as it gets unless you lot delve into the secondhand marketplace.

For sheer scale and variety, nothing competes with Android. You tin can spend a lot if yous want to — for example, Samsung’s cutting-border folding Milky way Z Fold 2 5G costs $two,000, but there’s likewise a huge option of good, depression-cost handsets equally depression every bit $100, from a wide variety of different manufacturers. The platform has also been deliberately optimized to run on low-end hardware with the introduction of the variant OS Android Go. Finally, Android’south atomic number 82 in complimentary apps also makes it the natural choice for the budget-conscious.

Apple’south iOS is an infrequent Os, but the high entry point has always been ane of its biggest problems. Apple’s iPhone SE and iPhone 12 make that entry point lower, but information technology’s still not a match for Android’s massive range of affordable devices. Whether y’all’re looking to spend $100 or $2,000, there’s an Android telephone for you. iOS can’t say the aforementioned.

Winner: Android

Apps

Allow’south start with a look at the numbers. This is roughly how many apps you lot’ll observe in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store:

  • Android apps: ii.seven million
  • iOS apps: 1.82 meg

Nonetheless, numbers aren’t the best metric because almost of us merely employ a handful of apps, and the near popular ones are available on both platforms. Traditionally, iOS has been a more lucrative platform for developers, so in that location has been a trend for new apps to appear there first, but that’s changing equally Android’s market share continues to grow. In the U.Southward., iOS still leads the manner, but developers elsewhere are increasingly targeting Android beginning.

Luckily, both operating systems have been taking more than precautions when it comes to malicious apps and spyware, making apps safer to download than ever.

The Play Store still has a higher pct of gratuitous apps than the App Store. Just the best mobile games still land on iOS first — and they don’t always come up to Android, even if Android has enough of dandy games. Ultimately, quality beats quantity, and and so this is a narrow win for iOS.

Winner: iOS

App Store


Information technology’s difficult to organize millions of apps and games, and neither Google’s Play Store or Apple’southward App Store does it perfectly. Overall, we think Apple’due south App Store provides a improve browsing experience on your phone and does a better job with curated recommendations. The Play Shop is easier to search and yous can queue and install apps from the web browser on your PC or laptop.

We like the fact that y’all can buy apps using your fingerprint via Touch ID on iPhones, but you can set up the aforementioned matter for the Play Shop on Android phones with fingerprint sensors. The Play Store wins points for having a no-quibble refund policy within ii hours of purchase. There are some questionable apps in both stores, but Apple tree is generally stricter about blocking certain types of apps. That tin exist a good thing for overall quality, only it’s a bad matter if you’re into something like game emulators for classic consoles. The iOS App Store edges the win for usability and curated content.

Winner: iOS

Alternative app stores and sideloading

Information technology’s relatively piece of cake to sideload apps on Android. Tick a box in the settings, download an APK, and you’re set. At that place are also a lot of culling Android app stores beyond the Play Store, only sideloading can open yous up to the hazard of malware and isn’t worth worrying well-nigh for most people. Apple is opposed to third-party app stores, and if you want to access them, you’ll have to jailbreak your iPhone. If yous want a wider choice of apps and easy sideloading, then your winner is obvious.

Winner: Android

Maps

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

As the newer navigation system, Apple Maps did not have a smashing showtime, simply it has improved significantly. Key features are similar: Yous tin download maps for offline employ, get authentic estimates based on current traffic conditions, and discover turn-by-plow directions for driving or walking. Apple has fifty-fifty closed further in on Google Maps past adding cycling directions and more improvements in iOS fourteen. Yous’ll also find public transit and ride-booking integration. They all piece of work well and should become you where you lot’re going.

It used to be that Google Maps would win this category hands-down — and while it’southward still generally our map app of selection, Apple has made some huge strides toward parity in the last few years, and Apple Maps is at present at the point where it’s a serious competitor. We would all the same personally download Google Maps, even on an iOS device, but if you chose to go with Apple tree’s map app over Google’s, so yous wouldn’t be getting an inferior product. Correct now, Google Maps yet has a small advantage due to its larger database of reviews and businesses, but its lead has narrowed a lot, and nosotros expect to come across this category fall into being a tie eventually.

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Winner: Android

Battery life and charging

Every bit i of the biggest complaints from smartphone owners, bombardment life is a huge factor. It’s difficult to compare the ii platforms because there’due south no common hardware. iOS is optimized to squeeze the well-nigh out of the battery per mAh rating, but you can buy an Android device with a much bigger battery that will easily outlast the iPhone.

Both Android and iOS allow y’all to see your battery usage at a glance, broken downward past app, but only Android shows an estimate of how much battery life you have left. They both offer power-saving modes that can extend your bombardment life past limiting performance, connectivity, and other power-sapping features, but precisely how information technology works is generally more customizable on Android.

For a long fourth dimension, Android had an reward in the charging department, because many Android phones offered fast-charging capabilities and wireless charging. Nevertheless, Apple’south iPhone 11, iPhone X, and even the iPhone SE (2020) adopted wireless charging and fast charging, so they’re not that far behind. It’s worth noting that you have to purchase the fast-charging adapter separately for some iPhone models, whereas information technology’due south usually provided in the box with an Android phone. Apple supplied a fast charger with the iPhone 11 Pro, but that was one of the last iPhones to come with any charger. From the iPhone 12 onwards, you lot’ll have to buy a charger separately, as iPhones now only come with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable.

However, Android fans shouldn’t sneer at iPhone lovers also much, every bit Samsung is following where Apple has led. The new Galaxy S21 range comes with no charger in the box, and, every bit with the headphone jack, we’ll probably start to run into this change echo beyond to other manufacturers.

This category is far from clear-cut, but comparing similarly priced Android phones with iPhones, you can find a phone with a larger battery if that’s important to you, and they tend to have fast chargers included in the box (for the moment), and so Android gets the win.

Winner: Android

Updates

Apple’s iOS offers consistent and timely software updates and security patches. If you want the same experience on Android, and then you lot have to buy 1 of Google’southward Pixel phones or a phone running Android I. This is how iOS version shares interruption downwardly according to the official Apple tree Programmer website:

  • iOS 14: eighty%
  • iOS thirteen: 12%
  • Earlier: 8%

So, around 80% of all iOS devices are now running the latest version, and the numbers are even amend when you look at devices introduced in the last 4 years. For those devices, 86% run iOS 14, 12% run iOS 13, and only 2% run an earlier version of iOS. That’s impressive.

Is Android upwardly to a similar standard? No. Android 11 is now available, merely don’t expect information technology to spread to a majority of devices for a while. Our Android stats come from Android Studio and don’t seem to be updated as often as Apple’due south iOS distribution numbers. Android 11’s distribution stats seem to exist out now, but nosotros wouldn’t expect it to move into double digits for a while. Heck, according to Android Studio, information technology’s struggling to hit a single pct point.

  • Android xi: <ane%
  • Android 10: viii.two%
  • Android 9.0 Pie: 31.3%
  • Android viii.ane Oreo: 14%
  • Android 8.0 Oreo: 7.3%
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat: 5.four%
  • Android 7.0 Nougat: 7.5%
  • Android vi.0 Marshmallow: 11.2%
  • Android five.1 Lollipop: 7.4%
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop: one.8%
  • Android four.4 KitKat: four%
  • Older: 1.ix%

While there are some notable exceptions for Google’s own Pixel phones and those running Android I (similar many of Nokia’south phones), if you want the latest features, bug fixes, and security updates, then y’all should choose iOS.

Winner: iOS

Customizability

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

This has ever been 1 of Android’s main strengths. Information technology’s very piece of cake to customize your phone — y’all can set up the layout y’all want on your abode screen, add widgets and shortcuts, and fifty-fifty change your entire user interface with launchers.

iOS xiv was something of a revolution for iPhone users, introducing far more back up for widgets on the iOS home screen. While initially, this seems more than like a flake of fun, some users have taken reward of widget-customizing apps to dramatically alter the look of their devices. Notwithstanding, it’s nevertheless not up to the level of Android, which allows for third-party launchers that can completely change your phone into something else entirely. If y’all desire a phone that embraces tinkering, or a truly unique, personalized look for your home screen, so Android is the platform for y’all.

Winner: Android

Accessibility

The perception that Android is more complicated than iOS prevails, but in that location’s no need to dive into customization options. Both platforms offering a adept range of accessibility features.

If you’re looking for a device for an elderly relative or a technophobe so you’ll notice some specialist offerings on Android, but they tend to scale down what’s possible. Manufacturers like Samsung also include options like “Easy fashion,” which makes the interface bigger and simplifies the whole experience, or you lot can opt for a tertiary-party app to do the same. There are lots of good apps aimed at the elderly on Android and iOS, regardless.

Ultimately, iOS is simpler and easier to employ in some of import ways. Information technology’s compatible across all iOS devices, whereas Android is slightly different on devices from different manufacturers. We likewise think iOS is less chaotic and more streamlined than well-nigh Android phones, although Google’south stock Android is every bit equally elegant and accessible.

While Android has come up a long style from the old days, information technology’south still not as accessible equally iOS’south very unproblematic interface. iOS wins here.

Winner: iOS

Calls and messaging

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Basic calling and messaging functionality are good on both platforms, but it can exist confusing on Android. First, Google appeared to be folding everything into Hangouts, which allows messages, SMS, video chat, group chat, and more via Wi-Fi or your data network. Then information technology released Allo and Duo, and now it is retiring Hangouts — simply wait, it besides shut down Allo also!  Letters is the default texting app, and that now seems to exist Google’s master messaging app, and has received RCS support. Notwithstanding, you’ll find many manufacturers like to offering their ain alternatives. Many Android phones come with their own messaging and dialer apps in addition to Google’s messaging apps, making the whole confusing situation even worse.

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iOS, existence controlled directly by Apple, is a lot simpler. FaceTime and iMessage come up pre-installed on every iPhone and iPad, so it’s remarkably easy to connect with your friends and family. While iMessage is very like shooting fish in a barrel to use, information technology works best when communicating with other iPhone users, creating a culture of bluish versus light-green bubbling. Y’all’ll detect third-party app integration, fun stickers, GIFs, and much more in iMessage. We give iOS the win for its consistency and ease of use.

Winner: iOS

Electronic mail

The default e-mail apps on Android and iOS are very easy to employ and quick to set up up. You tin can pull in multiple electronic mail accounts and view them in a unmarried inbox if you lot desire. Android and iOS have a huge range of third-party e-mail apps available every bit well. Nonetheless, Gmail is a stronger default email app than iOS’ Mail. Since Gmail is the most popular electronic mail address system in the world, it makes sense that the Gmail app would exist a winner. You can also add e-mail addresses from unlike providers in Gmail with ease. The intuitiveness of the app with other Google Suite apps sets it autonomously from the rest.

The but issue is that Android phones oft offer alternative e-mail apps made by the manufacturers, which may or may not be skilful.

Winner: Android

Camera

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

This is a difficult category to call. In the past, we’ve argued that Apple does the all-time chore capturing lighting, coloring, and other details, but the latest Android smartphones are casting a lot of doubt on that assertion. Google’s Pixel 5 boasts an excellent camera, simply and then does the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

While nigh of the current crop of Android flagships sport good, or sometimes great, cameras, at that place’south a fair bit of variance, and the camera quality of many midrange devices doesn’t come close to the quality of iPhone cameras. Equally yous’d expect, most budget Android phones have lower-quality cameras.

The camera apps on both platforms are very good and very fast. For ease of apply and best results without tweaking, the iOS camera app takes the cake. There’s more variation on Android merely because manufacturers tend to add their own camera apps with lots of features, some good, some a fleck gimmicky.

We used to grant this one to iOS for pure consistency, despite the strengths of phones like Google’s Pixel and Samsung’s Galaxy. Withal, times accept moved on, and a lot more Android manufacturers can put upwardly a fight against Apple tree’s fantabulous cameras. This has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Photo fill-in

If yous use the Photos app in Android, and so you tin automatically dorsum upwards all your photos and videos. You tin support photos and videos at the original resolution with iCloud or Google Photos, only you lot only get 5GB of free infinite with iCloud, compared to 15GB with Google.

This category is complicated by the fact that the default on iOS is iCloud, but you can likewise use Google’s Photos on iOS. However, since well-nigh people go with the default choice, we’re giving Android the win here.

Winner: Android

Cloud services

Apple tree is still lagging when it comes to cloud storage and automatic backups. Google offers 15GB for free and has cross-platform support. You only get 5GB with iCloud, and it only works with Windows, Mac, and iOS.

If you need a lot of additional infinite, Google One charges $2 per month for 100GB ($20 for the yr), while Apple charges $1 per calendar month for 50GB or $iii per month for 200GB. Apple’s toll for 2TB jumps upward to $10 per calendar month. Google will also requite you 2TB for that price, but you can go a discount if you pay for the year, which costs $100 ($8.33 per calendar month).

Android’s deject storage is easier to utilize and more effective than iCloud. You lot tin as well utilize Google Drive on an iPhone, whereas iCloud is iOS just.

Winner: Android

Vocalization assistants

Chris DeGraw/Digital Trends

You can exercise many of the same things with Apple’due south Siri as you lot can with Google Assistant, but Siri is more like a straightforward helper for setting calendar appointments, searching the web, or making calls. Google Banana has an extra layer. It can preemptively offer useful suggestions, and it has a more than conversational side that offers upwards entertaining games and contextual information based on what y’all’re doing. It’s smarter and more versatile than Siri.

The addition of Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12, which allows you to ready voice commands to trigger groups of automatic tasks, is a big step in the right direction and Siri is too beginning to make more than suggestions based on your iPhone usage. For at present, however, Google Assistant can do more than and seems to exist improving at a much faster rate, offering things like call screening and the ability to make reservations for yous.

Winner: Android

Security

Much has been fabricated of the supposedly “toxic hell stew” that is Android, but the threat of malware is exaggerated. The truth is that most people will never encounter a problem considering they don’t go outside the Play Shop for apps. Specific manufacturers similar Samsung have taken extra efforts to beef upwardly security for the enterprise market place. But the slovenly nature of updates on many Android devices can seriously delay important security patches.

Speedy updates are now more important than ever because security breaches are condign more serious. Android tends to lag in the update globe — that is, unless you lot take a stock Android device like a Pixel or a phone running Android 1. That lack of update speed tends to mean Android is less secure to emerging threats. Because millions of Android phones are still running software that’due south years old, they tin can exist vulnerable to serious hacks like Heartbleed and Stagefright.

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Apple is firmly entrenched in corporate America and has also worked on improved security for general consumers, most notably with Touch on ID and FaceID in the iPhone X and afterwards. The tight oversight that Apple tree has on apps and the ability to push updates out to more than devices more than quickly gives it an edge over Android. The company besides encrypts data in iMessage and its other apps.

Apple tree prioritizes user privacy, so y’all can feel condom knowing your personal data is non stored or read past Apple. It is all encrypted, likewise. Meanwhile, Android encrypts some data, but your privacy is less protected. Google mines your data for information that it can use to sell meliorate ads and market products to you lot. Your data is also stored and read to provide you with a amend A.I. experience.

Google claims it is committed to fully protect user privacy and nonetheless provide the A.I. services it offers, but some security experts and Apple debate that Google presents a false choice betwixt A.I. and privacy. Apple tree even went to war with the FBI to guarantee your right to encryption. Information technology’southward difficult to shell that kind of dedication.

There’s no denying that iOS is the most secure platform and the one that best protects user privacy. If yous care nearly your privacy and security, go with an iPhone.

Winner: iOS

Rooting, bootloaders, and jailbreaking

We’ve looked at how to root your Android telephone or tablet before. It’s not for everyone, only if you lot desire root access and complete control over your device, then rooting is the way to get it. Rooting gives you access to more apps, the latest OS updates without waiting, new software skins to get the aesthetic you want, the chance to become rid of bloatware from carriers and manufacturers, potential tweaks to boost your device’southward speed and battery life, and more.

Many Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) also offer a way to unlock the bootloader, which determines how the Bone loads upwardly on your device. Apple is completely opposed to this kind of thing. Jailbreaking is an choice for iOS, which lets y’all download and install apps from exterior the App Store and bypass some other limitations.

Winner: Android

Cases and accessories

The boilerplate iPad or iPhone owner spends more than money on more than things than the average Android device possessor, and Apple tree has built up a smashing ecosystem of peripherals for its phones and tablets. At that place are far more peripherals and cases aimed at the iPhone than whatever other device, but a major flagship similar the Samsung Galaxy S21 would be a close 2nd.

On the other manus, Android devices have adopted the Micro USB or USB-C standard, whereas Apple insists on its proprietary Lightning cable. This means it’s much easier to observe a charger if you’re not an iPhone owner, and often means yous have to splash out on an overpriced Apple adapter. Peripheral manufacturers may still go subsequently iOS as their chief target, just information technology’south very rare to find something without Micro USB or USB-C support.

Another mark confronting Apple is the abandonment of the standard three.5mm audio port, as begun with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Yous did become an adapter in the box with a new iPhone for a while, but Apple no longer includes it, so you’ll have to purchase the dongle and, even if y’all do, it’s hands lost. The option of headphones sporting iii.5mm audio jacks far exceeds those with Lightning connectors. Of class, Android phones continue to ax the headphone jack in favor of USB-C and Bluetooth audio, then this is lessening every bit a point confronting Apple.

It’s also important to note that Apple’s ecosystem of products all work together exceedingly well. The iPad, Apple Sentry, MacBook, and HomeKit products all piece of work together in perfect harmony. MacOS, WatchOS, iPadOS, and iOS are all well connected, making it easy to have all Apple products on the same folio. If you’re already invested in a MacBook or iPad, then an iPhone would allow all of your devices to work well together.

Since Android phones are produced by many unlike manufacturers, production ecosystems vary. Samsung has a peachy ecosystem, for example, and Android phones have support from Dwelling house, Chromecast, and Vesture OS. Yet, it’s not quite every bit seamless equally it is with Apple.

Overall, taking all bachelor accessories into account, yous have more than choice with an iPhone, so iOS takes the win hither, but with caveats.

Winner: iOS

Determination

Numerically speaking, Android wins x categories and iOS wins seven, only iOS wins in some of the more important categories — we don’t think rooting or alternative app stores are equally of import for almost people as accessibility or security, for example. However, it’s very difficult to compare the 2. Because Apple controls both the hardware and the software of their devices, you’ll find iOS offers a more uniform experience across devices.

A straight comparison of the latest versions of Android and iOS wouldn’t be very representative of most people’s experience, because well-nigh Android devices aren’t running the latest version. The feel you get is farther complicated by the fact that most Android smartphone manufacturers add their ain user interface on summit of Google’s stock Android. As a result, there’s quite a big difference between using Google’s Pixel 5, the Samsung Galaxy S21, and the OnePlus 8T, for case.

If you practice decide to become with an Android device, make certain you lot exercise a petty inquiry and wait at the version of Android it runs, the manufacturer skin on top, and the manufacturer’south record for software updates.

Ultimately, different categories will be important to unlike people, and so you lot should pay attention to the ones that count for you and brand your conclusion based on that. If security and privacy are important factors, and then the iPhone is the obvious choice. If battery life tops your list and yous want to be able to customize your telephone, then cull Android. Both Android and iOS are mature, feature-packed platforms with far more similarities than differences, and nosotros tin can heartily recommend either.

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