Android? iOS? Which one to choose?

First there was the Palm Treo. Then the Blackberry. Then came Windows Mobile, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. Palm’s gone and RIM is falling apart. Windows Mobile never really took off. That leaves the two major smartphone platforms – iOS and Android. For a few years, with AT&T’s lock on the iPhone, it was either AT&T or Android. But Android didn’t have the Apps that iOS did.

Now that the iPhone is available on all the major US carriers, and Android’s gaining in popularity – Which one should you choose?

Note: The following is an honest look at both platforms, warts and all to help you decide which smartphone platform is right for you. Not what’s the “best” one out there.

Hardware choices:

Hardware (the actual phone) choice is much simpler with an iPhone. You basically walk in and get an iPhone. Whatever the latest one is out, that’s the one to get. The only real decision to make is what size of storage space you’ll need. Hint: If you don’t plan on sticking lots of movies on it, 16 GB is fine. If you need more space, you can always pull movies, music and pictures off of it.

Sure you can get a price break on an older model, BUT Apple tends to release new versions of iOS that drop support for older devices. Its totally up to you.

With Android, hardware choice is a wide open field. There’s Android phones from Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google, Sony, and many more. Their specs vary wildly from processors and speeds, RAM, storage, included features and most importantly what versions of Android they support. Its fragmented and confusing.

BUT.

You shouldn’t be intimidated by the varied field of hardware out there. HTC and Samsung make some great phones. Just be VERY careful to research the processor and speed of the phone and which versions of Android it will run. Like iOS, not all Android versions have the same features. Google for the phone you are interested in and read its reviews.

Also, It pays to research the rumor mill with both iPhones and Android phones. You don’t want to buy a phone, get locked into a contract and then a better phone gets released a month later. Apple may be secretive about when and what it’s going to release but the rest of the phone manufacturers are not.

App Choices

Everyone knows the iTunes App Store has more Apps than the Android Marketplace. But how many of them are actually useful? In terms of useful Apps, they’re somewhat even. Android’s gained enough popularity where many developers will create Android versions of their Apps. However, not all iOS Apps have Android equivalents or sometimes a developer will release the iOS App first, then the Android version later. iOS has an advantage here but the gap isn’t as wide as it used to be.

Flash Support….

iOS doesn’t support Flash. A large portion of the internet is based on Flash. Android supports Flash. A few years ago this was a huge deal. Now, less so. Why? HTML5 is taking the place of most of Flash’s functionality. That doesn’t mean the internet has already moved over though. Flash is still alive and well. There’s tons of sites out there that just don’t work on an iPhone because it doesn’t support Flash. And frankly its pretty annoying.

However, Flash uses lots of the processor and will drain the battery fast. Its one of the reasons Apple originally didn’t want Flash support. (Steve Jobs being obstinately anti-Flash is the other.)

But if you have a decently spec’ed Android phone, can deal with charging up the battery more often and having Flash is a big concern for you – Go with Android.

Jailbreaking / Rooting / Customization

Apple doesn’t tolerate jailbreaking and installing “unofficial” software on the iPhone. Sure you can do it but its a constant game of cat and mouse with Apple and the iOS Jailbreaking community. With Android, the OS is yours for the taking. You can root the phone, install whatever flavor ROM you like (as long as your hardware / carrier supports it..) and go to town. Don’t like to feel restricted in your choice of software? Love to tinker and tweak? Android will make you much happier. And with a huge community on the internet, there’s tons of places you can go for advice and assistance if you’re new to rooting your phone.

So which to choose?

Apple’s iPhone and iOS give you a simple solution. A phone that’s popular, is easy to use and doesn’t require major hardware and compatibility research. It has the App Store, it has iTunes, it integrates with iCloud. If you’re looking for something simple, easy and don’t really care about tweaking and messing around, just get an iPhone.

But. If you’re into rooting your phone, want more powerful or the latest hardware (and like knowing when it’s going to be coming out), can’t stand the Apple-cuff restrictions of only using App Store Apps that Apple allows (officially that is), don’t care for iCloud and just like Google’s services better, and really need Flash support, your best option is an Android phone.

The choice is yours, either way both platforms offer a really great experience. It all boils down to your own preference. My advice is to take a trip down to a Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile store and take a look at the various phones. Play with them and see which one you like best. Avoid the sales guy’s pitch. Make the choice for yourself according to what you like.

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