The iPhone vs. Android debate rages on, especially as Apple and Google prepare for another big annual release with iOS 15 and Android 12, respectively. While you can turn to a number of companies to buy one of the best phones, whatever you get is guaranteed to be running one of the two prominent mobile OSs: iOS (if you pick an iPhone) or Android (if you opt for anything else).
Both platforms are quite mature at this stage, having existed for more than a decade. That means both have amassed comprehensive feature sets, and there’s very little one can do that the other cannot. Still, however, each has its advantages, and there are reasons you might want to choose one over the other.
iPhone vs Android: Why iPhone is better
This might seem like a shallow reason, but Apple obviously makes a wide breadth of tech products, and if you already own a Mac, iPad or Apple Watch, getting an iPhone makes a lot of sense.
Apple has designed a multitude of continuity features that allow you to carry over work and data from one of its devices to another, and these features can certainly save you time. Take Handoff, for example, where calls on your iPhone and web pages in Safari can move seamlessly between iOS and macOS. Universal Clipboard makes text copied on one platform usable on the other. Another one of our favorites is Continuity Camera, which allows you to take pictures and scan documents using your iPhone’s camera, and then view and edit them on your Mac. You can even complete purchases on your Mac by using biometric authentication features on your iPhone via Apple Pay.
Only a handful of Android phone makers have hardware ecosystems that approach Apple’s, and even for some that come close, like Samsung, you won’t get the depth of integration possible between the iPhone and other Apple-built devices. Microsoft is helping Google close the gap somewhat with its new Your Phone app for Windows, which allows Android users to respond to texts and notifications on their PCs, though the experience is a little clunky and there is still work to be done.
There are many other great examples of continuity across iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and macOS — and the iPhone is a critical component in that puzzle, especially now that iPhone apps can be seamlessly ported to macOS. Power users already immersed in Apple’s ecosystem can stand to gain a lot by adding an iPhone to their repertoire. And that’s to say nothing of friends and family members who prefer to use iMessage and FaceTime to keep in touch.
Additionally, Apple has added yet another opportunity for lock-in with the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: MagSafe accessories. These magnet-based chargers, cases and products will work only with the latest iPhones, so if you invest in the platform, it’s going to cause some friction should you try to leave.
The third-party apps are just better.
This one is definitely down to personal preference, but as someone who has jumped back and forth between iOS and Android as long as both platforms have existed, I’ve been consistently blown away by the quality of apps built by iOS developers, and mostly disappointed in their Android counterparts.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s great software and developers on Android, but they’re harder to find, in my experience. One of our favorite Twitter apps, Tweetbot 5, is an iOS exclusive, for example; by contrast, one of the best third-party Twitter apps we’ve encountered on Android, Fenix 2, strongly pales in comparison. One of our staff members, Henry T. Casey, loves using Bear to compose blog posts on his Mac and iPhone, but we’ve struggled to find a note-taking app on Android as comprehensive and slick. However, I have a markdown editor on Android that I prefer to anything on iOS.
You may even find that apps from established companies, ranging from banks to airlines, are a bit smoother and cleaner on iOS than Android, with better integration with the phone’s core services, like Wallet. (Google Pay is only now starting to catch on with many airlines.) And don’t even get me started on how slow and buggy Snapchat is on Android.
There’s a bigger selection of accessories.
Walk into any Best Buy or Target, and you’ll find aisles of cases for every iPhone that Apple makes — something that certainly cannot be said for the Android contingent outside of flagship devices from the biggest companies. Once you get past the semi-healthy selection of products made for the latest Galaxy S device, you’re out of luck. Don’t bother expecting a choice of accessories for your new Pixel or LG handset at any brick-and-mortar retailer. Sure, you could go online and snag a $4 case off of Amazon, but then you’re guaranteed to get what you pay for.
The selection and availability of iPhone cases, screen protectors, car mounts and other goodies is simply far greater than you’ll find for any other phone, and that’s more important than most people realize. Recently, I used a Pixel 3 and then Pixel 4 as my daily driver. As someone who likes to regularly switch up my phone’s case to keep it feeling fresh, I’ve been extremely disappointed with the lack of options for Google’s handsets. iPhone owners will never have that problem.