iPhone Advantages vs Droid Advantages

iphone droidAs someone who has owned both an Android and numerous iPhones I figured I'd write up the reasons why one is better than the other. Though in my mind there is no clear winner. Some of you might find this useful. ADVANTAGE IPHONE iPod app - This is currently still the standard for media playback, at least for music. It's clean, it doesn't crash. iTunes is bloated and slow, and it is annoying that you need to plug in to sync, but it's still the standard. If you're on your home network, why not do it via wifi.  Also, all this move to cloud music doesn't make any sense to me. One of the main times I want to listen is underground in the subway where I have no network connection. Even when I have a 3G connection it sucks in NYC and I've got a 2GB bandwidth cap anyway. Screw all that, I'll take my music locally on my device, thanks.

Hardware - This is probably the main iPhone advantage. The hardware is really pretty and feels like it's worth the hundreds of dollars you pay for it.  I have to question the decision to make the back out of glass as well, but it does look nice. Honestly, if I could run Android on my iPhone reliably I might consider it.

Camera - The iPhone 4 has a pretty good camera if you've got enough light. It's not the only camera I'd take with me on vacation, but I've already used it 10 times more than the camera on my Droid. I've tried a number of times to carry a little digicam around with me for reference shots or location scouting. The iphone 4 camera replaced all that for me. The old iPhone cameras sucked pretty hard though, so I'm only talking about the new one here.  And while the camera on my Droid wasn't very good, I've heard that some of the newer Android phones have nice ones too.

Podcast apps - I know there are probably apps that do this on Android too, but I'm using iCatcher! to keep track, download, and listen to my podcasts. It goes and grabs the lastest episodes when I'm on wifi so I've got them when I'm on the train or headed to the gym. Very handy.  A lot of people also like Instacast which does the same thing. I think there are equivalent apps for Android, I just didn't use them when I had one.

iTunes remote - Handy to sit down in front of my stereo and control the lossless music that's getting sent over to my stereo in front of me.  There are paid apps which do this on Android but none of them looked quite polished enough for me.

Polish - Overall the experience on the iPhone feels more polished than Android. More seamless and less kludged together. Something about this leads to more faith that the phone's not going to screw up.  I don't think that's true, but it's how it feels.

Homogeneity - If you buy an iphone you get an iphone.  If you buy an Android device you get one of 6 different interfaces the manufacturers throw on top, maybe a good camera maybe not, etc. You know what you're going to get for better or worse with Apple.

ADVANTAGE ANDROID Gmail - This one is HUGE to me and the thing I miss most about my new phone. Gmail on Android is a native app which connects right to the gmail servers and does labels, archiving, drafts, threaded message, full search, etc. It's like being on the full version of gmail. The Mail app on the iphone is frustration city. It only downloads the headers of some email so even though you can see the first few lines in preview, when you open the full email it says "This email has not yet been downloaded to your device"  Infuriating to say the least. The mobile webmail is an option but it's slow and not push and not a real alternative to a native client except in a pinch. Android gets a HUGE +1 on this.

Notifications - If the iphone needs to tell you something it pops up a modal text dialog which you have to respond to before you can get back to what you're doing. It's intrusive and annoying if you're in the middle of something else.  Android just pops an icon up in the top bar which you then swipe down to read. An icon for new email, one for SMS etc. Most android phones also have an LED which can blink like a Crackberry to tell you there is something that needs your attention without having to turn the phone on. It's amazing.  On the other hand, if I want to see if I have mail on my iPhone I've got to press the power, swipe to unlock, type in my password, press home to get back to the home screen and then see if there is a badge on the mail icon. That sucks.  This is stuff that should have been fixed for years now. Better be in iOS 5.

Syncing of everything but Music - Everything but media is done over the air. Get a new phone, type in your google credentials and it gets your contacts, email, calendar, and alternately your facebook contacts synced in as well. It also goes and automatically downloads your apps too so your phone is largely right where you left off.

Updates - If there's a new update, your phone lets you know in the notification bar and once you give it permission it downloads and installs it.  No need to plug into your computer.  In fact, the only time I plugged my Droid into my computer was to move movies and music.

Settings - Android app settings are in the apps. On the iPhone some of them are in the apps and a bunch of others are in the main Settings app and it drives me nuts.

Maps/Navigation - Google maps on Android kicks the iPhone maps app in the ass. You can rotate the map on the screen, get a 3D view of cities, it cached places you go to often for offline use, streetview, a scale to measure distances, etc. It also features a completely free navigation app which took the place of a GPS device when I rent cars on vacation.

Widgets - I didn't use too many widgets on my Droid but I did have a calendar Agenda widget which was great. It listed the next 5 or 10 items in my calendar right there on my home screen where I can't miss them.

Free Apps - A lot more of the apps on the Android market are free.  I think I bought 2 apps total.  On my iPhone I've spent $25 on apps in the first few weeks of owning it.

Headphone output - This is probably specific to my Moto Droid and not true of all Android phones, but the headphone output used a much better amplifier than the iPhone does. I generally use harder to drive in-ear monitors or fancy big phones and the Droid output was a good step above in clarity, separation.

Micro USB for power - I like the idea of standards and most if not all Android phones use the standard Micro USB cable to connect to power and the computer. So you don't need to find a dock connector cable. Though iphones/ipads/ipods are so popular, you can usually find one.


It may seem as though Android should be my winner just by looking at the size of it's list. But honestly when you weigh them out I'd saw it's a draw.  I'm currently using an iPhone 4 mostly because I just joined a family plan on AT&T and there were no good Android phones with the stock UI available at the time.  And this is the problem with Android for me; Too many cooks.  I like the idea of Google setting out certain phones which are the ideal like the Galaxy IIs is right now. Fast, nice hardware, Google experience. Too bad it's on T-mobile and Sprint. Argh.

Honestly, if Apple fixes notification in the next few months (which I think they will) and someone figures out a way to write a native Gmail app which rocks, then I'm fine on either.  Though the maps on Android do really kick some ass.