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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Smartphones: Android or iPhone?

"Cell phones becoming remote controls of our lives" - Greg Sandoval, Associated Press

When I read that headline a few months ago, I couldn't have helped but agree.  5 years ago, I would have told you he was crazy.  Why?  Well, there wasn't an 'app for that' just yet.  Smartphones have been around for a while now and were primarily used by professionals in business settings.  Those mobile phones took on a whole new 'life' with the development of the iPhone and Android OS phones making them more mainstream for everyone.  Today a smartphone can almost instantly find a store or restaurant close by and provide navigation, keep all of your store cards with scannable bar codes on your phone, take a picture and share it instantly, control your car through OnStar, access your DirecTV account and watch shows, and the list goes on.  It's Star Trek and the Jetsons brought to real life.  Now if we could just fold our cars up into briefcases things would really be great.  

When Apple's iPhone came out, it was truly revolutionary but it was the only one really of it's kind and on one carrier.  Even with Blackberry revamping their phones to include apps (which is the real power in the devices today) choice was slightly increased.  Then came Android phones and they are popping up with a variety of devices and on a number of carriers.  Now consumers have choice and that's always a good thing.  The question then becomes focused on which one is the best choice?  Let's take a look:

  • Pros:
    • Great design.  
    • Great lineup of apps.  Developers have flocked to this platform and Apple has strict oversight on applications offered to consumers.
  • Cons:
    • Only available on one carrier, AT&T with data plans that have limits for the user
    • Only one phone with options for various amounts of memory
    • Sealed case that does not allow for access to the battery
  • Pros:
    • Choice of phones and plans
    • Works seamlessly with Google products and services
    • Very good built-in voice controls
  • Cons:
    • Good lineup of apps but no oversight and somewhat limited compared to the Apple store
    • Not all phones can upgrade to the latest version of the Android OS.  Ask!
So what do I recommend?  I've used both OS's quite a bit and recently went with a Samsung Fascinate from Verizon.  There are several personal reasons why.  I'm a huge Google user and the Android works perfectly for me in that regard.  I personally do not like the limitations that AT&T puts on their data plans either.  Likewise, I want choice of my plan and the phone itself.  And the final part was that I want is battery access.  The batteries on these phones to say the least are horrible, and if/when better batteries come out . . . I want the option to put in a better battery.

I got use to the Apple lineup of apps, but I've been able to find Android versions of many of the apps or alternatives for my favorites.  The Twitter app for the iPhone is great whereas it is not so great on the Android.  Tweetcaster for Android was a great alternative though.  I definitely see the Android App store growing significantly with better quality apps in the long run as the Android OS becomes adopted more and more for mobile devices (i.e. phones, tablets, etc.).

What are your thoughts?  Android or iPhone?
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