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  • Android’s Advantages — or Not!

    November 13th, 2014

    A few facts are obvious. iPhone sales keep climbing, Samsung’s sales are falling, but the Android platform is still ahead of the game worldwide on the basis of unit sales. But Apple still manages to earn most of the profits in the industry with high margins and competitive prices. Nowadays, dealers are even more proactive about discounting iPhones, but you don’t see the two-for-one fire sales that that apply to some of the newest Android gear.

    Well, a certain blogger, unnamed for obvious reasons, has yet another listicle for you to read to explain how Android is better than the iPhone in six different ways. At least that’s the promise, but the list wasn’t even completed, as you’ll see in a moment.

    Before I get to the main course, I realize that nobody need make an excuse for personal preference. You may even be one of the few who buys a BlackBerry or a Windows Phone nowadays, and if you think you made the right choice, more power to you. It doesn’t matter what I think. Be happy.

    Now one of the obvious perceived advantages of Android is variety. You have a gazillion choices of sizes and specs from dozens of manufacturers. True only Samsung manages to actually earn much profit from an Android smartphone, but the choices are almost endless. To keep prices low, manufacturers often forget such niceties as earning a decent profit from a sale.

    Worse, the vast selection often creates confusion, because there are so many superficially similar models you often don’t know which choice to make. At least Apple keeps the selection sensible. You can get three display sizes — four inches, 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches — and different storage capacities.

    Apple is not a company to offer an endless variety, although they tried that in the 1990s with the infamous Performa series, and we all know how that turned out. But the rest of the consumer electronics industry clearly hasn’t learned.

    On the other hand, if you want a smartphone with a display larger than 5.5 inches, or smaller than four inches, at least there are options. The same is true if you want to take a handset with you while surfing and need something that’s reasonably waterproof. Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy S5, an underachiever when it comes to sales, can at least be dunked if that’s your thing.

    There are also vague references to battery life and display quality, implying there’s something lacking on the iPhone with either. But while there are certainly smartphones with bigger batteries, boasting longer times between charges, Apple’s has always been on the cutting edge of display technology. Perhaps the blogger was looking at specs and got immersed in the “resolution is everything” gambit, not realizing that great specs doesn’t always translate to great quality.

    Other than the desire for a beefier battery, though, I don’t see the claim as an example of a feature that the iPhone doesn’t have.

    The other argument is price and the lack of the ability to add a microSD card. Now the article cites Android phones listing from $300-$500, which I presume is meant to reflect the unlocked price, not what you pay with a carrier contract. Indeed, with some contracts, you pay nothing down, but your bill increases modestly each month until the balance is paid off.

    Regardless, an unlocked 8GB iPhone 5c is $450, and an unlocked iPhone 5s is $550. So I’m not sure what the author is trying to convey, beyond the lack of microSD. While I’m not averse to having removable storage, I wonder how many people don’t buy iPhones because of the lack of this feature, or even care.

    The other complaint is about “much better and deeper integration with Google’s app and service ecosystem.” We are hitting the dumb department here, of course, but let me explain. It seems that this is a fuzzy sentence that isn’t referring to the quality if iOS apps. That’s an argument the blogger will lose right away. While the number of iOS and Google Play apps may not be altogether different, Apple has a far richer selection.

    But that’s not the claim.

    Instead, it’s about “web based software and services,” such as mapping and cloud storage. The problem with this argument is is that you can access Google offerings of this sort on an iPhone with Google’s apps. If you don’t like Maps for iOS, and it’s getting better, Google Maps is available. The reverse is obviously not true. Apple’s services are not available on an Android device.

    There’s more, but it’s not in the article. The blogger curiously refers us to a link to yet another site to get the rest. But the link isn’t contained in the article, not even a “click here” for direct access, not even a summary.

    Or perhaps the remaining features not found on an iPhone are even less significant.

    It is certainly true that you can devise a long list of things you can get on an Android smartphone that Apple has decided not to offer, at least not yet. Sometimes Apple plays catch up, such as adding widgets and expanded support for third-party keyboards in iOS 8. But it’s more about ease of use and features that actually work that count more; in other words, the user experience. Android’s presumed advantages may exist on paper, such as onboard chips with more processing cores. Does that translate to a product that performs better in the real world?

    Most times, no. But that’s not the sort of subtlety some of these bloggers understand.



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    One Response to “Android’s Advantages — or Not!”

    1. Kaleberg says:

      Maybe you have to read the article on an Android device to be able to click the link. That would be one Android feature right there.

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