iOS vs. Android

Several months ago, I wrote Part 1 of what I thought was going to be a 4-part series comparing the HTC Desire to the iPhone 4. Those other three parts never got written. Here’s why.

The HTC Desire HD was announced soon after that post, so I thought I might wait until its release to compare all three. I also quickly realized the HTC Desire did not hold a candle to the iPhone 4. With such a small amount of internal memory, the phone became very sluggish once apps were installed. The ability to transfer apps to the SD card came with a software update, but the process does not work for every app. There is too much required of the user to move apps and try and clean up the phone’s memory. If you install even just a few apps, you can easily fill the phone and get low memory warnings.

This is the complete opposite of the iOS experience. A big benefit most Android users talk about is the ability to insert extra memory, usually SD cards. Please tell me what good this is if you cannot move all of your apps to the card? I could not use the Desire as I wanted to because I kept hitting a wall with the internal memory.

Though the Desire is a great phone, the limitations of its hardware have really showed. The Desire HD fixed a lot of these problems, but its size and other software and wifi issues have made it a non-competitor as well. I dumped the HD for an LG Optimus 7, and more recently an LG Optimus Black. I still have yet to use an Android device that would really sway me from using an iPhone.

Still the Best

A key point here, too, is that the iPhone 4 is nearing its 1st anniversary, and yet:

  • It still has the highest-density screen on the market.
  • It is the most-used camera on Flickr. Not just phone camera, but overall camera.
  • FaceTime has the best video quality of any videoconferencing app, and its integration is completely seamless.
  • iOS 4 has proven to be quite reliable, and iOS 5 will not only play catch-up to Android, it introduces new features like iCloud that will set the bar high
  • I still have not held a phone that feels as high-quality and substantial, yet sleek and sexy as the iPhone 4
  • The media integration is unmatched. Yes, lots of people hate using iTunes, but you can’t tell me that DoubleTwist or manually moving content is any easier. Heck, even the Zune software makes Win7 phones more attractive than Android phones.
  • BlueTooth in my car just seems to work better with the iPhone vs. BB, Android, and Win7 devices.
  • Apps. The most. And the best. And better quality.

Sure, Android has better notifications and nice apps for Gmail, Reader, and Docs, but beyond that I have not found a compelling reason to drop my iPhone for an Android device. The Nexus S is the only device that I could really see myself diving into, and is it a coincidence that it is a pure Google phone and not loaded up with overlays like MotoBlur and HTC Sense?



All of this talk about “openness” is a bit annoying. How open is an HTC phone? Right now bootloaders are locked, and even though Google released lots of Android updates this past year, the Desire and Desire HD did not receive these updates until many, many months after they were released. Each manufacturer must implement Google’s Android update and then update their own software, overlays and UIs before shipping the update to customers.

Then comes the news that the Desire cannot handle the 2.3 update due to internal storage constraints. So where is the Android advantage there? You are just as tied to HTC’s development team and release schedules as you would be to Apple’s iOS team and their releases. And now your phone is less than a year old and you’ve hit the ceiling for operating system updates. Heck, iOS 5 will even be available for iPhone 3GS users, and at that point that device will be 2 years and 3 months old. Apple is always made out to be a villain for ignoring owners of slightly older technology, but where’s the outcry when Android makers do it?

To this, some folks tell me they can install whatever Android OS they want on their device. Most of the time, this involves hacking bootloaders and other wonderfully geeky stuff. Man, “openness” is complicated. And if you’re going to hack the phone to bypass this and install Android itself without the overlays, how is that any different from jailbreaking an iOS device?

So the Desire started strong, but had no staying power. It is a nice unit, but it just isn’t in the same class as the iPhone 4. It is currently offered for $0 on a 3-year contract. It will be discontinued soon. The iPhone 4 is still selling like hotcakes. We are talking 20million iPhones sold in Q3 of this year alone. And most of those sales are the $159 iPhone 4.

The showdown continues. Patent battles continue to rage in courts around the world. Everyone and their mother is making Android devices. Microsoft is hanging on to a tiny piece of the pie. BlackBerry is suffering beyond belief. In short, the wireless industry is a big mess.

It all comes down to software and hardware and the integration of the two. Android has great software, but the plethora of handset makers have yet to create a device that matches the brilliance of Android. BlackBerry has cumbersome, wonky devices, and an operating system that, even after getting a facelift, still looks ancient and behaves even worse. Microsoft is on to something with Windows Phone 7, but they, too, have not found a handset maker that really captures what is possible with their OS.

Apple, on the other hand, has the best of both worlds. Though there are deficiencies in their OS from time to time, it is still innovative, user-friendly, and stable. And updates come often. Their devices are second to none. Those pieces together, tied with iTunes and the App & Music Stores, make for the best mobile experience.


About Matt

My name is Matt. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I am an educator, a photographer, and a lover of all things technology. Check out the About page for more information.

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