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Fruit or robot? The REAL bottomline on the difference between iphone and Android.

Fruit or robot? The REAL bottomline on the difference between iphone and Android.

May 21 2014

I am often asked by family and friends "which type of mobile phone should I buy"? (Or for that matter, which computer?) They consider me a technology insider and so they hope to get an answer. In many cases (especially for the older folks) they do not even know at the highest level what the difference is between an iphone and an Android. I've been asked on numerous occasions, "which one is a smart phone?". (My answer: A smart phone is simply a mobile phone that allows us to download programs (called "apps") from various companies that can do interesting, useful, or fun things on our device. Both Androids and iPhones are smart phones.) If they aren't even sure what a smart phone is, perhaps that gives a clue to their ability to understand which is a better buy for them. So, I'm going to get "real" here, even if it does disappoint you.

Of course, many people (at least under the age of 50) are fully aware of the purpose of a smart phone. But they have been barraged for years by marketing. In a similar manner that automobiles often site their engine size or horsepower, the mobile phone marketers site things like "3.2 GHz CPU" and "8 GB RAM". As though we should know that bigger is better, and we can expect to pay more, just like we paid more for that 329 cubic inch rather than the 289. Well, not to accuse anyone of misleading you, but for what it is worth, here are my guidelines on what NOT to do:

  • You absolutely do NOT need the fastest, biggest, lightest, whatever-else-est feature set. In most cases, you will never be able to tell the difference, so why pay for it?
  • Don't worry about whether one device has apps that another device doesn't have. Any app that is worth having on one mobile phone is available on all others. (No app vendor in their right mind would limit their market to one mobile phone vendor.
  • All major manufacturers are working hard to improve product quality so they don't lose customers. So in my opinion, you need not worry about overall quality.
  • And finally do not worry about one unit being easier to use than the other. Despite the hype, neither manufacturer has cornered the market on engineers that are smart enough to build the "easiest to use". One model may have an email app that is easier to use than the other, but the other model has a mapping app that's easier to use. Could you analyze every app and come up with a winner? I doubt it.

So, how DO you decide? Here's my guidance:

  • First, figure out what size you need. Other than the really small "flip phone" style/size, there are three or so sizes to choose from. 
  • Second, if you are going to do ALOT of typing, look for units that have a keypad with characters, rather than using the touchscreen. (That's only if you are planning to frequently compose very large messages and documents.)
  • Finally, completely ignore the marketing hype. Don't buy the top of the line with biggest that and fastest this. And if you see two units that both fit your size and style needs, buy the cheaper. You will never notice the difference, and unless you like throwing away your money, you will feel better.

Now, if you have friends that like to brag about their unit being the coolest or fastest or biggest. Let them brag. Maybe you can buy them a beer with some of the cash you saved! 

Total: 1 Comment(s)
Shawn ODonnell (Host)
Shawn ODonnell (Host)  I think its worth updating this article to reflect my experiences and to clarify the point. Regarding the third bullet point about 'what not to do', I think the phrase 'you need not worry about overall quality' should be clarified. First, keep in mind that this article focuses on smart phones - i.e. iPhones versus Android. My original suggestion was that in the big picture, the companies making these devices are large and will strive to improve quality and address issues. In general, that remains true, but I should expand with some advice. Keeping in mind that this article was directed as "tips" to non-technical individuals, it still is worth noting that when considering smartphone selections, some research is valuable. Here are some expanded tips: * Ignore most of what you see/read/hear in advertisements. For the most part it is all hype, meant to appeal to your emotions, not reality. * Seek "product reviews" on the Web. Use your favorite search engine to look up the products you are interested, and include the word "review". * Visit online shopping sites that carry the devices and read their "Reviews". Recently the major sites have made a special effort to vet reviews to ensure they are from true customers. * I continue to believe that most people do not need (or notice) the highest performance device features. But in your research, lookout for people complaining about things like "slow", "unstable", "crashes frequently", "short battery life", etc. Those may be signs you should select a different manufacturer or model. Good luck! And, Happy New Year!!!
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