iOS vs. Android: 8 Things to Consider Before Buying Your Next Smartphone

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Each of us has an idea of what smartphone we want. For some, the apps and widgets are the best thing. For others, it is the simple, easy-to-use interface that matters most. Our opinions and preferences prove that there’s no such thing as the perfect smartphone.

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Aside from the interface and the apps, there are other things to consider when choosing a smartphone. One is the operating system, or OS. Most smartphone buyers prefer the iOS or Android over other operating systems.

Learning more about the two leading smartphone operating systems will help you decide which suits your needs (and wants). But it is also important to look at the general picture. What is the first thing you should look for in a smartphone? What other features should you consider?

Here are eight things you should consider before buying a smartphone. A list of the strengths and weaknesses of iOS and Android phones are included.

1. Processor: Dual-Core or More?

If you will be using your smartphone mainly for the Internet, email, video, music and photos, it is best to choose one with a dual-core processor. A smartphone that has two processors assures speed and efficiency when you’re multitasking.

If you plan to use your smartphone mainly for gaming, you should go for one with a quad-core processor.

iOS smartphones are powered by Apple’s processors. Apple’s newest is the A6, which is reputed to be two times faster than the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 uses this new A6 processor.

There are a number of Android smartphones with dual-core processors, like Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and HTC’s One S. Examples of Android phones with quad-core processors are the LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

2. Portability

Which smartphone size will work well for you? Do you want palm-sized phones or the 2.5-inch-wide ones? Whatever size you are comfortable with should be your priority.

3. Screen Size and Display

The size of the phone’s screen is also important, especially if you are going to do a lot of gaming and browsing. Android smartphones have some of the largest screens, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which is almost tabletlike at 5.5 inches. The iPhone 5 screen is about 4.5 inches.

Smaller screen phones are also easy to find, starting with the iPhone 4S, which is under the 4-inch mark.

Choose a smartphone with a high screen resolution so that pictures or images will be crisp and clear. The iPhone 5 has an 1136 x 640 pixel resolution. Samsung Galaxy S3, an Android phone, has a 1280 x 720 resolution.

Both iOS and Android phones have solid GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit), but the iPhone 5 has a slight advantage because of its triple-core PowerVR SGX 543MP3 GPU. This means that gaming and apps on the iOS smartphone will be significantly better.

4. RAM (Random Access Memory)

No matter what your reason for getting a smartphone, you will be storing a lot of data on it. This is where RAM comes in. If your smartphone has a large capacity RAM, it can store as much data as you need, without problems like slow loading of apps or widgets. You can choose smartphones with 512MB or 1GB of RAM, or with even more.

Both iOS and Android have phones with 1GB RAM, most notably the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3.

5. Battery Life

A smartphone isn’t so smart with a dead battery, so do a little research into which has the largest battery capacity, or maybe extended batteries. The majority of iOS and Android models come with spare batteries. If not, you should consider buying one.

These are the battery details of some iOS phones:

  • iPhone 5: talk time of up to eight hours on 3G; standby time of up to 225 hours; Internet use of up to eight hours on 3G, up to eight hours on LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi (source: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html)

For the most popular Android phones:

  • Samsung Galaxy S3: talk time of up to 22 hours (2G), up to 11 hours (3G); standby time of up to 900 hours (2G), up to 750 hours (3G)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2: talk time of up to 35 hours; standby time of up to 980 hours
  • HTC One X: talk time of up to 10 hours; standby time of up to 384 hours

6. Your Choice of Apps and Widgets

Widgets are found on the home screen and update themselves automatically. Some examples are calendars, news reports, weather updates and traffic advisories. If you like customized widgets, you will love Android phones because this is one of the things they are known for. The most popular Android widgets are Google Docs, the calendar, weather and the Flashlight Pro. iOS has pretty much the same widgets, with a few modifications.

In terms of apps, Android phones have a lot of them. However, they cannot compare with iOS apps in terms of quality. Because Android is an open market, it is more welcoming to third-party developers, resulting in the creation of practically every app you can think of. Many of these apps, however, do not adhere to the king of quality you want in a smartphone app.

iOS phones have more quality apps because Apple exercises tight control over what is created for its devices.

7. Storage

Both iOS and Android smartphones have internal storage, and both give you the option to upgrade storage capacity. However, only Android has a microSD card slot for external storage. These microSD cards allow you to expand your storage up to 64GB. Many smartphone users choose models with the minimum storage capacity and then upgrade with a microSD because it is less expensive than buying high-end smartphones. For capacity and selection of storage upgrades, Android trumps iOS.

8. Camera

The camera is an important smartphone feature. You can use it to capture your favorite moments and share them with others. Smartphones now have features and apps that allow you to share your photos directly to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and more.

A high megapixel, good image-processing features, the ability to take high-definition photos and editing features are some of the things to note when examining a smartphone’s camera. You also have to decide whether you want just a rear camera or if you also want a front-facing one (for self-portraits).

iOS phones: The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 have 8 megapixel cameras, while the iPhone 4 comes with a 5 megapixel iSight camera. All three come with a LED flash and auto focus. The iPhone 4S and 5 also have face detection and panorama features in addition to their five-element lens.

Android phones: Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has an 8 megapixel rear camera and LED flash, while its Note 2 has an 8 megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash and a 1.9 megapixel VT camera. Additionally, it has features like Best Face, low light shot and Best Photo. The HTC One X Android phone comes with an 8 megapixel camera with auto focus and smart LED flash. It also has a BSI sensor to help with low-light shots. The HTC One X camera also allows 1080p HD video recording and has a video stabilization feature.

There you have it. Eight things to consider when deciding which iOS or Android smartphone to buy.

To sum it up, here are important points you should keep in mind:

Choose an iOS smartphone if:

  • you want to work with a simple interface;
  • you are a dedicated Mac user;
  • you want a smartphone with a sophisticated design;
  • you are a non-technical user who loves gadgets;
  • you want high quality apps;
  • you can afford or are willing to spend more for your smartphone.

iOS devices are not as customizable as Android phones, but they have an excellent mobile browser and provide support for a number of accessories, such as charging stands, connector cables, car stereos, etc.

Choose an Android smartphone if:

  •  you like to tinker a lot (widgets);
  • you work with many of Google’s services and are a heavy Gmail or Google Maps user;
  • you want as many apps as possible on your phone;
  • you want to customize everything on your phone.

Android smartphones are heavy on apps, but they also take some time to set up. Also, all Android phones are not the same; the less expensive ones can be slower and more sluggish.

Knowing what you want or need your smartphone for will make it easier to decide which one to buy. Take some time to compare and don’t rush your decision.

Published or Updated: April 21, 2014

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