I recently switched to an Apple iPhone 5s after 2 years as an Android user. I had a Samsung S2 for half a year and then had been using a Samsung S3 for another 1.5 years. After moving back to the US, I was increasingly disappointed with the selection and quality of apps offered on Android. I was also increasingly frustrated by the lack of performance of the device. So I ended up switching.
I don’t have a bone to pick in the whole open (Android) vs. closed (iOS) debate. There are compelling business and product arguments in favor of both approaches. This post is meant to merely highlight my views on the quality of both products from a user’s perspective. And in that regard, I think Apple is the winner.
The biggest difference you notice as an Android user is the selection the selection, stability, and quality of the apps on iOS vs Android. For one, there are a number of iOS apps that just aren’t available on Android. This is particularly true of any new app in the US. And for those apps that are on both iOS and Android, generally speaking, the Android version is less polished. The UX is worse, they crash more often, updates are pushed less frequently, etc. On iOS, everything integrates more smoothly. Facebook oauth is easier, for instance, or navigating from notifications to the actual apps is smoother.
Another huge pet peeve of mine on Android is all the crappy software the handset manufactures pre-load onto the device, in this case Samsung. Samsung’s chat service (ChatON), Samsung’s app store, etc. I don’t know who uses this stuff. There are better versions of all these services from folks other than the OEMs. Ultimately, the S3 was full of tech that just doesn’t quite work. For instance, a facial recognition feature on the security screen that’s supposed to unlock the phone. It doesn’t really work and it’s not secure, so why include it? Compare this to the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s, which works perfectly and is actually useful.
Android has its pros no doubt. In terms of the hardware, there’s the larger screen. This to me is the biggest plus of Android devices. Once you’ve used a slightly larger screen, the iPhone feels cramped and typing is more difficult. I expect Apple to introduce a larger screen option when it releases iPhone 6. As we spend more and more of our online time on phones, having a slightly larger screen only makes sense.
The other thing you notice once you start using iOS after Android is how bad the autocorrect capability is. On Android, Swiftkey is awesome – much, much better than the native iOS autocorrect. I’m not sure why Apple isn’t better (they don’t do software well), but it isn’t. And it doesn’t feel like it’s improved much over where it was a few years ago. It may sound minor, but if you send a lot of email or other messages, you notice the difference between Swiftkey and Apple instantly.
All in all, I think Apple offers a more polished experience versus comparable Android devices. I expect this to continue to give an edge to Apple in more developed markets, especially the US where handsets are carrier subsidized. Outside the US, Android will continue to dominate (see here for more on this) given the range of price points it offers.