By Evan Blass | June 14, 2012 4:41 PM
No, I don’t actually need help deciding. But anyone who’s into smartphones — that means you, dear reader — knows the question quite well: as the “phone guy/girl” among friends/relatives/coworkers, you’re frequently asked for advice on which handset to choose. And more times than not these days, people are looking to decide between the Apple iPhone and [name of Android handset].
Less than years ago, the choice was easy: the iPhone was the best phone on the market, hands down. It had the most beautiful form factor, highest quality materials, greatest pixel density, and a polished UI and market experience that was simply too advanced for the competition to emulate. Fast forward to the present, however, and it’s much more difficult to decide what advice to give. While the iPhone is still an excellent product, Android phones, along with the core platform, have advanced at a more significant clip. All of a sudden that 3.5-inch Retina Display and Flash-less browser have started to really look out-of-touch by comparison.
As any good salesman knows, there is no one-size-fits-all product; the best device on the market is the one that meets your needs most closely, and will thus be different depending on the person. Therefore, the truly helpful friend will not immediately begin listing the pros and cons of both handsets, but rather, will respond with a question of his or her own: “What do you mainly use the phone for?” It’s only when you know how someone plans on utilizing a product that you can evaluate the choices available to them.
I usually advise older people, or those with below average technological proficiency, to go for an iPhone right off the bat. One of the advantages of that handset and the iOS operating system is that they can be as simple or powerful as you make them; the iPhone works just fine right out of the box, but it can also become a much more sophisticated tool thanks to the plethora of apps, the ability to jailbreak, and the active development/hacking community. Android on the other hand, especially the latest incarnation, has a bit more of a learning curve. It’s great for power users or those with a bit of patience, but the icon-heavy, light-on-text UI and configurable home screens are probably not as novice-friendly as the comparable elements of iProducts.
When it comes to the high end, however, Apple has some catching up to do. The iPhone’s screen, at least on paper, has falled behind those found on the latest Android flaghips, many of which feature 720p HD displays that are pushing five inches diagonal. The iPhone can still hold its own in any benchmark comparison with competing platforms, of course, but many of its specs like RAM, LTE-capability (or lack thereof), and battery capacity, are overdue for a refresh. That refresh, which should at least include a larger screen, is already being prepped for production in China, reportedly.
I won’t go through every use case scenario, but it’s pretty clear to me that different phones are right for different people. It’s why we added the “Scored for Me” section to reviews, which tries to evaluate the device in question as it pertains to various types of users. However, there will no doubt be those who disagree with this philosophy, firmly believing that one platform or another is the best for all users — under all circumstances. If you do think that operating system X really is most appropriate for all users, try and make a reasonably-argued case for that in the comments below.