What Phone Is Right For You? 7 – I, Android

Android robot logo.
Do people who spent a lot on iPhones get 'Droid rage?

The war may be over already. By the time you read this, Google’s Android could have surpassed all other phone operating systems by the one significant metric remaining: Number of apps available. It is expected to overtake Apple’s App Store sometime during July, at around the 425,000 mark.

That was the final battle. It passed out Symbian as the most common OS on new phones late last year. At an estimated 57% of the titles in the store, it already has more than twice as many free apps to download as any other system. It is available on phones at a wide range of prices – pretty much all of them less than the iPhone. And at the top end of the scale, Samsung‘s Galaxy S II has received overwhelming critical acclaim, dethroning the iPhone 4 in such league tables as the respected PC Pro A-List. So you could say everything from the best to the cheapest smartphone runs Android. Can there be any reason not to go for it?

A few. Though there are already more free apps available for Android, iPhone is still way ahead with paid-for ones, which are (probably) going to be of higher quality. Moreover, all current Apple apps are going to work pretty well on any iPhone since the 3GS. With the wide variety of hardware running Android, you really have no idea what percentage of the available apps is going to work well for you.

And this gets to the nub of the difference between the iPhone and Android experience. IPhone is simpler, more controlled and managed. Android is more open, more free, more varied. And this will allow it to produce the best phone on the market, time and time again.

But some of the worst smartphones available are going to be running Android too.

If you buy a new iPhone you know it’s going to be one of the best phones available right now. If you opt for Android, you still have a lot of choosing left to do. Right now Samsungs are hot and Sony Ericssons are getting interesting, but it’s only a few months since HTC unquestionably made the best Android phones. It’s a whole market in itself, and a busy one. But if you want the widest choice of handset in a smartphone, then Android it has to be.

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3 thoughts on “What Phone Is Right For You? 7 – I, Android

  1. Hah, you Fandroid, you 😉

    Personally, I do love my iOS, but also really love the fact there’s major competition between mobile OS’s right now, the end-result of which is better handsets for everybody, in my opinion. That’s the reason why you see so many rooting for WebOS to succeed. A duopoly of iOS/Android would be only marginally better than a monopoly by either. Cf. desktop OS’s since the ’90s. (Everybody seems to already have written off RIM, which is slightly silly, if you ask me).

    Interesting tidbit about Android: Microsoft, not Google seems to be the one making the most money of of it! They already struck a deal with HTC, one of the leading Android makers, several smaller producers, and now have their sights set on Samsung:

    http://gigaom.com/2011/07/06/can-android-be-microsofts-next-1-billion-business/

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  2. Haven’t I extolled the virtues of the iPhone enough for in the last two articles? In some ways I prefer it as an operating system, but the more open approach is going to ultimately produce better phones. And many, many worse ones too of course. Certainly there are going to be far more Android apps out there in the long run. I prefer that kind of barely-controlled chaos myself, but others will be drawn to the cooler, cleaner world of the iPhone.

    Personally I hope it doesn’t descend into being a duopoly. I never believe in duopolies; they’re too simple, it’s too easy to do things that are profitable for both parties without even having to collude consciously. I’d like to see at least two other players managing to stay profitable.

    If trends stay as they are though it could end up being effectively an Android monopoly, with the iPhone as a niche product. I hope Apple, and others, are not content to let that happen.

    (Incidentally, that article says that Google are making a billion from advertising on Android alone, so though this patenting-for-profit is objectionable, I hardly think it’s true to say that Microsoft make more from Android than Google.)

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