Should I get an iPhone or an Android?

by Mathew on September 16, 2008 · 11 comments

So the Wall Street Journal says that the long-awaited, much-ballyhooed Google Phone is coming soon, and TechRadar says that Google execs demonstrated a working prototype at a developer event recently in London. Meanwhile, some of the bloom has come off the iPhone rose in the past little while (for some people at least), with much discussion of how Apple maintains an iron fist when it comes to which apps are allowed on the device. So if given the choice between the two — which I admit is pretty hypothetical at the moment — which one should I buy?

The iPhone is tres cool, no question about that. It looks great, it feels great, and (for the most part) it works great. The size of the screen and the auto-rotation feature, not to mention the multi-touch interface, makes Web browsing and photo viewing almost as appealing as on a desktop, and puts it miles ahead of any other mobile device so far. Apps like Shazam — which identifies the music you’re listening to on the radio or your stereo, or pretty much anywhere in the immediate vicinity of your phone — make the phone a pleasure to use. Unfortunately, Apple won’t let iPhone users install certain apps, even when they sound really useful.

Google, by contrast, is taking an expressly open approach with its phone, which runs the “Android” operating system and is part of the Open Handset Alliance,” and boasts a platform so open that developers can even replace the software that dials a phone number. Will the apps function as well as iPhone apps do? No way of knowing really. Open source can be somewhat chaotic sometimes. And don’t get me wrong — I know that Apple maintains rigid control of the way its hardware and software work together because it believes, with some justification, that doing so improves the user experience. I don’t think it’s just because Steve Jobs is a control freak.

That said, however, the prospect of an open phone from Google is an appealing one, and seems to have many people excited. Will it be as sleek and sexy as the iPhone? Unlikely. But the ability to run many different apps and services might just make up for that — assuming, of course, that Google doesn’t try to set up its own little walled garden.

  • http://www.theclientsideblog.com Michael Seaton

    I'd go for Android, I love Google. I'm already using most Google Apps on my BB so I would love to see how Android opens up more Google goodness.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I must admit that I'm kind of addicted to most of Google's apps as well on the BlackBerry, despite the fact that Gmail keeps hanging all the time.

  • http://www.5o9inc.com Peter Cranstone

    Depends… what problem are you trying to solve and what are you willing to pay for it. Voice is a done deal – no need to pay through the nose anymore. That leaves the data plan and what you're going to access with it. Is it a must have or a nice to have?

    Decide exactly what apps you need to run on it and then compare against the competitors. My bet is that a Blackberry will work just fine – the iPhone will look better in your pocket and the Gphone will make you look hip. It all boils down to your wants and your needs. The rest is simply marketing.

    Cheers.

    Peter

  • http://twitter.com/kilyn10 Kimberly

    My view is always wait and see… There will definitely be good and bad reviews of the Android for your to base your decisions on.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Peter. Good advice.

  • Peter

    I am waiting for Android, since the platform is open and Google is able to innovate quickly.

  • http://beyondthebleedingedge.blogspot.com Andrew

    We are still years away from seeing a gPhone – the idea of an open app store is great, but only if you have a customer base that will buy your application.

    Currently they are about 10 million units behind Apple, about 300 million behind Nokia and 20 million behind RIM. Google is not a merchandising company, and is certainly not a consumer electronics company. They have a tough uphill battle with Android, and it won't be weeks, it will be years.

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  • http://www.skorks.com/ Alan Skorkin

    Chances are the google phone is not going to get it right the first time, so it is doubtful the first version of their phone is going to be worth getting (although i could very well be wrong, stranger things have happened :)). Having said that, I for one don't like the culture that apple are fostering around everything (elitist, super-secret and proprietary) they do including the iphone. So for the moment i am sitting on the fence, i can always get an iphone any time i want i have no pressing need for it (my current phone works fine) and who knows maybe google will create something special.

  • http://www.skorks.com/ Alan Skorkin

    Chances are the google phone is not going to get it right the first time, so it is doubtful the first version of their phone is going to be worth getting (although i could very well be wrong, stranger things have happened :)). Having said that, I for one don't like the culture that apple are fostering around everything (elitist, super-secret and proprietary) they do including the iphone. So for the moment i am sitting on the fence, i can always get an iphone any time i want i have no pressing need for it (my current phone works fine) and who knows maybe google will create something special.

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