Tuesday, February 19, 2013

iPhones vs Androids: The Update Dilemma

Android 4.1/4.2 Jelly Bean is a great operating system. It's too bad most current Android users won't be able to experience it.




iPhone versus Android...a debate that is bound to drag on for countless smartphone generations to come. I am not going to try and tell you which platform is better, but I am going to inform you about my experiences with each. For the record, I own a Nexus 7, a Galaxy S Continuum, and an iPhone 4S.


Conversely, even owners of the ancient iPhone 3GS were able to get their hands on parts of iOS 6.

To begin, when I made the jump from the Galaxy S to the 4S as my daily driver, the difference was enormous. Obviously, the original Galaxy S is no where near comparable to any modern smartphone, especially my variant, the Samsung Continuum. However, the fact that the 4S blows it out of the water proves two things of which iPhone's are superior to Android: support and stability.

For one, my Galaxy S came out in late 2010. While that is ancient by smartphone standards, keep in mind that the iPhone 4 came out in mid 2010 and is still receiving the latest updates from Apple. My poor old Galaxy S was thrown away by Samsung after the 2.1 update, and only after begging did we finally get the 2.2 Froyo update a year and a half later in the Winter of 2012. What does this reveal? Unless you have a Nexus device, which are directly administered by Google, you are not likely to receive a substantial amount of updates to your Android phone unless you buy a flagship phone like the Galaxy S3.

Even then however, there is a tendency among Android handset makers to drop support for their flagships as soon as their newest model comes out, which proved devastating for former high end phones such as the Droid X2. If you buy a budget or mid range Android phone, you are mostly out of luck, as the operating system that comes with your phone is likely what you will be stuck with for the rest of your two year contract.

As mentioned earlier, Apple supports their phones with updates up until the very point where their hardware no longer can handle new iterations of their iOS operating system. Even the grizzled old 2009 iPhone3GS received parts of the latest iOS 6 update that was released with the iPhone 5.

It is a shame that the majority of Android phones never receive updates, because if they did, I would say Apple would be in a far more precarious position than it currently is in. Being an owner of the Nexus 7 I can attest to how great Android 4.2 Jelly Bean truly is; unfortunately, only a small percent of handsets made since 2011 have been given that update.

For instance, my Galaxy S Continuum had specs that put it on par with the iPhone 4 in nearly every fashion. However, thanks to its disgustingly bad operating system, it suffered from horrible screen lag, battery drain, and overall bad and jittery performance. If it had been updated even to 2.3 Gingerbread, I'm sure I would have had a much better experience with my Android phone.

My iPhone 4S, while not technically up to par in comparison to my Nexus 7, performs nearly as well. I give credit to Apple for crafting a device where the software and hardware work in tandem to boost its performance beyond what you may think it capable of.

In my mind this is similar to how Microsoft and Sony can get more out of their ancient game consoles in comparison to PC game makers. The operating system on consoles is smooth and streamlined because Microsoft and Sony control everything about them, much like Apple and their iPhone, resulting in an experience that goes beyond what the hardware is traditionally thought to be able to accomplish.

This of course is one of the main criticisms Android users have for iPhones-- the fact that you are given few options to customize your mobile experience.

I will discuss this in depth in part two, but for now I can say that I agree with Android users that the ability to personalize your experience is crucial. However, I disagree with the idea that the iPhone limits your ability to do so to any significant degree.

Stay tuned for the next part, where I will examine the aforementioned personalization debate, screen size, and more.

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