Back in 2013 we wrote “10 reasons why Android is still better than iOS”. Three years later, almost all these points remain the same, and for those that we feel are no longer relevant, new reasons arose to take their place.
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It has been a good year for Android, considering the latest reports mention it has an 84.7% market share (as of Q3 2015), but with a bunch of competitors waiting in the wings there’s no time to rest on laurels. So in 2016, what are the ten top reasons we feel that Android champions over iOS?12
Let’s jump in and take a look.
Devices… devices everywhere!
There is something for everyone on the Android platform. The sheer variety of Android smartphones from manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and others is staggering. You can get a compact phone, something with a huge touchscreen, a stylus, a rotating camera, an edge screen, or even a physical keyboard such as found on the Blackberry Priv. Niche demands like dual SIM are catered for, and the flagship devices are on the cutting edge when it comes to specs. There’s also features you just can’t get with Apple’s devices, like microSD and removable battery. Yes, some Android manufacturers have moved away from offering these extras, but the nice thing about options is there are manufacturers that still do.
The same story exists largely for the tablet market too, with all sorts of different devices from the Pixel C to the Nexus 9, Xiaomi’s tablets, Honor’s tablets, Samsung Note tablets, and the list goes on.
Attracting a huge range of manufacturers and giving them license to run amok in terms of imagination has resulted in the widest variety of devices on any platform, even blurring the line between smartphone and tablet. Compared to the limited iPhone and iPad lineup, Android represents choice on a grand scale.
Sure, Apple has a few sizes to offer, but size is really the only differentiator there. The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, for example, have pretty much most of the same specs with the main difference being screen size and resolution. The same general argument applies to the iPads, even though there are more choices than with the smartphone counterparts.
Prices to fit your needs
This naturally follows on from the first point on our list. A wide variety of devices with different designs and specs means that Android has something for you at just about any budget. The exclusive nature of Apple’s products is in stark contrast to the inclusive nature of Android. Almost anyone can afford an Android phone. It might not be all-singing and dancing, but there are solid budget options that give people a true smartphone experience.
This is even more true in 2016 than it was when we first created this list in 2013. Not only do you have the Moto G line, but there’s the Honor 5X, a variety of BLU devices, OnePlus X and OnePlus 2, and even low-cost flagships like the Moto X Pure Edition and Nexus 5X. In contrast, the iPhone and iPad are prohibitively expensive for many, but a budget Android device doesn’t need to cost much more than an old feature phone. And if you can afford to spend somewhere in the $150 to $300 ballpark, you can find a handset that gives a near flagship-level experience with just a few concessions in order to keep pricing down.
Affordability has been a key driver for Android dominance worldwide and it continues to be. If you want premium devices that match and surpass the iPhone or iPad then you can find them, but if you want a budget device, then Android is really your only choice.
One of the strong points of Android has always been the level of customization it allows. While Apple wants to keep control of default apps in order to maintain a homogenous software and hardware experience, Android lets you pick your own level of customization. This extends all the way from simple things like live wallpapers, to alternative keyboards, to custom ROM installs.
Detractors will always say only hardcore geeks care about this level of customization, but at the shallow end of the pool this isn’t true. Plenty of iOS users loved it when Apple started allowing third-party keyboards and basic widgets, and that on its own is proof that this flexibility is what people want.
Some manufacturers are even allowing complex hardware customization. Motorola has Moto Maker, LG has replaceable leather back plates, as does Xiaomi. Those are just a few examples of something Apple will never do for you. Consider yourself lucky to have champagne gold and rose gold available… that is pretty revolutionary for Apple.
Android’s widgets have long been a feather in its cap compared to the static rows of icons you find in iOS. Even Microsoft saw the advantage, developing the Live Tiles system for Windows Phone. Widgets are still a major advantage for Android over iOS. Simply put, you can see all of the information you want at a glance on your home screen without having to fire up an app.
And yes, we know Apple introduced widgets last September. Have you seen those things? They are very limited and live only on your notification area. Not the same! Android still wins here.
You can argue iOS does multi-tasking all you want. And it’s true, you can do multiple things at once by switching apps back and forth, but that doesn’t even come near to the level of multi-tasking some Android phones offer.
Take Samsung as an example, which introduced multi-window long ago, in which you can view multiple apps at once. Plenty of other manufacturers have also been doing this for years, even if we will admit this is one area where stock Android lags behind.
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Meanwhile, Apple is playing catch-up by adopting similar features, a change that took place in 2015. Most of Apple’s multi-tasking features also remain limited to the tablet realm for the time being, however, and by the time they really bring it to the next level, it’s fairly likely that even Google’s “stock” vision for Android will offer some form of multi-window navigation.
Grab an iPhone, sit next to another iOS user and compare your home screens. Oh wait, they look exactly the same! That’s not the story with Android.
If you want control over how your Android smartphone or tablet looks then you’ve probably tried out a custom launcher. You can choose from a wide variety of custom launcher apps in Google Play and tweak everything from your home screen layout, to your page transitions, to effects and even gestures. There’s no risk involved with launcher apps and you can really open up a world of possibilities.
A launcher also is good for those instances where you love a handset but maybe aren’t so keen on the manufacturer’s custom interface. A launcher goes a long ways in these kinds of situations. And if you are the kind who enjoys the freedom of Android but actually lusts after the looks afforded by iOS or Windows — there’s even launchers that help you achieve a similar look and feel.
You can actually replace the software that came with your device with a custom ROM if you want to. This is essentially installing a new operating system and many Android users do it because their carrier or manufacturer is slow to upgrade to the latest version of the Android platform, but you may also do it for better performance or to gain access to some add-ons or tools. This is definitely the extreme end of Android customization and you need to exercise a little caution to ensure that you don’t run into trouble. That said, as long as you can follow a tutorial and your device is supported, the benefits can be enormous.
Hell, there’s even ways to install completely different operating systems on some Android devices, such as Ubuntu, Firefox OS, Sailfish, and the list goes on.
Some years ago we discussed why Google and Android will prevail over Apple and iOS, and this specific topic is still one of the main reasons. Android devices integrate seamlessly with Google’s array of services. People are increasingly using their mobile devices to go online and Google is king of the web. Google Docs, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Music, Google+, Google Chrome…the list goes on, and Apple and iOS are not keeping up.
Sure, many Google services are now in iOS, but that deep level of integration simply isn’t there. And this is an important factor, because most of us use one or two… or three or 10 Google services. You want these to work seamlessly, and Android offers that.
This stands out from the crowd of Google services and, while the excellent voice search has been rolled into the Google iOS app, there are elements of Google Now that you can only enjoy on Android. When we look to our technology to push things forward and offer real convenience boosts to daily life, the predictive and pre-emptive nature of Google Now as it seeks to fulfill your desires before you think to search, could be truly revolutionary.
Whether Google Now is better than Siri or not continues to be subjective, though. This is still a matter of preference, but here at Android Authority we believe Google Now is more straightforward and to the point, which is something we all look for when finding the right digital assistant. With Marshmallow, there’s also plenty of new functionality making its way over, such as Google Now on Tap.
More free apps and games!
It may be a double-edged sword, but you can’t escape the fact that there are more free apps and games on Android than there are on iOS. Sometimes ports of the same apps that carried a price tag on iOS are free on Android. There also seems to be a greater willingness to pursue the freemium or ad-supported model.
Sadly, this may be, at least partly, down to piracy concerns and, while more hits are being ported across, the ability to earn more from iOS development still means more high quality, premium apps and games release on iOS first. Android continues to dominate and we have seen a change here, but it remains one of Android’s biggest challenges.
The industry moves fast, and so does Android
Bugs, lag, an ugly interface, a lack of apps – Android’s weaknesses have been systematically dealt with by a determined development team. The Android platform is unrecognizable compared with the first release and it continues to improve and evolve at a faster pace than the competition.
That big user base and the wide range of manufacturers producing Android devices can only drive further improvements to greater heights. While iOS stagnates, paralyzed by the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school of thinking, Android continues to innovate and improve at a faster rate. Think about it. Android adopted NFC first, as well as fingerprint readers, and retina scanners, and mobile payments, and higher definition displays. The list goes on.
What’s important to you?
We’d love to hear why you think Android is better than iOS. Are your motives for choosing Android covered above or did something else attract you to the platform? Conversely, for those rocking an iPhone, what’s keeping you from Android — is there a specific feature, updates, etc? Post a comment and let us know.