Choosing a smartphone these days is a bigger challenge than we realise. We all have different and multiple requirements, which has led to the development of numerous apps. Android and iOS app developers all over the world are striving to develop technologically-driven apps for the end user that excels in every way possible. At the same time investing in the best operating system that can give a smooth experience is equally important.
Let’s get to know what works best for you amongst Android, iOS and Windows in this series that breaks the battle down into categories. Once you have counted the wins in the categories that matter the most to you– who will have a winner!
Apple’s devices are always among the most expensive one in the market. Windows phones are available at varying price points and are always good at producing quality, but have few that rival Android and iOS on specs.
Nothing competes with Android for sheer scale and variety. A huge choice of low-cost handsets, a platform that’s optimized to run on low-end hardware, and a lead in the field of free apps make Android the natural choice for many.
Though Android has many standard features like customizable home screens, app drawer, pull down notifications, etc., each device also has a lot of variation, more than the other two platforms. Albeit this inconsistency is the biggest defect in terms of interface and design, as majority of Android phones don’t run stock Android.
Windows is based on a grid of live tiles that can be arranged to suit the need. There is a consistency in Windows phones that matches with Windows PCs and tablets.
iOS phones are easy to understand, are bright with modern-feeling, have slick animations that give a sense of depth, and are perfectly uniform across iPhones and iPads. The end result is a more uniform, cleaner, stylish, and simple interface than any Android and Windows phone.
When it comes to overall app numbers and their quality, Windows phones can be overlooked here as they still trail way behind Android and iOS.
Android’s market share continue to grow along with having a higher percentage of free apps in the Play Store. It also benefits from the latest and greatest versions of Google’s apps.
With iOS on the other hand their app developers find its platform more lucrative and easier to develop apps on, which is why there has been a tendency for new apps to appear there first. Their design is also more uniform and stylish. If design, variety and quality are important to you all at the same time, then it’s the iPhone for you.
App store usability
Needless to say, it is tough to sift through thousands of apps on offer on different app stores to find what you really want. Sadly, none of the app stores offer an excellent user experience.
Microsoft’s Windows mobile store lags behind in terms of usability and aesthetic.
Between Android and iOS, in terms of recommendations, curated charts, recommendations for new apps, offers on expensive apps and games, and simplicity, the Apple App Store maintains a lead over Google’s Play Store.
Battery life and management
Apple loses the ground in the battery wars, even though it is optimized to squeeze the most out of the battery per mAh rating. Also, what really disappoints is the lack of any fast charging in Apple’s latest flagships.
Windows comes with a battery saver option that helps check the estimated remaining battery life, and its usage across all apps. It also allows to turn off background usage for apps or other non-essential features that save battery life.
An Android device with a much bigger battery can easily outlast the iPhone. Android also gives you the option to see your battery usage at a glance, battery broken down by app with the ability to configure battery optimization, and all this with an estimate of how much battery life you are left with. You can also boost your battery by a decent amount in a relatively short space of time in Android phones with their fast charging capabilities.
Operating Software Updates
Despite the fact that all three platforms are updated on a pretty regular basis, Microsoft and Apple maintain an upper hand as they have greater control over the software. This makes it easier for them to roll out updates and compatible devices to upgrade to the latest version in a timely fashion.
Apple is more consistent and offers timely software updates and security patches.
Windows gives you the option to resize its live tiles, add background images and change colour schemes. Though iOS give the choice for at-a-glance style widgets, they are confined to the notification centre.
Customizability is unambiguously one of Android’s strengths. It allows you to install alternative launchers to change the look of your user interface, set up lock screen, set up multiple home screens with backgrounds, resize widgets, add shortcuts, among others.
Rooting, bootloaders, and jailbreaking
A rooted device gives you access to more apps, latest OS updates without having to wait, ways to boost your device’s speed and battery life, and more. In short, rooting enables you to have complete control over your device, which is possible with Android devices.
Bootloader determines how an OS loads up on your device. While Windows and iOS oppose this kind of thing, many Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) offers a way to unlock the bootloader.
Though not advisable, some devices with Windows allow unlocking bootloaders and rooting, and also support installing Android apps.
Available with iOS, jailbreaking lets you bypass limitations and download & install apps from outside the App store.
Calls and messaging
Microsoft’s only answer separate from the standard SMS is Skype. In Android, Google has folded everything into Hangouts. Though Hangouts enables you to send messages via Wi-Fi, data network, and make video calls online, it can be confusing. This is in addition to Google’s other messaging apps available in the Play Store.
Pre-installed on every iOS device, FaceTime and iMessage are remarkably easy to connect with your friends and family.
Windows, Android, and iOS all three have default email apps that are easy to use, quick to set up, pull in multiple email accounts, and enable viewing in a single inbox.
Android and iOS also offer a number of third-party email apps, however, Gmail is a stronger default email app, while being the most popular email address system in the world. Another thing that makes Gmail a favourite among masses is that it allows to add email addresses from different providers with ease.
Both Android and Windows have adopted the Micro USB standard. Android phones now also have the USB Type-C port on few devices that offer more output through a single cable and they are reversible.
iOS devices on the other hand have a great ecosystem of peripherals for its phones and tablets that all together works exceedingly well, ensuring all Apple products are well connected and on the same page. Although with a proprietary lightning cable, it is difficult to find a charger for an iPhone. Moreover, Apple has also abandoned the standard 3.5mm audio port.
Despite a few disadvantages, taking all available accessories into account, one has more choice with an iPhone.
Apple offers only 5GB with iCloud, and it only works well with its own products.
Both Microsoft’s OneDrive and Google’s Drive offer 15GB of free storage with cross-platform support. A point worth noting is that both iOS and Microsoft though provide additional space at competitive prices, Android offers many other features at a slightly higher, yet economical price.
For all that, Android’s cloud storage is much easier to use, more effective, and offers a lot more space in less than the competition.
From a storage perspective, iOS offer less space to backup photos on iCloud, when compared with the space provided by Google Drive for Android and OneDrive for Windows.
Furthermore, Android allows for automatic backup of unlimited photos and videos at standard size for free, and only charges for full resolution. If you carry a Google Pixel phone, then you get unlimited photo and video storage at full resolution.
All three, i.e. Cortana, Siri, and Google Now when compared, can interpret and act on a variety of voice commands.
Siri acts more like an assistant for making calls, setting calendar appointments, searching the Web, etc.
Google Now can also pre-emptively offer useful information, like the place you recently searched for, latest score of your favourite sports team, etc. The latest version can also provide information from within the app being used like information on a track you are listening to, details on the restaurant recently visited based on emails, etc.
Cortana encompasses elements of both Siri and Google Now by offering access to function within apps, reminder prompts linked to specific people, etc., while handling voice recognition in a better way. You can even download Cortana for iOS and Android devices.
Windows, Android, and iOS, all mobile platforms support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC (near field communication for easy wireless transfers, sharing contacts & web pages, connecting speakers to stream music, mobile payments, etc.).
Both Apple and Android respectively, have Apple Pay and Android Pay too.
Android wins this race by a hair as the NFC is unlocked, which allows it to be used for more things, and it is often easier to set up third-party accessories with Android.
Regardless of the fact that Windows mobile phones are not used widely, Microsoft is certainly working toward improving security for its customers.
Most people do not go outside the Play Store for apps on Android, and therefore are lesser prone to encounter a problem. However, important security patches are delayed by its update’s slovenly nature. In a world where security breaches are becoming more serious, Android’s devices are less secure and vulnerable to threats as it lags behind in its updates.
Apple has clearly indicated contrast by improving security for its customers, most notably with Touch ID. It also gets an edge over Windows and Android by its ability to push updates out more quickly. Personal data is neither stored nor read by Apple and is encrypted too, unlike Google that mines your data to sell better ads and market products.
If privacy and security tops your priority list, then opt iOS, undoubtedly.
Key features of maps on all three platforms are pretty similar. They can be downloaded for offline use, you get turn-by-turn directions for driving & walking, maps give accurate estimates on current traffic conditions on all three – in short they get you where you are going.
Nevertheless, nothing beats the quality of Google Maps.
There’s more to camera than just the megapixel count. And though Android and Windows have surpassed Apple in terms of numbers, Apple certainly does a better job at capturing details like lighting, colouring, etc., and the ease of use with the best results.
In terms of accessibility features, all three platforms offer a good range. However, iOS being uniform across all devices is simpler, less cluttered, more streamlined, and easier to use than Windows and Android.
Both Android and iOS are loaded with features that make them clear winners in equal measures. Counting up the wins in areas that matter to you is an easy way out to decide what you should bank on.