Can Android be compared with iPhone 4?

Android and android phones used to pale in comparison to the iPhone. For the last 3 years its hasn’t been much of a competition.
But now, the latest crop of phones have caught up. They are now comparable. They are worse than the iPhone in some ways and better than the iPhone in some ways. For the first time, you can say its a matter of personal preference.
Android has been advancing rapidly. Will be interesting to see if they will be able to pull well ahead of iPhone or if the unorganized mass of companies will infight enough to never eclipse Apple.
In my opinion… some of the ways iPhone is better than Android phones include:
  • Better fit and finish. Pretty much subtle little things… but everywhere. Every little detail tends to be better on iPhone. Android phones maybe good, or good enough, but no where near as well built as the iPhone.
  • Customer service. Android phones get superseded every few months. They don’t care to support or upgrade older phones. Unlike Apple.
  • Software polish: iPhone looks better. User experience is better. HTC in particular may make things look flashy… until you use them for a while and they don’t seem a useful or functional.
  • Price: Believe it or not, you get a better deal with Apple today. 16GB vs. 8GB for most Android phones. Higher res display, higher quality.
Areas where Android is significantly better than iPhone include:
  • Choice of carrier. Android is available for all carriers. In the US, Verizon tends to have much better coverage than AT&T. But whichever carrier you like, there’s an Android phone there… or will be soon.
  • Turn by turn navigation. Its awesome. Nuff said.
  • Voice recognition. Anywhere you can type, you can have it recognize your voice. Usually works amazingly well.
  • Browser. When I first tried Android, I thought the browser was much worse than iPhone and generally unusable. But either I was mistaken or Android 2.1 has improved upon it. It is fast, looks great, and can zoom into text better, somehow able to reflow the text making it easy to read with characters as big as you want.
  • Flash: I hate flash. But its really nice to have it when you need it. Makes the iPhone seem crippled.
  • File storage. This is definitely a techie pet peeve. But I really like that on Android I can save files, from the browser or from the internet or other apps. And I can then view the files choosing the app, similar to a PC. It allows me to do things I simply can’t do on iPhone, like download videos in background so that I can watch and rewatch them whenever I please, no cable sync required.
  • Google integration. Google calendar syncs over the air, no cable, no PC needed. Gmail works well. Google Voice is very nice with free text transcription of your messages.
Android weaknesses (or strengths):
  • Email. Drives me nuts. How hard can it be to have a decent email client. K-9 is a 3rd party email which seems to be the best, but it doesn’t even support cut and paste. iPhone wins big time for email.
  • Cut and paste. Typical free for all. No common operating system defined way to do it. Some apps support it, some don’t. Way to access varies by app. Similar issue with much of Android. No enforced consistency. Often a curse.
  • Multitasking: Its better and yet worse than Apples. Being true multitasking, you can get apps that do useful things that can’t easily be done on iPhone. Even iPhone 4. But again, its not well enforced. Rogue applications can abuse the system. Its left to the user to uninstall apps that aren’t well behaved. The operating design itself is brilliant. Superior to iPhone… if only apps were properly coded to its conventions. Conventions which aren’t enforced and can easily be ignored.
Whats more surprising is simply that Android can even be compared to iPhone. The apps in general aren’t as polished, but they’re often good enough. You can find Android equivalents for most things you can do on the iPhone, with the possible exception of games. But even the game front is getting closer.

Active competition between Google’s ecosystem and Apple’s. Hard to tell who will win between them, but almost definitely, the consumer will win… and is already winning.

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