It’s very easy as a phone reviewer to lose touch with reality about which phones are actually best for the average consumer. While most readers of tech blogs follow the most current smartphone releases, most consumers generally stick with their devices for two to three years before making a change. That timeline generally doesn’t jive with phone reviews that only look at a smartphone for two months before the writer makes a switch to the next smartphone.
I have been an avid user of Android smartphones for several years. I love the freedom to choose from a wide variety of manufacturers whereas Apple is the only company who makes iPhones. Having the freedom to pick from a wide variety of smartphones gives me the opportunity to switch phones every month if I want. There’s no shortage of phones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Google, Xiaomi, Huawei and LG with countless brands most consumers never heard of that exist mainly in China and India.
Having all of that freedom isn’t necessarily a good thing for people who aren’t avid smartphone fanatics. There’s simply too much fragmentation within Android. Different charging standards, display sizes, battery capacity, processors, memory, cameras and most importantly software versions, create too much confusion for average consumers. Typical users don’t have time nor the desire to learn all of the specific details of a smartphone – they simply want their phones to work as advertised. When the phone gives them trouble, they want good customer service when they need it. That’s what Apple provides and it is why it is the most valuable company in the world by selling the best smartphones of 2016, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
It’s easy to say Apple has gone stale with its third generation of the current build. But the build is reliable. Realistically it might be asking to much of smartphone manufacturers to completely redesign their smartphones within one year’s timeframe. There are way too many variables to consider and is part of the reason why Android manufacturer’s profit margins are so slim. My favorite versions of the iPhone has always been the S version. The S model was always the second generation of a current design which means it was the design where Apple had worked out the majority of the bugs. Having a smartphone with few bugs is much more important than having a new body design that will go out of style by the following year.
Last year, I would have recommended the Google Nexus 6P to most users, as it provided a solid user experience at a moderate price. Since then, Google has abandoned lower priced Nexus phones in favor of the Pixel and Pixel XL which are great phones, but they are simply too pricey to recommend. They are just as expensive as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, without in store customer service and third party accessories. Google’s lack of commitment to stick with products is also starting to catch up with the company.
One area where Apple is hands down the clear winner is with text messaging. iMessage is without question the best messaging platform in the world. Anyone who is committed to Apple products with Macbooks, iPads and iPhones all love the ability to message friends and family from whatever device they choose under one single account. Text messaging might be the most important reason for owning a smartphone after the ability to make phone calls. That’s debatable though as most people use messaging in far greater quantities than minutes. That’s why it’s important for most Apple users to stick with iMessage. No matter where you go or who you message with iMessage, it only consumes data and users will never be charged for international SMS rates.
Google can’t even decide which platform it wants to go with – Allo, Messenger, Duo and Hangouts – all create a ton of confusion for its users. It needs to unify all of those services into one platform and stop letting third parties create their own messengers which add to the confusion.
Another area which might seem boring to Android enthusiasts is software. While Apple’s iOS arguably has fewer features than Google’s Android, most people do not need styluses, Hi-Res playback features, or modular accessories. All of those features and customization come at the cost of software updates. When Apple releases a software update, just about every single device that is three years old or newer gets the update on the same day. The same can’t be said for Android devices. While many flagships get the current release of Android within 2-5 months, some smartphones are left out altogether which leaves users with bugs and security vulnerabilities. Both of those items are not acceptable to users who don’t switch out their devices every six months. It’s one area where Apple simply dominates Google and is the main reason why Apple loyalists love their devices so much.
Apple’s customer service is also the best of any smartphone manufacturer. It actually has stores where you can take your iPhone for repairs, or simply ask questions from the sales people who know their devices like the back of their hands. If you have a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge or LG G5, you can only take it to Best Buy or carriers where the sales people know how to use several phones. If you need repairs though, you’re stuck with going to the carrier or sending it into repair centers where you might be stuck without a device for a week or two at a time.
With all of this said, I still choose Android for myself. I love the freedom of choice and the ability to change devices whenever I want. However when it comes to recommending a smartphone, I almost always go with iPhones as they are best in the most practical areas like reliability, software, and customer service. Even though iPhones are pricey, they do last longer than other smartphones, which gives users an overall greater value for their dollar.