When Verizon Wireless announced that they would sell the Apple iPhone 4, some tech sites speculated that AT&T would really suffer, but Android would be the real loser.
Why Would Android be at Risk?
Since it was first released in the US, the iPhone was extremely popular in spite of being exclusively available on AT&T. When Verizon launched the Motorola Droid, their advertisements were directly aimed at what the Droid could do and the iPhone couldn't. This marked the battle lines and proved to many, myself included, that the iPhone was the one to chase. Any phone that could dethrone the iPhone and earn the title of "iPhone Killer" would have to be one amazing phone.
Now Verizon Wireless customers can finally choose between the iPhone and an Android based smart phone. Verizon no longer cares about or even necessarily wants an "iPhone killer." They have both the iPhone and Android to offer and would certainly no longer need to tout how much better a Droid is than an iPhone. The new advertising focuses on why Verizon is better than any other carrier.
I tested the iPhone 4 for two months and had the opportunity to keep it under contract with AT&T. My Verizon contract was up and my Android phone, though still activated, saw much less use once my iPhone 4 was set up and personalized. After 60 days, decision time was upon me. iPhone or Android? My decision was actually quite easy. I returned the iPhone 4, and I now am deciding between the HTC Thunderbolt and the Motorola Bionic.
It came down to Android's open architecture and greater flexibility. For many, the Android OS is more about functionality and power than streamlined looks and catchy marketing.
Where iPhone Shines
The iPhone is certainly a great phone with many great features. From the expansive and ever growing iTunes store, to great quality music player, and outstanding camera and video camera and a very stable operating system, the iPhone is certainly no slouch. Phone calls sound clear and, once you learn you way around, the user interface is very user friendly.
The Control is in Your Hands
Yes, my Droid is rooted, which allows me added flexibility and access to more customization. But even without root access, Android smart phone owners enjoy the fact that Android uses non-proprietary software formats. What this means is that when you buy music for your Android, it is not wrapped in a format that requires a specific music player in order to be played. Apple uses a proprietary format that demands that the music be played with Apple's music player. Each song is licensed to the person who purchased it in order to prevent piracy, but this causes problems if you want to play it on a device not made by Apple. I have a simple belief that if I purchase something it should belong to me; not to me and the company who sold it to me.
Choosing Android means that you can watch Flash media files on your smart phone, something that iPhone users simply cannot do. Many people have no idea just how many websites and apps rely on Flash.
With an iPhone, what you see is what you get. There is only one interface with iPhones while with Android, there are as many user interfaces as there are manufacturers. HTC uses the Sense UI while Motorola uses Moto Blur. Samsung and LG have their own spin to the Android user interface. With the open architecture of Android, the options are practically unlimited to the customization and manufacturer's spins and enhancements that are available. With Apple as the only maker of the iPhone, the interface options equal one.
4G and LTE
As of the writing of this article, the iPhone 4 is a 3G phone and Apple has no 4G compatible phones in the market. 4G promises download speeds of up to 10 times that of 3G networks. Android has the 4G EVO and the soon to be released Motorola Bionic, as well as a few others soon to be released. There is no doubt that Apple will soon release a 4G phone, but by the time they release their 4G compatible phone, Android based phones will be releasing their third generation of 4G phones. Experience matters.
When it comes down to it, this cell phone battle is now really a battle between Google and Apple, and no longer a battle between which phone is better. Google and Apple are giants in their markets and both rely heavily on the success and future of their smart phone operating systems. While Apple controls everything about the iPhones, Google, not being a manufacturer, focuses solely on the Android platform and lets their partner manufacturers worry about building the phones. Google's ability to focus on just the Android operating system allows them a more focused effort to improvements, upgrades and enhancements, while Apple must remain concerned not only about the operating system but the entire look, feel, build and performance of the iPhone.
Personally, I didn't give much thought about the antenna problems that the iPhone 4 was plagued with, and believed it was more the fault of the AT&T network that caused the dropped calls and user frustration. Still, it was a design flaw that had many wondering if Apple missed something important in their design process. Were they running to catch up to Android? Maybe, for Android based smart phones were in greater use than were iPhones in 2009, and the experts were predicting that Android would continue to take more market share away from Apple and others.
I chose Android and will continue to carry an Android based smart phone with me for a very long time to come. Whether it is the flexibility of the open architecture or Google's ability to remain focused on just the operating system; for me, the battle over smart phones has ended, and Android is the clear winner.
For those still deciding between iPhone and Android, know that both Androids and iPhone are great phones. Your decision should be based not on clever marketing but on how useful and functional the phone will be. Not just for the first few months, but for the entire duration of your contract.