Apple’s keynotes, typically loaded with new iPhone and iPad surprises, are some of the most closely watched product launches of the year. But in view of the features packed into recent Android rivals like the Galaxy Note and Essential Phone, the anticipation around Apple’s imminent late summer event is unusually high. The Cupertino, Califorinia-based tech giant is expected to debut three new smartphones on September 12, including a 10th anniversary edition iPhone that could bring the biggest changes Apple’s iconic mobile devices have seen in years.
With this new iPhone, which may cost upwards of $1,000, Apple is expected to make several much-needed alterations that should give it a leg up in the perennial clash of iPhone vs. Android. Among the most noticeable may be a radical redesign that adds a sharper, larger screen and new sensors for facial recognition. Such changes would be crucial for Apple to keep pace with Android smartphone makers like Samsung, Essential and OnePlus, all of whom have stepped up innovations in design and power consumption that leave Apple’s current iPhones behind in key areas.
Here are five ways Android phones have pulled ahead of the iPhone in recent years.
Given our reliance on mobile devices for everything from finding our way home to catching up on work emails, a smartphone’s battery never lasts long enough. While endless battery life is a pipe dream, some manufacturers have made strides in charging speed, making it easier to top off your battery if, say, you only have 15 minutes near an airport outlet. Samsung’s flagship smartphones have included quick charge technology since 2015, while even OnePlus’ low-end 3T model offers the feature. Apple hasn’t made any advancements in this area yet, but rumors indicate the company’s 2017 iPhones may support the USB-C version of USB Power Delivery, which enables speedier charging experiences.
A bigger and better screen
This is arguably the area where Apple currently lags most. Take a look at the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus alongside the latest phones from Samsung, LG, and Essential, and the iPhone 7 family feels archaic. That’s because these smartphone makers have redesigned their newest mobile devices to include screens so large that they dominate the face of the phone. Many have done so by making the borders around the display smaller (not unlike the shrinking frames around flat-screen TVs), allowing for more visual real estate without expansing the phone’s physical dimensions.
By comparison, Apple’s most recent iPhones still have chunky bezels above and below the display, where components such as the home button, speaker and front-facing camera are situated. That could all change next month, as the 10th anniversary edition iPhone is expected to lose its physical home button and add a gigantic edge-to-edge screen. It’s an overhaul the iPhone needs in order to keep up with its biggest Android competitors.
But the quality of the iPhone’s display could stand improvement, too. Although the iPhone’s display is top-notch, the liquid crystal displays (LCD) on Apple’s smartphones don’t offer as much contrast as the organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens on rival phones made by Samsung. Plus, OLED displays don’t require backlights, potentially netting battery life savings. This is another improvement Apple is expected to introduce on its premium iPhone next month.
Storage options that are more affordable and flexible
Apple’s entry level iPhone 7 offers 32GB of storage, which is half the 64GB storage capacity offered by some Android phones. If you need more than 32GB, you have to shell out another $100 for the 128GB model.
Essential’s phone is one example of an Android device that offers a better deal when it comes to storage. With Essential, consumers get 128GB inside a phone that costs $700, whereas Apple charges $749 for the version of its iPhone with the same capacity. And although Samsung charges $724 for the 64GB Galaxy S8, which is only $25 cheaper than the 128GB iPhone 7, the S8 includes a microSD card slot for adding additional space. The OnePlus 5 also provides 64GB of storage in its base option, which only costs $479, making it $179 cheaper than the 32GB iPhone 7.
There’s a slim to none chance that Apple will ever add expandable storage to the iPhone. But the company is rumored to be bringing back the 64GB configuration with its next smartphone, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
USB-C for universal charging
Wouldn’t it be great if you could pack the same charger for both your iPhone and laptop? As gadget manufacturers have gradually adopted the new USB-C standard, Apple’s proprietary Lightning charger feels increasingly inconvenient. Nearly every major Android phone uses a USB-C port for charging, which is the same type of connector used to charge many modern laptops and non-iPad tablets as well. The Wall Street Journalsaid in February that Apple is planning to replace the iPhone’s Lightning port with a USB-C slot. But KGI Securities’ Kuo has a slightly different take: He predicts that new iPhones will retain the same Lightning port, but this year’s models will have USB-C Power Delivery baked in to speed up the charging time.
Apple finally made its smartphones water resistant when it introduced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last year, but it’s done little else to make the iPhone less prone to damage. Companies like Motorola are leading the charge in this area by adding shatter-resistant displays to phones such as the Moto Z2 Force and Droid Turbo 2. Essential’s phone also has a titanium frame that’s said to be more sturdy and durable than the aluminum used on most smartphones. Little has been said at this point about next-gen iPhone shatter-resistance, but if the so-called iPhone 8 or iPhone X is capable of wireless charging (as rumored), it stands to reason the new phone may include technology like full waterproofing as well.
A spiritual successor to the Mac versus PC debate that still rages today, the question of whether Android or iOS is the better operating system is a tricky one. While Android users criticise Apple for its pricey hardware and locked-off operating system, iOS users have similarly taunted Google fans over Android's occasionally-clunky UI design and security woes.
For businesses, picking the right operating system for employee devices can be a crucial choice, and one which can have a profound impact on your workforce's happiness and productivity. So which one should you pick?
Android vs iOS: Hardware choice
One of the most obvious benefits to opting for Android over iOS is that Android offers infinitely more choice in terms of what hardware you can deploy. The Android ecosystem is huge, with devices to suit every taste and budget. For those that want a best-in-class premium flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best device on the market, while mid-range offering from the likes of Honor and OnePlus promise strong performance without breaking the bank.
On the other hand, while Apple lacks the vast range of devices that the Android family has, there's still a fair spread of options. Between the regular, Plus and SE variants, the iPhone covers pretty much every size you could want, as do the various members of the iPad family.
With that having been said, though, it's simply impossible to beat Android's colossal catalogue of devices. Apple may offer a fulsome range, but iOS is still significantly more restrictive than Android in terms of hardware.
How expensive are Macs to implement in the workplace? Read more in in this whitepaper, ‘Total cost of ownership: Mac versus PC in the enterprise’.
Android vs iOS: Design
Although the latest version of Google's OS is a far cry from the days of clunky Android KitKat, Oreo simply can't match the slick and gorgeous experience offered by iOS. Apple's OS is simply better looking and more intuitive than anything Google can offer.
With iOS, Apple has created an OS that's perfectly suited for the everyday user. It's a highly accessible platform and is incredibly easy to use and navigate, regardless of your experience with technology. Google's operating systems, however, have always suffered from being a little confusing, with many features and settings hidden behind opaque menus.
The problem with simplicity in software is that functionality invariably suffers as a result. Side by side, Android is a far more feature-rich platform, offering greater customisation options and a bunch of settings, albeit hidden, for adjusting a device to fit your tastes and needs. There are even some limited options to set up automated sequences for certain tasks.
Yet within the smartphone market, usability is king. Apple's iOS is easily the best-looking operating system around, and it allows the majority of its users to do everything they would need to do on a daily basis quickly and easily.
While iOS on iPhones looks great, it really shines on tablets where the software can take advantage of powerful multitasking features supported by superb Apple processors. The laptop-style experience you can create on an iOS tablet is simply far superior to anything an Android tablet can offer.
Android vs iOS: Compatibility
The iPhone is the most popular device in the world, so it's absolutely no surprise that software makers and accessory manufacturers generally choose to prioritise it over Android. This means that if you've got an Apple device, you can all but guarantee whatever app, platform, plugin or attachment you want to use with it will be supported.
Android, by contrast, is much more of a gamble. Samsung is pretty much the only major manufacturer whose devices are routinely supported as a matter of course, but even that's restricted to the flagship S-series handsets.
Another potential issue for some users will be the fact that Apple has chosen to remove the headphone jack on later devices. This isn't a major problem, given that there's a Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter supplied in the box and Bluetooth headphones are widely available, but if you're dead-set on having a headphone port, an Android device may be a better choice.
Android vs iOS: Security
Mobile security is too often overlooked by businesses, but if you're issuing devices to your employees, you should make certain that they're as secure as humanly possible. The list of vulnerabilities, exploits and other security flaws that have been discovered in the Android OS is long and extensive, as is the list of malware-riddled apps found on the Google Play Store.
iOS benefits from a better reputation, but it's far from unhackable. Recent notable flaws including the HomeKit bug and the Meltdown/Spectre debacle. instances of major exploits in Apple's devices are much, much fewer than on Android, however, and it benefits from faster software rollouts, too. Apple can push updates to all of its handsets directly, whereas Android users must wait until their phone maker has implemented a version of Google's update that works with its own Android skin.
Cost is always a concern when contemplating offering Macs to your workforce, but when evaluating the total cost of ownership, Macs are actually less expensive than PCs. Learn more here.
Android vs iOS: Verdict
Android has millions of fans around the world, and with good reason; it's matured into a powerful and versatile operating system, with heaps of functionality. However, for business devices, the fact is that Apple's software remains king of the hill.
iOS is slick, easy to use, good-looking and with absolutely stellar security. While it's not without its flaws, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, and for corporate devices, iOS should still be your first port of call.