Android vs. iOS: Which Cellular OS Is Finest?

It’s potential to make use of a smartphone operating an working system aside from Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS (Tizen, LineageOS, /e/ anybody?), however the chance that you just’re doing so is infinitesimal. Prefer it or not, for the current, we’re locked in a duopoly in the case of cellular working system alternative. However that is not essentially such a nasty factor: This two-way competitors has pushed what can solely be described as polished, feature-packed, and technologically potent software program. Each working programs are extremely tuned and decked out with options.

A lot of your alternative of smartphone OS, nonetheless, does not concern the software program’s technical capabilities or consumer options. It is doubtless that you just use what your social and household circles are utilizing. If everybody makes use of Apple’s Facetime for video calling, you do not wish to be omitted of the occasion, and also you would not need your messages to have inexperienced bubbles as a substitute of the usual blue ones. In fact, there are cross-platform choices for many features—you possibly can set up Skype or Google Hangouts on each iPhones and Androids—however built-in performance and consistency normally trump third-party choices.

Beneath, we step by the assorted features by which smartphone OSes could be judged, selecting a winner or declaring a tie for every class. On the finish, we tally up the ultimate rating. Remember that each are mature and luxurious works of software program at this level, and also you’re unlikely to be upset with whichever you go for. Be at liberty to appropriate us on PCMag’s Twitter or Fb feeds when you take subject with our strategies or conclusions or assume we left one thing out. For extra element on every cellular working system, learn our in-depth evaluations of Android and iOS.

{Hardware} Decisions

Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup

Your alternative of a tool for operating iOS versus Android is just like the selection between macOS and Home windows computer systems: With the Apple system software program, you’ve gotten a alternative of only one {hardware} vendor, albeit a top-tier one. With Android and Home windows, you possibly can select from dozens of {hardware} makers with a wide variety of worth, high quality, and efficiency ranges. As a result of Android is open-source (in contrast with iOS’s closed supply) it implies that any cellphone maker can use it. And that has resulted in a profusion of Android handsets.

You may get a really usable Android cellphone for as little as $149. Our finances Editors’ Selection, the Motorola Moto e is a tremendous alternative. Distinction that with the most cost effective new iPhone you should purchase, the iPhone SE, which prices $399. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, you possibly can really pay considerably extra for an Android cellphone than for any iPhone: Some configurations of the Samsung Galaxy Fold (itself an excellent instance of the range accessible with the Android platform) promote for north of $2,000, and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely 5G can set you again $1,599. The costliest Apple handset, the iPhone 11 Professional Max, prices $1,449 with 512GB storage. One ultimate Android unique {hardware} function: You may add storage on some Android telephones with a Micro SD card; with iPhones, you are caught with the storage restrict you initially purchased.

Winner: Android

Interface and Usability

Interface in iOS and Android

It is nonetheless truthful to say that Android tends to current extra complexity—extra burrowing down menus to get to the setting you want, a number of house screens, and extra variation amongst totally different cellphone mannequin interfaces. With iOS, due to Apple’s famed love of limiting customers to its manner or the freeway, interface structure and settings are extra constant and uncomplicated.

Because of iOS 14, although, now you can customise your iPhone display greater than ever, with massive, well-designed widgets, the brand new App Library that routinely teams and organizes icons, and customizable icons. Android nonetheless permits extra customization choices than iOS, nonetheless, even letting you select amongst dozens of launcher screens that drastically change the interface.

Contemplating that Android is made by Google, it appears unusual that the search perform on iOS is superior. I particularly discover this after I’m looking for apps put in on the machine. Apple properly teams outcomes into apps, emails, contacts, and even reveals apps not put in, with hyperlinks to the App Retailer. In all, iOS presents a extra polished, constant expertise.

Winner: iOS

Know-how Help


New wi-fi tech requirements seem yearly just like the spring hen migration, and in the previous couple of years, Android has been first to welcome these new specs, nearly at all times previous their iOS help. Android is the primary with 5G community help; beforehand it beat Apple with help for wi-fi charging, 4G LTE, and touchless voice instructions. That stated, Apple tends to attend till the brand new expertise is helpful and dependable: For instance, 5G service and promised speeds nonetheless aren’t ubiquitous. Sure, you should purchase a handset that connects to 5G—however can you discover any 5G service to attach it to?

Android has additionally added help for foldable and dual-screen telephones, and because it’s open-source, third events like Microsoft can add performance to help gadgets just like the upcoming Floor Duo, an Android cellphone that options two-screens, every displaying tailor-made content material, slightly than simply being a single display that spans the 2. Once more, these applied sciences have not at all times confirmed to be sturdy (to say the least) however there is not any doubt that Android handsets are pioneering them.

Winner: Android

Included Apps

Included apps in iOS and Android

Apple and Google each provide you with loads of inventory apps that seem in your cellphone from the second you first energy it up. You may see apps for electronic mail, internet looking, photograph viewing and enhancing, audio taking part in and recording, video taking part in, doc and spreadsheet enhancing, and extra. Each embrace apps that you just can’t uninstall even when you needed to, however each allow you to exchange inventory apps with third-party choices. One oversight on the Android facet is the shortage of a activity or to-do app—iOS’s Reminders app is slick as could be for this. Google does get partial credit score, nonetheless, for the reason that Hold app is obtainable as an additional obtain at preliminary setup and does a superb job with to-do lists.

Messaging apps are price calling out, since that is a prime smartphone exercise. Apple is manner forward of Android right here, with its dazzling Memoji, Animoji, funds, video games, and complete iMessage app retailer. You may even rapidly flip a messaging session right into a name or video chat with FaceTime. Much more vital to some is that iMessage is end-to-end encrypted, whereas Android messages are usually not. The default Android Messages app is, nonetheless, completely serviceable, with the usual emoji, stickers, in addition to funds. The flexibility to make use of it in an online browser paired through QR code is good. iPhone customers who wish to ship messages on their laptop computer or desktop laptop should keep solely inside the Apple ecosystem to take action.

One other vital included app for any cellular OS is mapping. Google has lengthy been acknowledged because the number-one map service, however Apple has reduce that lead down considerably in the previous couple of years. Google remains to be extra thorough and up-to-date with native data, and it presents full Avenue View. One private fave is that it presents biking instructions, together with driving, strolling, and public transportation. Apple solely simply added bike instructions in iOS 14, however availability is not as widespread. iOS 14 improves its maps in different methods, with tourism Guides.

Each supply wonderful health-monitoring, information, and podcast apps, however iPhone is healthier in the case of video enhancing with the good iMovie and music creation with GarageBand.

I am keen on Microsoft Translate, which works on each platforms, however Apple simply launched its personal Translate app to go in opposition to the market-dominating Google Translate. The search big’s app presents way more languages than Apple, together with instruments for locating textual content in images—significantly vital for languages with an alphabet with which you are not acquainted.

Winner: iOS by a nostril

Availability and Fragmentation

Fragmentation in Android

When you purchase an iPhone, you could be assured that it’s going to obtain the most recent iOS updates for at the least a number of years. Android is getting higher by way of updates turning into extra widespread, significantly with its Android One initiative, nevertheless it’s nonetheless far behind iOS on this rely. Neither firm’s developer website but reveals market share of the just-released variations—Android 11 and iOS 14—however Android 10 runs on lower than 10 p.c of gadgets, whereas iOS 13 is on 81 p.c of iPhones and 92 p.c of gadgets bought inside the previous 4 years. iOS replace adoption is an precise order of magnitude larger than that of Android.

Winner: iOS

Safety and Privateness

Security and Privacy in iOS and Android

Each cellular working programs have respectable information and safeguards in the case of safety, however Android, being extra open, has extra vectors for malware to enter your cellphone. Specifically, apps are extra susceptible to carry hassle in Android, particularly when you set up from another app retailer. Reviews of vulnerabilities and assaults have grow to be an everyday prevalence, as Android headlines present: “EventBot Android Malware Steals Your Banking Particulars,” “A Wallpaper Can Crash Some Android 10 Telephones,” “New Android Flaw Can Assist Malware Impersonate Apps and Take Your Knowledge,” and “Android Customers Have to Manually Take away These 17 Contaminated Apps.

Privateness has been a spotlight in latest Android variations, with quite a few new protections in opposition to third-party app abuses. Android 11 allows you to grant one-time entry to location and different personal knowledge, however iOS 14 now allows you to inform apps your approximate slightly than actual location. Since Google’s total enterprise mannequin revolves round gathering details about every consumer, it is onerous for the search advert firm to compete with Apple, whose revenue mannequin does not contain surveillance or profiling. PCMag safety skilled Max Eddy has written about pressure between privateness and data-gathering at Google within the column Will Google’s New Privateness Plans Actually Shield You From Google? All this isn’t to say that privacy-compromising apps cannot seem on iPhones, too.

Winner: iOS

Integration with Desktop and Different Units

hardware integration in iOS and Android

Apple’s Continuity options are onerous to beat, however because of Home windows 10’s Your Telephone app, Android can now join with PCs simply as successfully as iPhones connects with Macs. That even contains making calls, and when Home windows 10 20H2 launches, operating apps! These capabilities rely in your cellphone mannequin, with Samsung models getting choice. In fact, perhaps we should not give Android full factors for Microsoft’s work, however one handy Google function that Android allows is SMS messaging through the net.

Apple’s machine ecosystem contains way over simply laptops and telephones, although: iOS ties in neatly with Apple Watch, Apple TV, the HomePod good speaker, and iPads (which now run their very own iPadOS working system). Google has the Put on Watch OS that is far much less prevalent than the Apple Watch, and Android tablets path iPads considerably. The Google Nest household of good audio system and screens, nonetheless, usually exceed Apple’s Siri-powered gadgets in PCMag’s scores, and third-party Google Assistant audio system can be found from the likes of Bose and Sonos.

Winner: iOS

Digital camera and Pictures

Camera apps in iOS and Android

Smartphone cameras—and perhaps simply as importantly, the photo-processing apps that include the cellphone OSes—have been a spotlight for brand spanking new smartphone and cellular OS releases of late. In both system, you will discover wonderful digicam choices (together with multiple-camera programs). Do not get slowed down in megapixels, nonetheless: Though you will discover Android telephones with super-high megapixel numbers—the Samsung Galaxy S20 can shoot at a whopping 108 megapixels—that quantity is much less vital that the design of the digicam sensor. For an in depth evaluation, learn’s comparability of the finest smartphone cameras.

Each OSes even have spectacular photograph enhancement software program to make your footage look even higher than the sensor and lenses are able to by themselves. Each can add bokeh (background blur) to a portrait, and each supply sluggish movement, panorama, low-light, and time-lapse taking pictures.

Android does supply some nifty capabilities not discovered within the inventory iPhone digicam app: It allows you to take photograph sphere 360-degree images, and its Google Lens allows you to seek for close by purchasing in addition to translate textual content and scan paperwork. It could actually additionally present framing hints and presents a low-light mode. Photographers will recognize that they will save uncooked digicam recordsdata from an Android cellphone, whereas Apple requires you to make use of a third-party app that may save uncooked digicam recordsdata, comparable to the wonderful Adobe Lightroom app (accessible on each platforms).

Winner: Android

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