Friday, January 22, 2016

Smartphone for all: Android or iPhone?

I’ve rewritten the “which smartphone” section of my Smartphones for All: Independent Living with iPhone and Android book at least four times.

Despite my iPhone background I started out leaning towards Android for my book audience — I have not been entirely happy with Apple’s iCloud services and I was impressed by the value for dollar of my moto E. Then I spent some more time with my Android phone; trying to see it from the perspective of a “Guide” reader and “Explorer” user. That experience helped me understand why my Calendaring Survey showed a strong iPhone bias among non-experts who use a Calendar and other productivity tools. (Expert users of Android devices use Calendars extensively.)

I ended up with this recommendation:

The iPhone is the better choice for Explorers who don’t lose or damage their devices and who can afford the premium price. The iPhone wins because it’s simpler to use and manage, there are fewer security and malware issues, there are stronger Accessibility features for vision, motor and hearing issues, Apple Stores provide excellent support, and the iPhone has more options for restricting features — something that’s important for a vulnerable user.

Those are big advantages, but the Android alternatives have strengths as well. An entry level Android phone, like the moto E, can be bought for was little as $100. That’s not the price with a phone contract, that’s the full retail price. A comparable entry level 32 GB iPhone 5s costs $500; $400 more than the Android phone. (The iPhone 5s will last longer with good care however.)

There are also some functions, like email spam filtering and Calendar sharing, that are more capable on an Android phone than on an iPhone.

Familiarity is another important consideration. Both Explorer and Guide will prefer what they already know, and it’s easier for the Guide if the Explorer uses a familiar device. It’s especially difficult for an iPhone-using Guide to support an Android-using Explorer.

The bottom line is that while an iPhone is the better choice for most Explorers, price and familiarity are very important. In this book I’ll explain how to support an Explorer with either device.

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