10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

Summary: Unfortunately, the few boons of Androidum don't make up for the disadvantages. Here's why I'm not going to buy an Android and I'm waiting for the iPhone 5.


Breaking news: Thank you, Steve. For all you've done, for all of us.

As most of you know, I dislike the iPhone and its Playskool interface. I find it, and Apple's policies, to be a constant source of annoyance. And yet, even as I know there's almost a 100% probability that the iPhone 5 is going to annoy me, I'm going to buy another crappy iPhone and NOT buy an Android phone.


So here's the thing. I have an iPhone 3G. Not even a 3GS, not an iPhone 4. It's a plain old iPhone 3G that I've had for three years.

It sucks. It's slow. It won't update properly. Half the apps I'd like to run on it won't run on such an ancient device (only in the tech world is a three-year old device ancient). I desperately need a new phone.

Well, technically, that's not true. I don't actually use the iPhone as a phone. I almost never make actual voice calls (does anyone, these days)? Instead, I use it for email, for network testing, for an occasional text to my wife, and for reading Kindle books.

I use the email app a lot and I'd use some other apps (particularly some IT-related tools), but most don't run on the old iOS version that my phone will actually work with. Yes, I know, I could upgrade to a later iOS version, but we all know that the iPhone 3G runs like even more of a dog than it is with iOS 4.

So, I need a new phone. And I've decided to wait for the iPhone 5. You might think I could easily get rid of the iPhone 3G pain now by buying one of the many Android devices, but I'm not going to. You might also think that since I really dislike the iPhone, I might be a perfect candidate for the Android.

You might think that, but you'd be wrong. Unfortunately, besides the iPhone and the Android army, there really aren't any other viable smartphone choices.

As much as I dislike the iPhone, I don't wish to put up with the hassle of Android even more. I'm insanely busy these days, and the last thing I need is a phone that needs as much attention as a puppy.

Here then, are ten reasons I'm waiting for the iPhone 5 and NOT buying an Android phone.

Next: Android insecurity »

« Previous: I don't like the iPhone

Reason 1: Malware present in applications

Although I've long complained about Apple's capricious approval process in the iPhone App Store, at least they haven't had a rampant malware problem. One security firm has estimated (PDF) that somewhere between 500,000 and a million Android users have been hit by malware -- and that's just this year.

When you have that many users affected, it's not a minor problem. It's also something I don't want to be my problem, so I'll just stay away. I have enough trouble with Windows, thank you very much.

See also: McAfee: Malware surging on mobile platforms, especially Android

See also: Google Android Market malware problem escalates

See also: Malware sneaks by Google's Android Market gatekeepers again

Reason 2: New and exciting security holes

Now, admittedly, the whole authorization-token-in-the-clear security issue was nothing major and Google patched it quickly. But, on top of the whole malware problem, this sort of security issue is troubling.

Old Ben Franklin famously said, "Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety." I do agree with him, except that when it comes to the phone in my pocket, I guess I'm willing to give up a little hackety freedom in return for a safer, less infested phone.

See also: The truth about the latest Google Android security scare

Reason 3: Complete lack of version number logic

Between the folks at Mozilla, who are trying to hide Firefox versions in an effort to make us all insane, and the folks at Google, who name and number Android versions all willy-nilly, I'm getting slightly annoyed.

Is the current version Froyo or Gingerbread or Honeycomb? Do I want an Ice Cream Sandwich or a Cupcake or a Donut? Is it possible to run a low-cal version of Android? What if I'm cutting carbs and mostly doing protein? Then what?

Seriously, Gingerbread is version 2.3 of Android, but Honeycomb is version 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. Seriously? And if I'm buying an Android phone, I'm going to need to buy one running version 2.3, even though Android 3.1 is current, but only for tablets. Seriously?

Okay, and some phones only run Froyo and others only run Gingerbread, and you can't upgrade from one to the other without a hack. Seriously?

I know Android is gaining market share because of the wide diversity of offerings, but there's got to be some compromise between the der fuhrer approach of Steve Jobs' Apple and the herding cats approach of Android. Oh, yeah, that was webOS. Sigh.

See also: Which exactly IS the current version of Android?

Next: Market chaos »

« Previous: Android insecurity

Reason 4: Very different user experience on different handsets

Love it or hate it, when you pick up an iPhone, it feels like an iPhone. It feels and works like a phone designed for use by a five year old, but at least it's a consistent feeling. This is not the case with Android phones.

Phones from different manufacturers are wildly different, with different home screens, UIs, and feature sets. It's so that you could buy two Android phones, put them side-by-side, and unless you knew they were both Androids, you'd think they were completely different devices.

I don't want a phone that's got a funky user experience. I want one that I'm used to and can describe to someone else, and they have the same experience. I want to be able to tell someone what I'm doing with my phone and have them know exactly how that'd work for them.

With Android, you can't have that happen, even with phones from the same maker.

See also: Android's Biggest Worry: Fragmentation

Reason 5: Probably can't upgrade without jailbreaking, rooting, modding, whatevah

The history of Android phone upgrades is not a good one. Most manufacturers essentially design a model for a given OS, and if there's an upgrade, your phone might not be able to run it.

The next version of the Android OS is the quixotically named Ice Cream Sandwich. If I were to buy an Android phone now, it's highly unlikely I'd be able to upgrade it to ICS without a jailbreak.

And, like I said before, I don't really have time to hack my phone.

Reason 6: App incompatibility

Okay, this is a huge, huge deal-breaker. Apps built for one handset often don't work on another. It's almost impossible to be sure that you can run a given application without trying. And when you look at the apps, the poor developers are often saddled with building a compatibility matrix for every phone model.

This lack of consistency is not good. Even Windows has better application compatibility across machines and you never know what'll be inside your friendly neighborhood Windows PC.

Next: Hackety, hack, hack »

« Previous: Market chaos

Reason 7: Too much tweaking required

While it annoys me to no end that I can't make minor tweaks and add utilities to my iPhone, the necessity of tweaking most Android phones to make them usable is unacceptable. First, I just don't want to spend the time adjusting everything, adding programs, removing programs, and otherwise tuning, just so I can overcome the software design decisions of hardware engineers at the handset makers. Or, worse, so I can overcome the marketing deals put together by product managers at the handset makers.

Then, there's the temptation. I'm a geek, so the temptation might be to spend hours or days futzing with the phone interface. This is not something I should be spending much time on.

Even though self-control is an issue, an even bigger one is the simple crapware nature of the delivered software on most Android phone handsets.

Reason 8: Poor tablet compatibility

Once again, compatibility is an issue. Many iPhone applications (actually nearly all of them) will run on the iPad. They may not be iPad-optimized, but they'll run.

Not so much with Android. Even the SDKs between the two classes of device are different. Developers are coding 2.x software for phones and 3.x software for tablets.

They might as well have completely different names for all the native compatibility they have.

Reason 9: Little ongoing manufacturer support

As my ZDNet colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says, The problem with Android tablets - Manufacturers see them as disposable.

Reason 10: Google

Let me be clear in how much I like and respect most of the people at Google. The individuals there are very cool. But the company sometimes seems like part Borg and part Borgia. If you need personal help, the company is virtually impenetrable.

See also: Nexus One's biggest challenge isn't iPhone; it's Google's online-only sales model

To be fair, the company has softened up a bit, but as ZDNet's own Violet Blue has so disturbingly described, when you rely completely on Google, you never know if baaaad things are going to happen.

See also: Google Plus: Too much unnecessary drama

This is also an issue with other Google services. I described my frustration a few weeks ago, when I tried setting up a YouTube account and discovered once again that there's no account maintenance functionality throughout the Google ecosphere.

See also: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

On the other hand, there are some advantages

I know that when I go with the iPhone 5, I'll be giving up some freedom and some self-respect. I'll be selling my soul for the promise of the safety and warmth of the Apple mothership. This disturbs me to a level you probably can't understand.

There are some good aspects to the Android experience I'll be giving up. I'll be giving up the ability to tune my launcher, which I could easily do back in the Palm/Treo days, but Apple doesn't think we're adult enough to manage now in era of iOS finger painting.

Beyond having tweaking control (without jailbreaking), I do miss the choice of models (you can have any color as long as it's black), access to a built-in physical keyboard, and oh, what I would give for a replaceable battery!

Unfortunately, these few boons of Androidum don't make up for the disadvantages. And, holding my nose, this is why I'm not going to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5.

Go ahead. Have your say. I've got enough food in the bunker to last me two weeks.

Original image courtesy Flickr user laihiu

Topics: Mobile OS, Smartphones, Security, Mobility, Android, Malware, iPhone, Hardware, Google, Telcos


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Very nice list. Here is mine...

    When I first read the headline I thought, "really? someone can think of 10 reasons the iPhone is better than a Android phone?". Very nicely done. Here's my list of 10 reasons I don't like Droid:

    1 - the rectangular shape makes it hard to distinguish it from my old calculator
    2 - everyone knows Google is really Satan
    3 - the default alarm sound is annoying
    4 - the screen gets smudges on it
    5 - the blinking red eye creeps me out
    6 - when the sliding keyboard is open it makes the phone too wide and it won't fit into my pocket
    7 - the sliding lock mechanism is confusing because I forget whether to slide it from left to right or from right to left
    8 - ....

    OK, so I can't think of 10 reasons. You win.
    • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

      How can Google is really Satan when they are giving Android and other services to the world free? Wherelse Apple is bringing others to court and stopping others from competing. Best part is, Apple is charging its cult followers the sky and yet no one is complaining!! Amazing cult.
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        Agreed!!! can you say LEMMINGS...can't wait till someone accidentally receives their iPhone with a Teddy bear stuffed in the box and a note that says inspected by Timmy...
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        You said a mouth full to them and i can see they just threw up in their mouths. yuk
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        There is no free lunch after all. Live in a 3rd world country or developing nation where WiFi and internet are still expensive to have and download the "free" apps on crappy, cheap android phones that telcos give it away and see your bill. Once you start firing these free apps and services, all the ads will land and they consume "Data", and your bill will skyrocket.
        Ram U
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        Poor naive fool. Google does not give anything away for free. All Google apps and services are designed to gather more information about you for their profile on you. And that is used to sell more, and better targeted, advertising.

        If you think you are getting something for free, you are putting no value on all your personal data. Just wait until someone in Google decides to leak or sell profiles on a few million people. And hope that you are not one of them.

        Then it will be goodbye identity, goodbye privacy, hello poverty.
      • He's being sarcastic

        Really and truly, this is sarcasm.
        John L. Ries
      • Android is free? Surely you are kidding.

        @lenkiatleong - Cell carriers never do -anything- that is "free." From where can I download, build, and install the so-called "open source" Android system?
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        I hate apple first, Google second and Microsoft third. All are tools of the devil but I feel Microsoft is the sealst toolish.
      • &quot;People here ski topless while smoking dope...&quot;

        @lenkiatleong : "Oh, IRONY! No, we don't get much call for that around here."
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        Android as a developer's platform really shows why it's free. Unfortunately I paid for the shlock. I hate it. It's not smooth an elegant like iOS. So I'm going back to iPhone.
        And just what makes you think the Apple haters aren't a cult themselves?
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        iOS doesn't cost all that much, either.

        And I think you answered your own question when you said "Apple is charging its cult followers the sky and yet no one is complaining!" Read the last three words of that sentence to yourself over and over and over again until it sinks in. iOS works. That's what people want. Not everyone has an extra ten hours a week to tweak and tinker with their smartphones.
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        @lenkiatleong - Just so that you know and to help you avoid making a fool of yourself in the future:

        Google gives basic Android away for free, but if you want all the Google apps on your handset, you have to license them from Google for each and every handset you sell.

        If you're an Android user with a phone running Google's apps, you've paid (or are paying) money to Google for their software. And if you use any apps or sites that display Google ad's, then they're earning revenue from you again.

        Google is a business, not a charity or some altruistic hippy commune.
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5


        I use a DroidX and less than 100mb of data a month. I never run out. Why? Because I understand what it means when I install and app and it says it needs DATA access. That's ads. There is no free ride. You either buy the software third world or not or turn the data off and use the phone mostly offline like I do. There are tons of apps that are available that need no data to use them. No data...No apps. No auto "push" for email (because let's face it - you're too lazy to check it) and no constant data necessary.
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        @lenkiatleong really,dude! wake up from that "android's dream" that you re having!
      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5


        Wow, the Google management really sucked a lot of people in with that litigating not innovating line.

        I can't believe how many people actually bought it and keep repeating it.
      • You all make me laugh. Laugh so hard I'm crying. ROTFLMAO


        Lets be clear and straight up, I own an iPhone and I think its a very well done device. I have nothing against Apple or Google generally, thats for sure. I would say there are a number of things about both companies I question, but hey, I'm like that with every company that shows a strong inclination from time to time that they would like to take over the world. Does anyone know which major companies do not fit that category? I don't.

        But here we are, on a very very specific topic, which if I am reading correctly, is smartphone operating systems, their shortcomings and advantages. Correct?

        One thing for absolute sure about this article is that it really hits many nails pretty directly on the head when it comes to smartphone operating systems. I do really like the iPhone, certainly in most ways, but seriously, the whole iTunes business is absolutely nonsense. Complete sheer and utter crap. Its a garbage idea and it stinks beyond high heaven. The restrictions on ones freedom and ease of putting "stuff" on or taking "stuff" off an iPhone is truly ludicrous and well beyond common sense reason.

        We all know why, its because Steve Jobs and buddies are living in constant boot shaking fear beyond fear that if they don't do things in such a ridged dictatorial way then iOS will be subject to the very same environment as any other operating system in the world and iOS too will risk bad malware infections and other such calamities. I suspect that Jobs and Apple in general know fully well there is nothing special about iOS, maybe worse then that, for all we know it could be a real rotten heap of holes that would get riddled with infections if it didn't exist in such a closed environment. But, alas, it survives in a very non-secular closed environment and as such it makes it quite a bit more difficult for someone to get the nasty bits onto the platform. It actually gives with the one hand while it takes with the other.

        I for one (because I own an iPhone) in some ways am rather glad on thinking about it that Apple does do things this way because they must be doing it due to the fact that without such a closed system it would likely be TRUE swiss cheese and may resemble the kind of OS that the Apple Guy always said Windows was. I believe that because if iOS is anywhere as close to secure as Windows is, then Apple has just jerked all our chains, well at least all of us iPhone owners, by instituting this pointless, needless headache called iTunes to actually do things which could otherwise be done in a very simple straightforward manner that would make the iPhone a bit of a powerhouse instead of a castle made of paper behind a huge moat full of gators.

        And Android? Ya, well there you go. Give some real credit to Steve Jobs for not engaging in that type of mess. Its one thing to ease up on the reigns and allow some ease of use and simplicity, but seriously, Google is acting as if Android is an OS operating in the "olden" days of 10-12 years ago where everything was a little more wild west and operating systems were expected to get infected now and then.

        Sure we are dealing with smartphone operating systems, not full blown desktop OS's, but can anyone out there see the issue? The issue is a balance, a balance between freedom and complete disorganization linked to a wild west mentality when it comes to upgrading and apps.

        What the world is crying out for right now is a smartphone OS that isn't willy nilly all over the place like Googles Android and yet doesn't make you feel like your operating in a closed bomb shelter where marshal law has been implemented just so everyone doesn't end up dead in their tracks. Neither one gives any confidence or additional pleasure of use.

        Right now, I just don't feel any excitement about Android. Personally none that would make me switch from my iPhone. As much as my iPhone irritates me in many ways with its almost paternal mentality, I generally like it, I will continue to recommend it as a smartphone purchase, until...

        ...until someone puts out a touch interface smartphone OS that isn't the dictator iOS is and isn't the rootin' tootin' wild west show that Android has become.

        And I guess the good thing is, a number of people who should know have assured me its on the way. But if it doesn't get here soon it will be iPhone 5 for me.
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      • RE: 10 reasons NOT to buy an Android and why I'm waiting for the iPhone 5

        @lenkiatleong Speaking of cults, Jim Jones gave away his kool-aid for free and look what happened to his followers. If Google is giving away Android for free how are you paying? Trust me you are. You really are...lol!
        Mr. Wet