'Should I choose Android or iOS?' The truth may surprise you

'Should I choose Android or iOS?' The truth may surprise you

Summary: Should you go for an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet? The truth is, it doesn't really matter. Here's why.


I'm on the road today, but I have time to answer a question that's been hitting my Hardware 2.0 inbox with increasing regularity lately.

Should I got an for Android or iOS smartphone/tablet?

OK, this is the old "Windows or Mac?" or "Windows or Linux?" argument, only with different players. However, while I've had some pretty strong views on the differences between Windows, Mac, and Linux, I'm a lot more chilled out when it comes to the differences between the two mobile operating systems duking it out for supremacy.

So which is best?

Short answer: It doesn't matter.

Slightly longer answer: OK, there are times when it matters.

OK, I bet you now want the long answer, right? OK, here it is. Which you choose basically comes down to one thing—whether you are tied to an ecosystem already.

If you currently don't own either an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, then you're a blank slate, you're not tied to either ecosystem, and whichever path you take is ultimately dictated by your personal preferences. I suggest you ask people for their thoughts, go handle some devices, and make your choice from there.

As far as the platforms go, each has individual strengths and weaknesses, but overall there's little to separate the two. I come from an iOS background, but the other day I took delivery of a new Nexus 7, and within a few hours I had it set up ready to do some real work, and I was amazed how similar to my iPad it looked and felt.

What about usability? Again, there's not much to separate the platforms. If you are willing to spend some time exploring your platform of choice, then you should be fine whichever you pick. Neither are particularly hard to grasp, although I personally think that iOS is a little easier to get going with at the start.

If you're already an iTunes user—especially if you have a lot of music or other media—or you're heavily invested in Google services, then this may sway you in one direction or another, but only you know how important this is to you. It may be a huge factor for you, or you may decide to leave your iTunes stuff behind, or decide that complete Google integration is not all that important to you.

However, if you are more heavily invested in either ecosystem—maybe you already own an iPhone or an Android tablet—then ideally I recommend sticking with what you already have. You should already be familiar with the platform, and chances are that you're already bought apps, which you'll be able to transfer to your new device as long as you stick with the same platform.

You can, however, do what I did and buy into both iOS and Android. There's nothing wrong with a bit of tech diversity; in fact, I think that it is good for the mind. But be aware of the following:

  • You will probably end up paying for apps you've already bought on the other platform, and those $0.99 payments add up!
  • You will get confused—probably frustrated—when switching between the platforms, at least initially.
  • The discrepancies in features between the platforms will annoy you. For example, I really wish that I could get SwiftKey on iOS because it is a massive productivity booster.
  • Another thing that will annoy—and possibly confuse you—is the differences—sometimes subtle, sometimes not—between the same app on the different platforms. For example, I use SplashID for passwords on iOS and Android, but the latter version has fewer features.

But in the end, it's your money. Whatever you end up choosing, I'm sure that you'll enjoy the platform, and that after the initial learning curve you'll have no trouble getting your smartphone or tablet to do what you want it to do.

Have fun!

Topics: Android, iOS, Smartphones, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Consumers have choice, and that's a good thing

    The best choice for me, is maybe not the best choice for somebody else.

    Now, this "discussion" is probably going to turn into yet another forum thread here on ZDNet were fanboys on all sides are calling each other "morons" etc.

      I just bought a Lenovo Ideatab Lynx and it is nothing short of a thousand times more powerful than the iPad, weighs less, and comes with the latest Atom processor that gets 8-hours of battery life!

      Like many others, for years I was waiting on that phantom iPad Pro that would run iOS and OSX, but as we all know it never came and most likely never will.

      Apple is DOOMED under Tim Cook, as this guy is clueless!
      • Lenovo is in the game with tablets

        Consumer wins again http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/tablet/ideatab/lynx-k3011/
      • Lynx....

        I like Lenovo, but. I had a Lynx.... thing stopped working a week after I got it. Also I found the 11.6 form factor unwieldy. The 10.1 Windows 8 Pro tablet they released is MUCH better, and it comes with one of the best digitizers ever.
        • There's a reason for that:

          Lenovo may be the new IBM, but being a Chinese company, their products are built to a lower standard than their American counterparts were, thus, theorhetically making them cheaper, but they charge IBM prices, so the components might be a little more faulty, and you pay more and get less in the long run.
          Richard Estes
          • Seriously...

            What a pack of nonsense!
          • And of course you know this how??

            So you've been through multiple generations of Lenovo desktops and laptops without failures, you've pulled dust-filled PC's from the bottoms of control panels still running after 10 years in 40 degree heat, spilt coffee on the keyboard, dropped them from 1 metre+ and still working and carried them around in briefcases (screen closed) still running because somebody altered the power settings.

            Shoddy quality is not the hallmark of Lenovo gear. I don't know about their consumer stuff but their enterprise PC's/laptops have a very well deserved reputation for being damn-near-bulletproof. (And awfully boring to look at but then it's not a fashion show where I work).
    • lets lee

      After how many posts the M. and the W. words will be mentioned. :)
      • You seem to be the first

        so that's one. Obsessive much?
        William Farrel
    • STOP

      ZDNET needs fanbois on all sides of technology, don't you know?
    • I agree with you and the article.

      Which OS?

      Dosnt matter much. Depends probably on the kind of thing you like and if your tied to a particular eco system already.

      It may not be exciting to read that a writer here is not bashing your hated enemy, but the truth is great when you hear it and usually the truth is a lot more important than a whole raft of biased BS about how the world will come to an end for you if you choose the OS that was deemed to be garbage by a writer or posted.

      Hail to the facts!! As even handed and unthrilling as they may be.
      • Just bought a 4S

        for my son, it's fast (and too small imho) but Adrian is right, it's not a lot different. Some things better some worse.
  • the only

    Logical choice for anyone who has ever picked one up is Blackberry Z10
    • Only if you're already familiar with Blackberry

      If you're totally new to the game, it still comes down to personal preference. While I'm not saying BB Z10 is bad, I am saying that too few people really know it yet. So far, the reviews are modestly supportive at best while its zealots will always claim it's the best, whether it is or not.
      • As the article points out ...

        They are all pretty similar - enough that a reasonably intelligent human being should have little trouble adapting.
        The business about how difficult it is to learn one once you know the other is just FUD.
        People are smarter than that.
      • That's one of the dumbest comments here

        Blackberry 10 is brand new. Nobody's familiar with it. That puts it on the same even playing field as iOS and Android for those with a blank slate.
        • "No one?"

          Blackberry 10 jas been out for a while, is selling relatively OK, and has already been updated once (that I know of). Why do people have to make absolutist statements about everything? Further, if no one has any experience with iOS or Android, it's not necessarily true that Blackberry hasn't been tasted by someone or other in Canada or Europe who is entering the market just now.... this may be their first exposure...
  • I started on IOS now Im on Android

    I had an Iphone but i wanted something that was more open to customize. So I got a Droid DNA for my next phone. Im still tied a little bit to the itunes world but no so much that moving away would be a big deal. They both have their strengths and weaknesses and its up to the user to determine and decide what they feel better with. I like both but I am growing on the Android side.
    • You can iport music from itune to google music

      up to 20,000 songs or so. In case that helps.
    • I still don't understand the desire to customize

      Exactly what do you customize that makes Android so much "better"? I make my own ringtones; I choose my own backgrounds; I do pretty much everything on iOS that is claimed for Android with, for me, far more ease of process.

      Also, I don't jailbreak.