iPhones are buggy, but Android handsets have more reliability issues

I use a lot of iPhone and Android smartphones, and the trend is unmissable.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I use both iPhone and Android smartphones. I've usually got a couple of each on the go at any one time. While I consider the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be "my" phone right now, the truth is that I can happily switch between them over the day.

And this is how I've been rolling for a few years now. And during that time, I've noticed something quite interesting.

First, the iPhone is buggy. Incredibly buggy.

Rarely does a week go by that I'm not fighting some bug or issue on the iPhone.

  • Battery issues
  • Connectivity problems
  • Performance issues

Just tracking my last few months with the iPhone 13 Pro Max -- Apple's flagship of flagships -- and it's been problem after problem. And as the iOS updates roll in, some of those get fixed, more bugs get added, and sometimes bugs that were previously squashed get resurrected to haunt me once again.

It's continual.

At some point late into an iOS cycle, things feel like they become about as stable as they're going to get, and then it's time for a new iOS release.

I've observed this trend for years.

I've endured this trend for years.

Android is different.

Rarely do I feel that an Android device is buggy. Sure, there are a few niggles here and there, a few pinch points, a few things that I feel could be better, but on the whole, they feel like they just work.

You might think that this is because my Android handsets are simpler than my iPhone, but I regularly use Android smartphones that have weird and wonderful features like night vision, infrared cameras, and borescopes.

This is also not to say that I've not had problems with Android, but these mostly seem to be down to faulty devices rather than bugs.

Android just seems to be more stable than iOS.


But when it comes to long-term reliability, things are reversed.

iPhones last for years. Battery wear seems to be the thing that kills them (well, other than things like display damage that are less reliability issues and more things that are inflicted on the device by the owner).

And in my experience, this extends to other Apple devices. Given how much wear and tear and use they get, I have very little in the way of problems, and usually, my AppleCare warranty goes unused.

Android is a different matter.

I've not owned an Android handset that's lasted more than two or three years before something showstopping happens.

  • The displays die.
  • The devices burst open.
  • The smartphone won't start.
  • The charging port breaks.
  • The batteries die.
  • The handset stops charging.

These are just a few of the creative ways my Android devices have died over the last few years.

While it's fair to say that none of my current Android devices are flagship devices, owning flagship devices was no different.

They had a lifespan of a few years -- two or three -- and then they were dead.

It doesn't matter if they cost a few hundred dollars, or many hundreds of dollars more.

Android devices are far less reliable than iPhones.

Why? Why are iPhone buggy but more reliable than Android devices?

It feels to me that iOS is in a continual state of flux. Apple has moved away from a single yearly monolithic release and is now dripping new features into iOS, as well as dropping big piles of bug fixes.

This is contributing to the bugginess.

But when it comes to reliability, iPhones are incredibly well made.

They must be.

Apple ships out tens of millions of them yearly, and even a small defect could be hugely problematic -- and costly -- for the company. Apple has perfected designing, assembling, and shipping millions of iPhones, and a side effect of that is a high degree of reliability.

On the flip side, Android feels like it's moving forward at a slower pace, but the market is diverse and fragmented. There's not a single Android device that ships in anything close to the volume that the iPhone does, and as such, there's greater leeway for, well, unreliability.

Also, there's no Android manufacturer that can come close to Apple in terms of the R&D budget that it can pour into the development of a smartphone or a yearly cycle.

What's been your experience with iPhones and Android devices? Do you see a similar pattern, or have you experienced something different?

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