Note this is a comparison based on the Motorola Atrix 4G and the iPhone 4, but does acknowledge other phones that I am familiar with, such as the Galaxy S and iPhone 4S.
- System-wide voice commands. Unlike Siri, Android’s voice functionality does not require Internet connection to a server, and the commands can be used to text friends, make lists, search the Google machine, play music, search for files, and read map directions. If you do not have Siri, the Apple voice commanding is definitely lacking. Siri just does not work as well as it does in the television commercials.
- Swype and keyboard flexibility. I can probably Swype 80 words per minute with proper punctuation. I think I can only text about 40 words per minute with proper punctuation. Going back to reason #1, I think I can speak-to-text about 100 words per minute on the Android. I can also swap out the keyboard for any style I want if I ever get bored of the stock keyboard.
- GPS navigation. Android has built-in, text-to-speech driving directions. iOS does not. Using VLingo, I could just say, “Hey, VLingo”, and the phone would wake up and wait for me to say “Go home” or “Fry’s Electronics El Segundo”.
- Choice of default applications. In iOS, the default mail and browser apps are chosen for you. Sure, there are ways around it. In Android you get complete control over the default applications and can change it at will.
- 14.4 Mbps HSPDA. My Motorola Atrix 4G gives me a slight increase in download speeds. My own results show a max download speed of 6.2 Mbps with the Atrix, or 5.7 Mbps with the iPhone 4 [ref: testmy.net and speakeasy.net]. As much time as I spend parking on the freeway during LA rush hour, I need 4G connection speeds to find alternate routes, or the nearest food joints to wait out traffic. Just for reference, the Atrix has 14.4 Mbps HSDPA, compared to the iPhone 4’s 7.2 Mbps HSDPA. Both have 5.76 Mbps HSUPA. There are reports of the Atrix 4G and the iPhone 4S being able to do HSPDA+, but I have not been on an AT&T network that is capable of supporting the increased speeds for such a comparison.
- Application flexibility. I can load any app from any source into the Android, even the crappy ones that I coded myself. Not so much with the iOS. Granted, iOS apps are typically more stable and more mature.
- Social networking integration. In the Android I can share any photo or video to any social networking app installed on the phone. On the iPhone, my choices are severely limited. On top of that, I can pin social networking apps to the home screen, or even build those apps into the phone wallpaper.
- Screen size. Even though the iPhone 4 is bigger than the Atrix 4G, my Atrix screen, like most Android screens, makes better use of the available screen space. Granted, the Apple Retina display is better than 99% of all Android screens. Some carriers do have Android phones with much better displays, but those phones are limited to certain carriers and tend to be expensive.
- Cutting edge technologies. My Atrix 4G had a biometric fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone, a mini-HDMI video output, and a hidden Ubuntu Linux desktop (Webtop). Other Android phones have Near Field Communications (NFC) chips, 3D technologies, wireless tethering, and other new gizmos.
- Multitasking and task management. Only recently has the iOS started allowing multitasking. Even when it does multitask, there is no way to tell the apps to shut down and free memory space after, say, 10 minutes, as I can do with the Android. On the Android I can also set up application profiles, such as a nighttime profile to minimize activity after 10 PM, or a battery saver profile if I am low on juice.
Top five things that may make me stick with iPhone:
- Notifications in the lock screen. Yes, I know. The Android does this as well. iOS does this part better. Compared to a stock MotoBlur, Gingerbread, ICS, or rooted CyanogenMod, the iOS does integrate better across its applications. Granted, the choice of applications is limited, but the integration of those selected few lends itself to a seamless, tightly integrated smartphone experience.
- Retina display and camera. No matter how I set up the lighting, photos and videos on the iPhone always looked better than my HD photos and videos, whether they were being viewed on my phone or on the computer. This tells me that Apple pays more attention to the quality of the optics and the display–input and output.
- Stability. The price we pay for limited choice somewhat makes up for the bonus in increased stability. Yes, it was fun to try new things on Android, but it was sometimes nerve-wracking to restore the Android phone after a bad modification.
- Better application market. Many will disagree, but if you have ever searched for useful apps in the Android Market, now Google Play, you will notice the plethora of apps that are fake, useless, or bad imitations. Bad apps proliferate on Google Play. As strict and restrictive as the iTunes market is, the App Store does have much better quality control. Google Play is so bad, that at times the imitation app is higher rated than the real one. I had to download Google+ three times before I got the correct one! One of those three even botched my phone.
- Tighter overall integration. The Apple user experience is definitely better. The apps work well, the hardware behaves well with the software, the software behaves well with the hardware, and there is rarely a glitch. The backups restore easily. On the Android the backups sometimes do strange things, such as duplicating every other contact or every other song on the playlist. On the iOS, the backups restore easily and correctly, the hardware behaves without glitches, and the software does what you tell it to do with only a few surprises. The best example is that even if I buy a Bluetooth headset or wired phone earpiece for the Android, it is hit-or-miss as to whether or not the accessory will work with the phone–even if it is expressly listed on the ****ing box! With the iPhone, if the box says “works with iPhone 4”, it works with the iPhone 4.
- Cubicle Warrior’s Motorola Atrix Diary, Day 1 [April 28, 2011]