Android vs iPhone: what’s the difference, and which is best for you? – TechRadar

The iPhone vs Android debate raged onerous in the early days of smartphones. We’ve all grown up a bit of since then, so let’s go away the time period ‘Apple sheep’ again in 2009, k?

However, whether or not to shop for an Android or an iPhone is arguably a extra urgent query than it has ever been in the event you’re taking a look to switch or improve your telephone. Top Androids like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are way more pricey than they had been a handful of years in the past, and the relative value of access for Apple {hardware} is a lot not up to in the outdated days.

This is not merely a case of ‘iPhones are for wealthy folks’ and Androids are for everybody else.

We’re going to wreck down the whole thing you want to imagine when opting for between an iPhone SE (2021) and OnePlus Nord, or an iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 5. And the whole thing in-between.

Hardware: Android is nonetheless the discount-hunter’s selection

Entry-level: $100-350 / £100-350

It’s time for slightly backpedal. Yes, iPhones are extra out there than earlier than, and many most sensible Androids are actually pricey sufficient to make your eyes water. However, the least expensive nice telephones are nonetheless Androids.

The best ones to shop for get rely on the place you reside, however our favourite finances producers come with Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo and Motorola. Spot the development? They are all Chinese. Motorola was an American emblem, but it surely is now owned by way of Lenovo, which is – you guessed it – Chinese.

They be offering unbeatable price. Xiaomi and Realme are the maximum aggressively priced, as of early 2021. If those manufacturers aren’t readily to be had otherwise you’d reasonably purchase from a non-Chinese emblem, Nokia and Samsung are your most sensible names. They are from Finland and South Korea respectively.

Realme X50

The Realme X50 is an inexpensive Android possibility (Image credit score: Realme)

Mid-range: $400-650 / £400-650

Apple doesn’t come into the image till your finances reaches $399 / £419 / AU$749. That nets you Apple’s tiny iPhone SE (2021). It’s lovely, it’s pocketable, and it is as robust as numerous four-figure Androids.

However, in the event you play video games or circulation video so much then you might be more than likely with the better (if much less robust) iPhone XR, at $499 / £499 / AU$849. Its battery lasts longer too.

Top Android choices at round this value come with the OnePlus 8T, Xiaomi Mi 10T and – slightly decrease finish – Google’s Pixel 4a.


Google and Xiaomi make some nice mid-fluctuate telephones (Image credit score: Google / Xiaomi)

Our recommendation? Don’t be too cast off by way of the truth the iPhone XR is now slightly outdated. It got here out in 2021 however Apple telephones are supported for so much longer than Androids and it nonetheless compares smartly with new mid-fluctuate processors.

The giant ‘however’ is Apple doesn’t be offering any inexpensive 5G telephones but. Androids be offering this quicker, extra complex cellular web for as low as round $299 / £249 / AU$500.

Don’t purchase into the concept that Androids provide you with stacks extra tech in each and every space, regardless that. There is a pernicious development of filling Android telephones with cameras, generally four on the again and no less than one on the entrance. Unless you’re paying giant greenbacks it’s extremely most probably simplest one of the rear cameras is any excellent.

The Google Pixel 4a is one of our favourite inexpensive Android cameras, and it has simply one rear digital camera. Apple’s access-point iPhones take the similar method. Of the two decrease-price iPhones, the iPhone XR has a bigger digital camera sensor, so in concept it will have to be higher. But in observe the iPhone SE (2021) steadily wins, by way of a small margin. Its video stabilization is awesome, and its flash is extra robust.

Of route, if you’re taking footage for a laugh reasonably than to deep dive into the pixels, the extremely-extensive cameras maximum Androids have are nice. We love extensive and zoom cams.


There are a couple of mid-fluctuate iPhone choices (Image credit score: Apple)

Apple does be offering that additional hit of images at an affordable value too, in the iPhone 11. It prices $599 / £599 / AU$999, and has an extremely-extensive digital camera along its primary one. This final-gen telephone compares smartly with virtually any Android you’ll get for that sum of money.

There’s one more thing to imagine on this Android as opposed to Apple {hardware} debate. Apple is stingy on garage, and its upgrades are reasonably pricey. The base iPhone 11 has simply 64GB of garage. Xiaomi’s Mi 10T Pro, steadily to be had for much less money, has 256GB.

Most folks don’t want that a lot, however we propose 128GB in this day and age for a with ease lazy smartphone existence. The Xiaomi, and different possible choices like the Pixel 5, even have 5G.

While Apple’s mid-fluctuate telephones are nice in relation to ease of use, energy, and digital camera processing, you do generally tend to fail to see a few the most up-to-date developments.

High-end: $700+ / £700+

Spend giant and you’ll get an iPhone 12-series cellular, or a most sensible Android. These come with fashions like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Oppo Find X2 Pro, Sony Xperia 1 II and OnePlus 8 Pro.

In earlier years we might even have really useful Huawei’s telephones. But we will be able to’t now they don’t have Google apps.

At this point you get pricey options like zoom cameras, night time modes that make close to-pitch-black scenes glance transparent, and extremely-top-solution displays. Apple’s iPhone, in any case, positive aspects 5G at this value level too, with all iPhone 12 fluctuate fashions packing the tech.

You would possibly realize Apple’s iPhones don’t generally tend to appear reasonably as slick as some Androids, regardless that. Samsung, Oppo, and OnePlus all check out onerous to attenuate display screen borders, and use curved glass on the entrance and again to additional trim down their look.

This design taste seems, and feels, nice. The iPhone 12 Pro Max nonetheless has reasonably considerably black bars at every facet of the show, and a large notch that holds all the tech to make Apple’s face popularity device paintings.


Even the iPhone 12 Pro Max cannot fit Android for zoom (Image credit score: TechRadar)

Even Apple’s most costly telephone doesn’t have the similar digital camera zoom capacity as the Oppo Find X2 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra both. And each Samsung’s and OnePlus’s most sensible extremely-extensive cameras are higher than Apple’s.

However, iPhone footage are tasteful and constant, and iPhones are our cross-to telephones for video seize. Sure, Samsung will have an 8K mode however the high quality and stabilization of Apple’s iPhone 12 and 11-series 4K video is very good. Top ‘Pro’ fashions even have Dolby Vision HDR recording. Which is great.

A most sensible tip for early 2021 is to not fail to remember the OnePlus 8 Pro if you’re buying groceries against the decrease finish of the ‘top-finish’ class. We had a possibility to match it without delay to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and a number of of the most costly Androids lately. It fared remarkably smartly, and has the subtle curved glass entrance you don’t steadily get at $799 / £699 (round AU$1,030).

Apps: we’re all app-rich, however iPhone house owners are the tremendous-wealthy

Look at the statistics on my own and you could possibly imagine Android’s Google Play provides a greater app library than the iPhone’s App Store. There had been round 2.87 million apps on Google Play in past due 2021 consistent with Statista, and 1.96 million on the Apple App Store.

However, we discover that the App Store has a better proportion of most sensible-high quality apps and video games. There are a couple of causes for this.

It is more straightforward and less expensive for builders to get apps on Google Play. But the general income made on the App Store is a ways better, giving publishers a better incentive to create extremely-top-high quality iPhone apps.

Optimizing for iPhone is additionally more effective, in one sense no less than. There had been 17 iPhone fashions since 2021, and loads of Android telephones, all with other {hardware} and device. That is a construction headache.


XCOM 2 is the kind of top class sport that has a tendency to return to iPhone first (Image credit score: Feral Interactive Ltd)

This, and iPhone fanatics’ better willingness to in fact pay for apps, manner we finally end up with extra top-finish productions like XCOM 2, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, and Slay the Spire on iPhone. These would possibly come to Android, however video games like this generally tend to return to iOS first.

Apple additionally provides a Netflix-like provider for video games referred to as Apple Arcade. It prices $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$7.99 a month and is supposed to can help you escape from the never-ending ‘loose to play’ video games that at last ask you to pay to make any significant development. Such apps dominate each app retail outlets.

We see the similar impact in apps, in each and every class. Take track manufacturing for instance. iPhones have Apple’s glorious GarageBand, plus KORG Gadget, Nanostudio 2, 4Pockets Meteor Multitrack Recorder, and others. These apps can help you compose songs in your telephone.


Get an iPhone and you’ve got get entry to to GarageBand (Image credit score: Apple)

The variety on Android is way more restricted. Steinberg made an Android model of its trade usual Cubasis 3 for Android, so that you don’t seem to be left top and dry. But iPhones have get entry to to extra profitable, in reality deep ingenious and productiveness apps.

Not fussed about composing a symphony in your telephone or taking part in an epic 20-hour journey? We suppose you’ll be proud of both platform.

Google’s looser method to apps comes with advantages too. You gained’t to find sport console emulator apps on the App Store. Apple doesn’t permit them. Emulators mimic the {hardware} of outdated consoles to play unfashionable video games, and there are lots of on Google Play.

Software: iOS continues to borrow from Android

How any new Android telephone seems and feels is in large part decided by way of the customized interface it makes use of. Almost each and every Android has one, as it’s the method producers be sure that their telephones don’t appear precisely like the ones in their competition.

Some of those interfaces upload important new options too, however all are in response to a core model of Android. In 2021 maximum new telephones are most probably to make use of Android 11.

This 2021 replace to the gadget isn’t going to switch your existence. But it did tweak some portions beneath the floor. For instance, in some telephones you’ll see a panel of good house controls while you lengthy-press the energy button.

Apple’s fresh adjustments are extra dramatic. iOS 14 introduced widgets to iPhones. These had been in Androids since day one, in 2008. It additionally provides an App Library phase at the finish of your own home displays, which arranges all of your apps into folders. Again, we would possibly examine this to the devoted app web page that has at all times been found in the majority of Android telephones.

However, in the event you use a MacE-book you’re going to most probably recognize Apple’s AirDrop characteristic, a quick and simple solution to proportion information between your telephone and computer.


iOS 14 used to be a large replace (Image credit score: Apple)

Comparing the device revel in of Android and iOS is slightly like evaluating Windows 10 and Mac OS. Android, like Windows, was criticized as buggy, flaky, and unreliable. That is no longer the case anymore.

New variations of iOS are simply as prone to have irritating insects as recent Android updates. Both are nice, neither is very best. And in the event you transfer from one to the different it is going to more than likely take you every week or so that you could mattress in.

Not very useful? Privacy is one of the best causes to select an iPhone. Apple operates reasonably otherwise to Google right here. For instance, information utilized by voice assistant Siri is anonymized. And Apple plans to make an enormous alternate to how privateness operates in iOS later this 12 months, making it transparent to us finish customers when an app like Facebook is amassing and sharing information about us.

It’s referred to as App Tracking Transparency, and will shine a mild on precisely how a ways, and how temporarily, your data is disseminated between apps and products and services.

Google has advanced the way it offers with app permissions in the previous couple of years. You’re now requested for permission as and when an app requests, for instance, your location, reasonably than simply making you permit get entry to at the level of set up.

However, there’s a reasonably elementary distinction right here. Google makes stacks of money by way of collating our consumer information and the use of it to energy its promoting platform. Apple doesn’t, to the similar extent. It does run an advert community, utilized in the App Store and different Apple products and services. But it ain’t Google.

This factor is moot, regardless that, in the event you plan on purchasing an iPhone and the use of a number of Google products and services like Gmail and Maps anyway. The privateness insurance policies of your telephone can’t repair the privateness issues of the apps you utilize in your telephone, and in different places.

Updates: iPhones are miles forward

Apple telephones also are a ways higher for device updates. Let’s take the final iOS unlock, iOS 14, for instance.

The oldest units supported are the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. These telephones had been launched in 2021, the 12 months of the Samsung Galaxy S6.

That Samsung telephone is one of the best-supported Androids of the 12 months, but it surely dropped off Samsung’s respectable improve checklist in 2021.

Two years of device updates and three years of safety updates is the best-case state of affairs for maximum Androids (regardless that Samsung has now began providing three years of device updates for some telephones).

iPhones generally tend to get five main updates, or five years’ value from their unique release, plus further safety patches afterwards. Even the iPhone 5S from 2021 won a safety replace only a week earlier than this piece used to be written in January 2021.

Tech firms have risen to greatness and crumbled to not anything in the time the iPhone 5S has won improve.


You’ll get much more device updates with an iPhone (Image credit score: Apple)

Security updates are vital as a result of they comprise provisions to counteract vulnerabilities cybercriminals and different nasty varieties can attempt to exploit. Ever noticed the tales about scammers the use of Bluetooth to Mod into your telephone to covertly name top class-fee numbers? Updates repair issues like this.

The improve of Androids is also even shorter from some lesser manufactures. We have reviewed telephones from some little-recognized Chinese names that by no means appeared to obtain a unmarried replace from the day we first opened the field.

There’s every other factor. Google releases one main model of Android a 12 months. On day one, Google’s Pixel telephones get it. Other producers then generally take a number of months making the new code paintings with their very own device, earlier than liberating it.

All iPhones (the supported ones anyway) get updates as Apple releases them, as the corporate makes each the device and {hardware}. Google has attempted to mitigate this over the years, splitting off its apps from the Android phase so they may be able to be up to date discretely, and arising with Project Treble. This once more splits up gadget device to attenuate the paintings the producer must do.

Has it helped? Not a lot. Android updates can take an age to reach.

Resale price: iPhones in first position, Samsung in 2d

This replace factor and the extremely-lengthy improve cycle are two causes iPhones generally tend to appear ‘present’ so much longer than Androids. And it additionally feeds into their resale price.

Here’s how a lot you have to business-in the ‘excellent’ situation flagship telephones of 2021 in at MusicMagpie, one of the UK’s hottest tech resale firms:

  • iPhone XS – £250 (unique price £999)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 – £125 (unique price £739)
  • LG G7 – £70 (unique price £749)
  • Sony XZ2 – £90 (unique price £799)
  • Huawei P20 Pro – £40 (unique price £799)

The iPhone is value 25% of its unique price, the Samsung 17%, the LG 9.3%, the Sony 11%, and the Huawei simply 5%. You will have to be capable to get greater than those figures in the event you promote privately, however this is a relatively indication in their relative value.

And whilst those costs simplest follow to the UK, you’ll be expecting a identical state of affairs in maximum nations.

However, whilst Apple is the transparent winner, Samsung telephones additionally do reasonably smartly right here. And the different manufacturers’ price is no longer helped by way of their drop in prominence, in particular Huawei, which makes implausible telephones however has been all however destroyed in the west after the US categorized the corporate a safety chance.


The Samsung Galaxy S21 would possibly cling its price virtually in addition to an iPhone (Image credit score: TechRadar)

The takeaway

The lazy conclusion of the outdated Android as opposed to Apple debate in large part not applies. You can’t declare iPhones are overpriced and Androids are nice price when the corresponding Samsung fashions promote at a identical value, or extra in some circumstances. Here are a few of the key causes to shop for into every platform.

Buy an Android if you wish to have affordable 5G
Android makers followed 5G a lot more temporarily than Apple, in large part as a result of firms like Qualcomm and MediaTek had been speedy to offer chipsets that improve the usual, at a low price. Forget the behind-the-scenes stuff and it manner 5G Androids are to be had for $300/£300 or much less if you know the way to buy.

Buy an iPhone if you wish to stay a telephone for years (and years)
No Android producer helps its telephones like Apple. You can be expecting five years of device updates, and vital safety updates after it’s locked out of recent iOS variations. Even from the most sensible Android makers, two years of device updates and three years of safety patches is the best you’ll normally ask for.

Buy an Android for the best {hardware} price in keeping with greenback
Apple’s mid-fluctuate telephones are nice. But at $300/£300 or underneath Android is nonetheless the position to be. Buy a telephone from a Chinese corporate like Xiaomi, Realme or Oppo and you’ll be expecting close to-flagship day-to-day efficiency, perhaps even with 5G and – in some circumstances – top finish touches like glass again panels.

Buy an iPhone for a somewhat higher video games and apps library
No smartphones are wanting apps. But the App Store has extra ‘deep’ creativity and productiveness apps, and console-grade video games generally tend to return to iOS first. And won’t make it to Android in any respect in some circumstances. However, if you wish to use unfashionable sport emulators, Android is the simplest possibility.

Buy an Android for the slickest top-finish designs and periscope zoom
Want curved glass, 0 display screen borders and lengthy-throw periscope digital camera zooms? You can’t get the ones with any iPhone but. Through some eyes even the iPhone 12 Pro Max seems slightly dated subsequent to the most sensible-finish telephones from Samsung, Oppo and OnePlus.

Buy an iPhone in the event you’re into privateness
Google loves your information. An iPhone is a significantly better bedrock for a privateness-mindful existence. However, you don’t get to pat your self on the again simply for the use of an iPhone. Don’t fail to remember your use of good house tech, social networks, and any products and services you signal into are simply as vital.