iOS vs. Android – is iOS really that much easier?

One of the key reasons people love iOS is its simplicity. It’s one of the reasons I love it. However, many use the argument that its simplicity is what makes it superior to Android. I was talking with some guys in a local phone store yesterday who told me that, actually, they don’t see Android as being any harder to use than the iPhone’s operating system. In fact, certain elements were more difficult on iOS.

One thing that grinds my ears more than anything is die-hard fanboyism. (Yes I just made up that word – I think.) Within the ranks of regular tech lovers – like most of us – is a group of people so fiercely loyal to their own brand preference that they fail to even consider that something else might suit them. In fact, they go as far as to state it as fact that the other company is inferior. A typical conversation between two opposing fanboys might sound something like this:

Phandroid: iPhone SUCKS!
Fanboy: No it doesn’t! iPhone is the best.
Phandroid: Yeh, well Android is the most popular. And at some point iPhone’s going to be gone and Google will rule the world.
Fanboy: Yeh, but, it’s only popular because there’s so many Android handsets out. There’s only 1 iPhone. Plus, what about fragmentation?
Phandroid: Do you even know what that means?
Fanboy: Like, they all explode or something?
Phandroid: You’re just a stupid, mindless sheep, following Apple and believing everything Steve Jobs says, like all the other people with iPhones.
Fanboy: At least I’m not in denial. You want to try iPhone but you’re scared your going to like it. Secretly you know it’s better.
Phandroid: No it isn’t. You only use it cos your too stupid to figure out Android. It takes a much more intelligent person to use it.
Fanboy: Whatever. Android sucks!

We’ve all seen it, or heard it. Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous. It’s okay to say “I prefer iOS”, and it’s perfectly acceptable to say that you like Android more. But, to state that someone is wrong for choosing one over the other is narrow minded. I know, I run an iPhone blog so surely I’m a fanboy? Not at all, I just prefer to use iOS day-to-day. Why? Mostly because I like the way it looks, the way it works, and I prefer the virtual keyboard on this over any of the keyboards on the purely touchscreen Android handsets I’ve had. I also like its integration with iTunes, and I’m sure as heck going to get my money’s worth from my MobileMe subscription.

Is iOS simpler than Android? See, there’s no definite answer to that question. It’s all about what you’re used to. Sending a message on one is no more difficult than on the other. Changing a wallpaper? Probably easier on the Android device – tap and hold, then hit “wallpapers”. Sure, Android has an extra drop-down notifications system, plus the added “strain” of bringing up your apps drawer. But does any of that really tax your brain? Nope. It’s just different. My two year old daughter can use my iPhone, and iPad, but she had to watch me and learn how to do it. Babies are not born with a genetic predisposition for using iOS. When I had my G2 she had no problem scrolling through screens, or finding Angry Birds.

To look at some real life examples, let’s take my family in to consideration. Out of all of my immediate family, plus extended family (through marriage), I’m probably the most tech-savvy. (That’s excluding a couple of brothers-in-law who also have iPhones.) So, if the “iOS is for dumb people/iOS is way simpler” argument stood up, surely I would be the one without the iPhone, right? Wrong. My parents both sport Blackberry (Curves 8520&8300), as does my wife (Bold 9700). Both my brothers have Android powered devices, as does my eldest brother’s wife (Desire HD). My mother-in-law has a Samsung Galaxy S, and she’s probably the least technologically sound in the whole family. If she can figure out how to use an Android device, and have it as a week-in, week-out phone for general use, I’m pretty confident anyone can.

It all comes down to this – people buy the phones that suit them the best. There’s no formula to state who should buy which device. I like iOS, but for emails I use a Blackberry. However much I like the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, I still cannot get by without a physical keypad, so I carry my Pearl 3G around with me where ever I go. What’s wrong with saying you like one thing over another? Personal preference should be the only decider, and not pressure from the outspoken haters.

What do you guys think? How many of you have used both platforms? Is one really any easier than the other? Comment below, or tweet me your thoughts.


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  • daniel

    I completely agree. I’m what you could call a fanboy. But I’m not a stuck up, snob fanboy. I’m open to other people’s opinions. And i think that when fanyboyism is present, it always comes down to just personal preference. :) great article.

    • Matthew4295

      then you aren’t a fanboy. Fanboies are people who won’t even listen to another’s point. I LOVE Android!!!! BUT! I am thinking of buying an iPhone b/c I was the chance to get into the OS, for just to try something that everyone says is so great and for the programming experience.

  • edgar

    I’m a fan of Google and android but I still carry around a iPod touch and have a hd2 with android and wp7 on it, can never make up my mind on what’s better :P

  • JabelG

    Hey!! It’s good to hear this. I use Android, but I’m not a hater. It’s just my selection after a long test of other devices / Platforms.
    I have friends with iPhones and Blackberrys that get surprise with some stuff I can do here, but they also show me things that they like of their respective devices.
    It’s all a matter of choice, something we have to respect.

    Thanks for this post.

    JabelG (on Twitter)
    From Dominican Republic

  • Brian

    Well stated, Cam… one of your best articles, yet.

    As a user of Windows Mobile phones long before the iPhone was introduced, I certainly appreciated and still appreciate the simplicity of iOS. While WinMo offered tons of control over the device, in order to utilize that, you HAD to be a geek, have a stylus, and plenty of time. What frustrated me about it, though, was that while the hardware of the iPhone was in many ways superior to any WinMo device you could get, iOS denied you functionality that WinMo offered.

    It was like driving a crappy car (old WinMo 5.x devices) however you wanted next to a guy driving a Lamborghini (iPhone) who wasn’t allowed to drive it more than 30 miles per hour & could only drive it in one neighborhood.

    User interfaces and OSs are designed to let you use the hardware and software in the simplest and most logical way. As the devices get more & more complicated and sophisticated, the challenge will be to allow us to utilize all the new features easily.

    Personally, I’m a fan of buttons. Call me old fashioned, but my favorite smartphone to date was my old HTC Apache (now something like 8 years old.) That thing had something like 30 buttons on it. There was a swtich for Bluetooth, WiFi, speaker, camera, etc etc… and that wasn’t counting the keyboard. I didn’t have to find out what menu WiFi was under. I just flipped the switch. Clearly, my preferences don’t match market demand… heck, just getting a camera button is rare.

    Nothing on the market is ideal… yet. I have hope, though.
    I love this stuff. :-)

  • Pasqual

    I have used both. They are both really easy to use. I like Android better cause you can customize your phone. iOS is to plain and boring for me. I am really considering getting a iPhone though just because the battery life on Android are horrible.

  • Nathan

    I agree as well. I know technology inside and out and I prefer the control of android. My wife is not tech savvy in the least but she prefers motoblur android devices b/c the social network integration and visual polish. And one of my best friends can power use an iphone 4 better than I can on my Droid2.

  • Great article! I love Android and have had 4 Android devices since it came out, but a month after I got my original G1, I also got an iPod Touch and have been using them side by side ever since. I do prefer Android’s web browser and the customization it allows, but nothing beats iOS for media and gaming. I use them both equally and couldn’t live without either at this point.

    On the question of ease of use, some aspects of Android take a little more learning, but not much. And when I bought my iPod, it took me 4 months to learn you could swipe left to delete things, and I’m extremely tech savvy. To say that iOS is so easy it takes no learning is retarted, everything takes a certain amount of learning to use.

    I hated the original iPod and talked down Apple’s popularity because of it for years, but when an iPod came out that had a design and an OS I liked, I hopped on board. Fanboys need to take a step back and realize their are two sides to every argument.

  • Angela

    Great article. I totally agree! I’ve never understood the fanboyism, no matter what camp it comes from. IMO, all platforms do basically the same thing; it’s just how they do it–in nuances that are slightly different from each other–that sets them apart. I tend to carry three devices, one from each of the three major platforms. Some may say that’s too many, but between the three of them I get everything I need in the way that I prefer it. For example, Blackberry is my choice for email, SMS/MMS, basic phone; iPod touch definitely fuels my desire for an awesome multimedia and web browsing experience; and my Galaxy Tab fills in the gaps for everything else. There’s no ‘better’ in this debate. What it boils down to is what’s better for YOU?

  • David

    W.e I’m both android and apple fan i think they should make an OS together i wonder how it will look… lol

  • I had trouble myself trying to convince that the Galaxy S II was FASTER. And he just called me stupid, and said you can judge anything till you’ve used it. When I told him the SGS had a bigger processor, he just said that the iPhone does best what it claims to do. So you cant really talk with Fanboys, they just get stuck on the thing they prefer. Its true that they might change when they use a better model. They’re not geeks, and have no experience of anybody else’s views

  • Volas

    I’ve read all these comments so far and I have to say that in a way everyone’s right. I’m a huge Apple fanboy, but that doesn’t make me stupid or wrong, all it makes me is Me. Everyone is entitled to a decision. Weather u like android or Apple, really they are sort of the same. They basically do the same things but in their own way. Also, they both have their pros and cons. Some like customization, some don’t care. Some like awsome gaming, some don’t care. Some like basic, some want complex. It’s all choice. I’ve always bashed on Android because I had an Android and it was always choppy and it lagged a lot! But Im don’t judging all Androids for that matter. Maybe It was just my luck. I have jumped from android to iPhone and my experience here has been flawless. I like it a lot, but sometimes I wish that Apple would allow some things androids can do. Like bigger screen, more customization and stuff altogether, it’s all about preference.

  • J Doss

    I have been a mobile hobbiest/enthusisit since screens were monochrome and you wer considered pretty tech savvy to be able to get a new ringtone or wallpaper to your phone.

    The launch of the iPhone was revolutionary to the mobile industry and was the phone to have. It really turned a lot of companies on their heads and opened up doors for others to get in the market. So for a few years the argument was a valid one. iPhone was the easiest, most beautiful, most stable. Simply put it just worked.

    But over the last year Android has stepped up, WP7 will get it all together in the next year. Blackberry will get it figured out, it is just a new frontier and they need to get the right people in the right places. HP might even find a way to get developers to create some apps for a great platform.

    Mobile and Tech enthusiasts are moving away from the polarized opinions of previous years and coming to accept that we need to now move the industry toward convergence. Ironically the company that makes the phone that just works (Which I think is a great device) is the most polarized of the bunch. I use Android as my phone. I love it, it’s like spandex, it may not be the prettiest, but it moves with me.

    I have an iPad as my mobile office and it drives me crazy that Apple perpetuates (I know it is the developers choice, but still) this culture of exclusivity. There are some great apps but there is no way for my Android to comunicate or sync the information. This is changing, but slowly. I use to think the limitation to making a great, beautiful app was Googles platform, but recently developers have proven that there are very few limitations.

    As techies our conversation needs to support convergence, even though I enjoy a great debate as much as the next guy. I would enjoy sharing my life on the go more.

  • I have that argument with my friends all the time. It’s not more of an argument my one friend used to own a palm pre and that was the best now he has an evo and that is the best. You know the kind of person I’m talking about.

    Anyway I have played with both and like the article says it is different by a little bit. I edit video’s and right now I need good apps and the ability to do everything with ease by having itunes and everything together. The thing I think holding back Android is having so many different handsets I wouldn’t personally put my money into that because if you buy the wrong phone you could be left in the dust and I feel that even though you can do more sometimes with them its like a pc again where you need everything to work or it just don’t work. I also think people should give credit to the iphone for making smart phones what they are today. I think the argument that you can do more on an android is silly because my iphone does everything I want it or need it to do and if it doesn’t it will in a couple of months and usually works flawlessly when you can do it which my friends tell me android doesn’t all the time and the battery is the biggest complaints.

    All in all they both offer you great devices that make our lives and things we do in them much easier and better and always connected to information. So have your pick…..but I will say my father and mother both use iphones and they are technologically unsavvy LOL. Don’t know if it would have been as easy with a DRoid. I will say I think blackberry is the hardest by far to use……its like dos LOL.

    • By the way I love google and all of there products so I think it’s stupid when people are like apple’s better than google. I love em both and wish they would work better together lately LOL.

  • Domi

    I love both android and iphone… I have a Mytouch 4g and gonna get the HTC Sensation but I also have iphone 3gs… I play my games on the iphone (admitting that apple does have better games) and use it for business, but I also love the customization for android… Im not a hater of any Im not a fan of windows phones, but then again I havent lived with it yet. I cant wait till the iphone comes onto tmobile, then I can live in perfect harmony of apple and android… :)

  • Kiki

    Agreed i just use iOS because i grew up with it my first cellphone was an iPhone my first iPod was an iPod Touch. And i dont want to have to go though learning a whole new system.

    • Jon

      Not hard to switch to another OS as long as you know the fundamentals. I easily transitioned from Windows Mobile 6.5, Symbian S60, and P2K into iOS and Android in a matter of hours in-between platforms.

  • Taylor

    I’ve owned an iPhone 3G and 3GS, Blackberry torch, and a Samsung Galaxy S capivate. But which one do I carry around everyday? My iPhone of course! Why? Because like Cam said, he likes Android OS but prefer iOS more. I almost got another android 3 days ago, but instead turned it down for my chance to get an iPhone 4. It doesnt matter what your phone OS is, as long as its not out dated symbian! Just kidding. (:

    • Sid

      You prefer the iphone4 over the captivate.. You definitely have not seen the full capability of the captivate…

  • Alex

    Awesome! I have been on iOS since day one, tried a G1 with Cyanogen for a bit. Now I am gravitating towards WP7. Mostly for the fresh interface and the iTunes integration.
    Currently sporting an HD7.

  • David

    Great article! I agree that it’s all personal preference. I own an iPhone 3GS and love it but am debating on switching too Android or Windows Phone 7. The problem is, I don’t want the customization or anything. I’m not really sure why, I just want to test out Android and what I personally would like about it. Probably just my inner geek, but I plan on getting an Atrix 4G or another Motorola device on AT&T once I can upgrade. Unless there is a Windows Phone that peaks my interest or the iPhone 5 does.

    • Ant

      Stay away from motorola! Moto blur sucks, worst android phones out there

  • Dave

    I had iPhone 3G and loved it it’s so much better then android it has all the movies tv shows and music and App Store that you could want! Granted there are more android phones out there and it’s an open market for google BUT fragmentation up the yazoo I’ve had the first Droid it’s nice to have flash player. I’m torn I think the new htc phones are cool and want one but also love the iPhone too. the question is Droid with flash player or iPhone with no flash player. And don’t forget the front facing cams and apple can only use it with wifi where Droid doesn’t need to 3G/4G I’m looking seriously at the HTC’s Sprint’s Evo 3D or tmoble Sensation both awaum phones!

  • Ant

    I work at t mobile so I talk down the iPhone everyday. Only because I do not sell it. I use an iPhone 4 and blackberry os6 bold. I also have a sanding tab running android 2.2. They are all equally easy for me and my 6 year old son. The iPhones lack of flash is the only downside. They are all awesome and i think everyone should try them all before making a decision.

  • Veronica

    I’ve used both and I still like the look and “feel” of the iPhone over android. Although I do miss the free apps and Flash that came along with owning a droid.

  • MAS

    I’ve tried both platforms both great phones but I’ve became reliant on iphone for the reason that battery life just lasts the day. I was using an HTC phone that had android os. android was awsome but the life of the battery was horrible. Iphone I have is jailbroken and i get all the same capabilities as the android if not more. Both os’s are great. Perhaps the next gen of android phones have overcome those problems like with samsung sII that is being released might result in switching who knows til i try it for myself.

  • Giorgis Trabakoulas

    I had both, but am now an Android fan.

    Widgets, USB connectivity to any computer, a propper file system with apps intercommunicating, SD cards, Videocalling to any device as well as computers, over both 3G an wifi, 4G, trivial file swapping between android users away from computers, travel the world no problem, flash.

    That’s only getting started .. next comes choice in devices, in suppliers in plans. Faster adoption of new technologies. Competition between Android devices as well as with other os, multiple markets open source community. Google even supports alternative roms that add features to phones ?!

    Apple is stuck at the screen of buttons paradime. Even the iPad 2 is a screen with icons that launches great programs but the iOS … where is it ?

    Apple has much better apps … case closed there, but for how long. If next year 100 million third world users buy a $50 Android phone, there are going to be alot of developers in that pool.

    Apple has such great hardware but it cripples it on philosophy. It is too scared to inovate so as to not appear to change or follow inovators. Basically the “brand” is more important than utility.

  • Dhyior Lahn

    Great Article Cam.

    i’ve been ask many times by my friends “which is better?” … I could’nt give them any definite answer.
    i’m using an iPhone4, but i’m a big fan of HTC Android powered devices.
    I’ve seen cool stuff the Samsung Galaxy Tab can do, that makes me think “hmm… why did Apple did not think of that.
    but there are also cool things that my friend’s Android powered device does’nt have.
    Thanks for your insight,

  • junkyul

    finally. Someone that’s not bigoted about phones. AT my school, we’re divided by Appleboys, Phandroids, Fanberry, WP7kids, and Messengers. I’m a phandroid but I support Apple, WP7, and messaging phones just as the same. I own a droid (Droid Incredible), my girlfriend own a messaging phone (Lg ENV Touch), and my buddy owns a Verizon iPhone 4.