Android or iPhone? Which do I get?

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One of the most confusing things for people to consider these days is what kind of smartphone to purchase. There are lots of different smartphones available, including Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and even some WebOS and Symbian phones. But the two big kahunas right now are the Apple iPhone and Google Android.

What’s the difference?

There are various differences between the two platforms, but it really comes down to Apple or Google. Apple makes the iPhone; Google makes Android. One thing to mention right away is that the iPhone is a hardware and operating system package from Apple; Android is an operating system from Google that various hardware manufacturers use on their phones. This means that Apple makes everything for the iPhone and Google only makes the operating system. You can think of it like Mac and Windows; an Apple Mac includes the hardware and operating system and Windows is the operating system from Microsoft that can run on a bunch of different hardware from different manufactures, like Dell, HP, Asus, etc.

The Apple iPhone will feel very familiar to someone who is already using Apple products. It works with iTunes, so all of your iPod content will easily load on the iPhone. If you have an Apple TV, the iPhone can use Air Play to put videos, photos, and music on your TV. You download and install apps on an iPhone through the App Store.

Android is installed and works on smartphones made by different companies. Some of the big hardware companies making Android phones are Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Android phones require a Google account to set up and activate, so you automatically have all of the Google capabilities available to you. You download and install apps on Android through the Google Market. There are also some third-party app markets for Android, such as the Amazon Appstore.

Power users will often “jailbreak” an iPhone to load apps from unauthorized sources with increased functionality. They will often “root” an Android phone to load apps with increased functionality.

One other difference is that the iPhone is not available on all wireless carriers. In the US, the iPhone is only available from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. However, various Android phones are available from all the major wireless carriers, including T-Mobile, as well as many of the prepaid wireless companies like Virgin Mobile and Cricket.

They still sound similar. Is there really a difference?

The differences between the two platforms really require you to play with both phones. In the end, both phones will most likely do what you want it to do, and then some. There are apps that are available for both platforms, like Facebook and Pandora, and other apps that are only available on one or the other.

Otherwise, it really comes down to personal preference. Are you already living in an Apple world with a bunch of Apple products? If so, you will probably want to buy an iPhone. Do you like things to be relatively straightforward and simple? If so, you will probably want an iPhone. Do you want a lot of selection of screen sizes, hardware manufacturer, and wireless phone company? If so, you will probably want an Android phone. Do you like to tinker with lots of different settings on the phone? If so, you will probably want an Android phone.

Bottom Line

$200+ is a lot of money to spend and have regrets a couple months later, especially when you are locked into a two-year contract. Before you commit to one or the other, go to the store and look at both phones. Hold them, play with them, and ask someone to tell you about them. Make sure they explain how to do things that you think you will want to do with them, like read email. If you’re not comfortable making a decision, go home and sleep on it. When you’re comfortable, then happily make your purchase. Either way, you will get a good phone.

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