Let me start by saying that I like Android phones. I love the variety of hardware and myriad software customization options. Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2are especially compelling for those who want the sexiest design and most compelling camera, respectively. But when most friends and family ask me what phone to buy, I tend to recommend the iPhone over Android.
Editor's Note 11/10/2018: From AT&T to Project Fi, Black Friday is upon us and we're hand-picking the best cellphone plans and deals of 2018.
Notice that I didn't say "iOS over Android." The reason to go the Apple route with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X isn't just the platform; it's how the software and hardware complement each other. The iPhone also works seamlessly with other Apple gadgets, including Macs, the Apple Watch and Apple TV — there's an ecosystem factor. Here are 10 reasons why the iPhone beats Android.
Updated on April 12: According to our testing, the Pixel 2 is now the best camera phone. The latest iPhones offer great cameras, but they're no longer tops.
1. Much, much faster
If you’re thinking of buying the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X, know that the A11 Bionic chip inside blows away anything from the Android camp. Not only did this processor pace Apple’s flagship to huge wins in synthetic benchmarks such as Geekbench 4 and 3DMark; it also ran circles around the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and the Pixel 2 XL when doing things like editing 4K video and opening large files. Even the newer Galaxy S9 is more than twice as slow.
This speed difference should also make playing the most intensive games, and especially enjoying demanding augmented-reality apps, a smoother experience.
2. Better hardware and software integration
The 3D Touch display first introduced with the iPhone 6s and featured in all but one model released since then is smart enough to sense pressure, allowing you to take quick actions from the home screen just by long-pressing on an app icon. The Portrait Mode on the iPhone 8 Plus can add sophisticated lighting effects with a tap. And the iPhone X can scan your face to log you in, even if you grow a beard and start wearing glasses. Android phone makers are said to be two years behind Apple's Face ID.
These are just a few of the examples of how Apple’s hardware and software designers work together to make the iPhone better than Android. And it’s no coincidence that Google recently spent over $1 billion to acquire HTC’s smartphone business. It wants to re-create that same magic by better integrating its mobile OS with its devices.
3. Easiest phone to use
Despite all the promises by Android phone makers to streamline their skins, the iPhone remains the easiest phone to use by far. Some may lament the lack of change in the look and feel of iOS over the years, but I consider it a plus that it works pretty much the same as it did way back in 2007. Pick it up, turn it on, touch the app to open.
Of course, Apple has folded in enhancements over the years, such as Siri and Control Center. Yet the iPhone still has zero learning curve. With iOS 10, Apple opened Siri and iMessages to developers, and there are customizable widgets available for the Today screen. So you can't really make the argument that the iPhone is a walled garden anymore. And with iOS 11, Apple has added the ability to edit Live Photos, send payments to friends in the Messages app and organize files via a proper Files app (which is way overdue considering that Android has had files access from the start).
4. OS updates when you want them
This is going to hurt a little, Android fanboys. One week after launch, iOS 11 was reportedly installed on 25 percent of iOS devices, according to analytics company Mixpanel. By January 2018, iOS 11 was on 65 percent of iOS devices. Meanwhile, Android Oreo was on 0.7 percent of devices at that time.
The problem is this: With the exception of pure Android phones like the Pixel 2, the Samsungs, LGs and HTCs of the world have to jump through more hoops to bring you the latest version of Google's OS, including carrier certification. Plus, phone makers typically drag their feet on updating older phones. In fact, LG recently set up a Software Upgrade Center to speed up updates.
If you own a compatible iPhone — an iPhone 5s or later in the case of iOS 11 — you can update to the latest version of iOS on the day it's released (or close to it, depending on how Apple's servers stand up to the strain). This dynamic isn't going to change anytime soon.
5. The best apps first
Now that both iOS and Android have millions of apps in their stores, the arms race is over, right? Not really. The iPhone is still favored by developers as the launch platform of choice for the hottest new apps.
Mario Run debuted on iOS in December 2016. Android? March 2017.The Google Play store is like the Netflix of app stores; it gets the hits, but usually after they see their first run on iOS. For instance, it took two years for Instagram to debut on Android after it launched for the iPhone. Other apps, such as Super Mario Run and the HQ Trivia have taken only months to get to Android. Other apps that hit the iPhone earlier than Android include Monument Valley 2, Affinity Photo and Snapchat.
The message is clear: For those who don't want to be treated like second-class app citizens, the iPhone is still the king.
6. No bloatware!
It's not a good sign for prospective Android phone buyers that some of the most popular articles we do are bloatware-removal guides.
Samsung and others have gotten better at minimizing the pain for users by lumping all carrier bloatware into a single folder, but it's still just crap taking up space on your phone.
You won't find a single piece of carrier software preloaded on an iPhone, making for a clean out-of-the-box experience. Apple does include some apps you might not want or need, like Apple Watch, but it has much more restraint than other manufacturers when it comes to bundling its own stuff. And on iOS 11, you can at least disable built-in apps you don't need.
7. Works beautifully with Macs
If you haven't tried a Mac in a while, you might be surprised to know just how well iPhones work with them. For instance, with the Continuity feature in macOS, you can use your MacBook to send and receive text messages and even receive and place calls. All you have to do is keep your iPhone nearby.
I find the Handoff feature a little less useful, but some may like that they can do things such as start an email on their Mac and then pick up where they left off on their iPhone — or vice versa. Thanks to iCloud keeping everything in sync, you also have easy access on your Mac to the photos you take on your iPhone, as well as any notes or documents you create.
In iOS 11, a new Files app makes it easier to keep your files in sync across iCloud and your Mac. With macOS High Sierra, the Photos app has become more iOS-like, with a new Memories view, the ability to edit Live Photos and an improved People album, so it’s fairly seamless to transition from iOS to macOS.
8. Apple Pay
Between Android Pay and Samsung Pay, Apple has plenty of rivals, but right now, Apple Pay is the most popular method for making mobile payments. It’s also dead-simple to use. All you have to do to use Apple Pay is bring your iPhone close to the supported payment terminal at the checkout counter and then press your finger on your phone's Touch ID sensor.
With the iPhone X, you just double tap the Side button and then stare at your phone to use Face ID.
If you’re not that excited by using your phone to pay for stuff at the store, you can try another alternative: iOS 11 supports sending and receiving money from friends and family from within the Messages app. Yes, there are third-party apps that do this, but with the iPhone, it’s built right in.
Unfortunately, the funds you send and receive are stored on a Pay Cash card and must then be transferred to your bank. I’d prefer that funds go directly into the account associated with your Apple Pay account.
9. Family Sharing
An Apple family that plays together saves together. With Family Sharing on the iPhone, Mom, Dad and the kids can share purchases from the App Store, iTunes and iBooks with up to six people. You can still keep your own iTunes accounts, too. When Junior wants to make a purchase, you receive an alert via the Ask to Buy feature, so you can keep better tabs on what he's downloading and also prevent bill shock.
You can choose between a 200GB iCloud storage plan for the family ($2.99 per month for 200GB or $9.99 per month for 2TB).
Other Family Sharing features include shared photo albums, a shared calendar and the ability to see where your kids are on a map at any time. Google doesn't offer easy family sharing on Android devices, but Android does benefit from a much better selection of parental-controls apps.
10. Best support and help
When you have a problem with your Android phone, you can try finding a solution on online forums or calling your carrier. But with the iPhone, you can tap into a vast database of useful help articles on Apple's website, get help via live chat or schedule an appointment at an Apple Store Genius Bar.
With the exception of the Pixel, Google doesn't have this kind of direct relationship with its customers. For other Android phones, you have to go through your carrier or the phone maker, and you won’t see the same level of service.
Credit: Tom's Guide/Shutterstock