Wed. Oct 20th, 2021
Android vs. iOS: Which Mobile OS Is Best?

It is feasible to make use of a smartphone working an working system aside from Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS (Tizen, LineageOS, /e/ anybody?), however the chance that you just’re doing so is infinitesimal. Like it or not, for the current, we’re locked in a duopoly relating to cellular working system alternative. But that is not essentially such a foul factor: This two-way competitors has pushed what can solely be described as polished, feature-packed, and technologically potent software program. Both working techniques are extremely tuned and decked out with options.

Much of your alternative of smartphone OS, nevertheless, does not concern the software program’s technical capabilities or consumer options. It’s doubtless that you just use what your social and household circles are utilizing. If everybody you understand makes use of Apple’s Facetime for video calling, you do not need to be not noted of the get together, and also you would not need your messages to have inexperienced bubbles as a substitute of the usual blue ones. Of course, there are cross-platform choices for many capabilities—you would set up Skype or Google Hangouts on each iPhones and Androids—however built-in performance and consistency normally trump third-party choices.

Below, we step by the assorted points by which smartphone OSes could be judged, selecting a winner or declaring a tie for every class. At the tip, we tally up the ultimate rating. Keep in thoughts that each are mature and sumptuous works of software program at this factor, and also you’re unlikely to be dissatisfied with whichever you go for. Feel free to appropriate us on PCMag’s Twitter or Facebook feeds if you happen to take subject with our strategies or conclusions or suppose we left one thing out. For extra element on every cellular working system, learn our in-depth opinions of Android and iOS.

Hardware Choices

Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup

Your alternative of a tool for working iOS versus Android is just like the selection between macOS and Windows computer systems: With the Apple system software program, you will have a alternative of only one {hardware} vendor, albeit a top-tier one. With Android and Windows, you’ll be able to select from dozens of {hardware} makers with a wide variety of value, high quality, and efficiency ranges. Because Android is open-source (in contrast with iOS’s closed supply) it signifies that any cellphone maker can use it. And that has resulted in a profusion of Android handsets.

You can get a really usable Android cellphone for as little as $149. Our funds Editors’ Choice, the Motorola Moto e is a nice alternative. Contrast that with the most cost effective new iPhone you should purchase, the iPhone SE, which prices $399. On the opposite conclusion of the spectrum, you’ll be able to really pay considerably extra for an Android cellphone than for any iPhone: Some configurations of the Samsung Galaxy Fold (itself an excellent instance of the variability out there with the Android platform) promote for north of $2,000, and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G can set you again $1,599. The costliest Apple handset, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, prices $1,449 with 512GB storage. One closing Android unique {hardware} characteristic: You can add storage on some Android telephones with a Micro SD card; with iPhones, you are caught with the storage restrict you initially purchased.

Winner: Android

Interface and Usability

Interface in iOS and Android

It’s nonetheless honest to say that Android tends to current extra complexity—extra burrowing down menus to get to the setting you want, a number of house screens, and extra variation amongst completely different cellphone mannequin interfaces. With iOS, due to Apple’s famed love of limiting customers to its method or the freeway, interface format and settings are extra constant and uncomplicated.

Thanks to iOS 14, although, now you can customise your iPhone display greater than ever, with massive, well-designed widgets, the brand new App Library that robotically teams and organizes icons, and customizable icons. Android nonetheless permits extra customization choices than iOS, nevertheless, even letting you select amongst dozens of launcher screens that drastically change the interface.

Considering that Android is made by Google, it appears unusual that the search perform on iOS is superior. I particularly discover this when I’m trying to find apps put in on the system. Apple properly teams outcomes into apps, emails, contacts, and even exhibits apps not put in, with hyperlinks to the App Store. In all, iOS presents a extra polished, constant expertise.

Winner: iOS

Technology Support


New wi-fi tech requirements seem yearly just like the spring chook migration, and in the previous few years, Android has been first to welcome these new specs, virtually all the time previous their iOS help. Android is the primary with 5G community help; beforehand it beat Apple with help for wi-fi charging, 4G LTE, and touchless voice instructions. That mentioned, Apple tends to attend till the brand new expertise is helpful and dependable: For instance, 5G service and promised speeds nonetheless aren’t ubiquitous. Yes, you should purchase a handset that connects to 5G—however can you discover any 5G service to attach it to?

Android has additionally added help for foldable and dual-screen telephones, and because it’s open-source, third events like Microsoft can add performance to help contraptions just like the upcoming Surface Duo, an Android cellphone that options two-screens, every displaying tailor-made content material, quite than simply being a single display that spans the 2. Again, these applied sciences have not all the time confirmed to be sturdy (to say the least) however there isn’t any doubt that Android handsets are pioneering them.

Winner: Android

Included Apps

Included apps in iOS and Android

Apple and Google each provide you with loads of inventory apps that seem in your cellphone from the second you first energy it up. You’ll see apps for e-mail, internet looking, photograph viewing and enhancing, audio taking part in and recording, video taking part in, doc and spreadsheet enhancing, and extra. Both embody apps that you just can’t uninstall even if you happen to needed to, however each allow you to change inventory apps with third-party choices. One oversight on the Android facet is the shortage of a process or to-do app—iOS’s Reminders app is slick as could be for this. Google does get partial credit score, nevertheless, because the Keep app is obtainable as an additional obtain at preliminary setup and does an excellent job with to-do lists.

Messaging apps are value calling out, since that is a best smartphone exercise. Apple is method forward of Android right here, with its dazzling Memoji, Animoji, funds, video games, and complete iMessage app retailer. You may even shortly flip a messaging session right into a name or video chat with FaceTime. Even extra vital to some is that iMessage is end-to-end encrypted, whereas Android messages usually are not. The default Android Messages app is, nevertheless, completely serviceable, with the usual emoji, stickers, in addition to funds. The capacity to make use of it in an online browser paired by way of QR code is good. iPhone customers who need to ship messages on their laptop computer or desktop pc should keep solely inside the Apple ecosystem to take action.

Another vital included app for any cellular OS is mapping. Google has lengthy been acknowledged because the number-one map service, however Apple has lower that lead down considerably in the previous few years. Google remains to be extra thorough and up-to-date with native info, and it provides full Street View. One private fave is that it provides biking instructions, together with driving, strolling, and public transportation. Apple solely simply added bike instructions in iOS 14, however availability is not as widespread. iOS 14 improves its maps in different methods, with tourism Guides.

Both provide wonderful health-monitoring, information, and podcast apps, however iPhone is best relating to video enhancing with the good iMovie and music creation with GarageBand.

I’m a fan of Microsoft Translate, which works on each platforms, however Apple simply launched its personal Translate app to go towards the market-dominating Google Translate. The search large’s app provides much more languages than Apple, together with instruments for locating textual content in photographs—significantly vital for languages with an alphabet with which you are not acquainted.

Winner: iOS by a nostril

Availability and Fragmentation

Fragmentation in Android

If you purchase an iPhone, you could be assured that it’s going to obtain the newest iOS updates for a minimum of a number of years. Android is getting higher when it comes to updates changing into extra widespread, significantly with its Android One initiative, but it surely’s nonetheless far behind iOS on this depend. Neither firm’s developer web site but reveals market share of the just-released variations—Android 11 and iOS 14—however Android 10 runs on lower than 10 p.c of contraptions, whereas iOS 13 is on 81 p.c of iPhones and 92 p.c of contraptions bought inside the previous 4 years. iOS replace adoption is an precise order of magnitude larger than that of Android.

Winner: iOS

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy in iOS and Android

Both cellular working techniques have first rate data and safeguards relating to safety, however Android, being extra open, has extra vectors for malware to enter your cellphone. In specific, apps are extra susceptible to carry hassle in Android, particularly if you happen to set up from an alternate app retailer. Reports of vulnerabilities and assaults have change into an everyday incidence, as Android headlines exhibit: “EventBot Android Malware Steals Your Banking Details,” “A Wallpaper Can Crash Some Android 10 Phones,” “New Android Flaw Can Help Malware Impersonate Apps and Take Your Data,” and “Android Users Need to Manually Remove These 17 Infected Apps.

Privacy has been a focus in recent Android versions, with a number of new protections against third-party app abuses. Android 11 lets you grant one-time access to location and other private data, but iOS 14 now lets you tell apps your approximate rather than exact location. Since Google’s entire business model revolves around gathering information about each user, it’s hard for the search ad company to compete with Apple, whose profit model doesn’t involve surveillance or profiling. PCMag security expert Max Eddy has written about tension between privacy and data-gathering at Google in the column Will Google’s New Privacy Plans Really Protect You From Google? All this is not to say that privacy-compromising apps can’t appear on iPhones, too.

Winner: iOS

Integration with Desktop and Other Devices

hardware integration in iOS and Android

Apple’s Continuity options are arduous to beat, however due to Windows 10’s Your Phone app, Android can now join with PCs simply as successfully as iPhones connects with Macs. That even contains making calls, and when Windows 10 20H2 launches, working apps! Those capabilities rely in your cellphone mannequin, with Samsung items getting choice. Of course, perhaps we should not give Android full factors for Microsoft’s work, however one handy Google characteristic that Android allows is SMS messaging by way of the online.

Apple’s system ecosystem contains way over simply laptops and telephones, although: iOS ties in neatly with Apple Watch, Apple TV, the HomePod sensible speaker, and iPads (which now run their very own iPadOS working system). Google has the Wear Watch OS that is far much less prevalent than the Apple Watch, and Android tablets path iPads considerably. The Google Nest household of sensible audio system and screens, nevertheless, usually exceed Apple’s Siri-powered contraptions in PCMag’s scores, and third-party Google Assistant audio system can be found from the likes of Bose and Sonos.

Winner: iOS

Camera and Photos

Camera apps in iOS and Android

Smartphone cameras—and perhaps simply as importantly, the photo-processing apps that include the cellphone OSes—have been a spotlight for brand spanking new smartphone and cellular OS releases of late. In both system, you will discover wonderful digicam choices (together with multiple-camera techniques). Don’t get slowed down in megapixels, nevertheless: Even although you will discover Android telephones with super-high megapixel numbers—the Samsung Galaxy S20 can shoot at a whopping 108 megapixels—that range is much less vital that the design of the digicam sensor. For an in depth evaluation, learn’s comparability of the greatest smartphone cameras.

Both OSes even have spectacular photograph enhancement software program to make your footage look even higher than the sensor and lenses are able to by themselves. Both can add bokeh (background blur) to a portrait, and each provide sluggish movement, panorama, low-light, and time-lapse taking pictures.

Android does provide some nifty capabilities not discovered within the inventory iPhone digicam app: It enables you to take photograph sphere 360-degree photographs, and its Google Lens enables you to seek for close by procuring in addition to translate textual content and scan paperwork. It can even present framing hints and provides a low-light mode. Photographers will recognize that they’ll save uncooked digicam information from an Android cellphone, whereas Apple requires you to make use of a third-party app that may save uncooked digicam information, resembling the superb Adobe Lightroom app (out there on each platforms).

Winner: Android

App Ecosystem

App ecosystem in iOS and Android

It was the case that apps got here to iOS first, after which finally made their solution to Android. That’s nonetheless the case with some main suppliers like Adobe, which has launched the Photoshop pill model solely to iOS (now iPadOS); that makes eminent sense, since Android is pretty moribund within the pill enviornment, which Apple principally owns.

But different main apps have began showing in Android first, with the latest Facebook Gaming app showing first on Google’s cellular platform.

Another vital differentiator is that Android really lets you set up software program from non-Google app shops, and even to side-load them, bypassing the shop solely. Another comfort you will not discover in Apple’s retailer is the flexibility to remotely set up apps onto your cellphone by way of the online. Say you come throughout an app in an article you are studying in your laptop computer. If it is Android, you’ll be able to merely go over to the Play retailer’s web site and set up it proper then and there. But with iOS, it’s essential go to the system itself to get the app put in.

Winner: Android by a nostril

Voice Assistant

Voice assistants in iOS and Android

Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant each allow you to do issues along with your voice on the cellphone. Both are simple to invoke and provide a wake phrase, all the time listening choice (which I’m not a fan of on a cellphone that is all the time with you).

In my expertise, Siri typically provides an unhelpful reply or does not carry out an motion that you really want finished. She’s nice for calling somebody, however whenever you need to open an app, you may even see internet search outcomes as a substitute. Apple claims its assistant improves in iOS 14, however we’ll need to see. Google Assistant shows extra intelligence if much less persona. I do discover Siri’s voice choices extra nice than Assistant’s, nevertheless.

Siri provides Shortcuts and Automations. Shortcuts are multistep motion recipes, and Automations launch actions primarily based on triggers like your location or the climate. Google Assistant claims over 1,000,000 actions, together with issues like asking it to play a specific exhibit on Netflix or order a thin latte at Starbucks. Both assistants tie into wealthy sensible house ecosystems, Android with Google Home and Siri with Apple HomeEquipment contraptions, so whichever you will have, you’ll be able to relaxation assured that you can flip up the warmth, elevate the shades, or open the storage door—assuming you will have all of the requisite sensible home equipment.

Google Assistant enables you to management a TV with a Chromecast, and the corporate simply launched a brand new mannequin with a Google TV interface primarily based on Android TV that additionally ties in with the voice assistant. A 2019 research by Perficient, through which 5,000 questions have been requested of 5 assistants, Google had probably the most appropriate solutions, and Siri did not even try a solution on about half the variety of questions that Assistant answered appropriately.

One closing factor is that you need to use Google Assistant or Google Home on an iPhone, however you need to use Siri solely on Apple merchandise.

Winner: Android

Parental Controls

Parental controls in iOS and Android

Both OSes have robust parental controls, however the largest distinction among the many two is that Android enables you to extra simply and fully set up third-party parental management software program. That mentioned, iOS provides deeper built-in parental controls.

According to Apple’s help pages, you need to use its Screen Time characteristic to “block or limit specific apps and features on your child’s device,” and “restrict the settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy.” As its identify suggests, it’s also possible to hold tabs on the period of time a baby spends in apps and on the net and examine detailed reviews on all exercise the system was used for. Parents can configure limits for kids on their very own contraptions utilizing the Family Sharing characteristic and lock them down with a passcode that solely the mum or dad is aware of. They can even set communications limits, solely permitting calls, messages, and Facetimes with set contacts.

The very first thing you do whenever you arrange an Android cellphone is to decide on whether or not it is a mum or dad or kid’s cellphone. As talked about, Android does not restrict you to its personal parental controls, giving third get together choices like our Editors’ Choice, Qustodio, which works throughout Windows, Mac, iOS (requires establishing an MDM profile), and Android. Google’s Family Link app lets dad and mom view youngsters’ exercise, approve app downloads, set display limits, lock their system, and see their location.

Because Apple provides stronger built-in parental options, and Android has the benefit of permitting third-party options, it is a wash.

Winner: Tie

Gaming, VR, and AR

Gaming and VR in iOS and Android

Apple and Google have each put efforts into video games and enabling VR and AR applied sciences of their cellular working techniques. Both provide massive libraries of informal and near-console-level video games. And each now let customers subscribe to a number of video games versus having to purchase every individually. Apple’s Arcade and Android’s Google Play Pass each price an similar $4.99 per 30 days.

Both subscriptions characteristic no advertisements and free in-app purchases. Play Pass contains some non-game apps from less-known builders. As if that weren’t sufficient, Google additionally provides streaming video games by its Stadia service, for $9.99 per 30 days, although PCMag gaming reviewer Will Greenwald solely awarded it 2.5 stars in his evaluation of Stadia.

The iOS App Store provides a wholesome number of VR apps and VR video games, which you’ll be able to view on sure VR headsets. Apple continues to enhance its ARKit expertise to energy augmented actuality apps that carry 3D objects into your precise world view. The newest model, ARKit 4, provides Depth API, location anchoring in Apple Maps to put AR experiences at a selected factor on the planet, and face monitoring for extra contraptions.

Google sadly deserted its promising Daydream VR and Tango AR initiatives, however work continues on ARCore augmented actuality expertise, and the corporate nonetheless has a dozen VR initiatives letting builders construct apps utilizing the expertise. The Camera app’s Playground mode provides nifty 3D animations that match into the true world, and it is Google Lens makes use of AR to overlay close by procuring and eating locations. You can nonetheless additionally take pleasure in VR utilizing Google Cardboard, of which fellow PCMag analyst Max Eddy is a large fan!

Winner: Tie

Business Features

Business features in iOS and Android

Two of the earlier sections come into play right here: Security and Updates/Fragmentation. Both are wins for iOS, however there are different vital issues when selecting a smartphone platform for enterprise. For some companies, the open structure of Android is preferable, permitting them to create apps that go deeper and wider when it comes to accessing system options—the parental management/MDM subject talked about above is said to this, the place we famous that Android lets third-party companies take over the cellphone for parental management, whereas Apple doesn’t.


Either cellphone performs good with each Microsoft Office and Google Docs, in order that’s not a differentiator. Android does combine higher with Windows 10, nevertheless, significantly with the Your Phone app mentioned above. Since most companies run on Windows, that might be a cause to decide on Android.

Winner: Tie


Accessibility in iOS and Android

Both OS makers have been engaged on including options that assist individuals with disabilities use their telephones. Android has a Live Transcribe characteristic that enables people who find themselves deaf to learn what’s being mentioned on the spot. It additionally provides DiscussBack to talk what’s on the display, Lookout to inform you what’s in view, and Voice Access for controlling your cellphone. It additionally helps exterior switches (from AbleNet, Enabling Devices, RJ Cooper, and Tecla) and allows you to reprogram cellphone buttons.

Apple has a protracted listing of accessibility options, together with the VoiceOver display reader, zoom, dictation, Magnifier, Voice Control, Pointer Control, and extra. A Sound Recognition characteristic resembles the same Android functionality. One accessibility characteristic launched in iOS 14 is Back Tap, which anybody can use to set off an motion by tapping the again of the cellphone (and it really works on fashions all the way in which again to the iPhone 8)

There are Made for iPhone listening to aids, and the platform additionally helps exterior {hardware} change controllers, just like the AbleNet TrackerPro hands-free mouse that follows head actions. Both platforms can even benefit from third-party accessibility apps resembling Be My Eyes, AccessIn a position, and TapTapSee.

Winner: Tie

The Final Tally

Android vs. iOS

Apple iOS: 5

Google Android: 4

Tie: 5

As you’ll be able to see, it is a very shut race, with simply as many ties as wins for both facet. Apple iOS comes out on best—however by the slimmest of margins. The close parity is hardly stunning when you think about how the 2 platforms have been matching options and sprucing their interfaces for years.

Despite this near-parity, our evaluation ranking has Android with a decrease rating as a result of such a small proportion of Android customers can really run the newest model, and since Apple usually does a extra polished and constant job of implementing the identical options. Not the entire classes above obtain equal weight, in different phrases. Both OSes can serve you remarkably good. In the tip, your choice will doubtless have as a lot to do along with your social and work circles than with the cellular working system’s options.

Read More: Apple macOS vs. Microsoft Windows 10

Windows vs. macOS

The different huge working system battle is on the desktop stage. We examine Apple macOS with Microsoft Windows 10 point-by-point, simply as we have finished for Android and iOS. For extra recommendation on smartphones, learn PCMag’s roundup of the perfect cellphones cash can purchase immediately.

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