iOS or Android? Experts Say It Depends

Which operating system is better?

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates said recently that he prefers Android, but not all experts agree. 
  • If you’re concerned about security, you might want to go with Apple, one observer said. 
  • For those who like to customize their phones, the choice to go with Android is straightforward.
 Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook
Michael Cohen / Getty Images

Microsoft founder Bill Gates prefers Android for smartphones, but experts say that both operating systems have their strengths and weaknesses. 

In a recent interview, Gates claimed he doesn’t avoid Apple handsets, but likes that some Android manufacturers pre-install Microsoft software. Gates said he owns both kinds of devices. But the two types of handsets elicit strong opinions. 

"I’m not going to sit here and lie about how much an Android phone sucks," cybersecurity analyst Eric Florence said in an email interview.

"That’s simply not true. However, someone once told me that an iPhone is a dumb smartphone, meaning it couldn’t be more user friendly and intuitive. And I have to agree."

Both Are Easy to Use

Not everyone buys into the idea that iOS is easier to use. "The truth is that both operating systems are relatively similar to each other, with similar features appearing on one only to be later adopted by the other," Sage Young, a software expert at mobile app development company Fueled, said in an email interview.

"But once familiarity takes hold, so does personal preference and perceived ease of use. While I would argue that either OS can just as easily be learned as the other to a new user, it is not so easy to switch."

Storage upgrade is one point to consider. Phones running iOS are stuck with the amount of storage you chose at the time of your initial purchase.

"Someone once told me that an iPhone is a dumb smartphone, meaning it couldn’t be more user friendly and intuitive. And I have to agree."

On the other hand, with many Android phones, "if you need more space on your phone, you can quickly upgrade your storage space by switching the micro SD card, making working from your phone even better since you won’t need to transfer data to a computer or external drive all the time," Florence said. 

If you’re concerned about security, you might want to go with Apple, cybersecurity expert Peter Baltazar said in an email interview. "iOS offers you better security and privacy," he added.

"You might hear about virus or malware attacks on Android, but it is quite rare in iOS. iPhone provides an in-built spam message filter. In Android, you have to install third-party applications for that purpose."

Customizers Should Go Android

For those who like to customize their phones, the choice to go with Android is clear, experts say. You can install custom ROMs on Android devices by rooting it. You can’t easily install a custom ROM on an iPhone.

"Third-party app installation is quite tricky on iOS compared to Android. Though, this is both good and bad," Baltazar said.

"The good thing about third-party installation is you can install many feature-rich applications which are not available on the official Play Store. The bad thing is you might accidentally install malware on your system from third-party sources, as they are less secure."

People taking pictures in front of the Android robot at the Googleplex.
Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images

Also, consider who you’re chatting with when picking out a phone. "iMessage is a fantastic dedicated messaging app from Apple. It syncs messages across all Apple devices with the same ID," Baltazar said.

"Android lacks such a dedicated messaging app. However, many third-party apps like WhatsApp, Telegram are enough for messaging on Android."

If you’ve already bought into the Apple ecosystem through purchases of things such as AirPods, you might want to stick with Apple. "Apple releases new iPhones on a very regular schedule every year," software developer Weston Happ of Merchant Maverick said in an email interview.

"Although their product line has expanded substantially in the last five years, Apple’s iOS offerings represent a well-defined set that can make it easier for new phone or tablet purchasers to find the correct device for their needs."

But real Google-heads might want to go Android, Happ said. "Android phones come fully synced with the Google ecosystem, which means users can seamlessly move between apps, and each app knows the context and content of exactly what the user or foremost app might need," he added.

"This app intercommunication really demonstrates its power when search comes into play," Happ said. "It’s a field where Google has already established itself as the de facto global standard."

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