Is the iPhone an Android Phone?

is iphone android?
The iPhone 4, not an Android Phone. iPhone copyright Apple; Android logo copyright Google

If you're considering buying your first smartphone, you've probably heard the words "Android" and "iPhone." You may even have friends and relatives extolling the virtues of one or the other. But unless you already understand the smartphone market, you may have questions about what each of these terms means. For instance, is the iPhone an Android phone?

The short answer is no, the iPhone is not an Android phone (or vice versa). While they are both smartphones—that is, phones that can run apps and connect to the Internet, as well as make calls—they are distinct things and are not compatible with each other.

Think of iPhone and Android as being two separate brands, two similar but different tools that do similar things. A Ford and a Subaru are both cars, but they're not the same vehicle. A Mac and a PC are both computers and can do most of the same things, but they're not identical. For example, they run different operating systems and programs, among other differences.

The same is true of iPhone and Android. They're both smartphones, but they're not the same. There are four keys areas that differentiate the iPhone and Android phones.

1. Operating System

One of the most important things that sets these types of smartphones apart is the operating system that they run. The operating system, or OS, is the foundational software that makes the phone work. Windows is an example of an OS that runs on desktop and laptop computers.

The iPhone runs the iOS, while Android phones run the Android operating system.

While all OSes do basically the same things, the iPhone and Android OSes aren't the same and aren't compatible. The iOS only runs on Apple devices, while the Android OS runs on Android phones and tablets made by a number of different companies.

2. Manufacturers

Another major differentiator between iPhone and Android is the companies that manufacture them.

The iPhone is only made by Apple; Android isn't tied to a single manufacturer. Google develops the Android OS and licenses it to companies that want to sell Android devices, such as Motorola, HTC, and Samsung. Google even makes its own Android hardware. 

Think of Android as being like Windows: the software is made by a single company, but it's sold on devices from a lot of companies. The iPhone is like the Mac OS: it's made by Apple and only runs on Apple devices. 

3. Apps

Both iOS and Android run apps, but their apps are not compatible with each other. The same app may be available for both devices, but you need the version designed for your operating system for it to work. There are more apps available for Android than for the iPhone, though according to some reports, tens of thousands apps in Google's app store (called Google Play) are malware, don't do what they say, or are low quality.

Some useful, high-quality apps are iPhone only. Generally speaking, iPhone owners spend more on apps, have higher overall income, and are viewed as more desirable customers by many companies. As a result, when developers have to choose between paying to create an app for both iPhone and Android, or just iPhone, some choose iPhone only.

In some cases, developers release iPhone versions of their apps first and Android versions weeks, months, or even years later. 

4. Security

As smartphones become more and more central to our lives, their security is increasingly important. On this front, the two smartphone platforms are very different.

Android is designed to be more interoperable and available on more devices. The downside of this is that its security is weaker. The amount of viruses and malware targeting iPhone is so small as to be unmeasurable, whereas 97% of the malware targeting smartphones attacks Android (the other 3% target platforms other than Android and iPhone).

Apple's tight control of its platform, and some smart decisions in designing the iOS, make iPhone the most secure mobile platform.

iPhone vs. Android: Deciding Which to Buy

As you can see, while they're similar, the iPhone and Android aren't the same thing. When it comes time to buying a smartphone, you'll need to decide which one you prefer. Here are some articles that can help you get started in making that decision: