Android vs. iOS: Which OS Is Better?

A head-to-head battle of Apple vs. Android

Android has come a long way since it launched in 2008. While it's had its fair share of issues, relating to security and usability, the OS has some benefits over the Apple iOS. We compared Android and iOS to help you determine which operating system is the best for your smartphone and tablet needs.

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Android vs iOS

Overall Findings

Android
  • Fragmented and fast-paced updates.

  • A developer-friendly app ecosystem.

  • A range of customization options.

  • Rooting and custom ROMs are allowed.

iOS
  • Highly controlled release schedule.

  • Monitored app ecosystem with approval process.

  • Only allows the customization included by Apple.

  • Jailbreaking isn't supported.

When Google opened up the Android ecosystem, it put more control in the hands of independent developers and companies. This allowed Android to explode globally and make it a favorite among developers and tech enthusiasts. This is also the cause of Android's dubious security record. In essence, Android puts both more security and more responsibility in your hands.

In contrast, Apple has implemented its signature walled garden approach with iOS. The ecosystem surrounding any iOS device is tightly controlled by Apple, and the apps you install have been evaluated for security. This doesn't leave much room for you to explore or customize. With iOS, you're putting the responsibility for your device in Apple's hands and relinquishing some control in the process.

Updates: Android Is Fast, iOS Moves at a Measured Pace

Android
  • Frequent updates.

  • New releases arrive first on Pixel devices.

  • Manufacturers roll out updates at their pace.

  • Custom ROMs arrive whenever the community makes them.

iOS
  • Apple releases a new major version with each new device.

  • There are sometimes updates in-between.

  • Apple makes and controls all devices and versions of iOS.

  • Major updates are sometimes up to 2 years apart.

To say the Android operating system is fragmented is an understatement. Between the different hardware manufacturers, each of which offers a modified Android experience, and the carrier's control over pushing out updates, this OS is messy.

Apple is historically better about releasing updates than Android, though Google has become better with their Pixel flagship phones. Having control over the hardware and software is an advantage, as Apple knows.

Android's fragmentation complicates many things, such as when you need support. Though, Google's help articles are generally well-organized by the OS version. But, if you don't have stock Android, it may take a few tries to find the right setting.

Apps and Customization: Android Lets You Run Wild

Android
  • Less restricted app marketplace.

  • Tons of built-in customization options.

  • Apps provide additional customization, info, and widgets.

  • Manufacturers and ROM developers often add options.

iOS
  • Apple tightly controls the App Store.

  • Offers some built-in customization.

  • Minimal (if any) customization from apps.

  • Only one version (from Apple), so no different variants.

On the app front, it's increasingly rare that a software company launches only an iPhone app. However, developers that design apps for Android don't have a universal user to reach, which results in many apps that are only available to newer devices.

Android's open architecture, the opposite of Apple's buttoned-down approach, means that users can tweak their phone and use it the way they want. Not how Google, Samsung, or others tell them they should. Android users can set default apps, install a third-party Android launcher, add widgets to the home screen, and customize the lock screen.

There are few limitations when it comes to what you can tweak and customize on an Android device. If you run into one, you can always root, which opens more possibilities, including the ability to upgrade your OS when you want. While Apple has added some of these options over the years, it's not nearly as flexible.

Security and Stability: Android Needs Improvement

Android
  • Multiple versions for multiple devices make it harder to secure.

  • Less vetting on Play store, plus multiple sources of apps.

  • Manufacturers discontinue updates for older devices, making them vulnerable.

iOS
  • Only a few current versions.

  • Apple keeps tight control of the App Store.

  • Older devices are supported regularly.

Android security needs some work. Consistent updates are available for smartphones with newer OS versions, which leaves users who have older phones vulnerable.

Compared to the closed iOS system, Android is more susceptible to security threats. Apple's vetting process to get an app into the App Store is rigorous. Google has given Android users some peace of mind with Google Play Protect, which regularly scans Android phones, including installed apps, for viruses. If it finds one, it displays a warning and instructions on how to remove it.

As an Android user, your best bet is to keep your OS up-to-date and check out our important security tips to make sure you're doing all you can do.

Final Verdict

It's impossible to say that one of these titans is better than the other. They're both great, and they continue to improve at a rapid pace. You won't necessarily go wrong either way.

It all comes down to what you want on your mobile device. Do you prefer control and customization? Do you want to change what you like and have a toolbox of apps to do so? Android is a better choice in this situation.

If you prefer your phone to work, and you don't want to be bothered with customizing, tweaking, or setting anything up, iOS is probably a better fit for you. Fans of other Apple devices will also be more at home with an iOS device.