The iPhone vs. Android debate raged in the early days of smartphones. We've all grown quite a bit since, so let's leave the term "Apple sheep " in 2009, okay?
However, buying an Android or an iPhone is arguably a more pressing matter than it ever has been if you are looking to change or upgrade your phone. Top Androids like the The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are much more expensive than they were a few years ago, and the relative price of entry for Apple hardware is much lower than it used to be.
It's no longer just "iPhones are for the rich" and androids are for everyone.
We'll break down everything you need to consider when choosing between a iPhone SE (2020) and a OnePlus Nord , or an iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 5 . And everything in between .
Hardware: Android is still the bargain hunter's choice
Entry level: $ 100-350 / £ 100-350
It's time to make a little comeback in Yes, iPhones are more accessible than before, and many Androids are now expensive enough to make you cry. However, the best, cheapest phones are still Androids.
Best to buy are depend on where you livez, but our favorite budget makers include Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, and Motorola. Locate the tre nd? They are all Chinese. Motorola was once an American brand, but now it's owned by Lenovo, which is - you guessed it - Chinese.
They offer unbeatable value. Xiaomi and Realme are the most aggressive prices, at the start of 2021. If these brands are not readily available or if you prefer to buy from a non-Chinese brand, Nokia and Samsung are your main names. They come from Finland and South Korea respectively.
The Realme X50 is a cheap Android option (Image credit: Realme)
Mid-range range: $ 400-650 / £ 400-650
Apple doesn't do it You don't step in until your budget hits $ 399 / £ 419 / AU $ 749 That's the little iPhone SE Apple (2020). It's cute, it can be carried in the pocket, and it's as powerful as a lot of four-figure Androids.
However, if you play games or stream a lot of videos, you're probably better off with the bigger (if less powerful) iPhone XR , at $ 499 / £ 499 / AU $ 849. Its battery also lasts longer.
Major Android options around this price include OnePlus 8T , Xiaomi Mi 10T and - a little further down - Google Pixel 4a .
Google and Xiaomi make great mid-range phones (Image credit: Google / Xiaomi)
Our advice? Don't be too put off by the fact that the iPhone XR isnow a bit old. It was released in 2018, but Apple phones are supported much longer than androids and it still compares well with newer mid-range processors.
The big 'but ' est Apple doesn 't offer any affordable price 5G phones for now. Androids are offering this faster, more advanced mobile internet for as little as $ 299 / £ 249 / AU $ 500.
Don 't accept the idea that Androids offers you more technology in all areas, however. There is a pernicious tendency to fill Android phones with cameras, usually four on the back and at least one on the front. Unless you're paying a lot of money, chances are only one of the rear cameras is good.
The Google Pixel 4a is one of our favorite affordable Android cameras, and it's only becausecamera. Apple's entry-level iPhones take the same approach. Of the two cheaper iPhones, the iPhone XR has a larger camera sensor, so in theory it should be better. But in practice, the iPhone SE (2020) often wins, by a small margin. Its video stabilization is superior and its flash is more powerful.
Of course, if you're taking photos for fun rather than diving deep into the pixels, the ultra-wide cameras that most androids have are great. We love wide and zoom cameras.
There are a few mid-range iPhone options (Image credit: Apple)
Apple also offers that extra touch of photography at a reasonable price, in the iPhone 11 . It costs $ 599 / £ 599 / AU $ 999 and has an ultra-wide camera alongside its main camera. This latest gen phone compares well with almost any Android you can get for that amount of money.
There is a Something else to consider in this Android vs. Apple hardware debate. Apple is stingy on storage and its upgrades are quite expensive. The base iPhone 11 only has 64GB of storage. Xiaomi 's Mi 10T Pro , often available for less money, has 256 GB.
Most people don 't need much, but we recommend 128 GB these days for comfortably lazy smartphone life. The Xiaomi, and other alternatives like the Pixel 5, also have 5G.
While Apple's mid-range phones are great when it comes to ease of use, power, and camera handling, you tend to miss them. some of the latest advances.
High end: $ 700 + / £ 700 +
Spend big and you can get a mobile from the iPhone 12 series or a high-end Android. These include models like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Oppo Find X2 Pro , Sony Xperia 1 II and OnePlus 8 Pro .
In previous years we would have recommended Huawei phones as well. But now we can't say they didn't have a 'Google apps.
At this level you get expensive features like zoom cameras, night modes that make near-black scenes look crisp and ultra-high resolution screens. Apple iPhone, finally, wins 5G at this price as well, with all models in the iPhone 12 lineup incorporating the technology.
You might notice that Apple iPhones do Don't tend to look as sleek as some Androids. Samsung, Oppo, and OnePlus all strive to minimize screen bezels and use curved glass on the front and the back. 'back to further reduce their appearance.
This design style looks and feels great. The iPhone 12 Pro Max still has relatively significant black bars on either side of the screen, and a large notch that contains all of the technology to run Apple's facial recognition software.
Even iPhone 12 Pro Max cannot match Android for zooming (Image credit: TechRadar)
Even Apple 's most expensive phone doesn ' t havenot the same camera zoom capability as the Oppo Find X2 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. And The best ultra-wide cameras from Samsung and OnePlus are better than those from Apple.
However, iPhone photos are tasteful and persistent, and iPhones are our favorite phones for video capture. Sure, Samsung might have 8K mode, but the 4K video quality and stabilization on Apple's iPhone 12 and 11 are superb. The most popular "Pro" models also have Dolby Vision HDR recording. The good thing is.
A good tip for the start of 2021 is to remember the OnePlus 8 Pro if you are shopping towards the bottom of the “high end” category. We had the chance to compare it directly to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and several of the more expensive androids recently. It performed remarkably well and has the sophisticated curved glass front that you don't often get at $ 799 / £ 699 (earound AU $ 1,030).
Applications: we are all rich in apps, but iPhone owners are the richest
Look at stats only and you'd think Android's Google Play has a better app library than the App Store from the iPhone. According to Statista , and 1.96 million on the Apple App Store.
However, we find that the App Store has a greater share of high quality apps and games. There are several reasons for this.
It's easier and cheaper for developers to get apps from Google Play. But the total revenue generated on the App Store is much larger, which further incentivizes publishers to create very high quality iPhone apps.
Optimizing for iPhone is also easier, at least in a way. heThere have been 17 iPhone models since 2016 and hundreds of Android phones, all with hardware and software. It 'sa development puzzle.
XCOM 2 is the kind of premium game that tends to come to the iPhone first (Image credit: Feral Interactive Ltd)
This, and the greatest wishes of fans of iPhone to actually pay for apps, means we end up with higher productionsrange like XCOM 2, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure and Slay the Spire on iPhone. These may come to Android, but games like this tend to come to iOS first.
Apple also offers a Netflix-like service for games called Apple Arcade . It costs $ 4.99 / £ 4.99 / AU $ 7.99 per month and is meant to get you away from the endless 'free' games that ultimately require you to pay to make meaningful progress. These apps dominate the two app stores.
We see the same effect in applications, in all categories. Let 's take the example of music production. IPhones are equipped with Apple's wonderful GarageBand, as well as the KORG gadget, Nanostudio 2, Meteor 4Pockets multitrack recorder and more. These applications allow you to compose songs on yourphone.
Get an iPhone and you will have access to GarageBand (Image credit: Apple)
The selection on Android is much more limited. Steinberg has created an Android version of its industry standard Cubasis 3 for Android, so you aren't left out in the cold. But iPhones have access to more interesting and really deeper creative and productivity apps. .
You don'tDon't feel like composing a symphony on your phone or playing an epic 20 hour adventure? We believe you will be happy with both platforms.
Google's more flexible approach to applications also has its advantages. You will not find game console emulator apps on the Store app. Apple does not allow them. Emulators mimic hardware from older consoles for playing retro games, and there are plenty of them on Google Play.
Software: iOS continues to borrow from Android
The look and feel of A new Android phone largely depends on the custom interface it uses. Almost every Android has one, as this is how manufacturers make sure their phones don't look exactly like their competitors.
Some of these interfaces also addThere aren't some significant new features, but all are based on a kernel version of Android. In 2021, most new phones will likely use Android 11 .
This 2020 system update is not going to change your life. But it changed some parts below the surface. For example, on some phones, you will see a smart home control panel when you long press the power button.
Recent changes from Apple are more dramatic. iOS 14 brought widgets to iPhones. These have been in Androids since day one, in 2008. It also adds an App Library section at the end of your home screens, which organizes all of your apps into folders. Again, we could compare this to thededicated application page which has always been present in the majority of Android phones.
However, if you are using a MacBook, you will probably appreciate Apple's AirDrop feature, a quick and easy way to share files between your phone and laptop.
iOS 14 was a big update (Image credit: Apple)
Comparing the software experience of Android and iOS is alittle to compare Windows 10 and Mac OS. Android, like Windows, was once criticized as buggy, flaky, and unreliable. It 's not.
Newer versions of iOS are just as likely to have annoying bugs as newer updates to Android. Both are excellent, neither is perfect. And if you switch from one to the other, it will probably take you a week or so.
Not very useful? Privacy is one of the best reasons to choose an iPhone. Apple works rather differently from Google here. For example, the data used by the Siri assistant is anonymized. And Apple plans to make a huge change to how privacy works in iOS later this year, making it clear to end users when an app like Facebook collects and shares data about us.
This is called App Tracking Transparency, and will highlight in whichthe extent and speed of your information being disseminated between applications and services.
Google has improved the way it treats app permissions over the past few years. You are now asked for permission as an application requests, for example, your location, rather than simply allowing you access at install time.
However, there is a pretty fundamental difference here. Google makes heaps of money by gathering our user data and using it to power its platform. Apple doesn't, to the same extent. It operates an network, used in the App Store and other Apple services. But it 's not Google.
This problem is moot, however, if you plan to buy an iPhone and use a bunch of Goog services like Gmail and Maps anyway. Your phone's privacy policies cannot bedoes not solve the privacy issues of the apps you use on your phone and elsewhere.
Updates: iPhones are way ahead
Apple phones are much better at updates too software. Let's take the latest version of iOS, iOS 14, as an example.
The oldest devices supported are the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus . These phones were launched in 2015, the year of Samsung Galaxy S6 .
This Samsung phone is one of the best-supported Androids of the year, but it was removed from Samsung's official support list in 2018.
Two years of software updates and threeyears of security updates is the best case scenario for most Androids (although Samsung has now started offering three years of software updates for some phones).
iPhones tend to receive five major updates, five years after their initial launch, plus additional security patches afterward. Even the iPhone 5S from 2013 has received a security update just a week before this piece was written in January 2021.
Tech companies rose to greatness and collapsed the moment the iPhone 5S was taken over.
You will get many more software updates with an iPhone (Image credit: Apple)
Security updates are important because they contain provisions to counter vulnerabilities that cybercriminals and other malicious types can try to Have you ever seen the stories of crooks using Bluetooth to hack your phone to secretly call premium rate numbers? Updates fix issues like this.
Support for 'Androids may be even shorter from some lesser manufacturers. We have looked at phones from some little-known Chinese names that don't seemNever had a single update since the day we first opened the box.
There is another problem. Google's version is a major version of Android per year. On day one, Google's Pixel phones get it. Other manufacturers typically take several months to get new code to work with their own software before releasing it.
All iPhones (supported ones anyway) get updates as Apple releases them, as the company makes both software and hardware. Google has tried to alleviate this problem over the years, by separating its apps from the Android part so that they can be updated discreetly, and by offering Project Treble . This again saps the system software to minimize the work that the manufacturer has to do.
Did this help? Not much. LAndroid updates may take a while to arrive.
Resale value: iPhones in first place, Samsung in second
This update problem and the super-long support cycle are two reasons iPhones tend to look `` current '' a lot longer than a droid. And that also contributes to their resale value.
Here's how much you could trade in 'good' 2018 flagship phones at MusicMagpie, one of the UK's most popular tech resale companies:
- iPhone XS - £ 250 (initial cost £ 999)
- Samsung Galaxy S9 - £ 125 (initial cost £ 739)
- LG G7 - £ 70 (original cost £ 749)
- Sony XZ2 - £ 90 (original cost £ 799 £)
- Huawei P20 Pro - £ 40 (original coste £ 799)
iPhone is worth 25% of original cost, Samsung 17%, LG 9.3%, Sony 11% and Huawei only 5%. You should be able to get more than these numbers if you sell privately, but it's a reasonable indication of their relative value.
And although these prices only apply in UK, you can expect a similar situation in most countries.
However, while Apple is clearly the winner, Samsung phones do pretty well here as well. And the value of other brands is not helped by their loss of visibility, especially Huawei, which makes fantastic phones but was all but destroyed in the west after the United States called the company a security risk .
Th The Samsung Galaxy S21 could hold its value almost as well as an iPhone (Image credit: TechRadar)
The lazy conclusion of the old Android vs. Apple debate largely does not apply You can't argue that iPhones are overpriced and Androids are of great value when the corresponding Samsung models sell for a similar price, or even more in some cases. Here are some of the top reasons for this. 'buy on each dishe-form.
Buy an Android if you want inexpensive 5G
Android manufacturers have adopted 5G much faster than Apple, in large part because of companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek quickly supplied chipsets supporting the standard at low cost. Forget behind the scenes and that means 5G Androids are available for $ 300 / £ 300 or less if you know how to shop.
Buy an iPhone if you want to keep a phone for years (and years)
No Android manufacturer supports their phones like Apple. You can expect five years of software updates and major security updates after new iOS versions are locked down. Even from major Android manufacturers, two years of software updates and three years of security patches are the best you can usually ask for.
Buy an Android for the best hardware value per dollar
Apple 's midrange phones are excellent. But at $ 300 / £ 300 or less, Android is still the place to be. Buy a phone from a Chinese company like Xiaomi, Realme, or Oppo and you can expect near-flagship daily performance, perhaps even with 5G and in some cases high-end keys like back panels in glass.
Buy an iPhone for a slightly better library of games and apps
No smartphone is short of apps. But the App Store offers more "deep" creativity and productivity apps, as well as console-quality games. end to get to iOS first. And may not happen to Android at all in some cases. However, if you want to use retro gaming emulators, Android is the only option.
AchBe an Android for the most stylish high-end designs and periscope zoom
Want curved glass, zero screen bezels and long range periscope camera zooms? You can't get them with an iPhone yet. Through some eyes, even the iPhone 12 Pro Max looks a bit old-fashioned next to high-end phones from Samsung, Oppo, and OnePlus.
Buy an iPhone if you are in privacy
Google loves your data. An iPhone is a much better foundation for a privacy-friendly life. However, you can't just congratulate yourself for using an iPhone. Remember, your use of smart home technology, social media, and whatever services you connect to are just as important.