When shopping around for a smartphone, first choose an operating system and then prioritize your own feature and price considerations to find the right model. Learn how to make an informed decision when buying a smartphone and be sure to take into consideration the other software you’re currently using!
Learn some basic differences between operating systems.
iPhone (aka iOS) is known for its ease of use, security, and clean integration with other Apple products.
Android is associated with its integration of Google services, its ability to be customized, and typically a lower cost.
If you can, try demoing a device at a store. That will give you a good sense of the interface and feel of each operating system.
Determine your price range. iOS phones (iPhones) are typically more expensive than their Android counterparts. Among phone manufacturers, Apple and Samsung are typically among the most expensive (with models ranging from $400-$700 retail), while HTC, LG, and Motorola tend to produce lower cost options (some low end smartphones can be acquired for under $100).
Phones are subsidized when purchased along with a phone carrier contract or sometime even “free” upon signing. This usually commits you to a 2-year billing plan for the carrier and includes penalties for early cancellation.
Some carriers also charge a monthly ‘device fee’ to make up for little or no upfront cost on your smartphone.
Consider the devices and software you already own. If you already own a tablet or computer, you will experience the best level of integration with its services and software by getting a phone with matching developer support (for example, Apple computers and iPads are often cross-compatible with iPhone apps). Nevertheless, note that any phone can connect to, and function with, almost any computer operating system.
If you are a heavy MS Office or Google user, you will have the best integration and support using an Android phone (although note that both Microsoft and Google produce their most popular apps for the competing operating system as well).
Determine which features suit your needs. Each operating system has some proprietary features, while basic features like email, web browsing, and maps will be available on all systems.
iOS/iPhone has exclusive features like Siri, fingerprint scanning, FaceTime chat, and iCloud support.
Android has Google Now, homescreen widgets for customization, and allows third party app installation (meaning you can download programs from the internet and install them outside of the Play Store ecosystem). Most Android phones today also have fingerprint sensors, cloud storage for pictures, and support the use of Google Drive for documents and cloud storage.
Consider which apps you want to use. Many popular applications (e.g. Google Maps, MS Office, and Apple Music) are offered across all operating systems, however there are some apps (e.g. iMessage, Facetime, and Google Now) that are exclusive to their respective platform. Check the app store associated with each option to make sure the apps you want are accessible (Apple, Google Play).
In general, if a popular app is not offered on a competitor’s operating system, there is a strong chance that an alternate app exists which is functionally quite similar.
Your app purchases are linked with your store account. You will be able to transfer your purchases to any future phones as long as they use the same operating system.
Choose an operating system. For most people, the deciding factor will be personal preference. Those looking for a simple interface and a secure system will tend to like iOS-backed iPhones, while those looking for more custom options and lower cost in general will likely prefer Android phones.
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