Looking for a new phone? Before just grabbing the newest iPhone, consider an Android phone. The design philosophy is a little different than Apple’s, but it’s also good and switching isn’t too hard!
Apple’s devices are all about uniformity, following Apple’s designs exactly. As a result, Apple makes all of their phones in-house, not allowing any other company to build phones that run iOS. Users can make very limited changes to how their phones behave. Apple says that Apple knows best, so they set their own rules.
In contrast, Android is built on the idea of openness and customizability. One of the design philosophies of Android is that almost all the software is modular and modifiable, and as a result, users can tweak almost anything about how their device looks and functions. Want to use circles for app icons instead of squares? Go for it. Want to switch your default browser, keyboard, camera, email, or texting app? It’s one tap away. How about launching your apps by typing commands into a hacker terminal? Odd flex but ok do it.
This is the critical difference between Android devices and Apple’s. Android phones may no offer quite as slick an experience as an iPhone right out of the box (though some do, in my opinion), they are infinitely more flexible. I can tinker with my phone’s defaults to make it exactly how I want it. I can make Firefox my default browser (yep, even with extensions like adblock), I can get apps from more than just one App Store™, and I can schedule a text message to send at exactly 3:52pm next Christmas. Heck, I can even emulate Nintendo Wii games on my phone! Most of those things sound insane to an iPhone user, but doing them is trivial with Android.
So, clearly Android is superior to iOS. Right? Not so fast. There are pros and cons to each. There is something to be said for Apple’s “it just works” philosophy: I have to admit they make a pretty slick product, right out of the clean white box. However, what iPhones gain in simplicity, they lose in potential functionality. You can’t buy an iPhone with interesting hardware features like a pop-up camera, a built-in gaming controller, an infrared TV remote, or… a headphone jack. There are manufacturers who make Android phones with all of those.
That said, there is no “best” smartphone, just one that suits you. I can recommend most any new phone, because the smartphone market is pretty mature. All smartphones are pretty great now and you have lots of options. Want something that works great out of the box? Spend a little extra and get a flagship like a Samsung Galaxy, a Google Pixel, or even an iPhone. Money’s tight? Look for a budget Android phone. While Apple doesn’t even make midrange iPhones, let alone budget ones, manufacturers like Motorola and Nokia (and yes, even Samsung), offer full-featured smartphones for under $200. The experience won’t be quite as smooth or fancy as the high-end options (after all, you get what you pay for), but, if you need to cut costs and don’t care about flaunting an expensive status symbol, they’ll work just fine.
TJ Wiegman is a junior engineering physics major.