Android vs iOS: Which mobile OS is right for you?

We look at design, security, compatibility and more to see which OS best fits your business

Everyone knows someone who's unfailingly loyal to their smartphone operating system (OS). If you don't have the same system as they do, they'll be sure to tell you what you're missing out on.

You might think your phone has a great camera, but theirs has a much better retina display. You might like your phone's battery life, but their phone has so much more storage. Whatever your phone can do, theirs can do better.

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Every OS has a seemingly endless list of pros and cons. So, who's right? If you're looking to purchase smartphones for your business and/or employees, there's a host of variables you need to factor in before committing.

The mobile OS landscape is dominated by two heavyweights: iOS and Android. Each platform has a wide array of features that make them worth having; so much so that deciding between one or the other can be overwhelming. In order to make the right decision, you have to know what you're looking for.

Perhaps you're drawn to Apple's sleek design? Maybe Google's alternative boasts such a wide swathe of customisable settings that it's hard for you to resist? Either way, your personal interests may or may not align with what's best for your 

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There are so many factors that come into play when deciding which breed of device your business should adopt. Security, fundamentally, is a paramount consideration, but app support and compatibility as well as ease of use, are key. We've compiled a step-by-step guide exploring all these considerations your organisation should make to help you decide which OS will suit your needs the most.

Android vs iOS: Hardware choice

Our comparison between iOS and Android will mostly focus on the software aspects of both operating systems, but a key consideration about which to choose is the availability of the hardware and whether the features packed into a smartphone is right for you.

Although iOS only comes in one flavour - the iPhone - there are lots of different types of iPhone to choose from, including the top of the range iPhone XS Max, the middle of the road iPhone XS, and the budget iPhone XR. If you're not interested in the newest iPhone, you can also choose one of Apple's older models - the iPhone X, the iPhone 8, 8 Plus or even the 7 series.

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The iPhone is the most popular phone in circulation around the world and that's for good reason. They're premium devices, fast, with a beautiful design and fantastic cameras in pretty much every model. But these devices come at a cost, and although Apple is always innovating, they lack real cutting-edge features and, well, feel a bit "samey" from one generation to the next.

There's so much more choice if you go down the Android road. Whether you want one of Samsung's Note series of phablets, Huawei's camera tech, Google's super-speedy options or something perhaps a little more budget like the OnePlus range, all your bases are covered.

Android vs iOS: Design

Although the latest version of Google's OS is a far cry from the days of clunky Android KitKat, Android Pie simply can't match the slick and gorgeous experience offered by iOS. Apple's OS is simply better looking and more intuitive than anything Google can offer.

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Apple's OS has an established reputation for its simplicity and ease-of-use. The learning curve for new users is astonishingly low, and its commands and functions are simple to pick up. The design is based heavily on the idea that most users don't really need all the adjustable bells and whistles that platforms have normally offered. Google's Android system, meanwhile, suffers from its reputation as being a little confusing to navigate. By contrast, this offers an insurmountable depth of customisation, but much of this is hidden deep inside menus and interfaces.

One of the main issues with designing your user interface to be overly-simplified, however, is that it normally comes at the cost of functionality. By default, iOS just doesn't give you the kind of space to adjust your user interface, or its functionality, to make it stand out in the same way you can with Android devices. Google's OS is so much more feature-rich, offering greater customisation options and an array of settings to tweak your device to fit your precise needs.

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Yet within the smartphone market, usability is king. Apple's iOS is easily the best-looking operating system around, and it allows the majority of its users to do everything they would need to on a daily basis quickly and easily. Newly announced features with iOS 13, such as a gorgeous dark mode and an AI-powered upgrade to Photos, only bolster the platform's credentials.

While iOS on iPhones looks great, it has conventionally shone on tablets where the software can take advantage of powerful multitasking features supported by superb Apple processors. The laptop-style experience you can create on an iOS tablet is simply far superior to anything an Android unit can offer. Having said that, however, Apple will soon roll out a dedicated iPadOS, breaking free of the iOS mould with specially-tailored software.

Android vs iOS: Compatibility

The iPhone is the most popular device in the world, so it's absolutely no surprise that software makers and accessory manufacturers generally choose to prioritise it over Android. This means if you've got an Apple device, you can all but guarantee whatever app, platform, plugin or attachment you want to use will be supported.

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Android, by contrast, is a bit more of a gamble. Samsung is pretty much the only major manufacturer whose devices are routinely supported as a matter of course, but even that's restricted to the flagship S-series handsets.

Another potential issue for some users will be the fact that Apple has chosen to remove the headphone jack on later devices. This isn't a major problem, given that there's a Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter supplied in the box and Bluetooth headphones are widely available. And although some devices, such as the Huawei P30 Pro, have started to ditch the headphone jack too, an Android device may be a better option if you're dead set on the 3.5mm port.

Android vs iOS: Security

Mobile security is too often overlooked by businesses, but if you're issuing devices to your employees, you should make certain that they're as secure as humanly possible. The list of vulnerabilities, exploits and other security flaws that have been discovered in the Android OS is long and extensive, as is the list of malware-riddled apps found on the Google Play Store.

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iOS benefits from a better reputation, but it's far from unhackable. Recent notable flaws including the HomeKit bug and the Meltdown/Spectre debacle. Instances of major exploits in Apple's devices are much, much fewer than on Android, however, and it benefits from faster software rollouts, too. Apple can push updates to all of its handsets directly, whereas Android users must wait until their phone maker has implemented a version of Google's update that works with its own Android skin.

Moreover, among the latest features with iOS 13 is a sign in mechanism that serves as an alternative to using social media credentials to access apps and websites, or filling out pernickety forms with usernames and passwords. This also uses Face ID to authenticate a user's identity, meaning there's no need to provide additional data.

Android vs iOS: Verdict

Android has millions of fans around the world, and with good reason; it's matured into a powerful and versatile operating system, with heaps of functionality. With time, the OS has offered a smoother user experience and a more aesthetically-designed interface too. However, for business devices, the fact is that Apple's software remains king of the hill.

iOS is slick, easy to use, good-looking and boasts absolutely stellar security and privacy features. While it's not without its flaws, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, and for corporate devices, iOS should still be your first port of call.

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