Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WotW: Which mobile device should I get?

As a tech guy, I'm regularly asked the question, "Which mobile device is the best?" Or, "Which mobile device should I get?"

I always feel this is an unfair question, as the person asking it seems to assume I know what's best for them (which, of course, I do – they should give me money) and that there is one true mobile device that is the best.  The truth of the matter is there is no one clear winner in the mobile device market. Especially in today's competitive smartphone world. Almost all high-end smartphones are pretty good.

That being said, I do have some definite thoughts on the pros and cons of various mobile devices. I'm also in a good position to provide this information seeing as I've owned an iPhone, Android smartphone, iPad and Nexus 7. I've seen the best (and worst) of both worlds. I know what works best for me, but that may not work best for you. To maximize the power of a mobile device, you have to know what you want to get out of it. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts:

As I said earlier, you can't really go wrong with a high-end smartphone. As long as you choose one of the top-5 ranked devices, you're going to be pretty pleased. However, there are some definite differences you want to consider.

When it comes to smartphones, there are two broad categories that have to do with the operating system: iOS (Apple/iPhone) and Android (Samsung Galaxy SIII, Droid, Note II, etc.). Because only one company produces products for iOS, there are a lot of different Android devices on the market. And they don't all necessarily function the same way, even though they share an operating system.


Android Phones

Pros Pros
  • Simple, easy to use operating system.
  • Because iPods have been around so long, and because it was the big early smartphone operating system, it's a very comfortable and familiar operating system.
  • Quick and easy to setup.
  • Little effort is required to maintain the operating system and apps.
  • Large App Store from which to select free and paid apps.
  • Many developers develop first or primarily for the iOS, which means lots of new, great apps for you.
  • Decent battery life (as far as smartphones go).
  • Amazing camera (8MP) takes great photos - as good as many point-and-shoots.
  • iCloud makes syncing apps, books, music and more very easy between multiple iOS devices.
  • Very clean user interface with simple folder organization, which keeps your device compact and useful for you.
  • Pretty durable, for a mobile device.
  • Native Facebook and Twitter integration.
  • iTunes. On your phone.
  • Charges quickly.
  • Extremely customizable, which means you can make your phone exactly the way you want it - not how the manufacture wanted you to use it.
  • Lightweight.
  • Great free and paid app selection from the Google Play store.
  • Great integration with Google products.
  • Easy and friendly sharing features allow you to share information between apps without problems.
  • SWYPE typing makes typing on compact touchscreen keyboards much easier and much faster.
  • Notification system is very user friendly. It alerts you, but allows you to view it on your own time, rather than being obnoxious and in your face like iOS notifications can sometimes be.
  • Easy app management system allows you to quickly close unneeded apps, freeing up memory.
  • Simple folder management.
  • Widgets add extra power and functionality to your apps, allowing you to see useful app information without having to physically open the app.
  • Compatible with so many other devices, machines and apps.
  • Charging cables are mini USB, making it more universal and cheaper to replace.
  • Neat pattern unlocking screen.
Cons Cons
  • iOS is an extremely locked down operating system. You can only customize what Apple wants you to customize.
  • Not all mobile carriers have iPhones.
  • Sharing between apps is limited to what the app developer and operating system specifically allow, which means limited sharing.
  • No speed-dial, though you can have a favorites list.
  • Some of the default native apps are clumsy or borderline useless (Reminders, Passbook, Apple Maps).
  • Not enough font options.
  • Email system too stripped down and plain.
  • Proprietary charging cables mean you have to buy Apple's products.
  • Layout and operation is not quite as clean and crisp as the iOS.
  • Cameras vary in quality.
  • Because it is so customizable, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out how to change or add certain features.
  • Doesn't always get the newest apps, as these are often made for iOS first.
  • Color schemes can sometimes be too childish and bright for some people.

As you can see, the pros for both iOS and Android far outweigh the cons. Again, I don't think you'll really go wrong either way. Also, just because Android has a few more pros and a few less cons, doesn't mean I think Android is necessarily the better product. For me, it is. I like being able to customize every little detail. I love how easy it is to share between apps, and I really love the Google integration through everything.

Which do I personally use? An iPhone. My work provided it for me. I enjoy it. I think it's a great phone and it serves me well. Am I jealous of my wife's Samsung Galaxy SIII? Yes, very much so. But I don't think it's lightyears ahead of the iPhone. They're just different.

Which phone should you get? I can't answer that for you. You have to. If you're new to the smartphone world and want something that's easy to use, I would recommend Apple. If you already have an iPad, iPod Touch or an Apple computer, an iPhone is a no brainer because of the integration.

However, if you're a more advanced user, or don't like paying lots of extra money for essentially the same thing, maybe Android is the way to go. Whatever you choose, make sure you spend the time playing around with your phone and learning all its features. The more you know about how to use your phone, the more you'll get out of it and the more it will simplify or enhance your experience.

What smartphone do you use? And what do you love/hate about it?
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