Why This Fiercely Loyal iPhone User Finally Bought His First Android

As many of you Foolish readers may know, I'm a devout Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) bull. Over the years, there's only been a single-generation iPhone that I didn't own -- the iPhone 3G released in 2008. I've been fiercely loyal to the platform.

Well, I went and did the unthinkable. I went and finally bought my first Android.

Don't call me a traitor
Let's be clear about something first. I remain a fiercely loyal iPhone user, and the primary reason I bought a device on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) competing platform is so that I can understand it better. As an analyst who closely follows mobile trends, Android is simply too important not too be well acquainted with. To date, my knowledge of Android has been built on extensively reading and watching tech reviews and other commentary, playing with demo units at retail stores, or playing with a friend's device for a minute or two. It's about time for me to get some firsthand experience.

The device will be secondary, and I'm still sticking by the iPhone for primary usage. I purchased Google's Nexus 4 specifically because I was interested in a stock Android experience. I'm enamored by the HTC One and its Apple-caliber hardware, but the $600 price tag was a bit much, since I was buying unsubsidized and off-contract. Carrier and OEM software layers like HTC's Sense also irk me.

Photo taken by author.

After a couple days of exploring the operating system, how do I think Android and iOS stack up?

The good
With the core interface, I believe Android has surpassed iOS. The design aesthetic is cleaner, and Google has made incredible strides over the past two years or so with incorporating numerous intuitive gestures throughout the OS. There are areas where Android undoubtedly has iOS beat, like gestures and options within the notification center; there are a lot of these little areas.

Altogether, these small features convey a sense that Android is much more refined than iOS is at this point. Playing around in Android reinforces the feeling I'd already been having that the iOS interface is stale.

The bad
While I have no direct experience with it (and don't plan to), there's abundant data that shows that Android is far less secure and that the platform is a malware magnet because of both its sheer ubiquity and its open nature.

Even though I appreciate the stock Android interface, sadly my experience isn't representative of the broader Android army. Platform fragmentation is exacerbating, and there are so many versions and distinct forks of Android that experiences vary widely. HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz are among the more prominent overlays, but there are countless others.

The ugly
Within apps, iOS still has the clear advantage. Since Android also faces hardware fragmentation and innumerable device configurations, many developers rely heavily on scaling algorithms to have their apps fill up the available space. This frequently results in apps that aren't fully optimized for displays, and you end up with empty and unused space.

For example, here is the CNN app on both platforms. The iPhone version is much more engaging.

CNN on iOS (left) vs. CNN on Android (right). Source: Screenshots from author's devices.

This gets even worse on tablets. Since iOS has only three smartphone resolutions (and most are on two), developers can better optimize content to take full advantage.

A matter of perspective
Since buying the Nexus 4, I'm able to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, which should provide me a better competitive perspective as an investor. Overall, I still believe iOS to be the superior platform for users, developers, and for the platform operator. I may have just bought my first Android, but my primary smartphone will always be an iPhone.

Even though Apple admittedly needs to refine the interface in iOS, investors continue to debate whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


Read/Post Comments (25) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 9:17 PM, nattyoner wrote:

    hard to take a guy serious when he starts off with "I'm a loyal Apple guy and will ALWAYS prfer Apple over everythng else".

    Soon, you'll be like the NOKIA and Blacberry crowd. Yep.

    Still loyal to a dying long ago surpassed platform.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 9:34 PM, DanManners wrote:

    Cant blame you .. But i can see why people buy both and how price plays a part. Wish Apple would placate those who want larger screens.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 10:06 PM, mikegtb wrote:

    HA, i pegged you as an iSheep from the first article ( ive only read 4, including this one) i ever read of yours. you truly are a foolish fool

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 10:12 PM, garysund wrote:

    After you have had your android for a couple of months please write a review of what you found and what you liked of disliked about it. A samsung android was my first smart phone and I did like it. After a few months when I dropped it and it was ruined. I got myself my first apple apple iphone. All I can say is I will never go back to that cheap android product and my iphone can do so much more. Also my iphone feels like a quality product when I hold it unlike that android I use to have. I hope you do write a review with you true opinion.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 10:20 PM, Alonso64 wrote:

    The best smartphone is the one that does best what you want/need it to do. That said I chose Android, and there's plenty of flavors to choose from, sizes, colors and apps. iPhones are like the old VW Beetles generation after generation with only minor improvements. I may say it was reliable but just the same every year. iPhones just reflect your financial status (sometimes they can not afford it but they can show off).

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 11:03 PM, psynurse wrote:

    I just don't agree....the HTC 1 is every bit as solid and well built as iphone.....and if it's just about the feel then I understand that polycarbonate and gorilla glass might not be your thing, but it should last as long as an iphone. Got sick of the small screen of the iphone and unchanging IOS.......but don't agree with the author stating its a security risk because it's open platform. Open platform products allow the community as a whole to improve the product and discover flaws which are fixed more quickly than IOS.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 11:19 PM, incognito67 wrote:

    when you say android, you make it sound like android is a single phone like the iphone. when android could be motorola, samsung, HTC, etc....all depends on the company who made the phone and the quality of that particular model from that manufacturer..like garysund 2 comments above me said "After a few months when I dropped it and it was ruined"..what phone was it garysund?? l have a motorola razor and i have dropped it countless times and it works perfectly and it doesnt have a scratch..has nothing to do with the operating system but the quality of the particular model phone. i agree with Alonso64..the best smart phone is the one that suits your needs, be it apple or any phone that runs android

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 11:36 PM, JohnyRoberts wrote:

    The Bad:

    I have been using an Android phone from the first day in 2008. And I have no malware on my phone. I check the permissions when I'm installing an app and if it looks like an app should not be requiring an access to a feature, I either don't install the app or send an email to the author to inquire about it. I also don't turn on allowing installation of apps from an unknown source until just before I'm side loading an app, I fairly confident about and then immediately turn it off again. With great power comes great responsibility. I do download the snake charming security apps from time to time and they have never been able to flag any software I have installed. I also don't fall for phishing links on my desktop. So with some common sense, you should be pretty malware free.

    Apple nailed updates and Google pays lip service to it (they don't even bother with that anymore). It's a real problem - but for end users. Not developers. See below.

    The Ugly:

    Android apps don't rely on scaling algorithms. That's just plain wrong. If you use device independent pixels, resolution independent layouts and image resources for 4 standard densities, Android will do the scaling for you using available space. Which is why non tablet optimized Android apps look good scaled up on tablets, while iOS apps look awful. Which is not to say that they are optimized to use the extra real estate well. You still need to design your apps to take advantage of the extra space and use it well. The nice thing is that the same app can be optimized for both phones and tablets. You don't need to create a separate HD app for tablets. I don't know anything about iOS development so have no idea whether the separate apps for the iPad and the iPhone are a technical limitation or just an attempt to market the same app multiple times in the iOS world.

    There is nothing inherent in Android that would prevent the Android CNN app to look as good if not better than the iOS one. While certainly a generality, over the years, I have found Android apps to be better in usability than iOS apps (due to multitasking, intents, file sytems, notifications etc.) , but iOS apps to look sexier and be more consistent than Android apps. However, since the Android Design guideline was released after ICS and more and more apps are using the Holo look, Android apps are also getting more consistent and looking better. To the point that I now find myself preferring the Holo Android apps to the skeuomorphic iOS apps. The CNN app does not follow the Android design guidelines. Take a look at the Google Music app and compare it to the iTunes app and you will probably see the reverse. Apart from the looks, it's the usability again. Cloud syncing and streaming, ability to create playlists and add songs to it on the phone etc.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 11:47 PM, youarekidding wrote:

    Agree! Use what works for you. My employer will pay for what ever phone I choose. There os no cost to me, it is all about what works for me. I had an iPhone for a couple years, then bought an Android based phone to see how it was. For me, I could not wait to toss the Android. I hated it. For real business apps it just was not part of my day to day work. It was simply a phone. VPN, IPSEC, VNC, multiple email accounts and a slew of other architecture based business app requirements put iOS So far ahead of anything I have seen for Android. As a content provider, supporting the dozens of Android environments is a pain in the rear as well. Google will be Google, good luck.

    JP

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2013, at 11:52 PM, ambergerringer wrote:

    I am a die hard iPhone user and I will NEVER buy any Android product! But I do understand as a analyst why you bought it but still even if I was one I wouldn't spend my money on one. This is just my opinion in which I am entitled to so I don't need anyone bashing me for what I like. If anyone start's an argument with me I will not respond so don't bother and waste your time. Thanks!

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:15 AM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Why is it that Apple fans think one of the greatest strengths of Apple is it's proprietary OS? It was the sole reason for Apple's huge loss to the PC. Android's greatest strength is the fact that it's not one brand. If I find the Samsung line of phones cheap feeling then Samsung looses but because of the other options Android didn't loose. If I find Apple's lack of a battery I can replace on my own an issue then iOS looses.

    Apple's control over all things Apple has been and will be it's downfall. The greed behind not using a standard USB connector or even the older standard Apple connector is proof. Apple's iTunes is another. As long as you are happy living within their restrains then their products are good for you.

    On top of that when a company makes as much profit as Apple has been doing one has to wonder just how much profit Apple makes off of each iPhone. More profit means less went in to making of the phone.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:25 AM, HelloThereMissB wrote:

    I am one of the few who are both an Apple user and an Android user (keep in mind I was also a fan of BOTH the Backstreet Boys and NSync). Two years ago I got the HTC Evo 4g and enjoyed the experience that came with it. I loved the fact that no two Android phones, of any type, look the same. I also fell in love with widgets. Say what you will, but the ability to check the scores of the baseball game in all of about two seconds is priceless when you don't have time for an app to load. The one thing I did hate was the HTC Sense bologna. I found it unneeded and in the way. Last summer I got an iPad. While I mostly use it for Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and web surfing, I like the fact that its ready to use out of the box. I mean, I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and took about a week to get it set up exactly how I want it. But that's the thing, the phone is MY phone, tailored to me. That's why I picked it over the iPhone I was mulling over. All my friends that have iPhones have phones that look exactly the same, the only difference is the background picture. I also really like how my phone feels in my hand. I don't understand why people keep saying that plastic cased phones feel cheap or lacking. To be honest, I'd trust my phone in a drop more than my friend's iPhone. But that's just me.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:31 AM, RMengineer wrote:

    "Platform fragmentation is exacerbating, and there are so many versions and distinct forks of Android that experiences vary widely."

    You say that like its a bad thing. All the iSheeple are so used to being told what they will get and that they will like, they just can't cope with having *choice*. You say, you don't like this or that UI layered on top? Fine, then don't buy it and buy one you do like. It's called CHOICE. You yourself said you bought the Nexus 4 so as to not have any of the add on UI layers. Guess what, you exercised your choice to buy the UI that _you_ wanted. Now why was that a bad thing?

    And here's the thing with that - with many different companies trying out _different_ ideas, and get those ideas in customer hands, that means that producers get to find out what *consumers* think is best that much quicker. It's called _experimentation_ and the more of it you can do and get into consumer hands, the more rapidly the product can evolve to better meet consumers desires.

    For that matter look at Apple finally relenting on making larger phones and smaller tablets. It took different *Android* producers trying different screen sizes to discover which sizes actually clicked with consumers and which didn't. The point being is that even Apple is benefiting from that "fragmentation" that is bandied as a term of derision by iSheeple to find out they needed to offer a bigger phone display and a smaller tablet. Without that Android "fragmentation" Apple products would likely still only be available in their original formats.

    And as for Android apps that don't deal well with different screen formats - that's not the fault of Android fragmentation. Don't blame Android for the poorly developed products produced by lazy and/or incompetent developers. By far. most apps "do the right thing" when they develop the apps as intended by the Android SDK. It's like blaming the car manufacturer when someone is driving recklessly - it's not who made that car that's the problem, it's the person driving it. The tools are there to produce quality results, it's the developer's fualt, not of Android, if those tools are used incorrectly or not used to the best of their ability by the developer.

    In short, if you always do it the same way, you'll always get what you've always gotten. You can't ever get anything better unless you try doing something *differently*. With Apple always doing it exactly the same way, it's never going to be any better. With so many Android producers trying new and different things, some of those are going to hit on BETTER ways of doing things. And yes of course, some are going to result in failure. But you can't get one without the other.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:33 AM, EquityBull wrote:

    I have iPhone 5 and galaxy s3. Bought s3 same reason as you. Secondary phone for research. the S3 sits on my counter now. Unpolished, slow and clunky next to iPhone. Yes S3 also running latest jelly bean. Only thing I like better is larger screen on S3 although the quality of the screen seems lower.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:37 AM, neocolonialist wrote:

    >I have been using an Android phone from the first day in 2008. And I have no malware on my phone.

    I almost fell out of my seat on this one. Really, you have no malware?? And you know this cuz what the great wizard told you. Don't look behind the curtain.

    If you have an android and its not owned by someone yet, its cuz you can't turned it on :)

    Weak security is the understatement of the year.

    People should use whatever phone gets the work done they need done. Of course if that work requires NOT sharing your information with the entire world, you might want to use an iPhone.

    Bill M.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:38 AM, neocolonialist wrote:

    If you have an android and its not owned by someone yet, its cuz you ain't turned it on :)

    My typing is not going so well :)

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 12:40 AM, youarekidding wrote:

    Clunky, so correct.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 2:18 AM, JohnyRoberts wrote:

    >>>>

    I almost fell out of my seat on this one. Really, you have no malware?? And you know this cuz what the great wizard told you. Don't look behind the curtain.

    If you have an android and its not owned by someone yet, its cuz you can't turned it on :)

    >>>>

    This is what happens when you believe all the sensationalist headlines. If you read what I said above, I take care while installing apps to read the permissions and if any of permissions don't make sense, I don't install the app. And periodically, I download and install the snake-oil selling security apps and run the scanner. Checkout the scan report from Lookout at https://www.dropbox.com/s/uh07uhnpzff1ww7/Screenshot_2013-04...

    and one from AVG at https://www.dropbox.com/s/3yprz32jjmywku2/Screenshot_2013-04...

    Both are notorious for making exaggerated claims. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of malware Android apps out there. But for the most part, they are in Chinese and Russian markets and not that many on Google Play. There was one in yesterday's headlines. But that essentially were apps that made you use a third party ad store to download and install the app. To do that, you have to accept all the permissions *and* enable side loading, which is turned off by default.

    And don't be under any illusions that there aren't malware apps on the App Store. Just consider two apps from the App Store. One was a useful camera app (Camera+) that enabled the volume buttons to take photos. Another was an app intentionally created by a security expert to download malware. The first had an easter egg to enable the volume button. The second was publicized by the author himself. In both cases, the apps had been vetted by Apple. Again, don't get me wrong. Apple does a good job by and large, but it doesn't examine source code line by line to weed out apps. The problem here is not that these two apps slipped by. The problem is that no one is really aware of how many apps there really are with malware in the App Store and without explicit permissions that a user can see, you have no idea what you could be running.

    So between the two, I'll take Google's approach any day. They have a bouncer program and things slip through just like things slip through the App Store. But I don't have to rely on Google. I can rely on my own common sense and not install third part apps that I don't trust. BTW, I side load apps as well. I just make sure that they are from reputable sources.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 3:34 AM, kenbestcali wrote:

    My gardener has an iPhone, so is my hotel room cleaning maid. Theirs look just like mine.

    I guess we are all cool , me and the maid and the gardener.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 3:38 AM, lb1953 wrote:

    Well this is our first attempt at a "smart phone" and after carefull consideration and alot garbage reviews like those above We went with Galaxy 3 instead of Apple. Why? two reasons 1) battery location and able to replace 2) memory chip that i can take out and download or upgrade. There it is. Does tv, banking, emails, txting, photos and alot of stuff that im not gonna ever use since i dont download music. I got it for convience away from labtop and my lg phone broke so we had to get new phones and these phones cost $50.00 each compare to apples

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 8:55 AM, mcking1969 wrote:

    In the spirit of full disclosure it should be known that I used to be the biggest Apple fanboy ever, but slowly began to see that although Apple makes a fine product it no longer fit me personally. Since then I have been dismayed with what I see from the company, the lack of options, snooty genius bar customer service reps, lack of innovation, army of sue happy lawyers and cut throat business tactics (I will spend ever last dime … destroying blah blah blah) now lead me to believe that Apple has become what they sought to avoid … they are 1984.

    Since switching to Google I have been extremely happy and extremely frustrated at times. But that is the price you pay when you make the decision to switch to a UI that allows customization. It’s like deciding to design and build your own computer and then getting mad because it isn’t easy! Well, you had the option of buying an off the shelf pre-made computer, but you elected not to. Apple is the pre-made off the shelf option and Android is the design your own.

    With that out of the way I would like to address your product review:

    Since you chose to discuss your personal experience I am interested in knowing how “fragmentation” effected your experience and thus was included in your review of your new Android phone?

    Likewise, counting “malware magnet” as an issue does not reflect your experience with Android and thus shouldn’t be included in a personal review.

    Perhaps, just perhaps sometimes we have to take the good with the bad. As you yourself stated, “Playing around in Android reinforces the feeling I'd already been having that the iOS interface is stale.” So we are faced with a choice, a manufacturer that represents a single form factor on a single device, or many manufacturers that offer many form factors on many devices. What also keeps Android cutting edge and relevant may also be called fragmentation. Regardless, how did fragmentation effect your experience? Since switching to Android fragmentation has never been an issue for me, because I use a single phone. Fragmentation is only an issue if you use several different types of phones and the UI is different on each phone.

    Let’s maintain some perspective here.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:15 PM, jussayin wrote:

    I am not a tech head, and "reliable but just the same every year" (plus excellant camera) is EXACTLY what I want. Don't underestimate that.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:50 PM, jussayin wrote:

    Hadn't read mcking1969's post when I wrote mine. An even-handed and unsnobbish post, and well said. "Apple is the pre-made of off the shelf option and Android is the design your own." I'm glad Android is there for those who thrive on designing their own. I'm glad there's a system I can learn that will stay learned.

    I don't begrudge anybody anything-- I just get a little panicky when it seems like all the posts are urging companies to turn everything upside down every year.

    The things I thrive on are mostly not tech related; I look for devices that help me do what I want, instead of becoming an endless obstacle course.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 1:01 PM, jussayin wrote:

    And-- are there any manufacturers among the fragmented Android family that make a model that's relatively unchanging and has a superb camera? Because I would fickly switch brands for an equal quality device with removeable battery and memory chip.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:03 PM, neocolonialist wrote:

    >>>>

    This is what happens when you believe all the sensationalist headlines.

    >>>>

    Nope, sorry. I have some personal experience in this area. The headlines just are not sensational enough. Android might as well be called "the sieve" when it comes to security. And, you can be careful all you want. That won't help you for a second. People drastically underestimate the sophistication of modern attackers, and that amazes me. Trusting android security is akin to trusting your desktop to McAfee. Pssfft, good luck with that. If you're android isn't compromised already you won the lottery my friend. iPhone isn't the picture of perfect security either btw, but at least iPhone and its app store *try* to present a barrier to attackers.

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