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Definition: iPhone vs. Android

People get used to operating a device and tend to upgrade on the same platform. Although both iPhone and Android do exactly the same things, there are differences that require some learning when switching platforms. Both platforms offer a wealth of apps and functionality.

All smartphones have numerous configuration options; even more settings than a desktop computer, and they are very different between platforms.

For the Beginner
For rank novices, the best smartphone choice has more to do with help. If co-workers or family use Apple, choose an iPhone. If the people you know will help you use Android, choose a Samsung, Motorola, Pixel or other Android phone.

Like Mac and Windows
As it does with the Mac, Apple controls the hardware and iOS mobile operating system. Like Microsoft, Google controls the Android OS that numerous vendors use with their own hardware. Also like Microsoft, Google offers models under its own brand (see Pixel phone).

All iPhone OS versions have the same interface, whereas Android phone vendors as well as the carriers may add their own set of apps and different interface features. See app launcher.

There are only a handful of current iPhone models, whereas dozens of Androids are always available. Apple notifies iPhone users about the latest iOS release, but Android OS updates are distributed by the phone vendor resulting in numerous combinations in use (see Android fragmentation). This may not affect the average user, but it drives Android app developers to distraction.

iPhone Advantages
iPhones are a bit easier to use because the user interface is more consistent between OS versions; however, there was a big change in 2013 (see iOS 7). In addition, Apple was first to do a stringent job testing apps for their app store. Apple also rejects x-rated content, although nothing stops people from retrieving anything via the Safari browser. See iPhone.

Android Advantages
Users love the Android's dedicated and always-available Back button. No matter which app is running, pressing Back on an Android takes the user back one step. There is no such dedicated button on the iPhone.

Android phones have an "app drawer" that lists all apps alphabetically, and users drag icons from the drawer to their home screens. In addition, third-party app drawers offer a choice of interfaces. Android users can also download apps from more than one online store.

For technicians who work with Windows computers all day, Android phones become an external hard drive when plugged in. Android file management is the same as Windows file management. See online app store and Android.