Phones

Head to Head: iPhone vs. Android

iPhone vs. Android

With the recent announcement that, at long last, Apple's iPhone is coming to Verizon Wireless's CDMA network, arguments are blazing over which smartphone operating system reigns supreme. Many Verizon customers are asking themselves whether they should stick with the carrier's Android devices or jump ship to iOS.

PCWorld editors Tom Spring and Robert Strohmeyer both have strong views on the subject, and they're ready to present their arguments. First up, senior editor Tom Spring explains why he's had it with Android.

Hasta la Vista, Android; Hello (Again), iPhone

In the beginning, turning on my Droid X for the first time felt triumphant, exciting, nearly revolutionary in the face of the omnipresent iPhone minions. My new Motorola Android phone croaked a baritone "Droid" as its freakish red eye blinked and looked into my eyes for the first time. It was love at first sight. Now, seven months later, the honeymoon is over.

These days, pulling the hulking smartphone from its charging perch makes me wince--will it freeze on me today? Thanks to Verizon, my wireless carrier, I can now flee to the iPhone. It's a new dawn.

Should I switch to the iPhone? No question about it!

Here are seven reasons I'm ditching my Droid X (and maybe even Verizon) for the iPhone.

Core Apps Are Too Buggy

Too often, trying to view images I've imported and taken with the Droid X camera produces the message 'unsupported file type'. I reboot my Droid X, and bingo: Images and videos are suddenly viewable. I have the same problem with audio files; as I gear up to listen to music, the dreaded 'unsupported audio type' message appears. Pressing Restart solves the problem.

Then there are the Android OS lockups in which the only solution is either a reboot or pulling the battery from the back of the phone to force a reset. I also would love to use the Voice Commands app bundled with the phone, but the application takes 10 seconds (an eternity in smartphone time) to load and prompt me to 'Say a command'.

If such occurrences cropped up only on a monthly basis, I could live with it. But I'm running into these types of errors weekly. It's gotten so bad, I'm thinking one of these days a Blue Screen of Death will appear and I'll have to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to reset my phone.

Think I'm alone? Multimedia bugs are some of the most frequently complained about topics on DroidXForum.com and Motorola's troubleshooting support forum.

My Droid-centric colleague Robert will try to counter this argument, but he is conveniently sidestepping the fact that my criticism concerns preinstalled and core apps that are frozen onto my Android phone. It's one thing to gripe about apps I download from third parties, but this is another matter entirely. My current iOS devices and my past iPhone had core apps that were far more reliable. I'm not imagining things, either: Check out Motorola's support forums, where the petition to remove the Droid X's preinstalled apps has garnered 108,000 views so far.

Tax on Accessories

Want to buy a speaker charging dock for your Android phone to listen to all the great music on it? Good luck tracking one down. If you do find one (let me know), you can bet that the pricing and selection will be discouraging. In the meantime, you'll have to snake wires from your phone's audio-out jack to a sound system's audio-in.

The problem, of course, lies not with the Android OS, Motorola, or Verizon. The issue is that Apple has cornered the market in third-party audio-dock devices. I don't like this fact much myself--but I certainly like the options that the iPhone affords.

According to my buddy Robert, I should be content with the stereo jack and the Droid's built-in DLNA streaming capabilities. Earth to Robert: I'm a big fan of wireless DLNA--the only problem is the paucity of affordable multimedia players that support it. The fact that both of our Droids support micro-HDMI is great, but we still have hardly any multimedia docking and charging stations for Android phones to choose from.

Video on Android Blows

There has to be a better way to get great-looking video on my phone. I have several movies and television shows that I'm just itching to get onto my Android handset. With iTunes I'm forced to jump through several hoops, but the end results are great (thanks to VLC Media Player for iOS). No matter how hard I try with my Android phone, no matter the video encoders I use or the video players I download from the Android Market, I'm left dissatisfied.

Video transferred to my phone via my PC looks choppy, has out-of-sync audio, and sometimes just won't play. Robert will try to play the it-works-on-my-phone-what-is-the-problem-with-Tom card, but give me a break. What's wrong with my Droid X? Good question. I would like to know the answer--and so would the hundreds of people who are flocking to support forums such as DroidXForum and Motorola's site, complaining of similar problems.

I could use the undeletable Blockbuster app on my Droid X, but I'm a cheapskate. Blockbuster charges $4 for a 24-hour movie rental, and buying a movie costs $18 per title. I haven't used this service--but judging from a number of unfavorable reviews in the Android Market and online, I won't be.

Robert will respond by trying to minimize the importance of mobile video and declaring it an unusual or undesirable use case; but I'm a mobile-video junkie, and I don't think I'm alone. Part of the allure of the Droid X was that its display was significantly larger than those of the iPhone and other handsets. That I'm somehow in a minority for wanting an easy and reliable way to put video onto my Droid X is absurd. To expect average users to use the HandBrake utility--which is no iTunes as far as usability goes--is unrealistic.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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