Decisions, Decisions, iPhone or Android

It is the gift giving time of year and some people are looking at smartphones as gifts.  Since the three major carriers have the iPhone, people now have to decide whether they want an iPhone or Android.  David Gewirtz at ZDNet provides a fairly good pros/cons list on the iPhone and Android to help you with your decision. 

I only have a few things to add to his list.

Support:If your hospital or institution supports a certain type of phone, that can weigh heavy in your decision making.  However, a lot of medical institutions are still clinging to Blackberrys and many don’t allow personal devices (i.e. your own smartphone) to access or sync to their network.  If this is the case then you might want to look at what a lot of your peers have and possibly consider getting what they have.  Ok, I know that sounds like a popularity contest of buying what your friends or coworkers have, but there is safety in numbers.  The people in your group will be talking about the best apps they use for certain things.  If you are a doctor or nurse then it will most likely be the best apps your colleagues use to help treat patients.  If you are librarian, it might be what most of your patrons are using so you can provide better customer service.  As David mentioned there are a lot of apps on both platforms but not all apps are on all platforms.  Knowing what apps they use can be helpful and having the same platform means that app is available for your device AND it will perform the same (not all apps perform the same on Android and iPhone).  If you don’t have institutional support, your mobile peers might also be your second line of tech support.  When your phone is misbehaving and an Internet search does not reveal the cure, you are more likely to ask around your group for help before you spend money at the Genius Bar or Geek Squad.

Customization: I know David mentioned that the Android beats the iPhone hands down on customization, and he is totally right.  But what you have to ask yourself is whether you really can/should customize. An iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone, there is no difference between them except for different generations.  Heck if you sync through iTunes they all are running the same OS version.  Androids are the Wild West of customization.  Not all are created equally, not all phones are running the latest OS and not all are going to be upgraded to the latest OS.  You can download things to further customize your phone such as different fonts, icons, widgets, web browsers (I’m loving Dolphin right now), change/customize the boot animation (usually the carrier’s logo that shows when you reboot your phone), customize the lock screen, etc.  With great customization comes great responsibility, you can really accidentally do something that makes your Android a real pain in the butt and is hard to undo.  Right now I am trying to figure out what on earth I did that screwed up my Android so that my camera doesn’t work.  My camera won’t take pictures, every time I tap the camera icon I get the message ”The application Camera (process com.android.camera) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.” I can sort “fix” it by rebooting the phone.  But that only works if once the phone is rebooted I go straight into camera (waiting an hour later I get the same error message) and I can only take 1-3 pictures before the camera app freezes and fails.  Now I did very little customization, but was it something I did that screwed it up?  Is it the OS?  Do I need to buy a bigger memory card?  All I want is for my camera to work. 

Not everyone should customize.  I personally would trade all of the damn customization in my Android for my camera to work again.  There was something very nice about having the limited customization of an iPhone.  I didn’t have to think, my phone just worked.  That is very enticing to a lot of people, many of which who don’t realize it.  But some people LOVE exploiting all of the possible ways to customize their phone…if that is the case then they need an Android.  But if you are an average person who just wants their phone to work and thinks of phone customization as the color of its case or different ring tones then just skip the whole customization argument and look at other arguments for iPhone vs. Android.

Address Book:  I would make this a mini point.  The Android uses Google Address book for your contacts list.  If you don’t use Google Address book or don’t want your Google Address book added to the contacts then get an iPhone.  iPhones also do a MUCH better job importing and syncing your contacts than Androids.  Just do a simple search on the Internet for Android and contacts and you get a whole bunch of pages about people having problems.  However, if there are other reasons why you like/want an Android the address/contact mess isn’t a deal killer, it is just a real pain in the butt that you will have to work at to fix.  It took me forever to straighten it out but once I got it fixed, it has since stayed fixed.

Hopefully the ZDNet article and my thoughts can help you decide if you are on the fence.  Both the Android and the iPhone are good devices that are making huge inroads in the medical profession.  Although work doesn’t pay for my device and it isn’t supported, I think I am better at helping the doctors and nurses in my institution with their (personal) smartphones and suggesting helpful tips, ideas, and apps.

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