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Oh My Tech!: Android over iPhone? Just maybe

Published September 7, 2012 12:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Excitement is swirling around the anticipated announcement of the new iPhone 5 on Wednesday, and earlier this week I wrote a story listing five reasons why you should consider waiting to get Apple's latest blockbuster mobile phone. They range from problems with the changing screen shape to a new connector plug making all old iPhone accessories obsolete.

There's a sixth reason that's just as important and worthy of its own analysis. Maybe it's time to consider an Android phone.

This is an argument especially for diehard iPhone users who never thought they would go to another mobile phone. It's certainly the closest I've ever come to jumping the Apple brand for the ever-greener pastures of the Android camp, thanks to recent innovations in Google's mobile operating system.

Many readers have accused me of being a shameless Apple fanboy who blindly follows the Cult of Mac. Nothing could be further from the truth, the proof being my main home computer — a trusty Alienware PC running Windows 7 for gaming. Yet, it's true that I've always loved Apple's iPhone for its features, advancements and ease of use.

Then, Apple's innovations started to lag, while Android phone manufacturers such as Samsung began designing better phones. More recent Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola's Droid Razr have seduced me even more, nearly pulling me to the other side.

In the past year or so, Android phones have started carrying features I want but which Apple has ignored. The screens have gotten much bigger, while the iPhone's remained a puny 3.5 inches. Non-Apple manufacturers started using better screen technology such as organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens for brighter colors and deeper contrasts. Also, Android handsets started to work with 4G LTE high-speed data networks, while the iPhone stayed with the slower 3G technology. And the Android operating system can be customized much easier than the iPhone's operating system, something Android has always had over Apple's iOS.

There's been other advantages. With so many different mobile phones supporting Android, there are plenty to choose from to suit your needs. And with the Android operating system, you're not tied down to Apple's iTunes ecosystem. There has always been more freedom with Android.

Lately, Apple has copied a lot of Android's innovations. The latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 5, took a number of ideas from Android, including its notification system, Twitter integration and creative changes to the e-mail reader.

Since Android was first introduced, Google has managed to turn its operating system into a first-rate mobile platform that gives Apple serious competition. The fact that Apple chose to sue Samsung for patent infringement (a lawsuit it recently won) instead of innovate more just proves that Apple is feeling the heat.

Will I make the transition to Android? It depends on what Apple introduces Wednesday with the new iPhone. There's plenty I still love about Apple's phone over any Android device — it's smoothness and speed, the high-resolution Retina Display, the choice of apps still only available for the iPhone (particularly certain games), and a camera that continues to out-perform any Android device I've tested.

But Apple has let some things slide, and it's going to be a tougher choice for anyone looking to get a new phone this fall.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.