Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones generate a lot of press, but there are many reasons why 82.8 percent of all new smartphones sold run Android. Apple provides a completely catered, top-down experience in which it dictates exactly which apps you can run and which features your phone can have. Android takes off the training wheels and lets consumers have a swath of hardware and software to choose from, along with access to key technologies, such as NFC pairing and 4K screens that Apple doesn’t think its users are ready for.
Here are 10 reasons Android beats the iPhone.
1. More Storage for Less Money
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are priced like high-end phones, but that doesn’t stop Apple from skimping on storage. For starting prices of $648 and $744 respectively, you get just 16GB of internal memory. After you deduct 1.3GB for iOS 9, you have almost no space for the 12-MP pictures you’ll take, the 4K videos you’ll shoot, your music collection or iTunes movies, which can take up between 1 and 3GB depending on resolution. Some popular iOS games can also eat as much as 1GB to 2GB a piece. If you really want to make the most of your iPhone, you need to add another $100 to the price to get 64GB of storage.
All of the latest high-end Android phones, including all the major Samsung phones, the HTC M9 and the LG G4, start with a more-reasonable 32GB of internal storage. Better still, HTC and LG’s flagships come with microSD slots that allow you to add more capacity by using very inexpensive memory cards. A 64GB microSD card costs around $20.
2. Higher-res screens
Apple’s tagline for the iPhone 6s and 6s plus is “the only thing that’s changed is everything,” but “everything” apparently doesn’t include screen resolution. In 2014, the company finally released its first full-HD phone, the iPhone 6 Plus — two years after the first 1080p Android handset debuted. Today’s iPhone 6s Plus is still stuck at 1920 x 1080 while the mainstream 6s clocks in at a mere 1334 x 750. By contrast, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has a 4K (3840 x 2160) display and several mainstream Android phones offer 2560 x 1440 screens, which makes them a lot sharper for high-res video viewing, reading and gaming.
3. Customization, widgets and skins
Like the father in a 1950s sitcom, Apple thinks it knows what’s best for you, no matter what you need or want, so it locks down the UI and offers fewer customizations than Google. Whereas on the iPhone, you can put a few select widgets in your notification drawer, with Android, you can choose from thousands of widgets that live on your home or lock screens and provide everything from music playback to weather and note-taking.
Manufacturers such as Samsung and LG add custom “skins” on top of the core operating system that offer a unique look and feel, along with features Google hasn’t implemented yet (e.g., gesture controls and Air View). Better still, you can install your own launcher or add a custom theme, which makes your phone look and feel completely different — and yours.
4. Many more hardware options, including rugged phones
Google’s marketing tagline for Android is “Be Together. Not the Same.” That makes sense, because the platform appears on hundreds of different phone models around the world. You can get Android phones with giant screens, small screens, built-in projectors, QWERTY keyboards and replaceable batteries.
Perhaps most important, there are many rugged Android phones that are made to survive being submerged underwater or dropped. If you want a new iPhone today, you have four choices: the a iPhone 6s Plus, a midsize iPhone 6s and three old models: the similarly-sized. None of these is designed to take a beating.
5. Freedom to install any app you want
Apple may get some apps first, but it also limits which apps you can install by forcing you to go through its tightly controlled app store. If the tastemakers in Cupertino decide that an app competes with Apple or is too violent, sexual, political or controversial, you won’t be able to buy it. While Google has its Play store for Android, it allows competition from alternative stores, such as Amazon’s Appstore. You can also take any APK file you download and sideload it on your own. Try that on the iPhone 6s.
6. A working file system
Want to copy files from your iPhone to your computer? You’ll need to install iTunes and set up an account, and even then, you can move only media files, such as photos, back and forth. Plug an Android phone into your PC, and it instantly mounts as an external drive filled with folders you can drag and drop. You can also navigate through the file system on the phone using apps such as Astro File Manager or ES File Manager. Apple apparently doesn’t trust you to see the file system on your iPhone.
7. Universal sharing
You see a Web page in your browser, a map in your navigation app or a photo in your gallery, and you want to share it. On Android, you can share to any service whose app you have installed: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or anything you’ve installed. Google doesn’t need to bless an app for it to show up in the sharing menu, nor does the browser maker, the navigation app publisher or drawing app developer.
Unfortunately, on the iPhone, you can share only to the apps that the browser, photo gallery or other app specifically support. So, because Apple doesn’t think much of Google+, WhatsApp or Pinterest, you can’t share to them from Safari, and you won’t be able to unless Apple’s gatekeepers specifically build in support.
8. A back button
Android’s back button provides a really simple and helpful way to return to a previous screen no matter where you are. The button even works across apps. If you hit a link in Facebook and get transported to the Chrome browser, you can return to the social media app when you hit the back button.
On the iPhone 6s, you can use only app-specific navigation or hit the home button to end up back on the home screen. That’s a lot more swipes and taps that waste your time and tire your fingers.
9. Multiwindow support
If you want to multitask on your phone, you want an Android phone from Samsung or LG. Both of those brands let you split your screen between two apps, allowing you to, for example, look at the company Web page in one window while you reply to your boss’s email in another. Google hasn’t built multiwindow mode into the Core OS yet; it is adding that ability in the next version, called Android M. Apple is adding a split-screen view in iOS 9, but only for tablets, not phones.
10. Full NFC support
For several years now, all Android phones have come with NFC (near field communication) chips built in. With NFC on board, you can tap to pair with gadgets, tap another phone to exchange files or contacts, tap information tags, tap to unlock a door and even tap to pay using Google Wallet. Apple has incorporated NFC into the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but you can only use it for Apple Pay.