Android pips it, but only just.
With the new Android software version 2.1 running on local HTC phones, there is no doubt that the iPhone has a true competitor in the market.
I am running a HTC Hero with 2.1 software on it and I’ve never owned an iPhone, so doing a comprehensive review is a little difficult.
Having played with an iPhone quite a bit I can do some comparisons though.
The iPhone is the faster operating system (OS) and it is very slick. The OS just seems to work so well and the synchronising with iTunes is really good. The phone has a large number of applications available for download and it has smooth integration with Facebook, Twitter etc. As much as I am not an Apple fan, it’s a really good phone.
On the downside, it is really pricey, was only available on Vodacom (that’s about to change with the iPhone 4, which will be on MTN as well) and it had little glitches in the software that could get up power users’ noses. Furthermore, the phone’s OS is locked down, so customisation is not possible. That problem is solvable with a crack though, which seems to give a lot more flexibility.
Android’s 2.1 OS puts my HTC right up there with the iPhone. The OS is almost as fast, later versions should see it outstrip the iPhone though. However, what it lacks in speed it gains in customisation. The phone has seven home screens, which can all be customised with shortcuts and widgets in whatever layout you want. Widgets include Facebook and Twitter feed, weather, address books widgets, calendar widgets and so on. A push of the home button on the phone brings up a bird’s eye view of all seven screens or you can flick your finger to move through them.
While the Android Market has fewer applications than the iPhone store, they have more free apps by far and with a much better developer policy, the market will more than likely outstrip the Apple store.
Lastly and here is the killer point for me, Google’s synchronisation is just way better. Not only do you put in your Gmail address when you start (and all your subsequent Android phones simply set themselves up by connecting to the address), but Google Docs just gives Android such an advantage over Apple.
At the end of the day, Google has an open mindset and Apple has a closed one. Apple will always have its fan boys, but I think Android has the edge right now and will ultimately be the better, more affordable phone into the future.