Android (Nexus One) or iPhone?

*Cross posted from my personal blog since it’s a technical subject*

That is the million dollar question on many phone geeks minds.

The iPhone is really a love it or hate it kind of device, much like Apple stuff in general. Android, on the other hand, is still new enough that some folks are still ignoring it. Well, I wanted to know which worked better for me, and so I set out to test them both.

For the purposes of this test, I’m used an HTC Nexus One running both Stock and CyanogenMod firmware (Android 2.2) and an Apple iPhone 4 running iOS 4.1.
I must say, the results tha t I got were not what I expected. I’ve been a mac guy for a REALLY long time, even dating back to the Apple ][ days. That said, I’m not as religious about it as some folks are. I gave up my beloved PowerMac 7100 in favor of a BSD machine back in the 1990’s and have been a champion of the BSD OS ever since.
A little history, I’ve been an iPhone user since the 2g. I’ve done all of the jailbreaking and unlocking, even when it wasn’t straightforward and “one-click”. I’m also pretty familiar with Linux and I prefer a command line over a gui.
I thought that the Android phone would be a perfect next step for someone who likes to tinker with the UI, tweak settings and generally be able to control most aspects of his mobile device.
….and that was mostly true. I LOVED the fact that my stuff was stored in the cloud. The fact that I could default my N1 and lock in as myself and all of my apps just showed back up with absolutely 0 user input (other than logging in) was awesome to me. A few apps had me totally sold. PicPush, for one, was a great app. Automatically doing things like pushing my images into the “cloud” (flickr and picasa) was amazing. The one BIG deal to me, though, was SMS backup. the idea of always having my text messages backed up into my email, tagged and all, was too appealing to pass up. I LOVED this ability. I get a lot of txt messages and, unfortunately, a lot of important info comes in that way. The fact that I can have it show up somewhere else, backed up, with no work on my part was…sublime. Simple Google voice integration was a huge plus as well.

…Then I played with my wife’s iPhone 4. We did facetime with our son while away for a weekend. The allowed the Google Voice apps back in the iTunes store, so no more jailbreaking needed for useful apps. Backgrounding processes works. Multiple Exchange accounts now supported without jailbreaking and hacking the plist.
This is going to be a harder sell than I originally suspected.
So I set out to test my theory. I bought an iPhone 4 (after selling my 3g on ebay to ofset the cost). I fully expected that I’d like the N1 better. Simply comparing the hardware of the devices is pretty close, as described here at In my opinion (and for the things important to me) the phones really cancel each others strong points out with attributes like removable media and battery (N1) with better screen and MUCH better visibility in sunlight (iPhone).
Here is my rough (and obviously biased toward things I think are and aren’t important) rundown:
Screen: The iPhone has better resolution, far better visibility in the sun. iPhone, without question.

Apps: Close. Android has more tuning and tweaking apps, allows for the UI to be bent and molded. iPhone has FAR more apps and many are much more refined. My belief is that after Android has been around as long as the iPhone and in as many dev hands, this will level out and maybe even surpass (since apple isn’t strangling the dev abilities). Close, but I’m going to have to give this one to iPhone based on the sheer number and quality of apps.
Compatibility: Also close. I both love and hate that I need iTunes. Syncing my contacts, mail and calendars to the “cloud” on my iPhone helps, but ultimately, probably slightly better for Android. Media sync kinda sucks for anyone that has bought straight into iTunes for cataloging music and movies. iPhoto support is nice, though. DoubleTwist for Android is still buggy and lacks features in my experience. I use only UNIX and Mac, so I never looked into any windows software since it would only be foreign to me and I have not owned a windows machine in more than 10 years. In general, I’d probably have to give this one a tie based on the trade offs. For me, iPhone was the clear winner.
Media support: Also a trade off. Android has WAY more codecs that it can support (especially if you use a cool custom ROM like CyanogenMod), but for someone that has been cataloging music with iTunes since it came out and has an ENORMOUS music and movie collection with smart playlists galore, iTunes support is the clear winner. (Obviously this one is clearly biased since I’ve bought into iTunes hook, line and sinker).
Editing 720p video right on my iPhone works seamlessly. I’m going to have to go with iPhone on this one.
Multimedia Messaging: A minor or non issue for some but I use it a lot. FaceTime is amazing and we use it quite a bit. Sending MMS movies and uploading to youtube seems far better on the iPhone. I never could get MMS movies to work on my N1 and the upload to youtube was pretty rough, sometimes failing completely. I’m gonna give this one to the iPhone.
UI: Also tough. Mods have made Android very elegant. The ability to tweak the UI and add features is a clear advantage to me. However, the fact that Apple keeps a lockdown on that stuff means that I always have a consistant experience. The UI on the iPhone is obviously elegant and sleek. The trade offs (for me) cancel each other out. For my money this is going to have to be a tie.
802.11 Network: Both do 802.11N on the 2.4ghz band. Both do WPA2 enterprise. Nexus One can create a hotspot without me jailbreaking it and/or paying AT&T. Nexus One CLEAR winner.

Storage: My iPhone has 16G of storage total. ~14ish is usable. My N1 has 512M on board and a removable microSD card that is 16G. Clearly the Nexus One wins this category for having removable media.

Batter Life: I get a lot of calls and txts (and email) all day. I can go about 2 days with the iPhone 4 with the same accounts configured and txt/data/phone usage as I get almost 24hours with the Nexus One.
However, I can charge the Nexus One with any standard MicroUSB cable and change out the battery with a fresh one. I can also replace the battery if it goes bad (easily). Advantage, Nexus One.

Overall, the jury is still out, as I still have both. Lately, though, I;ve been considering selling the N1 and getting an iPad. I do, however, believe that Android is probably going to grab a significant market share since there are a LOT of apple haters out there, and there are even more companies grabbing the OS since it’s open source.
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