Recently, the smartphone market has been ablaze with news, new phones, and some harsh smack talk. The problem is, no one is looking big picture. While the HTC Evo having a bigger screen than the iPhone and the iPhone’s retina display blowing the competition away are all very important. We need to look at the entire industry, not just the phones themselves.
First, let me provide a disclaimer. I am not biased in any way towards any of these products or companies. I have an iPod touch and a MacBook, an HTC phone running Android, and I use Microsoft Office, and I love all three. This article is purely based on what I’ve seen over the past few years.
Now it’s time to get down to the good stuff.
Customer Service: Apple (iPhone)
If you call Apple with a problem, within five minutes you could be talking to a real person who was found specifically to solve your problem. If they can’t solve the problem, then within 10 minutes you either are talking to a new representative or you have an appointment at the nearest Genius Bar.
On the other hand, I have called Microsoft customer service two times. The first time I was on the phone for four hours, just to be told that the phone center was closed and I would have to call back another time. The other time I called I was told that my problem was impossible to fix. Oddly enough, I brought my computer to a Microsoft store and I had the problem fixed within five minutes.
As for Google? I don’t even know where I would start to get support for a product.
Ease of Use: Microsoft (Windows Phone)
While I love my iPod Touch and I can use it easily, I do have one gripe. Ease of use. That’s kind of a big issue. While I am a relatively tech savvy person and I was able to figure out my iPod Touch within 30 minutes of the un-boxing, I think we need to look at this from the perspective of someone who isn’t as tech savvy. While yes, you just have to tap an icon to open an application, organization, downloading, adding contacts, calling (wait, phones still have that feature???), and just about everything else can be very confusing. Additionally, having an interface that uses no buttons other than a home button requires some understanding of a why, because for those who grew up without a computer, and then with the invention of the computer, you are used to having an interface that relies completely on buttons, and a one-button interface may seem confusing.
With the Windows phones, everything is laid out beautifully with push-updated notification icons, and visible but inlayed touch capacitive buttons. It has the ease of use that Apple almost achieved, but with the sensibility of (somewhat) physical buttons. In addition, you have a slide out physical keyboard, which is something that I would have helped the iPhone, because those of use who have sausage fingers (present) sometimes find it difficult to use touch screens. Overall, wonderful GUI (graphical user interface), as well as hardware manipulation.
Android phones are wonderful, but missing some things. First, is compatibility, both in the app store and between phones themselves. Apps that work wonderfully on my Evo don’t work remotely close to well on my friend’s HTC Hero. He found quickly that playing Angry Birds at 3 fps (frames per second) doesn’t work nearly as well as it does on the iPhone or Evo. Additionally, if I upload a photo to my dropbox, and my friend tries to download it on his Hero, he gets a message that it can’t be opened. A lack of compatibility across the same operating system may kill Google.
Unity Across Platforms: Apple (iPhone)
On January 6, Apple revolutionized computer applications with its release of the Mac App Store. Since I’ve been using it, I realized something. Whether they are games, productivity apps, or anything else, almost all of them say that they sync across all devices, including your desktop, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, and even media with the Apple TV. Just to test this, I recently downloaded a task manager, aptly named iProcrastinate. I downloaded the same App on my Mac Pro and my iPod Touch, and began lined up the products. First, I downloaded a picture from the “Funny Pics” app. I then attached the picture to a task and saved it. Within literally three seconds, the task had already been synced with both computers, added as an event in iCal on my iPod, MacBook, and Mac Pro, and it had been added to my Google Calendar. Three seconds. I was blown away. You can be anywhere, and immediately have anything that you need on your phone, whenever and wherever you need it.
In terms of the Windows Phone, I haven’t checked it out too much, but I haven’t seen any true cross-compatibility with computers and other devices. Not much to say here, but not too impressed in this department.
Android actually beats Windows here, due to it’s “G” services. Gmail, GChat, Google Docs, etc. For the most part, these can be synced between devices seamlessly, except for one thing. No matter which service you are using, it is cloud based, so you need to be connected to the internet to access anything. If you need a file on your desktop that you uploaded from your phone because you are going to have no internet access, no problem on the iPhone with any Apple computer, just download the file from the service, or allow the service to sync with iCal, and you’re on your way. With Android, you have no ability to do this. It’s “To The Cloud or Bust” with Android phones.
Final Winner: Apple
With final scores as follows:
Apple – 2
Windows – 1
Android – 0
Apple sneaks out with the trophy. While Google and Microsoft are only worried about making their phones bigger, better, faster, stronger, Apple is perfecting theirs. Apple wins…for now. I’m not commenting on the future, because the field is open, but for now, Google and Microsoft have some catching up to do.
Have questions or comments? Disagree or think I missed a point or an entire category? Leave a comment.