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What can Android phones do that iPhones can't?

A few of my friends claim their Samsung or HTC is the best thing since sliced bread and that the iPhone is "closed". What can Android phones do that iPhones can't?

Most Useful Answer JanSt  Dec. 10, 2014 at 19:18

OMG... hahahahahaha....

You can do things on Android phones out-of-the-box that iPhones can only do via jailbreak.
Many Android phones have an SD card slot. Handy. However - Google make it harder and harder to make good use of that. So, combined with the fact that many Android phones no longer have SD card slots that advantage is no longer the biggie - especially since 64 and 128GB iPhones are now no longer hard to get.

Anyhoo... Personalisation is another Android advantage - themes, alternative 'UIs', launchers and whatnot. You can change the clock-speed if you root... You can delete or freeze system apps or bloatware that you never use anyways. I like that.

You can sideload apps from other sources than the official stores. That can be handy, but it can also be risky if those apps are malware bait.

There really is more to be said in Android's favour. On the other hand: I have used ALL iPhones and iPads since the first iPhone. I had apps crash about - um.... never (except for when iOS 7.1 came with those naughty bugs. But Android updates have been messy buggers, too...).
iTunes. You cannot access iTunes and the Apple appstore from an Android phone. Bizarre
point? Nope. Not if you own many Apple apps. Not when the apps quality and availability is more important than 'open-ness'. iOS still gets many games and apps first and exclusively.
Yep...that Android phone may have a 100% unique, personalised UI and an SD card. It still won't EVER get Garageband. It still will have a worse Twitter client than your iPhone.
And even if that Android phone is the newest and bestest, there may be issues because apps are not optimised fast enough. When LG launched the G3 with its qHD screen, many early adopters found their favourite apps weren't working or looked funny...
That problem comes with 'open-ness' and an excess of 15,000 unique devices versus 10 or so iDevices that usually get the same update at the same time...

But yes... in many ways Android is "better". Only "better" is relative. When I use my phone, it's more important that whatever app I use works, and works well. I like to play with themes and so on. I have flashed ROMs and rooted quite a few Android phones. There is an M8 and a Galaxy Cam in my household. But at the end of the day, beyond personalisation, I also value consistency, reliability.

Ask your Android fan-ny friends how they do a COMPLETE iTunes style backup. A backup that really backs up EVERYTHING. So that their replacement phone is just right within minutes of opening that box. Ask them! Not happening.

All OSs have advantages and weaknesses. I actually suspect there is a secret 'agreement' within the industry! We KNOW, big companies have illegal deals - so they do not headhunt from another. FACT. I assume, the big players make sure nobody comes out with THE perfect device. They are technically possible. But, taste aside: if someone launches the 'perfect' device with the 'perfect' OS, then what's to push as the next big thing next month? And if a device is perfect, than any other company can only counter with the same 'perfect' thing... boom. Universe explodes. Capitalism crumbles (probably in that order, too).

I know Android fans who moved to iOS or WP and they are happy now. I know Apple fans who moved to Android. For various reasons. Some are happy now, some aren't. I'd like iOS, Android, WP, and BB10 features in my next phone. Not happening. I HATE...I mean HATE Microsoft. But WP 8.1.xxxxx has features and a level of 'smoothness' that put Android, BB, and iOS to shame. I can say that... I despise Brin/Schmidt et al...The Google World Order doesn't appeal to me. But I use an M8 now and again, and Android has some nice characteristics and features. And yes - the many different devices in different price ranges? Nice. Android in a way opened up smartphones to the masses. One could also say: Android Tesco-fied communications technology. Good or bad?

There is no "best' anything for any 2 people. Unless 'you' are full of bull... or lazy. Or you get a kick out of manipulating people. Or you haven't got much else to talk about.

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14 comments

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 10, 2014 at 19:18

OMG... hahahahahaha....

You can do things on Android phones out-of-the-box that iPhones can only do via jailbreak.
Many Android phones have an SD card slot. Handy. However - Google make it harder and harder to make good use of that. So, combined with the fact that many Android phones no longer have SD card slots that advantage is no longer the biggie - especially since 64 and 128GB iPhones are now no longer hard to get.

Anyhoo... Personalisation is another Android advantage - themes, alternative 'UIs', launchers and whatnot. You can change the clock-speed if you root... You can delete or freeze system apps or bloatware that you never use anyways. I like that.

You can sideload apps from other sources than the official stores. That can be handy, but it can also be risky if those apps are malware bait.

There really is more to be said in Android's favour. On the other hand: I have used ALL iPhones and iPads since the first iPhone. I had apps crash about - um.... never (except for when iOS 7.1 came with those naughty bugs. But Android updates have been messy buggers, too...).
iTunes. You cannot access iTunes and the Apple appstore from an Android phone. Bizarre
point? Nope. Not if you own many Apple apps. Not when the apps quality and availability is more important than 'open-ness'. iOS still gets many games and apps first and exclusively.
Yep...that Android phone may have a 100% unique, personalised UI and an SD card. It still won't EVER get Garageband. It still will have a worse Twitter client than your iPhone.
And even if that Android phone is the newest and bestest, there may be issues because apps are not optimised fast enough. When LG launched the G3 with its qHD screen, many early adopters found their favourite apps weren't working or looked funny...
That problem comes with 'open-ness' and an excess of 15,000 unique devices versus 10 or so iDevices that usually get the same update at the same time...

But yes... in many ways Android is "better". Only "better" is relative. When I use my phone, it's more important that whatever app I use works, and works well. I like to play with themes and so on. I have flashed ROMs and rooted quite a few Android phones. There is an M8 and a Galaxy Cam in my household. But at the end of the day, beyond personalisation, I also value consistency, reliability.

Ask your Android fan-ny friends how they do a COMPLETE iTunes style backup. A backup that really backs up EVERYTHING. So that their replacement phone is just right within minutes of opening that box. Ask them! Not happening.

All OSs have advantages and weaknesses. I actually suspect there is a secret 'agreement' within the industry! We KNOW, big companies have illegal deals - so they do not headhunt from another. FACT. I assume, the big players make sure nobody comes out with THE perfect device. They are technically possible. But, taste aside: if someone launches the 'perfect' device with the 'perfect' OS, then what's to push as the next big thing next month? And if a device is perfect, than any other company can only counter with the same 'perfect' thing... boom. Universe explodes. Capitalism crumbles (probably in that order, too).

I know Android fans who moved to iOS or WP and they are happy now. I know Apple fans who moved to Android. For various reasons. Some are happy now, some aren't. I'd like iOS, Android, WP, and BB10 features in my next phone. Not happening. I HATE...I mean HATE Microsoft. But WP 8.1.xxxxx has features and a level of 'smoothness' that put Android, BB, and iOS to shame. I can say that... I despise Brin/Schmidt et al...The Google World Order doesn't appeal to me. But I use an M8 now and again, and Android has some nice characteristics and features. And yes - the many different devices in different price ranges? Nice. Android in a way opened up smartphones to the masses. One could also say: Android Tesco-fied communications technology. Good or bad?

There is no "best' anything for any 2 people. Unless 'you' are full of bull... or lazy. Or you get a kick out of manipulating people. Or you haven't got much else to talk about.

Nbaker  Dec. 10, 2014 at 21:20

OMG... hahahahahaha....

You can do things on Android phones out-of-the-box that iPhones can only do via jailbreak.
Many Android phones have an SD card slot. Handy. However - Google make it harder and harder to make good use of that. So, combined with the fact that many Android phones no longer have SD card slots that advantage is no longer the biggie - especially since 64 and 128GB iPhones are now no longer hard to get.

Anyhoo... Personalisation is another Android advantage - themes, alternative 'UIs', launchers and whatnot. You can change the clock-speed if you root... You can delete or freeze system apps or bloatware that you never use anyways. I like that.

You can sideload apps from other sources than the official stores. That can be handy, but it can also be risky if those apps are malware bait.

There really is more to be said in Android's favour. On the other hand: I have used ALL iPhones and iPads since the first iPhone. I had apps crash about - um.... never (except for when iOS 7.1 came with those naughty bugs. But Android updates have been messy buggers, too...).
iTunes. You cannot access iTunes and the Apple appstore from an Android phone. Bizarre
point? Nope. Not if you own many Apple apps. Not when the apps quality and availability is more important than 'open-ness'. iOS still gets many games and apps first and exclusively.
Yep...that Android phone may have a 100% unique, personalised UI and an SD card. It still won't EVER get Garageband. It still will have a worse Twitter client than your iPhone.
And even if that Android phone is the newest and bestest, there may be issues because apps are not optimised fast enough. When LG launched the G3 with its qHD screen, many early adopters found their favourite apps weren't working or looked funny...
That problem comes with 'open-ness' and an excess of 15,000 unique devices versus 10 or so iDevices that usually get the same update at the same time...

But yes... in many ways Android is "better". Only "better" is relative. When I use my phone, it's more important that whatever app I use works, and works well. I like to play with themes and so on. I have flashed ROMs and rooted quite a few Android phones. There is an M8 and a Galaxy Cam in my household. But at the end of the day, beyond personalisation, I also value consistency, reliability.

Ask your Android fan-ny friends how they do a COMPLETE iTunes style backup. A backup that really backs up EVERYTHING. So that their replacement phone is just right within minutes of opening that box. Ask them! Not happening.

All OSs have advantages and weaknesses. I actually suspect there is a secret 'agreement' within the industry! We KNOW, big companies have illegal deals - so they do not headhunt from another. FACT. I assume, the big players make sure nobody comes out with THE perfect device. They are technically possible. But, taste aside: if someone launches the 'perfect' device with the 'perfect' OS, then what's to push as the next big thing next month? And if a device is perfect, than any other company can only counter with the same 'perfect' thing... boom. Universe explodes. Capitalism crumbles (probably in that order, too).

I know Android fans who moved to iOS or WP and they are happy now. I know Apple fans who moved to Android. For various reasons. Some are happy now, some aren't. I'd like iOS, Android, WP, and BB10 features in my next phone. Not happening. I HATE...I mean HATE Microsoft. But WP 8.1.xxxxx has features and a level of 'smoothness' that put Android, BB, and iOS to shame. I can say that... I despise Brin/Schmidt et al...The Google World Order doesn't appeal to me. But I use an M8 now and again, and Android has some nice characteristics and features. And yes - the many different devices in different price ranges? Nice. Android in a way opened up smartphones to the masses. One could also say: Android Tesco-fied communications technology. Good or bad?

There is no "best' anything for any 2 people. Unless 'you' are full of bull... or lazy. Or you get a kick out of manipulating people. Or you haven't got much else to talk about.


Very well put, it's good to see a genuinely helpful & balanced opinion when it comes to mobile phones these days. I didn't even ask the question, but Thanks! :)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 10, 2014 at 21:23

You're welcome :)
Usually I'm called unbalanced :D ;)

Dougal1709  Dec. 11, 2014 at 09:17

OMG... hahahahahaha....

You can do things on Android phones out-of-the-box that iPhones can only do via jailbreak.
Many Android phones have an SD card slot. Handy. However - Google make it harder and harder to make good use of that. So, combined with the fact that many Android phones no longer have SD card slots that advantage is no longer the biggie - especially since 64 and 128GB iPhones are now no longer hard to get.

Anyhoo... Personalisation is another Android advantage - themes, alternative 'UIs', launchers and whatnot. You can change the clock-speed if you root... You can delete or freeze system apps or bloatware that you never use anyways. I like that.

You can sideload apps from other sources than the official stores. That can be handy, but it can also be risky if those apps are malware bait.

There really is more to be said in Android's favour. On the other hand: I have used ALL iPhones and iPads since the first iPhone. I had apps crash about - um.... never (except for when iOS 7.1 came with those naughty bugs. But Android updates have been messy buggers, too...).
iTunes. You cannot access iTunes and the Apple appstore from an Android phone. Bizarre
point? Nope. Not if you own many Apple apps. Not when the apps quality and availability is more important than 'open-ness'. iOS still gets many games and apps first and exclusively.
Yep...that Android phone may have a 100% unique, personalised UI and an SD card. It still won't EVER get Garageband. It still will have a worse Twitter client than your iPhone.
And even if that Android phone is the newest and bestest, there may be issues because apps are not optimised fast enough. When LG launched the G3 with its qHD screen, many early adopters found their favourite apps weren't working or looked funny...
That problem comes with 'open-ness' and an excess of 15,000 unique devices versus 10 or so iDevices that usually get the same update at the same time...

But yes... in many ways Android is "better". Only "better" is relative. When I use my phone, it's more important that whatever app I use works, and works well. I like to play with themes and so on. I have flashed ROMs and rooted quite a few Android phones. There is an M8 and a Galaxy Cam in my household. But at the end of the day, beyond personalisation, I also value consistency, reliability.

Ask your Android fan-ny friends how they do a COMPLETE iTunes style backup. A backup that really backs up EVERYTHING. So that their replacement phone is just right within minutes of opening that box. Ask them! Not happening.

All OSs have advantages and weaknesses. I actually suspect there is a secret 'agreement' within the industry! We KNOW, big companies have illegal deals - so they do not headhunt from another. FACT. I assume, the big players make sure nobody comes out with THE perfect device. They are technically possible. But, taste aside: if someone launches the 'perfect' device with the 'perfect' OS, then what's to push as the next big thing next month? And if a device is perfect, than any other company can only counter with the same 'perfect' thing... boom. Universe explodes. Capitalism crumbles (probably in that order, too).

I know Android fans who moved to iOS or WP and they are happy now. I know Apple fans who moved to Android. For various reasons. Some are happy now, some aren't. I'd like iOS, Android, WP, and BB10 features in my next phone. Not happening. I HATE...I mean HATE Microsoft. But WP 8.1.xxxxx has features and a level of 'smoothness' that put Android, BB, and iOS to shame. I can say that... I despise Brin/Schmidt et al...The Google World Order doesn't appeal to me. But I use an M8 now and again, and Android has some nice characteristics and features. And yes - the many different devices in different price ranges? Nice. Android in a way opened up smartphones to the masses. One could also say: Android Tesco-fied communications technology. Good or bad?

There is no "best' anything for any 2 people. Unless 'you' are full of bull... or lazy. Or you get a kick out of manipulating people. Or you haven't got much else to talk about.


If you install the Android SDK, you can do a full backup of the the whole phone as easily as you can on iTunes. Just plug it into the computer and run the backup process.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 11, 2014 at 10:28

Yes, Dougal... How many non-geek hobbyists have the Google SDK? Or would comfortably use it on their first day with their new Android phone which, after all, will likely offer to install HTC Sync or Kies or or or?

Also: how many ordinary consumers will use the commandline tool?
Also: Pre-Android4 far from "everything" is backed up.
You need to consider how people 'work'!? ;)
Also: you haven't backed up an iPhone in a while, have you? :p Or a WP8.x.x device?

But okay: here - how to back-up SOME Android devices using the Android SDK http://www.howtogeek.com/125375/how-to-create-a-full-android-phone-or-tablet-backup-without-rooting-or-unlocking-your-device/

But again, one cannot compare this to the ease of an iTunes backup. In fact, even WP offers more convenient COMPLETE solutions. Also: You can set up a new iPhone COMPLETELY from an older iPhone's backup... etc etc Don't forget, Dougal - I was talking about EASE. Many people NEED to USE their phone. It's not a hobby for them. Not a 'project'... Command line? Java SDK required? Etc etc... You cannot seriously compare that option with an efficient consumer-friendly solution like what iTunes offers. I have no problem without iTunes. For me it's an annoyance for DIFFERENT reasons.... Hardcore geeksters may choose Android, but the vast majority of Android BUYERS are not tech savvy folks. Heck, even jailbreaking is much easier than rooting.
The jailbreak community knows how folks think ;)

Dougal1709  Dec. 11, 2014 at 16:41

You are absolutely right of course. I remember when I first moved from iPhone to Android, I did wonder how to back the phone up and I still think it's something they should offer.

Then again, a large part of the reason that I moved to Android in the first place was to get away from iTunes. NO doubt they've made it better since I had my iPhone 3GS but it annoyed me on a daily basis.

The other reason I would never go back to iPhone is Tasker. If you're a bit of a geek (like me) it is the greatest mobile application ever invented and Apple would never ever allow it on iOS.

It's horses for courses I suppose. I like my phone to be able to do anything I could do on my laptop. I want access to the file system, I want to be able to install things like FolderSync and Tasker to fully automate the device to do whatever I want it to. I also would miss the back button and menu button terribly.

On the other hand, having used the girlfriend's iPad as compared with my Galaxy Tab S, by god it's a smooth and frustration free experience.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 11, 2014 at 16:50

Totally undisagreeable with, Dougal.
iTunes isn't perfect, and a problem with iOS is: when Apple DO f*ck up, it can be bad because there is no workaround...no "also try..."!
When they messed up iOS 7.1 they also messed up Finder and iPhoto sync on 2 Macs I used back then. Mavericks and iOS 7.1 - I literally could not get any photo onto the phone. And sync in general worked poorly then.
I'd like to not rely on iTunes. MS are pretty tighta*sed with WP, but even WP8.1 is friendlier. In fact - and this is the ultimate irony: I find it more comfy to manage a Lumia on a Mac than an iDevice. Ouch!

Umillion  Dec. 12, 2014 at 05:47

Well you can zoom in and out using only one finger on android vanilla... Lol.

And I don't mean the double tap but rather a way that replaces the pinch to zoom.

Just double tap and hold finger on screen and scroll finger up and down and viola... You've zoomed in and out with one finger!

Lol, this isn't a deal breaker obviously but just thought I'd answerer the question.

CTPAHHIK  Dec. 12, 2014 at 08:40

Android phones can drop in value faster than one can down a pint :p

kitechker  Dec. 12, 2014 at 10:06

Android phones can drop in value faster than one can down a pint :p

This is a seriously big myth you know. Android phones are much cheaper in the first place though and you get better contract deals on them than iPhones. To give you an example, the 2 year old iPhone 5 you can sell on a well known auction site for average £200 today, 40% value compared to the original price (£500). On a similar 2 year old android phone, Nexus 4 16gb you can sell for around £125, 43% back compared to the original retail value (£289). I know its just one example when there are tons of android phones but the % you get back tends to be the same for most. Actual values are really meaningless when you take into account your initial investment.
On comparing the 2 OS, I had the iPhone 4 for 2 years and now after switching to android I wouldn't go back but being a techy person that's just my opinion.
However, in terms of a tablet, the iPad just beats everything, the undisputed tablet to have.
To me the whole 'it just works' thing with apple is like 'do as we say, don't ask questions, it works doesn't it?'.
I like the new android slogan 'be together.not the same'

CTPAHHIK  Dec. 12, 2014 at 11:37

Good point. Over 2 year period both depreciate approximately the same.
However, first 6 month Android phones tend to loose the most of their value. Look at all Android flagships and their release/contract prices. You can easily get £60 - £100 off after three month of release.

Btw, best tablet is Surface Pro. It actually does 100% of you want it to do.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 12, 2014 at 12:18

Be together not the same? Is that real? That could be the sign over the entrance to ever psych ward :p

smileyadam  Dec. 12, 2014 at 13:10

The big difference for me is that as a work related productivity tool - Android floors IOS. Want to open almost any file - Android handset will do that - want to edit (fully) a document which came from the Microsoft Suite - again Android does this with ease.

Real biggie - want to receive, open, amend and reattached a document via email - you will end up in a white rage in the IOS ecosystem.

I love the ease and reliability of IOS - but ultimately it feels like a toy - great for games, music, photography in fact most non-work related activities - whereas as a single device solution for my real daily needs - both in and out of work - my android handset, with all its foibles, just works.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 12, 2014 at 13:27

The big difference for me is that as a work related productivity tool - Android floors IOS. Want to open almost any file - Android handset will do that - want to edit (fully) a document which came from the Microsoft Suite - again Android does this with ease.

Real biggie - want to receive, open, amend and reattached a document via email - you will end up in a white rage in the IOS ecosystem.

I love the ease and reliability of IOS - but ultimately it feels like a toy - great for games, music, photography in fact most non-work related activities - whereas as a single device solution for my real daily needs - both in and out of work - my android handset, with all its foibles, just works.


Yes, there is something to it.
Now, it has become a lot easier to deal with non-natively supported file types in iOS - via fileshare etc etc... There ARE many excellent apps such as Goodreader - that beat most Android PDF doc and PDF apps, but yes, it still can feel very work-aroundy.
And yes: when I browse the webs on mobile Safari and I happen upon, say, an .exe - a Win program I'd like to try out later on a PC, why shouldn't I be able to download that file? iOS can't use it? So what? I can later transfer it to a PC, why NOT?

I'd say it's going too far to say, "you can't get work done' on iOS - only play... But Android does make certain "chores" a lot easier.

This is probably a good place to add: USB on-the-go... many Android devices support this, and although Android fans usually fail to credit Nokia, it is a good feature.
Of course: someone else may now come and say, "if you need, really NEED a WORK tablet, you must buy a Surface Pro.... So: it's a matter of needs, wants, priorities. And more proof that there is no "BEST" that suits and fits everyone...

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