"There's almost no reason to buy an Android phone anymore": True or False?
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
iOS 14 is here and it delivered features that used to be in the core of what makes the Android software experience unique: widgets, an app drawer, the ability to switch away from Apple's Safari and Mail apps, custom back tap gestures that allow you to quickly start the Google Assistant to replace Siri in a much more streamlined way. In other words, the walls to the walled garden have started crumbling. And that's a great thing. It means more options, more choice for iOS users.
If you believe in there being "almost no reason to buy an Android phone anymore", what would you say to the person who wants to take long-range zoom photos? The animal lover or bird watcher? Sorry, no iPhone supports that, but the vast Android ecosystem has many options for you: the Huawei P40 Pro Plus comes with a native 10X zoom lens, the Galaxy S20 Ultra can zoom up to 30 times with decent quality, and I can tell you about at least a couple more phones that give you options you simply won't find on iPhones.
Some writers, however, took that to the extreme: InputMag's Raymond Wong argues that there is "almost no reason to buy an Android phone anymore". I get it: such a title sells, and it's in our human nature to love controversy, and have strong feelings about gadgets that we use for hours every day. But more than that, apart from the provocative title, there are many great thoughts in that article. Daring Fireball's John Gruber adds color to this piece with a commentary that says that it feels like Google has lost interest in Android. Google is "bored with Android", Gruber says. And looking at the rather dull Android 11 announcement and the seemingly complete lack of steam in the Google Pixel project, the locomotive that is supposed to show off the best in Android, all of that is kind of true.
There are many reasons to buy an Android phone over an iPhone
But of course, there are many reasons to buy an Android phone over an iPhone. While Android updates are a mess that I have given up the thought Google even attempts to fix anymore, there are some inherent advantages of having the incredible variety and creativity of dozens of phone makers rather than depending on the mercy of just one, Apple.
For example, do you want a budget phone with a good screen? Sorry, the iPhone SE has the same okay-ish LCD screen as the iPhone 8 with those big bezels. The Google ecosystem on the other hand: treat yourself to a Galaxy A51 for nearly half the price, that comes with an awesome bezel-less AMOLED screen with juicy colors. Want a huge screen? There is the Galaxy A71 with an equally amazing display in a larger size.
Or imagine you want a budget phone with a great battery life? The iPhone SE is again your only budget phone option and it comes with a 1,821mAh battery, a size that pales in comparison to the 5,000mAh battery on the Moto G Power, again a phone that costs half as much.
Want fast charging? Sorry, even $1,000 iPhones only support 18 watts and charge up for around an hour and forty minutes. Android phones? The Oppo Find X2 Pro has a 65-watt charger and a full charge takes 39 minutes. Or look at OnePlus phones that continue charging fast while you use the phone, and cost way less.
Sorry, you wanted a fast refresh rate screen for the ultra-smooth experience? You have to wait until Apple implements it. Maybe this, maybe not. On Android? It's been available since 2019 on phones that cost $500.
Having a company that takes care of its ecosystem is great, but it doesn't help the geek who wants a foldable phone that magically transforms into a tablet (cough, Galaxy Fold). Or the artist who draws on their phone and wants a stylus built-in (hello, Galaxy Note!). Are you a power user who wants to easily connect an SSD drive to your phone to transfer files? Android offers that option.
Of course, there are many other reasons why there will always be a reason to buy an Android phone over an iPhone. It's absurd to claim the opposite. There will always be socialism, and there will always be capitalism. There will always be advantages of having an ecosystem carefully controlled and taken care of, but there will also always be advantages of having an open ecosystem, where everyone can contribute more freely.
However, it's true that it feels Google has stopped caring much about Android
What bothers me is not that there is "almost no reason to buy an Android phone anymore". What bothers me is that Google has indeed stopped caring that much.
- Where is that Google smartwatch to augment the ecosystem and give it an expansion and new enthusiasm?
- Where are the exclusive apps that would draw someone to Android, much like Apple does with services like Apple Arcade?
- Where is that Pixel 4a, the much awaited budget super-phone that Google is delaying again and again?
- Where are the moonshots with Android: the Face ID kind of revolution in biometrics, where are the futuristic projects like those AR glasses that Apple is obviously working on?
- And last but not least, when will Google finally handle the Android update mess?
These are valid questions that keep getting swept under the rug for next year, and then next year again, and then next year one more time.