A big new iPhone is set to launch soon, and iOS is due for a major update, in the form of iOS 8. But why wait? All the features coming with those two releases are already available on Android smartphones. The iPhone is an excellent business phone, but in many ways it's playing catchup to Android. If you're looking for a new work phone, here are five big ways that Android beats iOS.
Want a smartphone with a huge screen, or one with killer battery life? What if you're pining for a specific software feature, such as always-listening voice commands? Android gives you the option to pick the business phone that's right for you from dozens of options, whether it's the latest flagship device, a dirt-cheap budget phone or something in between.
In comparison, Apple's selection is pretty sparse. You can currently purchase three different iPhone models with varying levels of power and pixel density. There's the flagship iPhone 5s; the colorful, mid-range iPhone 5c; and the last-generation iPhone 4s. The 5s and 5c both feature the same, cramped, 4-inch (10.2 centimeters) display, with the iPhone 4s offering a pitifully tiny 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) screen. The iPhone 5s offers extra features such as a slimmer build and a fingerprint scanner, but you still don't have many options when you're picking up an iPhone.
Bigger, swappable batteries
What good are great features if your smartphone is always dead? The iPhone 5s features a small battery that offers below-average battery life. In tests involving continuous Web browsing, this iPhone lasted a little under six hours. That means the only options for iPhone users are to scramble for the nearest power outlet or add on a bulky battery case.
If longevity is a priority for you, Android gives you better options. For starters, you can pick a smartphone that offers super-long battery life out of the box; the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 lasts for an incredible 14 hours and 45 minutes, for example, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 gives you 11 hours and 15 minutes. And many Android phones let you swap out the battery when it starts to wear out, or replace it with an extended battery. Battery life that long is especially valuable for business users who need their smartphones to last through the end of the workday.
Google Now beats Siri
Apple introduced Siri in 2012 as the world's first voice-activated digital assistant on a smartphone, and she's still going strong as a great productivity booster for iPhone users. But these days, Google Now— Google's own smartphone assistant — is the more versatile service.
Google Now combines voice commands with automated alerts. For example, it can monitor your calendar and Gmail accounts for information about upcoming business trips, then notify you if your flight is delayed. Another handy alert lets you know when traffic is bad on your regular commute route. Siri can't push alerts to you at all.
And Google Now beats Siri in voice commands, too. Newer Android phones make the service much more useful by letting you activate the voice-command prompt with your hands free by saying a phrase such as "OK, Google." And the Open Mic+ app lets you add the feature to any smartphone running Android version 4.3 or higher. Activating Siri requires you to press and hold the Home button on your iPhone, so you're less likely to use those voice commands when you really need them: when your hands are full or when you're driving.
If you use your smartphone for work, you probably need to store and access important files on the go. Android makes it easy to manage your files right on your phone; just install a file explorer app to browse through your smartphone's hard drive. That makes it easy to locate, copy, move and rename your files. If you want even more control, just plug your Android phone into your desktop PC to browse your files and folders like you would with a USB flash drive.
Good luck wrangling your files in iOS. Apple's operating system hides the file system from you, so the only way to view a particular type of file is by loading it in its appropriate app. Plugging your iPhone into your computer lets you view your photos, but not much else. Apple's system is simple and easy to use, but people who want more control over their devices may be unsatisfied with the system's closed-off nature.
To run a successful small business, you must be able to do two things at once. Many Android phones are up to the task, with more models getting the ability to run multiple apps at the same time. For instance, most Samsung smartphones feature Multi Window mode, which lets you launch and use two apps in a split-screen view. LG and Acer are adding similar functionality to their devices. That ability comes in handy when you want to use the calculator or perform a quick Web search while managing your email inbox, for example. You can't replicate that kind of multitasking on the iPhone; Apple's OS limits you to one app on screen, period.