- iPhones and Android-powered smartphones have competed for market share since 2008.
- iOS and Android devices offer a robust and nearly identical app selection, though apps tend to debut on Apple products first.
- When you’re deciding between iOS and Android devices, consider the user interface, hardware, security measures and your investment in the broader Apple or Google ecosystem.
- This article is for business owners who are deciding between an iPhone and an Android phone for professional use.
Apple introduced the iPhone and its underpinning iOS in 2007, and the first Android device hit the market in 2008. Ever since, Apple and Google have been in constant competition for your pocket and wallet. Both companies have leveraged their international, multibillion-dollar brands to sell their devices and become indispensable in users’ personal and professional lives. Deciding between iOS and Android for business use means addressing personal preferences, brand loyalties and device capabilities.
We’ll break down each platform’s security features, hardware, cost and software differences to help you decide which operating system is better for your mobile business device.
If you’re issuing smartphones to employees, you should choose a business smartphone data plan that accommodates your organization’s data needs and budget.
When you’re choosing between an iPhone and Android phone for business use, consider the following factors. The goal is to identify which device best fits your company’s specific needs.
Tech ecosystem factors to consider when choosing iOS or Android
Comparing iOS and Android devices is similar to comparing Macs and PCs. Unless you must perform a specific task that only one operating system can accomplish, your current tech ecosystem may be a deciding factor.
In addition to iPhones and Android phones, Apple and Google control a broad range of online resources and tools. If you’re already enmeshed in one company’s products, it makes sense to stick with that operating system for your smartphone, since they tend to integrate seamlessly.
For example, if you have a Mac and an Apple Watch and use Apple’s iCloud to store documents and images, an iPhone may be the right business smartphone choice. On the other hand, if you sync your calendars on Google Calendar, use an Android-based business smartwatch and rely on Google Play Music to get your tunes, an Android phone may suit you better.
Usage considerations for iOS vs. Android
How you intend to use your smartphone should factor into your device choice. For example, if you’re a freelance videographer who purchased a high-end iMac to render videos, an iPhone would be an excellent addition to your tech tools.
However, if you work with a Chromebook and need an affordable device that facilitates your constant multitasking, you’ll likely be pleased with an Android phone. Carefully determine the tasks you want to complete with your mobile device so you can uncover which has the capabilities that best match your needs.
As of fall 2023, iPhones made up nearly 57 percent of U.S. smartphones, according to Statcounter, while approximately 43 percent were Android devices. However, Android dominates the worldwide market, with Statcounter finding that Google’s OS holds almost 70 percent of the global market share.
Hardware factors to consider when choosing between iOS and Android
When Apple and Google first started selling phones, their hardware designs were drastically different. iPhones were sleek, while early Android devices sported a more functional look.
However, these days, iPhones and Android phones have similar looks and options, including larger, high-definition screens. Both offer excellent battery life and capacity; it’s now standard to find iOS and Android flagship and budget phones sporting batteries with more than 2,000 milliamp-hours (mAh), which can allow for an entire day of use or more without needing a charge.
Here’s a look at each company’s top-of-the-line offerings:
- Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max: If you want a flagship device with all the bells and whistles, consider the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This stunner runs iOS 17 and sports 8GB of RAM, a 4,441-mAh battery, a 6.7-inch OLED screen, a 48-megapixel main camera, and 12-megapixel wide and telephoto lenses.
- Google’s Pixel 8 Pro: Over in the Android camp, it’s a little harder to pick out a flagship device, since so many manufacturers use the operating system. If you want to go with Google’s top device, that would be the Pixel 8 Pro, which runs Android 14 on a 6.7-inch OLED screen. The Pixel 8 Pro has 12GB of RAM, three rear cameras — 50 megapixels wide, 48 megapixels ultrawide and 48 megapixels telephoto — and a 5,050-mAh battery.
Also consider these hardware factors:
- Storage: One advantage Android phones have over iPhones is the potential to expand the storage capacity. While many new devices have hard drives that start at 128GB, some Android smartphones allow users to increase the phone’s storage by adding microSD cards. While it’s not a hugely critical feature, it’s still a noteworthy option. Also note that while Apple devices don’t feature expandable storage, the 15 Pro Max has 256GB of storage.
- Gaming capacity: Because smartphones are now ubiquitous and the parts have gotten cheaper over time, even midlevel phones can handle today’s games. With Google Tensor G3 CPUs in Google’s Pixel line and the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro, those devices represent the top of the line for sheer processing power.
If you have a retail business, you can turn your iPad into a POS system by adding a credit card reader and a POS app to process payments and manage sales through the Apple device.
iOS and Android security measures to consider
Strong security is crucial for keeping your work phone locked down and your sensitive business data safe. So which platform is more secure: Android or iOS? The answer isn’t clear-cut.
iOS device security overview
There are two main advantages of iOS security:
- Apple’s control of the ecosystem: Apple tightly controls its entire ecosystem, including the hardware, firmware and software. The company closely screens every app in its App Store, significantly reducing the risk of buggy or malicious apps.
- Legacy support: iOS devices have excellent legacy support; older iPhones get firmware and security updates years after their release. This means your veteran device is guaranteed to run the latest software with the newest security fixes.
Android device security overview
The Android platform suffers from device fragmentation; there are dozens of devices from different manufacturers that rely on the Android operating system. This leads to some potential problems.
- Slower upgrades: Each device ships with a specific Android version, and it’s usually not the latest and greatest. Many devices eventually get upgraded to the newest Android version. However, it can take months after the software upgrade launches, and the time frame may vary among carriers.
- Potential security holes: Android’s upgrade structure means security patches must be dispatched across a much wider range of hardware and software. That could leave a greater potential for security holes to go unchecked. On the plus side, Android’s open-source nature means security holes are generally discovered and patched rapidly. And as of Android 10 (released in 2019), Google began offering an OS-level option for encryption on some devices.
Over the years, Google has taken these steps to make its apps more secure:
- App permissions: Apps now ask for individual permissions — for example, to access your phone’s camera — only when those functions are needed. This way, you don’t have to approve a slew of permissions before installing the app.
- Automatic updates: Apps have been able to update automatically in the background since Android Nougat, released in 2016.
Daily security on both platforms
For daily security options, you’ll find biometric sensors on all modern iPhone models and most Android phones. A fingerprint reader or face scanner is a nice perk for workers who want to keep their smartphone locked down without fussing with a password or PIN every time they use their device.
Which platform is more secure?
Android and iOS take very different approaches to security, so which is better? The answer is that both platforms offer strong security most of the time. Occasionally, security vulnerabilities are discovered in one or the other, making that platform a bit less secure until the problem is fixed. Overall, though, business users should feel comfortable using either platform.
iOS and Android app factors to consider
There was a time when iOS had this category in the bag, with Apple’s App Store renowned for its app quality and selection. However, the Google Play store has come a long way and now boasts a robust app selection. Additionally, nearly every major app has iOS and Android versions.
Here are a few app factors to consider:
- App availability: Apps still tend to arrive in Apple’s App Store first; developers can more easily tailor their apps to iPhones and iPads because the hardware is more controlled. Android app development, by contrast, has to consider a wide range of screen resolutions and technical specifications because the platform is available to many manufacturers.
- App quality: There was a time when any app developer could easily upload their apps to the Google Play store, which often led to subpar or potentially dangerous apps. Bad actors found it easier to install malware on Android phones than on more closely controlled iPhones. Google has worked to fix this issue by checking apps for malware before approval, but bad and poorly developed apps still exist.
- Business app availability: Most crucially for small business owners, most of the major productivity applications — such as Microsoft’s OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint — are available on both platforms. The App Store also boasts myriad iPhone business apps, including iPhone business contact management apps, while Google Play offers Android business apps, Android apps for IT professionals, Android email apps and more.
You also may want to check out the best business phone systems and see which have reasonably priced packages that feature apps with robust mobile functionality.
iOS and Android user interface aspects to consider
If a device’s user interface is important to you, you’ll be pleased to know that both Apple and Google systems are highly user-friendly. Previously, iOS may have had a slight edge over Android, but recent versions of Google’s operating system have improved significantly. In most cases, your phone will be snappy in response to your screen gestures and taps.
- When to choose iOS: If you want a more straightforward and consistent experience across multiple devices, iOS is the right choice.
- When to choose Android: If you want a more customizable experience aimed at “power users,” Android is more your speed. Android users can customize nearly everything about their user experience and organize their app screens more freely. They can also transform the operating system’s look with different launchers. You can even choose new default apps for specific functions — something Apple and its suite of programs don’t allow.
Both platforms also incorporate helpful voice-activated personal assistants.
- Siri on iOS: Apple’s assistant lets you save notes and reminders, draft emails and fetch driving directions, among dozens of other tasks.
- Google Assistant: Google Assistant (called Google Now on older versions of Android) offers a similar feature set as well as integration with smart home gadgets and IFTTT.
Ultimately, the best user interface for you is a matter of personal preference.
In addition to Siri and Google Assistant, AI assistants include Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. While Alexa is available on Amazon’s devices, Cortana is no longer supported on iOS and Android devices.
Price factors to consider in iOS vs. Android
Price is one of the most significant considerations in the decision between an iPhone and an Android phone.
- High-end device costs: With Android phones, you have myriad options at a range of prices. On the higher end, Google’s Pixel 8 Pro starts at $999, which is a substantial sum but less expensive than the $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max.
- Low-end device costs: The lower-end iPhone 15 costs $799, while budget-conscious purchasers can pick up the large and function-rich Moto G Stylus for $199. Luckily, prior generations of iOS and Android phones are still serviceable and usually cost several hundred dollars less.
Remember that Android also has a massive range of smartphones available from a broad swath of manufacturers, so prices vary wildly. In contrast, in Apple’s strictly controlled ecosystem, there’s no competition on device prices.
Choosing the right device for your business
When you’re choosing a smartphone and operating system, evaluate how secure the device makes you feel and how helpful it will be to you in your small business.
The iOS-powered iPhone is a stellar choice for Apple fans who use Mac computers, because the devices integrate seamlessly. Plus, iPhones are extremely polished and easy to use, with strong security and a wide app selection. But Android is a standout pick for users who want more hardware options. Android phones come in more shapes and sizes than iPhones, so you can purchase precisely the device you need. Furthermore, budget-priced Android phones are more affordable than any iOS-powered device on the market.
In the end, both iOS and Android devices are extremely business-friendly. It’s just a matter of which one better meets your unique business needs.
Andrew Martins and Brett Nuckles contributed to this article.