- iPhones and Android-powered smartphones have competed for market share since 2008 with Google’s Android OS launch.
- iOS and Android devices offer a robust and nearly identical app selection, though apps tend to debut on iOS first.
- The deciding factors between iOS and Android devices for business are a user’s preference and investment in the broader Apple or Google ecosystem.
- This article is for business phone users 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 ecosystem’s security features, hardware, cost and software differences to help you decide which platform is better for your mobile business device.
FYI: If you’re issuing smartphones to employees, you should choose a business smartphone data plan that accommodates your business’s data needs and budget.
When you’re choosing an iPhone or Android phone for business use, consider the following factors:
- Your current tech ecosystem
- How you’ll use the device
- App selection
- User interface
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, respectively, 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 best.
Usage considerations for iOS vs. Android
How you intend to use your smartphone may 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.
Did you know?: As of April 2022, iPhones made up nearly 58% of U.S. smartphones, compared with 42% for Android devices. However, Android dominates the worldwide market, with almost 72% of the global market share, compared with iOS’ 28%.
Hardware factors to consider when choosing between iOS and Android
When Apple and Google first started selling phones, the 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 13 Pro Max. If you want a flagship device with all the bells and whistles, consider the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This stunner runs iOS 15 and sports 6GB of RAM, a 4,352-mAh battery, a 6.7-inch OLED screen and three 12-megapixel rear cameras.
- Google’s Pixel 6 Pro. Over in the Android camp, it’s a little harder to pick out a flagship device, since so many manufacturers use the Android OS. If you want to go with Google’s top device, that would be the Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 6 Pro runs Android 12 on a 6.7-inch OLED screen. The Pixel 6 Pro has 12GB of RAM, three rear cameras – 50 megapixels wide, 12 megapixels ultrawide and 48 megapixels telephoto – and a 5,003-mAh battery.
Also consider these hardware factors:
- Storage. One advantage Android phones have over iPhones is the potential to expand storage. 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 important feature, it’s still a noteworthy option.
- 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 CPUs in Google’s Pixel line and the A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 13, those devices represent the top of the line for sheer processing power.
Tip: 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.
iOS and Android security measures to consider
Strong security is crucial for keeping your work phone locked down. So which platform is more secure: Android or iOS? The answer isn’t so clear-cut.
iOS device security overview
There are two main advantages of iOS security:
- Apple’s control of the ecosystem. Apple tightly controls the entire ecosystem, including the hardware, firmware and software. The company closely screens every app in its App Store, significantly reducing the danger 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 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. 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, but it can take months after the software upgrade launches and may vary among carriers.
- Potential security holes. Android’s upgrade model 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 steps to make its apps more secure:
- App permissions. Apps now ask for individual permissions – say, 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 power on their devices.
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.
Tip: Looking to keep work messages secure? Check out the five best free secure messaging apps for business that work for both iOS and Android.
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 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 at Apple’s App Store first because developers can easily tailor their apps to iPhones and iPads, as the hardware is more controlled. Android app development, by contrast, has to take a wide range of screen resolutions and technical specifications into account because the platform is available to any manufacturer.
- App quality. There was a time when any app developer had easy access to upload their apps to the Google Play store, which often led to subpar or potentially dangerous apps making their way onto phones. 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 importantly for small business owners, most of the major productivity applications – such as Microsoft’s excellent 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.
iOS and Android user interface aspects to consider
If the user interface is important to you, you’ll be pleased to know that both systems are highly user-friendly. Previously, iOS may have eked out 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 can organize their apps screens more freely. They can also transform the operating system’s look with different launchers. You can also 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 like the Echo Dot and IFTTT.
Ultimately, which platform offers the best user interface is a matter of personal preference.
Did you know?: In addition to Siri and Google Assistant, AI assistants include Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. You can download Cortana for Android and iOS, while Alexa is available on Amazon’s devices.
Budget factors to consider in iOS vs. Android
Price is perhaps one of the most significant considerations in the choice 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 6 Pro starts at $899, which is a substantial sum but less expensive than the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s $1,099 price tag.
- Low-end device costs: The lower-end iPhone 13 mini costs $699, while budget-conscious purchasers can pick up the large and function-rich Moto G Stylus for $299. 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. On the other hand, 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, determine how the device makes you feel and how helpful it will be to you in your small business.
The iOS-powered iPhone is an excellent choice for Apple fans who use Mac computers because the devices integrate seamlessly. Plus, iPhones are extremely polished and easy-to-use devices with strong security and a wide app selection.
Android, on the other hand, is a good 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. Plus, budget-priced Android phones are more affordable than any iOS-powered device on the market.
Andrew Martins and Brett Nuckles contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.