We like a lot about iOS, but it’s not the best option for everyone. Good Android phones are available in many more shapes and sizes than iPhones, and although the best ones cost roughly what an iPhone does, you can buy good ones for under $200 and fantastic ones for less than $400. The Android platform has (and has always had) a problem with prompt, consistent software and security updates, but it’s also more versatile and customizable.
More hardware diversity: The biggest advantage for Android is actually in hardware, not software. Though our guide to the best Android phones recommends fast, well-rounded phones, Android is available on a huge variety of hardware, including options for people who want styluses and bigger screens, fantastic battery life, or even a physical keyboard. And if your preferred phone maker removes a feature you rely on—like a headphone jack or fingerprint sensor—from its newest phone, you can find what you need somewhere else. With iOS, Apple’s choices are your only choices.
Phones at every price: You’ve got more flexibility on price, too. A flagship iPhone costs over $1,000, and even the least expensive iPhone that’s still a safe buy in a given year usually costs over $500. A high-end Android phone from Google or Samsung is similarly expensive, but Google’s $400 Pixel 3a is an exceptional deal, and other great budget Android phones—including a few that will actually get prompt software updates—are available for $200 or less.
More options for customization: If you like having the freedom to customize your computers, tablets, and phones to fit your needs, iOS may not be flexible enough for you. You can change an iPhone’s text size, reorganize your home-screen icons, install third-party keyboards, and add different widgets to the Notification Center and Control Center, but all of Apple’s devices still look and work pretty much the same way. Android offers similar customizations, but also widgets that can sit directly on your home screen and even the option to completely replace that home screen with any number of flexible, customizable application launchers. Android also allows you to choose your own default apps for browsing, checking email, and doing other things, if you prefer not to use the built-in Google apps—iOS offers some workarounds for this, but you still can’t set all apps to open links in Chrome instead of Safari.
More storage options: Although you can’t expand the internal storage of an iPhone—what you buy is what you’re stuck with—many Android phones have a microSD card slot that lets you expand the amount of internal storage available for apps, photos, and movies, and you can use Google Drive space to store everything from photos to documents. Apple’s iCloud service can also be used to offload photos and videos, and iOS offers a few other tricks (like deleting rarely used apps and games without losing your saved data) to save space. But you still can’t add local storage to any iPhone after the fact, and Google’s free Google Drive tier gives you 15 GB of cloud storage for free compared with Apple’s 5 GB.