For individuals who want to buy a new mobile phone, the question of whether to get an Android phone or iPhone usually comes up. But an even bigger issue is what the distinctions between these phones are, and do they make any difference?

Can iPhone apps be used on Android phones and vice versa? How can you tell an Android phone from an Apple phone? Are iPhones better than Android phones or the other way around?

If these questions concern you, we’ll take a brief tour and investigate what Android phones and Apple phones do and don’t do.

Enter the iPhone
It’s safe to say that before Apple introduced its iPhone to the world in June 2007, mobile phones were in a bit of a rut. Virtually all cell phones looked and operated the same way. But with the advent of the iPhone, the playing field was changed forever, and Apple’s ground breaking device remains one of the most popular smartphones in the world.

Meet iOS
An iPhone runs on an operating system called “iOS.” This powers iPhones and other Apple devices and allows them to run apps, save programs, listen to music, play videos, and a host of other functions too numerous to list. iPhones always have the distinctive Apple logo on the back of the case.

iPhones have access to over 700,000 apps on Apple’s iTunes Store, in addition to a wide range of music, and other downloadable media. iPhone apps can only be used by iPhones and not on Android devices, however many iPhone apps will also work in iPads too.

Easy to use
One of the features of the iPhone is its friendly user interface. Apple takes much of the worry and hassle out of operating a mobile phone by making it simple to understand and operate.

In addition, Apple is widely known for its outstanding customer support and warranty policies. If you encounter any hardware problems, an answer is only one phone call or online form away.

Innovation is an issue
Although the iPhone has proven itself to be a solid performer, some industry pundits have pointed out that it lags behind other mobile phone manufacturers in terms of advanced features or software innovation.

This was not so when the iPhone first was released, but subsequent years have given Apple’s competition time to not only catch up, but surpass the iPhone in various ways.

Say hello to Android
Apple’s number one competitor in the cell phone market is Android. In contrast to Apple, where it is the sole manufacturer of iPhones, Android phones are made by virtually every phone maker in the world. The reason for this is the Android operating system—it can be used at no charge through Google Inc. by anyone so any manufacture can produce an Android phone.

The Android operating system was introduced in 2007, the same year as the iPhone. Although earlier versions of the OS were buggy and somewhat unstable, the Android operating system has improved vastly over the years and has become a solid performer for mobile phones and tablets.

Lots of apps too
When the Android operating system first arrived, the number of apps or programs for it was relatively small compared to what Apple offered. But the Google Play Store now has over 700,000 apps. Although Android apps and Apple apps are not compatible, some of the most popular programs are often offered in both “flavors.”

Cutting edge
Because Android is open-sourced or free to use by anyone, this operating system is often customized or reconfigured to what a particular phone manufacturer wants it to do. As a result, special features can be plugged into Android to make it more cutting edge and innovative.

Easy to use too
Android phones come in all sorts of different configurations from simple ones to high end smartphones such as the HTC One or Samsung’s Galaxy S4. The user interface is simple to use and people who have used an iPhone or Android phone can easily adapt to each operating system without much bother.

Which one?
Apple iPhones have become a status symbol of sorts with some people, and the mystique of the device is legendary. People who own iPhones are happy with its operations and the recognition it brings. But as a smartphone, it offers solid performance and features. Apple stands solidly behind their products.

Android phones have come a long way and seem to draw in people who want cutting edge technology with lots of power and features. Because there are so many Android phone manufacturers, the number of different models is extensive.

There will be a phone that will match almost any need whether it is simple or advanced. Customer support varies from one phone company to another, but overall Android support isn’t nearly as good as Apple’s.

Bottom line: If you want a company that will give you quality customer support, a phone that is easy to use, and has a certain charm to it, go for an iPhone. If you feel comfortable with tech and don’t mind running into occasional inconsistent customer support, go with an Android phone.

Frank Ling is the Technology Examiner for a nationally published online news site. He is a writer, professional photographer, and video editor. One of his all-time favorite jobs was working at a large video game publisher as a QA trainer for testing game software.

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