Before 2007 there really was only one smartphone contender, that was Windows mobile. Sure there were Blackberry, Palm and Symbian but these were never going to become defacto standards. Post 2007 the market is pretty much between iOS and Android with the rest becoming foot-marks in the pages of history. So which is better and which one should you buy.
FragmentationThis is where you have many versions all offering different features. At last count there were in excess of 10,000 different distinct Android models. Right now there are three Apple models, the 2005 iPhone 6S, 2016 iPhone 7 and the budget SE model. This fragmentation leads to real issues as we will see below. Every man and his dog are making Android phones so there is no consistency and often a lot of confusion about what you are really getting in a phone. Also many of these phones are of dubious quality. Most people realise this and so stick to the big three, Samsung, LG and Sony, but mostly Samsung. However fragmentation can lead to other issues so let's move on.
CostThis is the biggest argument from people criticising Apple. Let us take a look at Samsung and Apple. The Samsung flagship model is the S8 which starts at about $1,200, whereas the Apple 7, the equivalent from the Apple stable is $1,269, not a huge difference. I will not list the specific specifications since they are pretty close in most respects. If you go through the range the price per equivalent model is pretty close across the range. Pricing is based on technology and specification, not on branding. To say that you pay a premium for the Apple brand is a common fallacy and not borne out by the facts. The one thing you can say is that you can get very cheap Android phones, however that is what you are buying. A cheap phone. In this day pf phone plans you can still get an iPhone SE at $0 on a two year plan. So cost is a fiction.
FeaturesSince there are so many more Android models there will be this or that model which has a unique or interesting feature. Wireless charging, OLED screen, edge display, rear display, or other feature which are novel but more or less useless.
I recall a discussion I had with an Android fan-boy who was telling me about how wonderful his "edge" display was. This is where the display folds over the edge of the display to show notifications and specially activated side menu features. After extolling its virtues he then told me he turned it off because it was annoying. In fact this is what I found most users do. So this expensive feature is pretty much unused on this model of phone.
This pretty much sums up the situation. Android include features which are often "nice" but pretty much unused. Apple tend to design features for their universal appeal and usability.
There is also the issue of high end features which are limited by the engineering. For instance there have been OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays around for a couple of years now. And as soon as Android phone became available with OLED Apple were criticised for not moving to OLED. The only problem is that OLED is extraordinarily difficult to produce, there is a high failure rate and no one is able to produce the display in quantities that would be required for an iPhone model. The new special edition phone is rumoured to have an OLED display but even that will be in short supply due to the difficulty in obtaining enough displays to meet production requirements.
That phone may have a better camera, this phone may have a better display but what Apple do is develop a phone with features and functions that people actually use and can be produced reliable and in quantity.
The other issue here is fragmentation. When you buy an iPhone you know that you will get every feature, GPS, Fingerprint reader, BT, gyroscope, Stereo sound, quality screen, you have no idea which hardware feature will be missing from your Android.
App StoreThere has been much criticism of Apple over its policy of only allowing apps from its own App Store. This has swings and roundabouts. Android has an app store but so do some of the other manufacturers and there are also a number of third party app stores. However this has not stopped almost every app imaginable from appearing in the Apple App Store and I have never heard of anyone not being able to find the app of their dreams. This does not seem to have actually been an issue. Indeed many of the apps that enhanced the operating environment from third parties on jail broken devices have now made their way into the iOS environment.
Interestingly most Android phones are sold with the same restrictions as Apple but without the security management. The closed Apple environment means that you are a lot less likely to get spam apps, viruses, and exploits in your Apple apps.
UpdatesThe number of Android devices running the latest OS is significantly smaller than Apple. There are several reasons for this. First may Android phones cannot be updated since each manufacturer is responsible for providing updates for each of their phones and most of them do not bother.
Second if you buy a carrier branded phone on a plan then that carrier has to provide the update. This means that you cannot use the manufacturers update even if they provide one and carriers rarely if ever supply updates to their branded phones.
What this means is that you will not get the latest features, for that you need to buy a new phone. Neither will you get bug fixes or security fixes. You are stuck with what you bought.
All apple updates are available to all Apple phones that are compatible. Apple will eventually drop support for older phones but at the writing of this article all Apple phones up to five years old will receive the new iOS currently in development.
Carrier BloatwareOne of the things that Apple was firm about when first negotiating with carriers was that no carrier sold phone could have a customised OS. Up until then all carrier phones on a plan had the OS customised and branded with the carrier and came with additional carrier apps (bloatware) added to the OS that could not be removed.
Many Android phones come with a customised carrier OS and cannot be updated as I said above. In addition there a bunch of carrier apps pre-installed which cannot be removed. This makes each of these phones less stable slower and not able to be updated. Not so with Apple. What you get with an iPhone is an unadulterated iOS installation.
Locked Into AppleMany people criticise Apple for locking you into its own ecosystem. Lightening connector, Apple Store and iTunes. All of this is true but it really is no more than the way you use the Apple iPhone rather than in any way being restricted. You can use whatever peripherals you want, you can use any app you want, it integrates an many ways to most devices so it really is a lot more flexible than many people give it credit for. It interfaces with BT and USB quite seamlessly and if you do need an analogue output then the adaptor is only $12 from Apple and even cheaper on line, but you do get one in the box.
ConclusionRegardless of all of this there will still be people who are just Apple haters, just because. There will be no pleasing them. I have met many and they somehow have an irrational dislike of anything Apple.
As for the rest there is absolutely no reason why you would not buy an iPhone. On every level it is a better ecosystem, more secure, no more expensive, and just as flexible. Apple set the standard for the modern smart phone and continues to do so.