The perfect example of this warped sense of disproportionate insight was the Windows vs. Mac wars of yesteryear. Windows is an operating system. The Mac is a personal computer that uses an operating system. Likewise, today we have Android (an operating system) vs. iPhone (a smartphone). How they are compared smacks of Windows vs. Mac.
It’s Specs, Stupid!
What I’ve always found interesting about such inane comparisons is how far apart the comparison specifications are to comparable specifications. My case in point today comes from ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a retro-grade writer of sorts who specializes in absurd comparisons for fun and profit.
Count ’em. There are six ‘iPhone-beating Android smartphones’ and not one of them has the specification that matters. As with most technology these days, there is hardware, and there is software. A Mac is hardware and software. A Windows PC is software and hardware. So, comparisons are seldom Apples to apples because two items are missing in comparisons.
Likewise, the six Android smartphones that beat iPhone are really just a list of hardware specifications attached to a photo of the each device. There are no comparisons to the various operating systems (not all Androids are created equal), no consideration of price, no reasoning as to why 6GB of RAM does not perform as well as 1GB on an iPhone, no mention of why an Android smartphone with a larger battery does not hold power as long as an iPhone, no detail at all on why a camera with more pixels delivers lesser quality photos, and so on.
Don’t like the iPhone? Don’t worry! There are plenty of Android smartphones that can beat the iPhone at its own game.
There isn’t even a description of what the ‘iPhone’s game‘ is so let’s start there. iPhone is a sweet and unique combination of hardware, software, and ecosystem, the latter of which means applications, cloud services, sync capability, et al. And nowhere in the six pages of photos and hardware specifications are any of those very important items addressed or compared.
The smartphones are not compared to anything, they’re listed in much the same way a list would be created if each manufacturer gave ZDNet or its writer an equal amount of money.
Samsung Galaxy S7 – nice hardware; still runs Android much the same way as a $200 Android smartphone
OnePlus 3 – gobs of RAM, USB-C, and a derivative of Android called OxygenOS (for differentiation)
Google Nexus 6P – not actually made by Google
HTC One M9 – the name is catchy, the hardware is beautiful, still runs Android but Lollipop (old)
Sony Zperia Z5 Compact – waterproof; except when it’s not; nice looking in a Nintendo kinda way
Motorola Moto G – old everything but it’s less than a year old; but beats iPhone (somehow; it’s unclear)
These six Android smartphones have hardware that ranges from worse or less than any iPhone 6, 6s, Plus, or SE, to more than what Apple includes yet performance isn’t better; just different specifications. What they are is obvious. iPhone knockoffs with different specifications, but nowhere in the six pages of comparisons is there a mention of how or what each model does to beat Apple’s iPhone at its own game, or even a sentence or a paragraph as to what that game is.
What the hell kind of comparison is that?
What Is An iPhone, Anyway?
An iPhone– whatever new model Apple is selling today– is a unique blend of hardware, software, and ecosystem so when comparing six Android-based smartphones to Apple’s flagship product you would think said comparison would go beyond a simple list of brochure bullet points and get right to the meat of what a smartphone is. Hardware, software, and ecosystem. So, why not mention two of the three components that set the iPhone apart from the iPhone knockoffs that use Android?
Could it be because iPhones last longer and are worth more in resale than any Android smartphone? Could it be that iPhones are more secure than Android smartphones and that would put a harsh on the bullet point list of hardware specs? Could it be that Adrian Kingsley-Hughes was sick that day so his mother phoned it in for him? Could it be that everyone knows iPhone usability tops Android, or that most Android smartphone users treat the device as a feature phone with a big screen, while iPhone users actually use their devices the way Apple intended– as a very smart smartphone?
Whatever the reason there is no mention of what Apple’s iPhone’s game is or how Android smartphones are better at it, one thing is sure, features without benefits and conflated comparisons are the new paradigm in technology reviews these days.