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Android vs iPhone: Which is better for your wallet?

The Takeaways

  • iPhones® are easier to use and hold resale value but cost more to buy upfront
  • Android phones are more varied and customizable but devices generally cost less
  • Many essential apps for mobile banking, including Varo, are now available for platforms

Ask someone whether they prefer an iPhone or an Android smartphone and you’ll likely get an impassioned earful.

Both types of devices have devoted fan followings, with each team declaring they will never switch sides. They both have comparable capabilities, including large displays and eye-popping cameras, and they both offer similar advances in technology, including storage up to 512BG and voice-driven smart assistants.

Experts say the iPhone vs. Android debate boils down to culture, lifestyle, and finances.

varo for android“I think a lot of it comes into the open-source versus closed philosophy,” said Ash Turner, CEO of BankMyCell.com. “People love the comfort of the Apple® ecosystem, they see it as simplicity…and for the most part, it really is great. But where Apple can be looked at as fairly cold from the outside, Android seems so much more open and fun with all the customization available and integration with Google.”

Two camps of users

Kathie Steinert, a retired teacher in Connecticut, is a devoted iPhone user.

“I have everything Apple so it just makes sense to go with the iPhone. I’ve never had any issues with either my phone or my computer,” she said. “Yes, they are expensive, but I am comfortable with the operation and it is worth it to me… I like the way it works and I understand how to operate it, so I am happy.”

Nikki Harris, a small business owner in Florida, said she’ll never give up her Android. She launched her online pet boutique from her Android phone and used it exclusively for more than a year before getting a laptop as her business grew.

“I can send and receive faxes, print from it to a Bluetooth portable printer, scan receipts and turn them into PDFs, sign and return tax documents,” said Harris, who currently uses a Samsung Note 8. “I could go on and on.”

A recent survey by PC Magazine found that 71% of smartphone users would never consider switching from their preferred operating system. But of those who did switch, 18% went from Android to Apple’s iOS and 11% switched in the opposite direction, from iOS to Android.

The biggest motivating factor in Apple’s favor is user-friendliness, with 47% of people who switched from Android saying that Apple’s iOS offered a better user experience, compared to 30% of iOS-to-Android users who reported a better experience.

“People think it’s a better user experience to have iOS, and that’s probably borne out by friends and family who have one who says ‘Oh, if you had this, we could talk on iMessage and we wouldn’t get charged for all these SMS messages,’” said Eric Griffith, features editor at PC Magazine.

Here’s what you should know about both if you’re trying to decide what platform to use.

Android devices are less expensive than iPhones

Android’s biggest selling point is, quite literally, it’s selling point.

Of the people who switched from iOS, nearly 30% said Android phones were better priced, compared to just 11% of users who switched from Android to iOS.

The price point is where Android will beat iOS every time.

“The Samsung Note 9 has a lower U.S. starting price at $999 compared with the iPhone XS’s $1,099,” Turner said. “You would also be getting 128GB for the Note 9 vs 64GB storage size for the iPhone XS Max.”

While there are many Android options to the Samsung, they are far and away the Android leader, Griffith said, and their lower prices may not beat out iPhones for too much longer.

“Samsungs are getting more and more expensive, just like iPhones,” Griffith said. “I think we’ll see the difference in those numbers possibly shrink as people go back and forth more and more in the future.”

Both Apple and Samsung have high-end phones out right now — the iPhone XS and XS Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — that are retailing at and above $1,000. 

“To get a real deal, you want to go back a generation,” Griffith said. “If you really want to save money you go back two years.”

The reason iPhones are still more expensive than Androids, even when bought used or refurbished, is …

iPhones hold more resale value than Androids

This factor makes iPhones a better financial investment, Turner said.

“iPhones will hold their value much better than Samsung devices, period. Most iPhones will only lose around 30% to 35% of their value in the first year,” he said. “Samsung phones can lose up to 40% of their value in the first six months, so iPhones are a better financial investment.”

There is a trick, however, to getting the most out of your iPhone’s resale value.

“When a new iPhone is released, consumers go nuts wanting to buy a new device,” Turner said. “This can massively influence price depreciation. If you were looking to upgrade your iPhone after a year, we’d recommend selling as soon as possible.”

iPhone updates are faster to market

Both Turner and Griffith note that while Android’s technology is largely on par with iOS, Apple does a better job of getting that tech to its consumers.

“Android has a problem with fragmentation where, of the hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of people who have Android phones, they’re using versions that go all the way back,” Griffith said. “It’s a lot of fragmentation you don’t see on the Apple side because Apple manages to push the operating system updates out to most people and as long as your phone can handle it, they’ve been pretty good about making sure that you get it.”

That means even newer Android phones are already behind iOS.

“The iPhone operates iOS 12, which is the latest version of the Apple OS, whereas the Note 9 is running on Android Oreo which is already outdated,” Turner said.

And there may be one other area noticeable to consumers, where iOS takes the technology lead — Siri. “Many consider it better than Note 9’s Bixby Quick Commands assistant,” Turner said.

Android shoppers have more price points to choose from

With Apple’s closed-system, the company doesn’t allow for many price deviations between retailers when a new phone comes out, Griffith said. But most retailers will take it upon themselves to offer incentives to buy the latest and greatest.

In contrast, there is more price variation when a new Android device comes out.

For example, Samsung’s open-source options give retailers the chance to load up their phones with individualized extras—and offer a wider range of prices. However, Griffith said shoppers need to review carefully those extras as they can either be great or they can gum up the system.

There a number of website and apps you can use to track the most up-to-date cell phone deals, such as Honey or Brad’s Deals.

The final verdict

If you are looking for a high-quality, open-sourced smartphone, albeit one that is a maybe little less fancy and isn’t a status symbol, then an Android should work just fine.

The good news is that many essential apps are available for both operating systems—including an all-mobile no-fee Varo Bank Account.  

If you are already an Apple user, with an existing iPhone or with an iPad or a Mac computer, it makes more sense to stick with iPhone so that all of your apps, passwords, music, photos, and contacts can be shared between your devices.

“I think it’s the coolness factor is just the other thing,” Griffith said of the iPhone culture. “It’s like that whole fear of being left out.”

Sarah Netter is a freelance writer living in New Orleans.

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