iOS or Android? That's a huge and very important question if you’re looking for a new smartphone or tablet, as Apple and Google offer very different experiences for the average consumer. So before you even think about which mobile phone to buy, check out our comprehensive iOS vs Android guide to see which us best for you.
For many years now, fanboys have engaged in bloody online battles - and occasionally violent real-life fights - to decide once and for all which is best: iOS, the operating system used by Apple’s iPhones and iPads, or Google’s Android, as found on almost all of the other big phones out there - including Samsung's Galaxy S7, Google's Pixel phone and lots of other flagships.
iOS vs Android: Do you already own an iPhone/iPad or Android device?
The most obvious deciding factor is how invested you already are in Android or iOS.
If you’ve owned iPhones/iPads or Android phones and tablets in the past then chances are you’ve spent some money on the online stores, on apps, music, movies and so on. You can’t transfer apps between Android and iOS devices, so you’ll need to splash out on a fresh new collection if you do switch. You’ll also have to set up an entirely new account and get used to the different look and feel of your new OS.
Of course it’s perfectly possible to switch from iOS to Android or from Android to iOS - in fact, it’s never been easier - but you should only really swap if you’re sick of your iPhone or Android and really want a change.
iOS vs Android: Hardware choice
If you opt for iOS, then you have a very limited selection of phones and tablets to choose from.
On the phone side, you have the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 or iPhone 6s, or the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 6s Plus. If you want a tablet, you can choose between the dinky 7.9-inch iPad Mini, the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, or the premium and professional iPad Pro (for business and creative users).
Alternatively, if you go for Android instead, you have a wide variety of phones and tablets to choose from. This means you can grab a device that really suits you, whether you’re after something with an excellent and easy-to-use camera, or perhaps a dual-SIM device that can be used for work and personal accounts.
Android phones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with a wide variety of features, so you really can pick your perfect portable pal.
Check out our iOS vs Android mobile devices feature to see which mobile ecosystem is best for premium phones, affordable handsets, family tablets and more.
Read next: Top 10 Android phones you can buy right now
iOS vs Android: Budget
One bonus of having a wide range of Android phones and tablets to choose from is that you don’t have to break the bank either. You can grab Android devices from as little as £50, while £150 will easily net you a smooth-running handset with a dependable camera and HD display.
Alternatively, you can splash out on devices that cost over £500 if your wallet is stacked, and you demand top-end specs and premium features.
Apple’s iOS phones and tablets are notoriously expensive, especially when you figure that they don’t come with a memory card slot to expand storage. That means you’ll have to fork up for an iPhone or iPad with more built-in storage if you hope to carry lots of apps and media around.
iOS vs Android: Consistency
Of course, the fact that iOS appears on so few devices is also an advantage in some ways. After all, the experience is consistent across every iOS product, from iPhones to iPads to iPods. Buy one and you'll know exactly how to operate every other Apple mobile phone and tablet.
Android devices on the other hand are all different, sporting tweaked overlays and settings menus and features. So even if you’ve used Android in the past, you may still be unfamiliar with a new Android phone or tablet that you buy - which means learning all over again.
iOS vs Android: Security
If security is an important issue for you, then you may prefer Apple’s iOS. It’s a more closed, secure system than Android, with a carefully monitored apps store. You'll find a lot less viruses floating around - whereas just this past week we've heard of many Android handsets being infected by a fake Super Mario Run download.
While Android as a whole is less secure and apps that you download from Google Play aren’t as closely vetted, generally it's just a case of common sense. Think twice before downloading anything and be aware of phishing scams and you should be fine. Plus, there's plenty of anti-virus software available if you're paranoid.
Plus, on the flip side, Android owners have greater freedom to install what they choose, with support for third-party app stores like Amazon Underground (which offers a strong selection of free apps and games).
Both iOS and Android devices now offer fingerprint sensors and other security measures to keep thieving types out of your personal, private data. You'll also find location tracking features on both ecosystems.
iOS vs Android: Customisation
If you want a simple-to-use device, the iPhone or iPad will likely suit you better. The iOS interface is easy to get to grips with, but also offers smart gesture support and features such as split-screen multi-tasking for more advanced users.
However, it also isn’t as customisable as Android, which allows you to hide away any apps that you don’t use regularly, as well as populate your desktops with widgets. You can even change the entire look and feel of your mobile device, by changing the launcher. It's a great way to freshen up an older device.
Hopefully that’s given you an idea of which mobile OS is best for you, and check out our iOS 10 issues solved feature for more on Apple's devices.