Android smartphones continue to fall behind Apple's iPhone technology at an alarming rate. Here is a quick look at how Apple has coerced Google and their hardware vendors to spend countless billions playing catchup, forced into following Apple’s lead. The Android + 3rd party hardware attempts at deliver powerful, yet simple Apple-like solutions continue to stumble, leaving the duopoly further behind Apple’s superior iPhone hardware + software integration and execution.
Multi-Touch: It was the original 3.5" multi-touch iPhone that sent the entire smartphone market back to the drawing board. Android quickly copied Apple’s home screen, icons, along with look and feel, while Samsung and others dropped physical keyboards, integrating lower quality touch technologies. HTC quickly dropped the idea of pushing the stylus as the best method for smartphone interaction in favor of touch. Fast forward to today and any number of Android smartphones still lack the visceral feel of Apple’s touch technology. A copy is never as good as the original.
Retina Display: The iPhone 4 delivered the advent of the retina display, forever changing the quality of displays for an entire industry. It took several Android vendors up to two years to come close to Apple’s retina display resolution, and for many quality is still waning. Samsung shifted to OLED in order to try and keep pace, but wound up shipping displays that had poor color accuracy, to which most OLED displays still ship with questionable blue hues within their white point.
Touch ID: The iPhone 5s brought introduced the world to Touch ID, with the most sophisticated and reliably secure fingerprint technology in the market. Six months after iPhone 5s’ launch, Samsung followed suit with their own version of fingerprint ID. It was a rushed to market, inaccurate — a horrible copy of Apple’s technology. It has been two years since Apple introduced Touch ID, and yet Android’s fingerprint technology still lags behind Apple's ever-improving personal security technology.
Apple Pay: NFC was included in several smartphones years ahead of iPhone, but unless someone else had NFC in their smartphone, with the same software taking advantage of it, music list transfers with a bump or contact syncing was not going to happen. Having a chip is one thing, but having Android handset makers take advantage of making it truly powerful and easy to utilize is another. Apple Pay blew away any solution for secure, digital, purchasing, with more outlets using Apple Pay than any other solution in the market today. Google continues to struggle in this market for the next few years, as only the highest-end Android phones will contain NFC financial transaction hardware, while retailers are slow to adopt low market share, non-Apple Pay solutions.
Price: Only a sliver of Android-based smartphones are built and priced to compete in the high-end smartphone market, a place where Apple dominates sales. Thus, the majority of Android smartphones are relegated as something far less than iPhone. Older or slower processors, older versions of Android, fewer features. There is a massive low-end market for Android, but it does not compete with iPhone.
3D Touch: Introduced with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 3D Touch senses how much pressure is applied to the display. The result is an all new way to quickly and easily dive deeper into applications, menu levels, and functions. It only takes a few minutes using the technology to wonder why this was not invented before. Android hardware vendors were just thrown their next challenge — to replicate Apple’s well executed technology, but due to R&D and build cost, perhaps only Samsung may give this a go.
OS: The latest, greatest, Android OS can be had on the newest hardware Google’s vendors have to offer, but in the end, the overall product pails in comparison to iPhone 6 and fall even further behind the iPhone 6s.
Google and their handset makers have spent billions on trying to copy Apple’s integrated approach to hardware and software feature approach, with little success. Samsung has tried, putting gimmicks into their phones, such as eye scrolling, but very few of these technologies work well or are solutions in search of a need. HTC has tried their hand at creating their own tile-like skin for Android, while Chinese brands seem intent on making near replicas of Apple’s latest iPhones. Evidently Xiaomi has not yet finished their ethics course and patent law studies.
The result of Apple leading the way in smartphone innovation, has led to a follow-the-leader mentality. If you want an iPhone, it is quite simple. Get an iPhone, because the copy machines at Google an their hardware makers are not getting any better any time soon.
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