In This Corner!

For better or worse Apple has dropped their latest update regarding the groundbreaking iPhone this week along with the official release date for their next version of the phone’s operating system, which has now been dubbed ‘iOS’.

Apple iOS 3 & 4 VS Android 2.1 "Eclair" & 2.2 "Froyo": Fight!

A big thanks to Ian Douglas for all the work he did putting the chart together, and to my fiancee for the image

The announcement comes on the heels of last Friday’s uber-successful launch of the Sprint EVO 4G, which shares many of the same features with the new iPhone. This puts consumers in an interesting spot – as the hardware and software offerings from both the Apple and Android camps begin to share more and more of the same features, it becomes increasingly difficult for a consumer with no allegiance to either side to choose the phone that best suits their needs.

Shortly after Apple’s announcement, several other sites began running comparisons of the iPhone 4 to some of Androids stronger offerings such as the EVO 4G and Droid Incredible, but I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive comparison of the software features that each side has to offer.

So, to fill that gap, we’ve decided to risk angering fanboys on both sides of the fence, and have put together a head-to-head comparison.

Ready, FIGHT!

Note: Features indicated as ‘Y’ are available natively on the device unless otherwise indicated

Feature Apple iOS3 Apple iOS4 Android 2.1 Android 2.2 Notes
3rd Party App Multitasking N Y¹ Y Y ¹It's not quite 'true' multi-tasking as Android does it. Read here for more details.
Home screen folders N Y Y Y
Video calls N Y – WiFi 3rd Party – WiFI/3G 3rd Party – WiFi/3G
WiFi tethering N N N Y¹ ¹Carriers may charge for this feature - unclear at this point
USB tethering Y¹ Y¹ 3rd Party Y ¹With additional carrier charge
On-device Photo editing Y Y 3rd Party 3rd Party
Unified Inbox N Y Y¹ Y ¹Can't be done with accounts in the official Gmail app
SMS threads Y Y Y Y
Custom wallpapers on lock screen Y Y Y Y
Custom wallpapers on Home screen N Y Y Y
“Live” wallpapers N N Y Y
MS Exchange Support Y Y Y¹ Y ¹In 2.1, Exchange support is pretty much limited to inbox only
Multiple Exchange Accounts N Y Y¹ Y ¹In 2.1, Exchange support is pretty much limited to inbox only
Exchange Security Restrictions Y Y N Y
"Update All" apps Y Y N Y
Automatic individual app updates N N N Y
Voice dialing via Bluetooth Y Y N Y
International Keyboards/Localization Y Y 3rd Party Y
Adobe Flash support N N N Y
Install apps to removable memory N N N Y
USB Sync to PC/Mac Y Y 3rd Party 3rd Party
Copy/Paste to/from Browser Y Y Y Y
Install apps from 3rd party sources Y Y ¹It’s possible to do this, but either requires a jailbroken phone, or for the developer to provide you with a special copy of the app
System-wide Orientation lock Y ¹Can be done on a per-app basis if developer built it in
Custom dictionary N Y Y Y
Number of Home screen panels 11 11 ¹Customizable with 3rd party home screens
Playlist creation on device Y Y Y Y
Feature Apple iOS3 Apple iOS4 Android 2.1 Android 2.2 Notes

Now, obviously a 100% in-depth feature-by-feature comparison of all four operating system’s would be too massive a feat to undertake, so we chose some of the more buzzed about items while trying to remain fair to both platforms. In each case, the next generation operating systems offer many welcome changes, and are both a step in the right direction.


Now, the sticky part: being that we’re an Android-centric blog, there’s an obvious bias. However, I’d like to make it clear that we tried to pick the features used in the comparison as objectively as possible so as not to tip the scales in either direction.

That said, looking solely at the numbers, it’s clear who the winner is: Froyo.

Due to the somewhat controversial nature of comparisons like these, I’ll refrain from adding my own opinion to the result. Objectively speaking, iOS 4 definitely has made strides in the right direction, however it still fails to provide a solution to some of the more frequently levied complaints against the operating system:

  • Lack of native WiFi tethering/AKA hotspot capabilities (though USB tethering is allowed)
  • Adobe Flash support
  • Ability to install apps to removable memory (or the lack of the option to have removable memory), though with large internal storage, the absence of such an ability is not a serious concern
  • Ability to easily install apps from 3rd party sources, ie circumventing Apple’s “walled garden”

At the end of the day, when you’re browsing the phone section of your local big box store and trying to decide between the two platforms, the biggest factor shouldn’t be which OS wins in a comparison chart, but rather which one offers the features that you require.

Ultimately, if this chart helped you reach a decision, regardless of the platform, we’re happy. Let us know if you felt there were any features we left out, or if we might have missed something, or something needs correcting. We’ll be sure to keep the chart updated and as accurate as possible.

Comments are open. Who wins?