The iPhone is behind the Android curve on almost every spec, and yet it remains the world's best-selling smartphone year after year. It's not because specs don't matter, but because the same spec means different things in the iOS and Android ecosystems. Patently Apple has many Android fans who are constantly stuck on tech specs like the old Wintel crowd were of yesteryear about processor speeds and graphic cards and so forth. To serious Wintel gamers or workstation fans, I get why every spec counts. But to sweat over the specs of a modern Wintel PC today for the average consumers is ludicrous to a large degree. Smartphones are a different class of computer where the entire package and ecosystem matters. And yet Androiders are like annoying gnats at times, tirelessly pointing to Android smartphones having more RAM and better displays. The Verge has published a report today that does a lot of us a big favor by precisely nailing some of the fallacies to many of the common Android arguments against the best selling smartphone in the world: The iPhone.
The report notes that the "display resolution issue is a great example of knowing when a spec ceases to be important: Samsung, LG, HTC, and others have all reached more impressive resolution numbers than the iPhone, but none of their Quad HD flagship displays looks much better than the iPhone's. Apple achieves enough resolution (for everything but VR applications), crossing its Retina display threshold, and then it stops. Such pixel frugality leads to longer battery life." When VR will actually matter down the road, Apple will be firmly on the OLED standard with pixel magic Apple has been working on in patents. For now, VR isn't a big deal.
Next, the issue of memory. The report notes that "As to the iPhone's memory, this is more of a philosophical distinction between Apple and Google. An iPhone can feel super smooth and responsive with half the RAM of an Android device. RAM consumes power, so having less of it is another factor contributing to the iPhone's efficiency lead."
Android's Classic Problem of Fragmentation kills some of their advantages. The report notes that "It is to Android manufacturers' great credit that they've been able to build phones the size of an iPhone with specs many times better. But even once they've negotiated the RAM, display, battery, and design issues, they come up against the classic problem of fragmentation. Each new generation of iPhone has only one processor and two screen sizes and resolutions — so game designers and app developers know the exact hardware that they're targeting with their new software. With Android, on the other hand, there's a diversity of processor and graphics chips, unevenness in screen sizes and resolutions, and never any certain minimum standard of either hardware spec or software API.
Apple has sold a billion iPhones, Tim Cook told the world at last week's event. Every quarter, tens of millions more iPhones get added to that incomprehensibly large number. And the latest iPhones have Apple's fastest and best processing chips, creating a much more enticing platform for game development. It's no accident that Nintendo's first smartphone game is coming to the iPhone first. A developer can invest more heavily (and reliably) in an iOS game, knowing that the hardware platform is better defined and the user base is more willing to spend on apps and games. These are just some of the advantages of a company being able to develop its own operating system, custom chips, and hardware design in parallel."
The report further notes that "the ultimate arrow to the knee of Android competitors is the carrier situation. Apple has the scale and profitability to dictate what apps are shipped on its phones and to distribute its software updates painlessly and reliably. Mobile operators don't need much encouragement to advertise iPhones, and many of them are presently running special upgrade offers around the iPhone 7. Android device makers, on the other hand, are hamstrung by carrier interference and bloatware. To finance their razor-thin profit margins, many Android companies also engage in promotional partnerships that bundle even more junk software in."
At the end of the day, the Verge's report goes down a list of comparisons between the two platforms and does so with intelligent reasoning. You may not agree with everything that the Verge's writter Vlad Savov covers, but it's definitely worth checking out here. If you're tired of your Android friends ribbing you over silliest single specs their phones have over the iPhone, then it's refreshing to hear a voice of reason.