Siegel+Gale released a study today that compared the ease of use as well as the overall brand simplicity of the Galaxy line of phones compared to the iPhone. Before we discuss the results of the study I would like to clear one thing up. Comparing Android to the iPhone is like comparing the engine from a Ferrari to a Toyota Prius. It is apples and oranges. Comparisons in terms of operating systems need to be made between Android and iOS, and comparisons in hardware need to be made between whatever phone is in question and the iPhone.
The great thing about Android is that is it flexible and can work on practically any hardware. This has resulted in the proliferation of lots of cheap Android phones that serve the needs of lots of people who wouldn’t be able to afford a smart phone otherwise. But you can’t really fairly compare a $50 phone that someone bought from Boost Mobile that happens to run Android and the iPhone. Of course I’d prefer the Android phone because at least I would be able to customize my experience and I wouldn’t be beholden to the whims of a corporation that has no qualms about price-gouging it’s customers and downgrading their experience in an attempt to snatch up even more money. But that is besides the point. When comparing phones it is important to compare high-end Android phones to the latest from Apple, just as it wouldn’t be fair to compare the Galaxy S III to the iPhone 3G. Of course even high-end Android phones are still generally much cheaper than a new iPhone, so I guess the best comparison would be for instance, a brand new iPhone 5 vs two Nexus 4’s.
The study from Siegel+Gale was focused on simplicity and ease of use. Of course the general narrative that developed early on in the battle between iOS and Android was that iOS was simple enough for a monkey to use (seriously, that’s not hyperbole) while Android provided more features and more flexibility. Certainly there was some merit to this argument before Ice Cream Sandwich was a thing, but with the development of dynamic notifications and Google Now, I don’t see how there can be any doubt that Android has long surpassed Apple in the race to intuitiveness.
However, the report released today indicated that while the Apple brand continues to be perceived as more simple, people who actually use both products prefer easy-to-use features of the Galaxy line. One respondent said “Samsung Galaxy is a significant threat to iPhone because it is able to do moreâ€”and do it more simplyâ€”than iPhone.” I couldn’t have said it much better myself. Being notified of a new text, swiping down to read it, and then either swiping the message away to ignore it or tapping the “reply” button in the notification can’t really get much more simple.
Of course there is much more to a mobile OS and a smart phone than just simplicity. But I get tired of tech pundits casually saying “Oh my mom is getting her first smart phone so I told her to get an iPhone since it is so easy to use.” Is it really? What about when she gets lost in a bad neighborhood because Apple Maps told her to go the wrong direction? What about when she keeps activating Siri over and over again accidentally? What if she wants to be able to look up directions on her desktop browser and send them to her phone with one click? Suddenly the conversation begins to change when you actually think through how far Android has left iOS behind over the last few years.
Do you think that the Galaxy line being more easy to use than the iPhone is really all that important? Would a theoretical trade-off of simplicity for advanced features and flexibility be worth it for you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.