New Smartphone? How To Rock It Like A Boss, Part Two – Choose Your Weapon
Whether you think “choice” is your right or a privilege, it can also be a hassle! Especially when trying to narrow down the options and decide which hardware you want to own. There are fans of every platform, and every fan has iron-clad reasons behind their choice. Really, there is no right or wrong decision so free your mind from doubt. Just make a list of pros and cons based on your personal preferences and circumstances, and on how you plan to use the phone.
TIP: if you are buying for your kid/family, make sure everyone in the household is on the same platform if you want to make your life easier AND stay in touch with how your kid is using the device. Kids in the Information Age need constant monitoring, so be sure they understand ‘privacy’ is not an option. You occasionally wander into your child’s room for a surprise inspection. Occasionally make yourself familiar with everything on your kid’s phone. Don’t let having different mobile technologies be one more thing to ‘disconnect’ you from your kids. More about kids and phones later…
Apple or Android? Or something else?
The two major choices out there now are products made by Apple, or products made by a lot of manufacturers (i.e.: Samsung, HTC, Google) using the Android platform. There are also phones based on Windows, and there’s what some refer to as the original smartphone, BlackBerry (DISCLOSURE: Apple fanboy here!).
Do lots of homework – reading, talking with friends, window shopping – before you step into a retail environment. The sweet-talking salespeople will have every line in the book ready to wheel-and-deal you into buying the phone which makes THEM the most money. There is no guarantee the phone will make your life easier (translation: the commission for selling Android products is often greater than the commission for selling Apple products). The only way you can feel good about choosing a smartphone is to get armed with information before stepping out. This isn’t rocket science. Just study at your own pace and get some good questions ready when you hit the door. Don’t be afraid to walk out of one store and on to the next, until you feel comfortable with your level of understanding, and feel comfortable with your salesperson. TIP: as much as I am a fan of Apple products, buying them from the Apple Store has been a mistake for me on two occasions. The prices at the Apple Store are rarely competitive versus buying the same product at sale prices elsewhere – online or in a store. I have found the “geniuses” at the Apple Stores are bottom-line driven, just like the staff at other stores.
This blog focuses on the two most popular smartphone platforms: Apple (whose mobile platform is better known as iOS) and Android.
The big benefits in choosing Apple products: security and ease-of-use. The trade-off is these products tend to cost more than other comparable products. As an Apple user from way back, the investment in my iPhone, iPad and Mac Mini was worth the price of admission. The underlying philosophy behind Apple products (“It just works”) has always made computing smooth and worry-free for me. This is because Apple products are “closed source” – there is little tinkering possible with the operating system or hardware. Security issues affecting Apple products do exist, but Apple is still a smart choice for someone who wants near zero frustration factor when computing. Apple recently enhanced the security of iOS to further reduce the possibility of invasion by hostile or intrusive software, also called ‘malware’. You might find biting the bullet and buying an iOS device will save you some heartbreak down the line. There are also many parental controls baked into iOS that will make your life easier. Your child will complain about being ‘punished’ or ‘restricted’ when you use parental controls on the phone, but remember, parental controls on a kid’s phone are how you PROTECT a child. It’s impossible for even a ‘good kid’ to always know the many ways evil shows its face – that’s why there’s ‘parenting.’
Why Kids Sext (a really long article, but very thought-provoking read)
The Best First Smartphone for Your Child (yes, it’s about the iPhone, but lists good reasons why and how to get one cheaply)
In contrast, the Android operating system architecture is “open source.” Developers have unrestricted access to the framework needed to create hardware, programs, and apps. This is why there are so many different types and brands of smartphones. More manufacturers building on a platform helps drive the price of hardware down. As a result, Android devices tend to cost less than Apple devices. Open sourcing also leads to producing a device that is more vulnerable to malware. Evil people target Android users because it’s easier to create malware for these devices. This malware then allows bad guys to snoop your phone and make money from pushing advertising at you or monetizing the personal data generated when you use the device. Numbers you dial, passwords you enter, purchases you make, locations and Web sites you visit, etc.. are all subject to being tracked by the bad guys. And, Android products are often a parent’s worst nightmare on so many levels.
All this matters most when it comes time to download applications or ‘apps’ that help you be more productive or have fun with your phone.