The Big One: Apple, Android or Microsoft?

Let's do this. Apple, Google or Microsoft.

Ah, yes. The war of the new-old ages. Apple vs Google. Apple vs Microsoft. Microsoft vs Google vs Apple. Apple is evil, premium and expensive (but oh-so-sexy). Google represents affordability, customisability and diversity (but oh-so-technical). Microsoft is dated, industrial and "businessy" (PC? Eugh... boring).

These are the general trends representing the opinions I hear every day en masse. If time in retail around technology has taught me anything, it's that most people are quick to judge and slow to forgive. Naturally the tech-savvy among us occasionally venture into an archaic dwelling called a 'store' in order to preview the latest in tech that they've already researched thoroughly, eager to confirm their own general bias and proudly exhibit their masterful knowledge and superiority over the first courageous salesperson to approach them with an offer of assistance, before shaking their head in disgust at the 'outrageous price' of the super-computer they're seeking to stick in their pocket as they leave to purchase said supercomputer off ebay or Kogan.

If you're one of those people, this article is not for you.

Before we begin - let's address the elephant in the room: I'm an Apple savant. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent opinions of anyone I'm affiliated with personally or professionally. As you may have guessed from the giant feature photo I have on the home page, and each and every header on my website, I believe in the Apple product. But I am most certainly not an Apple "sheep", so to speak, and both Microsoft and Google have valuable merits. In fact, I will openly admit that Google, in particular, do a lot of things better than Apple. It's also important to state that I am not going to necessarily recommend Apple to you, the reader, blindly.

Now with that out of the way, I think the question of which brand is right for each person is overtly complex and thoroughly confusing - which is unfortunate, since in the case of a phone it is something that most people rely on all day every day. Whilst I also think the onus of responsibility for keeping up with technology and the world that you are living in is up to you - love it or hate it - it could be made much simpler if the 'tech industry' would stop throwing specs and fancy-worded features at consumers that are often misleading (read: megapixels means nothing) to try and grab market share. Consumers get new phones every two years on average, so every two years they attempt to navigate the murky waters of Snapdragon processors, Mali GPU's, XXXXmAh batteries and Siri vs Google Assistant vs Cortana - all from scratch - in order to make an almost impossible choice for their next real life personal assistant to accompany them around for the next 2 years (a phone).

Wouldn't it be great if there was a company that could make a product that just did what the majority of consumers want it to do, and not ram 'the latest specs' down their throat with each iteration? Wouldn't it be great if it was simple, intuitive, fast and most importantly reliable? This has been Apple's entire business plan since day dot - and interestingly the Google Pixel was marketed on an identical premise. The Google Pixel - Google's first foray into an in-house designed and produced phone - has no mention in it's marketing of processors, gigahertz, camera pixels or screen resolution. Instead, it focused on the fact that it was a Google phone by Google, it had Google Assistant, it had rapid charge (already on almost all flagship devices), it was designed by Google, you got some free cloud storage, and did I mention it was a Google phone by Google?

Androids have traditionally hailed themselves on having faster processors, superior specs, more customisability options - but whilst tech-heads get off on that, the majority of people simply don't understand and don't care. The worst part is, the most frustrating part to me in particular, is those tech heads I mentioned earlier are often so certain of their own speculative superiority because they understand what "2.1ghz" vs "1.8ghz" means, yet they're completely wrong most of the time. Arrogance combined with ignorance makes for an unbelievably horrible character trait (one which I'm ashamed to say I've been guilty of many times in the past - I'm working on it). Which means the true tech heads (exhibit me - yes I see the hypocrisy in that) struggle against every fibre of their being to not correct said tech heads and match fire with fire by more knowledgeable ramming of statistics and specs and benchmark figures down their throat (until they choke!). And since this is my blog - and since this post is already relatively personal - I will.

Let's talk specs.

When the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were launched in September 2016, geeks and nerds rushed to benchmark and compare every facet of perceivable performance variable to come up with every permutation of every argument against iPhone's being juggernauts in the performance arena in order to justify their Apple-bashing. They failed miserably. The iPhone 7/7 Plus at the time of launch floored the competition on every benchmark. Here are some numbers to back it up - each score is the iPhone compared with the top-performing android phone of each test.

Geekbench 4 Single Core test (single-core processor speed - top 4 phones are iPhones):
1. iPhone 7 - 3488
5. Huawei Honor 8 - 1720
Google Pixel XL - 1507

Geekbench 4 Multi Core test (multi-core processor speed):
1. iPhone 7 Plus - 5664
3. Huawei Honor 8 - 5447
Google Pixel XL - 4152

Basemark OS 2.0:
1. iPhone 7 Plus - 3751
5. OnePlus 3 - 2365
Google Pixel XL - 2281

AnTuTu 6:
1. iPhone 7 - 174532
3. OnePlus 3 - 141764
Google Pixel XL - 141186

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (frames per second):
1. iPhone 7 - 61
3. Galaxy S7 Edge - 49

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (frames per second):
1. iPhone 7 - 43
3. Lenovo Moto Z Force Droid - 32
Google Pixel XL - 19

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal:
1. iPhone 7 - 1547
5. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - 733
Google Pixel XL - 626

You may have noticed that I included the Google Pixel XL scores in each of those benchmarks. The reason there is no number next to it is because in almost all of the tests, the Google Pixel did not rank in the top 10 performing phones. iPhone 7 ranked first in every test.

Now those scores paint a pretty conclusive picture when it comes to performance and speed from the phones, and android lovers must hate it. They'll hate it more when they realised that those who bought the Google Pixel XL - being the exact same price as the iPhone 7/7 plus - bought a 'flagship' android phone that wasn't up to scratch performance wise.

So let's look closer in particular to the iPhone 7 vs Google Pixel XL - since both of these phones represent the pinnacle of each brands mobile tech:

1. The iPhone 7 has IPX67 water rating - meaning fully submersible in water - yet the Pixel is not water resistant.
2. The iPhone 7 has dual stereo speakers, the Pixel doesn't.
3. The iPhone 7 comes in 5 different colours, the Pixel comes in 2 (except for a limited-edition ugly as **** blue).
4. The iPhone 7 comes with options from 32gb, 128gb and 256gb - the pixel only comes with 32 and 128gb.
5. Both phones are exactly the same price in Australia, both on plans and outright.
6. Both phones do not come with expandable storage.
7. Whilst both cameras are amazing - low light might be SLIGHTLY better on the Pixel (and I do mean slight - I literally can't tell the difference in comparisons) but the iPhone 7 plus has Bokha and Zoom, both of which take absolutely stunning shots that no other phone can reproduce, including the Pixel.
8. You can clearly see the iPhone ranges from 25% to 130% better performance across the board.

Yet Apple is still hated and the Pixel has got raving reviews. Isn't that a beautifully ironic twist in tech plot - Google advocates always bashed Apple for having lower specs, less options and being exclusive to the rich - yet the Pixel is underperforming, has less options and costs the same - but then the Android fanboys will still claim it's a better phone. Who are the 'sheep' now?

Now - it seems like I've done a lot of good old fashioned biased Google bashing there - but I'm going to bring it back a bit. In my opinion, the Pixel is overpriced, underperforming and removes most of the options that give Android any validity of choice over Apple.

But Google is not a hardware company.

Apple makes its money off hardware. They offer closed-system services that work brilliantly cross-platform in order to encourage users to buy exclusively Apple hardware. The hardware is premium, and fantastic. The hardware, in my view, is well and truly head and shoulders above the rest. Apple does not on-sell browser data for profit. Apple does not offer any cloud service for free without purchasing extremely expensive hardware first. Apple costs a tonne.

Google, however, is a software company. They deliver services. They do it amazingly. Never before in the history of mankind has a private company managed to officially turn their name into one of the most commonly used verbs in multiple languages. They made a search engine (you may have heard of it), they provide free and brilliant emails, they deliver fantastic apps to support those services on a mobile platform, and they do it for free (or at least, as far as most people are concerned) by onselling metadata to governments and corporations in exchange for profit and advertising revenues. Some would argue this decreases security (and it does) but if it allows people access to Google Drive for $0 per month, so be it. Apple costs $4.99 per month as of writing this for a mere 200gb. Google also created and maintains Android, the most widely adopted mobile operating system on the planet used by dozens of hardware manufacturers.

Apple makes world-class hardware - and they support it brilliantly. Google defines world-class software - and they should stick to that.

Now that could easily be the end of this article - but we've left out one important factor: Microsoft.

Here's another defining feature of Apple: They are in your pocket, they are in your bag in the form of tablets and laptops, and they are on your desk at home in the form of an iMac or Mac Pro, and plugged into your TV in the form of an Apple TV. Google are in your pocket - I'm going to leave the tablet part out because Android tablet is a giant joke and I can't believe anybody still makes them - and they don't do laptops or desktops. They do Google Chromecast (which is also brilliant). Microsoft is not in your pocket. Microsoft failed miserably at mobile interface and scaling. PC's are on your desk or in your bag.

Apple: Phone - Tablet - Laptop - Desktop - TV
Google: Phone - TV
Microsoft: Laptop - Desktop (These will be defunct compared to mobile soon)

Apple is the only brand that is competitive in every arena. Because of this, the products work together extremely well no matter where you are or what platform you're using. It's all linked together under one Apple ID - the data, documents and media sync incredibly well, and neither Google nor Microsoft can offer that right now.

And Microsoft has suddenly decided to go on an all out price hike to break every Apple record for most expensive products ever. The Surface Book's go over $5,000 and the Surface studio can reach $6,000! A ******* adapter for a Surface Pro 2-in-1 notebook is at least $150AUD! I'm not sure what the game plan here is - but in my mind that takes Microsoft out of the running, at least temporarily, when compared to the other two. Nobody uses OneDrive. Siri says: "Who's Cortana?" and Google Assistant says: "Meh who cares." - Point is, Microsoft needs to do a lot to become relevant in the mobile arena and thus for the future.

Windows will continue to dominate enterprise until linux becomes King.

And finally - saved the best for last. "The iPhone 7 is the same as the iPhone 6, they just removed the headphone jack. What a joke." Neck yourself if you consider yourself 'techy' and ever thought this. This is literally 'it looks the same therefore is the same'. Despite absolutely nobody understanding what goes on under the hood. The iPhone 7 is by far the biggest leap in technology of its predecessor (6s) since the start of the iPhone's existence. Here's a list:

1. 40% faster than iPhone 6s - 100% faster than 6.
2. Stereo speakers.
3. Waterproof and Dust resistant.
4. Camera - Probably the biggest difference - iPhone 7 plus has dual lenses including the worlds first and only phone optical zoom lens, and portrait mode which gives depth effect. For examples of these shots and why novice photo-takers should care, go to gsmarena. Also has far higher aperture (1.8 vs 2.2) so much better in low light, insanely faster, etc etc... huge huge difference.
5. Haptic feedback engine on the home button to A) improve waterproofing and B) fix mechanical home button issues that sometimes occur after a few years.
6. Added colors (Matte Black is amazing)
7. 25% brighter screen - now also satisfies official p3 photography criteria (wide color gamut)
8. Longer battery life (Although takes too long to charge)
9. Double storage as standard (32gb / 128gb / 256gb vs 16gb / 64gb / 128gb)
10. They removed the headphone jack.

So for the sake of my sanity - can we please cease the notion that the iPhone 6s is 'the same' as the iPhone 7?

But wait. We have a new entrant: The Huawei Mate 9. This phone struck me as incredible when I first saw it - and it hasn't disappointed in reviews. First off - performance wise? Only Android phone to ever beat the iPhone 7 in any arena. Not only does it do that - it absolutely destroys the iPhone 7 in many arenas, leaving other androids eating its dust for christmas. It also adds expandable storage, a bigger screen (and one of the most gorgeous screens I've ever seen, by the way), better battery and yes --- probably the best camera if you don't include depth effect and zoom. It also has impossibly thin bezels and is generally awesome.

But it's still Android. So I fully expect it to slow down over time, start having overheating or battery issues because of software glitches. I expect it will be complicated for average users who are likely to download and run too many apps that will crash the phone. I don't necessarily blame Google for this (and I certainly don't blame Huawei - kudos to them for making such a nice phone) - but Apple simply removes that option for users to customize their phone in a potentially damaging way.

And thus we have the true nature of 'Apple hating' - removal of choice for the greater good. And much like politics, the fragile line between freedom and security (or in this case - freedom and reliability) is subjective and nobody will ever agree on where the line should be. Where it is for some, others won't be satisfied. Some won't be satisfied until the source OS code and kernel's are free to mess around with. I applaud Apple for their choice of balance and freedom in their mobile OS whilst consistently delivering excellent features and amazing performance.

As Apple has proven in Western society - people are content with having user-friendly tech that works and is reliable. Yes, it's pricey - but that's about the only criticism that's valid these days. iTunes is no longer used, Apple Music is awesome (and is across-platform). iOS is a lot less exclusive than it used to be - and workflow has basically changed the game on scripting (more on that later).

But hey - if Apple ceased existing tomorrow, the world would move on with new hardware. If Google to exist tomorrow, the world would stop.

If you are a tech head who made it to this point then you have an interest in tech and likely have your mind made up. Most IT pundits prefer Android. So if you're curious enough to wonder, then give it a go. At least after doing so you'll know for sure what you prefer. If you have other Apple hardware - stick with Apple. You're just giving up too much functionality if you don't. Do you want magical seamless integration between devices using things like Airdrop, Airplay, Airpods, Facetime, iMessages across every platform and photos synced? Go iPhone. If you want a tonne of storage space for free to store media and access it whenever wherever - go Pixel.

Or you could you can say **** it and get a Blackberry.

- Tom