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Issue #186: February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day Geeks!  Yes, I love you all.  Eeeew – no, not in THAT way!

Q: Every time I get ready to buy an iPhone I read something that leans me more towards an android Motorola. Every time I get  inclined to buy an android  I read something that leans me more toward the iPhone……aaarrrgghh! I have read all about the different networks (GSM vs. CDMA), seen the ads about coverage (Verizon vs. AT&T) and there are just too many variables to make a decision that you won’t want to change the next day! Apparently you can’t even get the Daily News on the iPhone!  I appreciate that as a columnist you may not be able to endorse a product or service over another one, but could I get a little advice here?

– D.E.H.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: The timing of this question could not have been any better.  As I write this column, Verizon is a couple of days away from breaking AT&T’s monopoly on iPhone sales in the US, and pre-sales have been brisk to say the least.  I think the analysts that predicted that not many people would switch carriers may find themselves crushed under the stampede of soon-to-be-former AT&T customers running for their local Verizon office.

But, let me get to the heart of your question.  As you said, I’m not going to endorse either one, but I will tell you what I am doing, what I know, and my opinions, and let you draw your own conclusions.  First of all, by way of disclaimer, it’s no secret that Spouse Peripheral and I both own and love our iPhones – I’ve written about them in this column before.  I am currently running a 16 gig, jailbroken iPhone 3G (not even 3GS).  We’ve had our iPhones for over 2 years, so I’m not bound by contract anymore, and I fully intend to give Verizon a go, once the dust has settled with their launch.

There are pros and cons to each, and you handled a few of them in your question, so I won’t rehash network types, or coverage.  I will say that you’re mistaken about availability of the Daily News on the iPhone.  You can get to both the mobile and regular version of the website, and there is now a Daily News app.  You can even get this column on there, although it takes a little configuring.

I think the advantage goes to the iPhone for size, and number and variety of apps.  That said, the app advantage is dwindling pretty quickly.  I don’t think Android will ever surpass the iPhone for sheer number of available apps, but all of the best apps these days are now being put out in both iPhone and Android flavors.  Plus, Android even has some apps that the iPhone doesn’t have.  One thing that’s important to me in a phone is the battery life, but that’s hard to compare, because there is basically only one current iPhone model, and there are dozens of Android-based phones.  I can tell you this though:  it is just about impossible for a typical owner to replace an iPhone’s battery.  So if the battery life starts to dwindle (as my phone’s did), it may require a trip to the repair shop for a new one – a problem most Android phones do not have.

I think one of the biggest game changers in the Android vs. iPhone debate is the entry of iPhone into the Verizon product line.  AT&T has a questionable reputation where the quality and speed of its network are concerned, and in my opinion, that has somewhat held the iPhone back despite its amazing success.  With the availability of a second provider, the iPhone may shine like never before.  And who knows?  If a large enough number of AT&T’s customers goes over to Verizon, AT&T’s network performance may increase substantially.  By the way, don’t forget that Android and iPhone are not the only two players in this space.  Windows Phone 7 is making a fair showing, and although it continues to lose market share, Blackberry isn’t gone by any stretch of the imagination.

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