Choose my phone!
April 10, 2013 8:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of my cheap, app-less phone. It's time to upgrade to something nice.

I'm looking at either an iPhone or a Samsung. Which should it be? And why? Sell me on the best phone!
posted by elizamina to Technology (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, what do you want to do?

I use an iPhone because if you are comfortable in the Apple ecosystem, everything more or less plays nice together. My iPhone, iPad, Mac Mini, and Macbook all work together so all my stuff is there and my phone Just Works without any real fiddling. iOS devices tend to have a more polished selection of apps and the App Store is curated more than the Android devices are, so odds of getting something broken or exceptionally crappy are fairly low. If you want to get into games, iOS tends to get things first and sometimes exclusively. The downside is, of course, pricing, as the iPhone is expensive, most of the apps cost money, it's all very "premium" in the sense that you'll be spending a fair amount of money. I use my phone for business so it has to work, so I value that functionality and reliability over the more open Android platforms.

If you just want to have a smartphone for calls, texting, picture taking, and that sort of thing, and you're happy just having apps without being picky about what they are, the Samsung is probably fine and Android will probably meet whatever needs you have. My wife has one and is completely content with it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:51 PM on April 10, 2013

It's going to depend more on what you want to do with it -- either is basically fine.

The reason I switched to an iPhone after 3 years of Droids is that the hardware was unreliable and I got sick of it. My phone is also compatible with my AppleTV and Safari on my Macbook -- having other Apple products is a reason to get an iPhone (they work seamlessly). I had no desire to root my phone, so if that's something you want, you may want a Droid. Also, do you already have a network and do you have an upgrade on it? I got my iPhone 4S for under $100 because I was eligible for upgrade.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:54 PM on April 10, 2013

MeFi fave Charlie Brooker explains his theory that the iPhone is like all Apple products: They make you feel good... until you try to do something they don't want you to do.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:00 PM on April 10, 2013

With all due respect, this is kind of a silly question, because you, like every other consumer seeking a new phone, have idiosyncratic needs that will ultimately determine which phone brand you eventually go with when you take the plunge into smart-phone land.

Rather than have us "sell" you something blindly, why don't you tell us the top three things that have impacted your decision to ditch your cheap, app-less phone, and then that'll help us as your crowdsourced Greek chorus highlight the benefits and pitfalls associated with Apple and Samsung devices.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:15 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, there's no good answer. If you're already invested in the Google ecosystem, then Android is great, although Google's iOS apps are pretty decent too. If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem (iTunes music, Apple TV, etc.) then it's much more clear-cut.

If you want to get the best of what third-party mobile app developers are producing, I think iOS still has a clear advantage, because it's simpler to build for, and there's a market willing to pay cash money for it. There are decent Android apps for the most popular categories, but iOS is where the new categories tend to evolve, extending the possibilities of what can be done on mobile platforms.
posted by holgate at 9:16 PM on April 10, 2013

I got whatever phone it is that you have to get to have Republic Wireless. It has Android and it's doing just fine for me. I don't have a basis for comparison with other smart phones but the $20/month for unlimited everything sold me pretty well.
posted by aniola at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

By the way - you don't have to have all Apple stuff to make an iPhone the right choice.

I have a Samsung laptop (have never been a fan of Macs), but I love my iPhone beyond reason. I had several different Android smartphones before changing to an iPhone, and I'll never go back. It's just so much easier to use - way less fiddly for the same results. For me, anyway.
posted by Salamander at 9:36 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

i got this phone. it is the niftiest thing i have ever owned.
most of the carriers have it, but i spent a bit more and got it from these guys to save (much,much) more in the long run (i'm mostly on wifi, so my bill usually comes in around $25/mo...YMMV)
there's a lot of crappy android hardware out there, but googles nexus series and the samsung galaxy series are all excellent. and my galaxy note simply spanks the iPhone (my laptop is a mac tho...nothing against apple, but i prefer android for mobile)
All the 'major' apps are on both platforms, but android has many many more free apps (usually ad-supported) than apple...inevetably you will find an app that ONLY exists on the other that you HAVE to have, no matter what you go with :/
for an idea of what's best in the android market, check out coollosertech on youtube...he reviews about 10 games and apps a week...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:22 PM on April 10, 2013

If you want the best selection of apps and if you want a very stable and painless experience, probably an iPhone is the way to go.

If you want a high-end smartphone as cheaply as possible, then probably a Nexus 4 (Android) is the way to go.

I can't see you would have much reason to get a Windows 8 or BlackBerry Z10 phone since they are not cheap and they don't have the app ecosystem of iPhone or Android.

As for service plans, T-Mobile just announced some very appealing no-contract plans that are still post-pay rather than pre-pay. And they offer the iPhone starting next week with an interest-free extended payment plan. Seems like their service plan is the most economical way to have an iPhone, even after considering the unsubsidized cost of the phone.
posted by Dansaman at 10:24 PM on April 10, 2013

Note that Republic Wireless is apparently 3G only, not 4G.
posted by Dansaman at 10:33 PM on April 10, 2013

Is there a reason you're specifically limited to iPhone or Samsung? Because as Android phones go, if I were buying today I'd take a very serious look at the HTC One.

And if you are limited to Samsung, it's worth knowing that the latest Galaxy S4 releases at the end of the month, which may push prices down on the S3.
posted by EKStickland at 11:12 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have an iPhone and a HTC (because of two different jobs). They both have pros and cons, but if I were to choose one of them, it would definitely be the iPhone. It's just a lot more user-friendly and faster.
The only thing where I really prefer the HTC is that the battery loads faster and keeps longer. So it is good for long days out at meetings or traveling.
posted by mumimor at 11:43 PM on April 10, 2013

Response by poster: I've been asked to list the top 3 things that I'm looking for in a phone, as that will help the Samsung vs. iPhone debate. So here they are:

1) Ability to unlock/have the phone unlocked, as I only live in the US 4-8 weeks out of the year, so I need a phone I can use in other locations by swapping the SIM card.

2) Easy to use. I don't want to spend 3 hours reading the users' manual just to figure out how to access Facebook. I want to be able to play Zombies, Run! (fitness app)

3) A GPS would be nice.
posted by elizamina at 11:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

iPhone, hands down. It's easy to unlock, primarily with AT&T, and is really easy to use.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:59 PM on April 10, 2013

Co-creator of Zombies, Run! here - the game will work just as well on both Android and iOS :) I personally have an iPhone 5 which I like a lot, but we also have a Nexus 4 at the office, which is very nice.

Just make sure that if you get an Android phone, it has at least Android 4.0 (we require it for ZR2). Most new Android devices are on 4.0 though, other than the super-cheap ones. Plus, the more modern the version, the better, so if you can find one with Android 4.2, that's great.
posted by adrianhon at 12:53 AM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

It sounds like an iPhone would do the trick handily, if you went that route.

I'm in a very similar situation to yours, OP. My old Blackberry's failing and has had a half-AWOL keyboard and a mind of its own for the last month. I've been researching my next move the entire time. I had seriously considered the Nexus 4, the Z10, the Q10 (drool), and the iPhone 5. The first two were a bit large for my taste, and the third (the Q10 (drool)) may as well never come out for how long it's taking (it comes out in May, but my job demands a phone that, you know, works).

In the end, and after a lot of thinking and headaches, I pulled the trigger on the T-Mobile iPhone 5 (I pre-ordered and am switching from AT&T). I wanted something that was predictable, capable, and reliable, and I couldn't guarantee that I'd get all three from anything but an iPhone. A lot of effort went into making this decision and I'd like to put off doing it again for as long as possible. That, and that I don't want to go into debt paying for service from month to month (hence the switch).
posted by Chutzler at 1:04 AM on April 11, 2013

I have a Galaxy s3 and love it, fwiw.

Note: it is now illegal to unlock a cell phone in the US, so hopefully you're buying it somewhere else.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:56 AM on April 11, 2013

If you buy your phone outright, most carriers are offering unlocks for free. It's not illegal for a carrier to unlock a phone. And regardless of the new regulations, unlocking services are still widely available for iPhones on eBay.
posted by skewed at 7:37 AM on April 11, 2013

Ability to unlock/have the phone unlocked, as I only live in the US 4-8 weeks out of the year

Depending upon where else you live, you may actually want to buy in Foreign, because of the different LTE frequencies and hardware that both Apple and Samsung use to accommodate them. No point in buying a top-end phone that's only able to work at its top data rate 10% of the time.
posted by holgate at 9:20 PM on April 11, 2013

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