What Android fans think of iPhone users

Mike Elgan
8 November, 2011
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I’ve noticed a curious thing about some Android users. They have very strong and surprising opinions about people who choose iPhones.

Whenever I post something about phones, or engage in an online conversation about iPhones, I can always count on these opinions surfacing. I don’t notice a strong wave of posts in the other direction during conversations about Android devices.

It’s not just that Android users and iPhone users each have their preferred phones. Many Android fans think the decision to buy an iPhone is an error, and that if everyone was clear-thinking, objective and informed, they would choose Android.

It’s a strange phenomenon. And I really wanted to understand it better. So I asked my Android-loving friends on Google+ a very simple question: Why do people buy iPhones?

In less than eight hours, they had maxed out Google+’s 500-comment limit. Boy did I get an earful. Here’s why people buy iPhones, according to Android fans:

The iPhone is a status symbol. iPhone buyers are attracted to the Applebrand as a prestigious status symbol or fashion accessory, for the same reasons people like Rolex watches or Gucci bags.

The iPhone is a smart phone for dumb users. The iPhone is supposed to be easy to use, so novices are attracted to it for that reason.

iPhone users are ignorant. iPhone buyers don’t know what Android phones are capable of, or how unnecessary iPhone limitations are.

iPhone users are suckered in by skillful marketing. iPhone users are brainwashed sheep, victims of Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field. Product announcements, commercials, packaging, TV and movie product placements and other marketing campaigns by Apple have convinced users that it’s a better phone. The iPhone’s assumed superiority is marketing-driven perception.

The iPhone is the most popular phone and most recognizable brand. Some iPhone buyers want the biggest-selling phone for the same reason people go to Starbucks instead of the locally owned coffee shop or choose Nike shoes instead of a brand they’ve never heard of — big brands and popular products are attractive for their own sake to some people.

The iPhone is associated with a famous person. Everyone knows who Steve Jobs was, and the founders of Google aren’t as famous. Some people are attracted to products associated with a well-known person in a culture of celebrity worship. This effect has been magnified by Jobs’ death and the media coverage that followed.

iPhone users will buy anything Apple sells. In the minds of iPhone users, the “halo effect” of other Apple products, including the iPod, carries over to the iPhone.

The iOS interface is familiar. Many people are already using Apple interfaces, with their home computers, iPod Touches, Apple TV systems or iPads, so an iPhone feels comfortable.

iPhone users don’t like to tinker. Many Android users enjoy customization and see that option as one of the main draws of Google’s operating system. They believe that iPhone users choose a phone that can’t easily be modified because they have no interest in tinkering with their phones — and may even grow anxious at the prospect of customizability.

Apple just happened to get “there” first. There was pent-up demand for a smartphonewith an app ecosystem before either iOS or Android, but Apple shipped first. People rushed to buy the iPhone, then stuck with it because they invested in apps.

iPhone users don’t like technology. While Android phones feel like “technology,” the iPhone feels like a consumer appliance. Some choose iPhones because they want to avoid technology.

iPhone fans are easily paralyzed by choice. The Android universe is made up of a large number of handset types and brands that are hard to keep track of and remember, and it features a dizzying array of options. People who are turned off by that complexity gravitate to the iPhone because the choices are simple and few.

False or fair?

So are Android users right about iPhone users? Personally, I think there’s some truth in all of those beliefs. Or, at least, a majority of iPhone buyers are affected by one or more of those motivations.

But in the same way that Android users notice motivations and attributes that iPhone users can’t see in themselves, it’s also true that iPhone users see or believe things Android users don’t.

For starters, the iPhone is beautifully engineered and designed, it has flawless “fit and finish” and is made with incredibly high-quality materials. And from a hardware perspective, that high quality is a good reason to buy an iPhone.

There’s no question that “integrated” phones like the iPhone and “open” platforms like Android each have positive attributes. One of the benefits of “integrated” phones is responsiveness, which is important to the overall user experience.

But the real reason some people choose an iPhone and others choose an Android device is personality. People are different. Some people rank elegance, ease of use and clarity of mind above power, customizability and choice — and those people are more likely to choose an iPhone.

I think iPhone users are more likely to want a phone that is a complete, polished and finished single “thing.” Android users want a device that is brimming with potential.

The iPhone is a beautiful toy sailboat, and an Android phone is a box of Lego bricks.

Some people are naturally attracted to one kind of toy; others are attracted to another kind of toy. It’s just personality.

So Android users: Go easy on the iPhone crowd. Sure, many of them are influenced by marketing, branding, status and all the rest. But let’s face it: The iPhone is a great phone, too. And more important, iPhone users’ choices are dictated by personality, just like yours are.


8 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Rod says:

    Isn’t it just the case that iPhones ‘just work’? This argument could be substituted for the PC vs Mac debate. People are always generally afraid of something they don’t understand and if there’s one thing I am very certain of since switching my entire IT collection over to Apple devices some 18 months ago, is that rumour and innuendo are poisonous. Some people tell me they don’t like Macs because they don’t ‘right click’, aren’t compatible with any programs they use or are harder to use. I hear stuff like iPhones and iPads don’t have USB ports. I inform them they need to come back to reality and then ask them how their anti-virus scans, spyware scans, disk clean-up, disk defrag and other associated ‘duties’ are going that they need to do on their Windows PC. I’m met with little argument back. And as for USB, I only need to use USB sticks when I’m not interacting with Apple devices. Show me an entire platform that interacts as well as Apple does. Oops that’s right, there is none. Because in other worlds someone does a bit of this and a bit of that. Apple does it all.

    It’s about time the Apple ‘revolution’ gained traction because most people I know who are just trying to keep up with and use technology in their day to day lives (not as an enthusiast) are happy to have something that just works, not confuses them or makes tasks hard. That is why the iPhone gains so much popularity. Or perhaps millions upon millions of people throughout the world are idiots?? I’m not sure, but generally people will not buy one iPhone after another if they weren’t happy with what they got.

  2. MK says:

    Great article.
    I’ve got an iphone and know friends who don’t say it, but think I’m crazy not to get an Android.
    The article pretty much sums up why I have the iphone – it performs all the functions I want it to, I like the interface, the look and feel of the phone…I also have Macs at home and in my office…just makes sense to have an iphone…even if you can do “more” with an Android.

  3. SS says:

    You know what, at the end of the day who gives a crap what they think. I also own both op systems iPhone & Galaxy s2. the Galaxy is fun to play with but the iPhone as they say just works.

  4. Robbie says:

    Who gives a flying Flick? Yeah, we iPhone users are influenced by marketing – really? And android users are completely devoid of this influence ? Yeah right! They are both good phone systems, although the “iPhone happened to ship first line is a bit hard to take – most pundits believe that it would have taken close to a decade longer before a smart phone as we know it emerged if it wasn’t for Jobs. Just like Mercedes Benz and BMW, we’ve got choice – both are good cars, just different flavours – same with these phones. Me? I choose iPhone, because it just works, I don’t want to modify it (been there done that), and it works seamlessly with my other Apple gear.

  5. h2omark says:

    It is difficult to generalise about all iPHONE of Android users – but for the ones that “care” about it here we go. Its not that iPhone users are so much “paralysed by choice” of the Android world but rather many can’t be arsed dicking around with that sort of thing anymore. I started with CPM, DOS various WIn 95 etc etc etc etc and became so sick of the immature, buggy, half arsed technology synthesis offered on the PC side that the MAC world was an obvious breath of fresh air in a time poor / stressy kind of world.

    Beautiful hardware, powerfully integrated with software and and OS that works. For me over the last 15 years MAC and iOS provided the a better off-the-shelf synthesis of technology, innovation and usability. True there is little that you can’t get / do on other platforms but by the time one Apple device gets long in the tooth there is a usually superb “ready to go” cutting edge sweet spot to jump on to that ACTUALLY WORKS!

    Putting industrial design aside it has always been the case that the innovation arrives superbly integrated into the OS / Software / hardware – no drivers, or third part dicking around – beautiful, effective and it just works. USB in the OS, free DVD authoring, free easy movie making, free easy music making, free easy website making, easy media sharing around the OS among apple programs – all working, beautifully etc. Of course then there are iPods, iPhones, iPads etc and now Siri. Familiar, easy and fun. Its true I don’t wanna think too much about my phone. I save my inner geek for my life as an video professional. When it comes to phones I don’t wanna geek out I want it to be easy, familiar, effective. I can see Android offers a lot but it looks like a fraggy, shoddy mess from here.

    p.s. apart from creating whole market catergories Apple have always been an innovation platform that empowers creatives. When I started in TV you needed a $million dollars worth of gear. And software packages for editing movies and DVD authoring cost 6 figure sums. Apple single handedly changed that. They put cost effective pro apps on the desktop in a way that made it easy to focus on creativity rather than IT.

  6. Simon says:

    iOS 5 is the only mobile operating system that functions effectively behind a proxy server. To be fair, it’s the only mobile device platform we can recommend to our students and staff if they want to jump on our network. How’s that for history on its head?

  7. Craig says:

    I bought an Android phone about 8 months ago, having had iPhones since they were released. I thought the ‘open’ platform would be good to try. However I found the Android platform to be clunky, buggy and not polished at all. Also apps that I had on iPhone were available in the ‘Market’ on Android but many were free. This sounds great! But even classics like “Angry Birds” on the Android were free, but riddled with ads. Also as there are so many Android phones available with different capabilities and chipsets etc, The Android App Market is a confusing place were some apps run on some phones and not on others etc.

    Definitely, the apps for the iPhone are far better quality – yes you pay for a lot of them but there are not ads everywhere. Also during the time I had my HTC Android, The Market had to recall a number of apps that were Malware or Spywear etc.. it was all a bit dodgy and frankly I expected more from the Google operating system than what I got on Android.

    It was just clunky and had a ‘cheap’ feel – both the handset and the OS and Apps. I was also tired of crashes and problems apps requesting permissions to have access to all manner of things on my phone. I just felt like the OS was dodgy.

    I now have a brand new iPhone 4S and I’m very happy to be back on iPhone. I am no fool and am an electronics engineer so know how to use a phone – it’s not a case of ‘buying the iPhone because it’s a phone for idiots to use”.

  8. Peter Schaper says:

    I’m not an iOS or Android user but have checked out the iPad and don’t like the way the OS is configured, or rather not configured, for my uses, productivity and photo library management, no discernible filing or data access on the one I tried and very inferior photo management. Perhaps there’s better software out there, but what I really fear is that the Mac OS is going to become like iOS. I recently tried Linux + Gnome because OpenOffice is the best way for me to go when I can no longer stay with AppleWorks, and it came close to the Mac but didn’t quite make the grade, so I’m back to my trusty eMac for now, perhaps to a more recent Mac before too much longer, but I’m still hoping that Linux or Android will offer a genuine alternative to the Mac before too much longer, I relish Apple’s dominance as little as I liked Microsoft’s.

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