The iPhone Is One Of The Best Android Phones You Can Buy

The addition of Google Now to the iOS App Store has granted iPhone owners access to one of Google's most useful products. But it did something else, too. It made the iPhone a better Android phone than the vast majority of Android phones you can buy.

The Android Experience

Let's be clear right up front; if you want a top-flight, pure Android phone, you should be looking at the Galaxy S4 or Nexus 4 or HTC One, full stop. Not only do they — and a few other flagship handsets — feature powerful hardware, they're also equipped with Jelly Bean, Google's last major Android update. They're wonderful, you would enjoy them.

But those phones represent a lonesome minority, an elite advanced guard that most existing Android handsets may never join. Only 25 percent of Android devices run Jelly Bean, which means that only one in four can access Google Now.

And most older phones will never get promoted. And even if they do, individual app updates — even for Google products — can take forever.

By contrast, today's addition of Google Now to Google Search means that any phone running iOS 6 — which means every iPhone back to and including 2009's 3GS — has access to one of Android's marquee features.

And that's just Google Now. There are 25 Google iPhone apps available in the iOS App Store today. Nearly all of them have been updated in the last three months, and the ones you use the most — Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome, etc — are kept up as up to date as their Android counterparts. They work in harmony, too; trying to find directions in Google Now will open Google Maps instead of Apple's mediocre alternative. And as longs you're signed in with your Google account, what you do on one device carries over to any other.

Combine that interwoven goodness with the iPhone's exquisitely chamfered, super-lightweight body, and you've got yourself quite a package. To the extent that the Android experience is the Google experience, you really can't do much better.

What's Missing

There's more to Android than just Google apps, of course. The iOS desktop experience is far more rigid than what you'll find on even the clunkiest Froyo device. And while iOS notifications go a long way towards the seamless integration of Google services, you still can't get anything approaching the customisability Android provides with stock iOS.

But even that objection is largely surmountable. Jailbreaking an iPhone doesn't give you the same godlike powers as rooting an Android device, but it does let you continue to use App Store apps (like Google's) and make the phone look and feel like your own. Or like...Android.

The other big drawback is that some Google apps on iOS will lag behind, say, the latest Nexus release on certain features. But at least you can be more confident that you'll get them eventually.

What a Google Wants

The fact is, Google still doesn't ultimately care what device you're using its services on, just so long as you're using them. That's not going to change any time soon. Openness is baked into all of Google's services. Whereas iMessage's one true aim is to keep you bottled up inside iOS forever, Google has built Drive, Mail, and all of its other pillars to be as platform-neutral as possible. The more people using Google, the more highly relevant ads the company can serve.

And while the iPhone has always benefited from that to some degree — especially since Mountain View took charge of its iOS apps once and for all — Google Now's iOS availability is a strong acknowledgment that the company's willing to prioritise mass adoption of its best features ahead of getting its legacy Android devices up to speed.

What that means for you — since iOS updates bring so many legacy devices along with them — is that you can have more faith that an iPhone you buy today will get future Google bells and whistles than the vast majority of currently available Android phones.

Again, by all means, get an HTC One or a Galaxy S4. But do it for the design or the skin or the camera or the features. If it's Google you're looking for, you might just want to swing by the nearest Apple Store.


Comments

    Headline makes no sense at all. It's only Andrroid if you have an the Android OS, not just apps.
    Also even if it was Android there are far better phones than the iPhone 5 now (S4, HTC One, Xperia Z etc) si it wouldn't even be one of the best

      tl dr??

      read the article then make the comments.

    Sensationalist title much?

    who write these article. having just google Now doesn't make it 'Android'

      I agree, they also forgot to mention that it is the most expensive Android phone ever :)

        Nice try genius:

        Gizmodo: $ 899.00 for S4 http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/04/samsung-galaxy-s4-australian-review-pipped-at-the-post/
        Apple: $799.00 unlocked http://store.apple.com/au/browse/home/shop_iphone

          and id still buy a Galaxy S4 every time - price comparison isn't really accurate seeing the difference in time both phones have been available. how much was the iPhone 5 when they first came out?

            Same. iphones dont drop in price.
            Hence, comparison is pretty accurate.

            (I'm a windows phone fan so feel free to disregard anything i say in this thread which im sure will end up like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z19vR1GldRI)

            Last edited 30/04/13 1:33 pm

            Thats irrelevent skinja, the price is what you pay when you buy it.. today
            yesterday is past... stop livin' in the past maaan..

              i was more getting at the fact that its also old tech (not by much in the iphone) VS new Tech

            Ok, this isn't U.S. politics - we don't get to pick different 'truths'. Currently, from Kogan, the iPhone 5 16GB ($659) is cheaper than the Galaxy S4 16GB ($739).
            http://www.kogan.com/au/buy/apple-iphone-5-16gb-black-network-unlocked/
            http://www.kogan.com/au/buy/samsung-galaxy-s4-i9500-16gb-white/

            I would still buy an S4 over an iPhone, but let's not pretend that the S4 is currently cheaper than an iPhone 5. It probably will be soon, but now is not soon.

          That pricing is pretty inaccurate by about 70 bucks or so.

          http://www.mobicity.com.au/samsung-galaxy-s4-i9500-siv.html $799.00 for the 16gb model with expandable sd memory

          http://store.apple.com/au/buy/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone5 $799 for the Non LTE version 16gb model with no expandable memory

          The S4 model with LTE can be purchased for $829.00 but given it has expandable memory, again, that does weigh in its favour given the cheap ability to throw in a 32gb card (I've done this in my s2, its worth the effort.)

          They're the same price all round the place dude more or less, maybe there's a slight benefit or drawback here or there, one has LTE the other doesn't and yes the S4 LTE is 30 more, but the expandable memory more than makes up for that, it's definitely a pissing match now given how good BOTH OS's are and horses for courses now.

          Last edited 30/04/13 3:49 pm

            That's all well and good, but may I remind you guys that you're comparing Apples and Oranges (sorry, Androids)

            The S4 beats the Iphone5 hands down on hardware every single time! Processor, Ram, Screen realestate, battery life, expandable memory and that's without mention the fact that it's an android! :D

          They are both way cheaper at Kogan - http://www.kogan.com/au/buy/samsung-galaxy-s4-i9500-16gb-white/

    "That that means for you — since iOS updates bring so many legacy devices along with them — is that you can have more faith that an iPhone you buy today will get future Google bells and whistles than the vast majority of currently available Android phones."

    Yep, because you can totally still keep up to date with an iPhone 3G...

      more to the point from what iv seen every time they update in many cases they essentially break the previous phones at the same time in some way or another. so unlike a perhaps clunky galaxy s running froyo and still running fine many of my friends have iphones like iphone 3gs and 4 who break randomly and in new and interesting ways every time there is an update. at least the old galaxy s still works in its most basic features.

    What the hell is this article? Google apps does not make an android. It is ridiculous to state that the iphone does a better job at being an android phone when it doesnt even run android apps.

    I have itunes on my windows laptop! Now my laptop is the same as a macbook!

      My aspergers cant tolerate ambiguity is this article about installing android on an iPhone?

    I kind of get the point, but this has been written from the perspective on a iPhone fanboy, they are basically saying - sure Android is better - but you can still do it all on IOS seems like a poor attempt at keeping IOS in the news and relevant - and also seems that Apple are once again relying on Google since the whole maps thing did not work out so well last time.

      I doubt many iPhone users rely on Google services that much, and Now won't change that. I like Now and will probably use it sometimes, but it's not a core experience.
      This article is for Android users to examine what makes them love their device, what makes it so usable and desirable, and consider that they can achieve that on an iPhone by installing Google apps, with the added benefits of an OS that actually gets updated.

        @Jarrod "they can achieve that on an iPhone by installing Google apps" As much as someone can achieve the experience of driving a Ferrari by playing NFS. Ok that was a bit too much but after trying Google Now on my mates phone that's how I feel. You can't set any Google app as default nor do they integrate with other apps on your phone. It's a Google shell you're looking at. Definitely only a flavour of Android. I can understand why iOS users like the change. Just imagine how great the entire Google made OS is.

    I may not be able to get all the wonderful new Android features on my old Nexus One, but I also never use my Nexus One seeing as since that I've also had a GSII and now a Nexus 4. Granted not everyone wants to buy a new phone all the time, but you have to expect to be left behind when you're running old hardware. Ever tried running Windows 7 on a PC with 512Mb RAM?Technology updates extremely quickly. If you're relying on old hardware to get you through a decade of updates you're doing it wrong.

    Last edited 30/04/13 11:38 am

      Somewhat to the contrary, my almost 3 year old SGS1 is still chugging along and runs Jelly Bean well with a slight overclock.
      I await the Nexus 5 to see if it brings a more compelling reason to upgrade than "it opens apps faster".

    The link at the top of the story links to a story about a Nokia ad and I can't find Google Now on the Australian iTunes store so not sure whats going on here?

    ICS can actually run Google Now, but you'll need root access.

    Also there are plenty of mods out there that can get Jelly Bean on other phones besides those flagship devices you mentioned. You just need to want to put them on your phone.

    Wow, touched a nerve with the Andriod freaks, sorry fanboys, it appears...

      I don't think you have to be an Android fanboy to understand that the Android operating system and the Google app ecosystem are two completely different things.

        The point the author is making, is that what really makes Android Android is Google cloud services.
        You might disagree, but don't labour the point of "this article isn't about installing Android on an iPhone".
        In making other suggestions as to how Android is distinctive and desirable, avoid offerings from non-Google companies like Samsung and HTC. If you find it hard, then the author's point is proven. If you find it easy, then you have a valid complaint.

          Well that's a strawman, I never said anything about installing Android on iPhone so I can hardly be accused of labouring a point I never made. My point was that there's a marked difference between the Android OS and the Google ecosystem, and just because people have observed that fact in the comments doesn't make them "Andriod freaks, sorry fanboys".

          I don't think the author's point (that Google's apps are what makes Android) is wrong, I think it's invalid. It's non sequitur. Android has a long list of things it does differently, perhaps the most significant of which being its open app ecosystem and more accessible API. Just installing Google service apps on an iPhone doesn't come even remotely close to covering the strongest features of Android. And nor is the complaint a fanboy one - if the article had said 'I installed iTunes on my S3 and now it's the best iOS phone you can buy!' I'd have the same complaint.

            "Open app ecosystem" and "accessible API" are pretty niche...

              Based on what objective analysis? Or are you just describing your personal taste?

    Ah gizmodo and their quality articles. I would tell you writers not to quit your day jobs, but you suck at that too.

    hahahahahahahahahahahahaha five stars errbody gettin mad

      An iPhone isn't android I AM SO CONFUSED AND ANGRY

    WTF is this article? Might as well say that a Windows PC is one of the best Android phones you can buy because you can access all the Google websites from it.

    Android fans are now officially more embarrassing than apple fans ( invent something! )

    Location services won't turn off. Even if you quit the app completely.

    I like how an fully integrated operating system where apps can talk to each other regardless of who makes it, can be set as default for actions and can be run at the same time on the background (real multitasking) can be confused with an app eco-system that gives only a flavour of the above mentioned operating system on an inferior operating system. Hey but don't let facts get in the way of a 'good' article. Also like how accepting of Google apps the iOS users have become. It's a big change from rejecting everything Google. Better late than never. Just imagine all of those Google apps integrated into one OS.

    Google Now is spyware.

    This is a piss poor article. Who gives a crap about fanboyism, this article has no direction. It says the best type of one OS is this entirely different OS that isn't the aforementioned OS, and I'm not going to mention the other OS's or how the apps that connect aall the OS's are really what's more important

    "you can have more faith that an iPhone you buy today will get future Google bells and whistles than the vast majority of currently available Android phones."

    This article is quite frankly, embarrassing.

    Ignoring the fact that the author of this article doesn't seem to understand the difference between a phone's Operating System and the Services that Google provides, the assumption that people shop for a phone based on how many Google services can be accessed? That's ... I have no words.

    "Fuck the big screen/S-Pen/general Androidness of my Galaxy Note II, I'm going back to an iPhone now that it has Google Fucking Now!"

    Grasping at straws to fan the flames of iOS/Android debates. Yup, must be a slow day for news.

    This article has very clearly served its purpose judging by the comments :P. One of the big draw cards of Android is all the cool google apps, but iOS seems to have that covered now. For Joe average, iOS is probably the better choice - the hardware is arguably more than enough, the software is simple to understand and use, and the app selection is miles ahead of everyone, pretty much guaranteeing that what they need will be there. The only reason to go elsewhere would be cost, or you're one of those people who likes playing with their phone i.e. most people in this thread. Oh and if you want a bigger screen too. Otherwise, why bother with all the extra noise of Android?

    Clickbait.

    Droids will come saying 'WHAT?!?!?!' and Apples will come saying 'LOL'.

    Nothing constructive could come out of the comments section on this one.

    Did I get here late and miss an OS flame thread? Damn... I'm still gonna say that the Amiga OS is the best OS EVER. Windows, iOS and Linux are but pale emulations, and pretenders to the Amiga's throne. Long live the Amiga!

    Yes. It's still alive - http://www.amigaos.net/
    No. You can't run it on ARM architecture, but I don't care.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now