The Sandbox or The Beach‏

For the last five years fall has brought three things like clockwork. The return of school, the return of football and the release a new iPhone. But something different is happening this year. Samsung, perhaps the only true rival to Apple's smartphone dominance, is releasing their own high profile phone in the same time frame.  The iPhone 6 (and 6+)  will release on September 19th and the Galaxy Note 4 from Samsung will follow softly in early October. 

These highly anticipated launches once again circle us back to a debate that has been ongoing for much of the last few years and to which most people only half way understand. Socially known as #teamIPhone or #teamAndroid; unfortunately the tags are misleading as most people would more accurately categorize themselves as #teamSamsung.  The genesis of this very polarizing debate begins oddly enough with a third company that has fallen by the wayside in these conversations. HTC, was the first company to release an android phone through T-Mobile as a way to combat Apple's increasing dominance of the smartphone market. Developed by Google android was to be everything that Apple wasn't. Free, Open Source (Any one could write software for it), and most importantly comparatively affordable.  The idea was welcomed with open arms by companies that were being left out in the cold by Apple's exclusive deal AT&T.  But there was one little problem.  It was hard to us, non-intuitive and just plain ugly. 

Consumers as a whole tend to aim for ease of use and design wow factor over technical superiority. And what Apple had in spades was accessibility and cutting edge design. Enter Samsung, after years of tinkering they had the silver bullet for Android devices. In a move that could be labeled either revolutionary or derivative Samsung found a way to make Android not only easier to use but also packed a visual and design punch. (How much of a design change was it? Apple alleged that Samsung stole design ideas and sued for injunctions against the release of the Galaxy S3.) Suddenly Android phones were no longer an also ran in the high end smartphone marketplace. Samsung has mad ethe conversation a two phone race that hadn't been seen since the days of Palm vs Blackberry.

Fast forward to today where we find consumers faced with what has become a yearly decision between not just two phones but to philosophies. To understand the difference in the two phones you must acknowledge that at their core they both aim to do the same thing.  It would be like driving a BMW or Mercedes Benz. Ultimately they have the same goal to get from A to B.  The differences In vehicle then would boil down to the execution, design, user experience, and company focus of the respective manufacturers.  The same holds true for Apple and Samsung.  To better understand the differences between the companies we'll use the analogy of the sandbox and the beach.

The Sandbox

Apple is for all intents and purposes has the biggest managed sandbox in the world.  Apple gives you all the toys in the world, but they've chosen them all for you because they know what's best don't they?  And while you sit in their sandbox they will guarantee that everything will not only work but that they will be the shiniest, best designed, most fun toys available. You'll have those toys first and those toys will have all the add-ons and bells and whistles imaginable.  Sounds great, right?  But here's the flip side of the coin.  Don't ever ask for more toys then what Apple has given you. Stay in the sandbox and enjoy your toys and play nice because we'll take those toys away when we want to or change the way the work whenever we want to. (Example: Millions of people woke up September 10th and found that they had been given the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, even if they didn't want it.)

The Beach

Android, and by extension Samsung, takes a completely different path.  Imagine Android being a vast beach next to the ocean.  The theory is that they're not going to tell you what to do on your beach. It's yours make of it what you will but don't cry to us if anything goes wrong. If you find the wrong toy and it destroys your beach that's your problem. But here's the upside to having the whole beach. You are completely free to make of it whatever you will. Build the biggest sandcastle ever. Hell, build an airplane out of sand the world is open to you. Android's power lies in that simple concept; you can do whatever you want!


At the end of the day there is no one phone that does everything perfectly. The best answer to what's the best phone? Whichever phone fits you the best. First I would make sure that your carrier's version of the phone you like doesn't have restrictions that would make it a no go for you personally. Second,  is there an app that works better on one platform than the other? (Or not available at all?) Lastly, take advantage of the stores return/exchange policy. Most stores have a 14 day window and will allow you to test drive your new smartphone. Make the right for call for yourself and remember that just because your best friend has an Galaxy or iPhone doesn't mean you have to do the same.