Apple's iPhones grab a lot of attention, but there are many reasons why 82.8 percent of all new smartphones sold run Android. Apple provides a completely catered, top-down experience in which the company dictates exactly which apps you can run and which features your phone can have. Android takes off the training wheels and lets consumers choose from a swath of hardware and software, also giving access to key technologies, such as removable storage, 3D cameras and 4K screens that Apple doesn't think its users can handle. You can also get an unlocked Android phone for far less than the cost of Apple's least expensive handset, the iPhone SE.
1. Better Values With smartphone subsidies going the way of the dinosaur, you have to take a hard look at your next phone's full retail price. If you want an iPhone, you have three choices: the $399 iPhone SE, the $649 iPhone 6s and $749 iPhone 6s.
While the SE may sound like a bargain in comparison to its big brothers, you can find a really great Android phone for much less than $400. You can get a solid handset like the Huawei Honor 5X, which has a 5.2-inch, 1080p display and decent Snapdragon 646 CPU, for less than $200. Google's Nexus 5X sells for $349 unlocked ($199 if you subscribe to Project Fi) with a full-HD display and a snappy Snapdragon 808 CPU. The $99 Moto E has a small, 4.5-inch, low-res screen and only 8GB of storage, but if you're really short on cash, it can serve in a pinch.
2. More Storage for Less Money The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are priced like high-end phones, but that doesn't stop Apple from skimping on storage, offering the same 16GB of base storage as on the budget-minded iPhone SE. After you deduct 1.3GB for iOS 9, you have almost no space for the 12-MP pictures you'll take, the 4K videos you'll shoot, your music collection or iTunes movies, which can take up between 1GB and 3GB depending on resolution. Apple heavily promotes its Live Photos feature, which creates animations of your stills, at double the size of regular JPGs. Some popular iOS games can also eat as much as 1GB to 2GB a piece. If you really want to make the most of your iPhone, you need to add another $100 to the price to get 64GB of storage.
All of the latest high-end Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC One M9 and the LG G5, start with a more-reasonable 32GB of internal storage. Some really low-cost phones like the Huawei Honor 5X start with just 16GB, but like many of the expensive models, they have microSD card slots for inexpensive expansion. A 64GB microSD card costs around $20.
3. Higher-resolution screens Apple's tagline for the iPhone 6s and 6s plus is "the only thing that's changed is everything," but "everything" apparently doesn't include screen resolution. In 2014, the company finally released its first full-HD phone, the iPhone 6 Plus — two years after the first 1080p Android handset debuted. Today's iPhone 6s Plus is still stuck at 1920 x 1080, while the mainstream 6s clocks in at a mere 1334 x 750 and the iPhone SE provides only 1136 x 640 pixels.
By contrast, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has a 4K (3840 x 2160) display, and several mainstream Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 offer 2560 x 1440 screens. This makes them better suited for high-res video viewing, reading and gaming. Even sub-$300 phones like the Huawei Honor 5X and Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 come with 1080p displays.
4. 3D Cameras, Advanced VR If you're looking for cutting-edge technologies, look no farther than the latest Android phones for features such as 3D depth-sensing cameras and truly immersive VR. You can get some VR mounts, including Google Cardboard, which run on iPhones. But Samsung's Gear VR offers a truly eye-popping experience, and it works only with the company's Android phones.
Imagine using your phone to get indoor turn-by-turn directions or to measure the size of a wall in your house. Google's Project Tango allows Android phones to capture depth data about their surroundings and use it to map a location precisely or impose accurate augmented-reality objects on top of your view. This summer, Lenovo will unveil the first phone with Project Tango software and the 3D camera it needs. Apple probably won't add a 3D camera to the iPhone for years.
5. Customization, widgets and skins Like a father in a 1950s sitcom, Apple thinks it knows what's best for you, no matter what you need or want, so it catch downs the UI and offers fewer customizations than Google does. You're limited to a few select widgets in your notification drawer on an iPhone. But with Android, you can choose from thousands of widgets that live on your home or lock screens and provide everything from music playback to weather and note taking.
Manufacturers such as Samsung and LG add custom "skins" on top of the core operating system, offering a unique look and feel, along with features Google hasn't implemented yet (e.g., gesture controls and Airview). Better still, you can install your own launcher or add a custom theme, which makes your phone look and feel completely different — and uniquely yours.
6. Many more hardware options, including rugged phones Google's marketing tagline for Android is "Be Together. Not the Same." That makes sense, because the platform appears on hundreds of different phone models around the world. You can get Android phones with giant screens, small screens, built-in projectors, QWERTY keyboards and replaceable batteries.
Perhaps most importantly, there are many mainstream Android phones that are made to survive being submerged underwater or dropped on the ground. The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 has a shatterproof display that won't scratch, even if you drop it from 5 feet in the air. Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge can survive being submerged in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. None of the three iPhones is designed to take that kind of a beating.
7. A working file system Want to copy files from your iPhone to your computer? You'll need to install iTunes and set up an account, and even then, you can move only media files, such as photos, back and forth. Plug an Android phone into your PC, however, and it instantly mounts as an external drive filled with folders you can drag and drop. You can also navigate through the file system on the phone using apps such as Astro File Manager or ES File Manager. Apple apparently doesn't trust you to see the file system on your iPhone.
8. Universal sharing You see a Web page in your browser, a map in your navigation app or a photo in your gallery, and you want to share it. On Android, you can share to any service whose app you have installed, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Google doesn't need to bless an app for it to show up in the sharing menu, nor do the browser maker, the navigation app publisher or drawing app developer.
Unfortunately, on the iPhone, you can share only to the apps that the browser, photo gallery or other app specifically supports. So, because Apple doesn't think much of Google+, WhatsApp or Pinterest, you can't share to them from Safari, and you won't be able to unless Apple’s gatekeepers specifically build in support.
9. A back button Android's back button provides a really simple and helpful way to return to a previous screen no matter where you are. The button even works across apps. If you hit a link in Facebook and get transported to the Chrome browser, you can return to the social media app when you hit the back button.
On the iPhone 6s, you can use only app-specific navigation or hit the home button to end up back on the home screen. That's a lot more swipes and taps that waste your time and tire your fingers.
10. Multiwindow support If you're looking to multitask on your phone, you want an Android phone from Samsung or LG. Both of those brands let you split your screen between two apps, allowing you to, for example, look at the company Web page in one window while you reply to your boss's email in another. Google hasn't built multiwindow mode into the Core OS yet; the company is adding that ability in the next version, called Android N. Apple added a split-screen view in iOS 9, but only for its tablets, not its phones.