Update : We wrote this article in September 2017. Of course, since then, there’s been three new generations of Apple phones released, and hundreds of new Android phones too. We recommend you see our November 2020 article for a more current commentary and buyers’ guide on what are the latest and greatest cell phones presently out there.
Apple have just announced their newest three phones, priced at even higher prices than last year’s models, and culminating in a breathtaking $1150 for a top of the line iPhone X with extra memory. (We review and analyze their new iPhone 8, 8+ and X models here.)
Many of us have gotten into the habit of automatically buying iPhones. We bought an iPhone back when there were no or very few and inadequate competitors, and we’ve stuck with Apple ever since. I’m like that myself – I have enjoyed all the five different iPhones I’ve owned.
But three things have happened in the ten years since the first iPhone truly revolutionized the phone market. First, Android phones these days are now as good as iPhones and in many respects better – sometimes even much better. If you are choosing a phone based on ‘which is the best’ then the answer is no longer an automatic slam-dunk for Apple. Quite the opposite. By most (but not all) measures, the best of the Android phones are now better than the best of the Apple phones.
Secondly, the price gap between an iPhone and any Android phone has been increasing. Sure, Apple has made its success out of selling premium priced products, but these days, the pricing differential is greater than ever before, while no longer providing anything apparent in terms of extra features/functionality. It may be possible to justify a $100 or even $200 in extra cost to buy the Apple brand, but the extra cost these days can stretch to $500 and up. Is it sensible to pay $500 extra for a phone that offers nothing more than the Apple name stamped on the back? Would you pay hundreds of dollars more than a Samsung phone for an Apple phone which, amusingly, has a Samsung screen on it?
The third thing that has happened is that most of the wireless companies no longer subsidize phone purchases. It was easy to overlook the extra cost of an Apple phone when it only appeared to make the difference between an Android phone offered for free with a new two-year contract, or an Apple phone apparently costing only $100 or $200 in total. But now, with the fully exposed phone prices, we can no longer ignore the fact that there is not and never was such a thing as a ‘free’ phone, and that the actual cost of a new Apple phone is a staggering $700 – $1150. Probably plus tax and maybe plus assorted other sundry costs, too.
We can no longer justify an automatic repurchase of another Apple phone. We need to look at what else is out there.
These days there are literally hundreds of different makes and models of Android phone. Some are from major brand names such as Samsung, Motorola and LG. Others are from an increasing number of ‘no name’ Chinese manufacturers who are churning out a huge number of almost-identical phones with slightly different feature-sets and slightly different prices, all at stunning low prices.
There’s no way we can present a definitive listing of all these hundreds of phones. But we have selected some phones, and show you comparisons of five iPhones and fourteen Android phones, across a dozen different features of each of these phones, as a way of exposing you to the enormous range of different phones, features, and pricing now out there. We specifically call out four of the bargain priced phones as worthy of consideration, and if you’re looking for higher end phones, the Android phones match or beat Apple on features as well as price.
For explanation of the features and why we choose to select some as better or worse, please see our earlier article and earlier listing of phones, posted a year previously.
Most/all of these phones are available on Amazon, and selected models are also sold through the various wireless companies, too. Here’s a link to Amazon’s huge selection of unlocked phones that will work with most of the US and international wireless companies, and here’s a link to Amazon’s selection of discounted phones that have carrier subsidies and may require new carrier contracts at the same time.
Note that some of Amazon’s phones are offered at a discounted price to their Prime members. If you’re not a Prime member, don’t despair! They will give you a 30 day free trial Prime membership – buy your phone during the 30 days and then decide if you want to let the Prime membership lapse or not at the end of the 30 days.
We’re not saying don’t buy a new Apple phone, but we are urging you to fairly check out the exciting and enticing array of Android phones first.