Android vs. iOS for Business: 5 Reasons to Choose Android for Your Device Fleet
75 percent of employees say that, when given a choice, they prefer iOS devices over Android. You may therefore think that iOS is the best mobile operating system for business.
But the reality is that, despite what employees may prefer, building a device fleet with Android is often a better choice. From customizability to hardware support, to vendor-agnosticism and beyond, Android offers a variety of advantages as a mobile operating system for business.
To prove the point, here’s a look at the top five reasons to choose Android over iOS.
Perhaps Android’s biggest advantage over iOS is that Android is highly customizable. IOS is not.
The main reason why is that Android is an open-source operating system. Anyone can download and modify the source code – which a business may well wish to do if, for example, it wants to build in extra security or management features that are not a core part of generic Android.
In contrast, iOS is a closed platform. Unless you can convince Apple to let you tweak the iOS source code (good luck with that!), iOS is what it is. Although certain frameworks that run on top of iOS, such as the WebKit browser engine, are open source and therefore theoretically customizable, the OS itself is absolutely not.
2. Broader Hardware Support
There are something like 24,000 distinct types of Android phones in existence (and that’s just counting off-the-shelf devices, not custom devices that businesses may use internally).
Meanwhile, iOS can run on 29 different iPhone models, as well as a dozen or so different types of iPads and Apple Watches.
When it comes to hardware support and options, then, Android clearly takes the cake.
Android’s support for a much larger range of hardware devices is a critical consideration for businesses building a device fleet. Android gives businesses nearly 1,000 times as much choice as iOS when selecting from existing devices. And because Android can be deployed on virtually any type of custom mobile device – which iOS cannot – Android also allows businesses to develop custom, purpose-built hardware if they wish.
3. Support for Rugged Hardware
Relatedly, Android’s ability to support rugged hardware – which means devices designed to withstand unusual environmental conditions, such as high temperatures or water intrusion – is another critical advantage for many device fleets.
Apple offers no official rugged iOS devices. Some third-party vendors sell what they claim to be rugged iPhones or iPads, but because they can’t meaningfully modify the actual iPhone hardware, these devices are basically just generic iOS devices inside rugged cases. They’re not a real substitute for rugged devices that are designed from scratch to remain operational under harsh conditions.
If you need a rugged mobile fleet that can be deployed on factory floors, construction sites, field technician vehicles, and so on, Android is the clear choice.
4. Less Expensive Components
Android’s broader hardware market contributes to another advantage of choosing Android over iOS for device fleets: it’s easier and cheaper to acquire the hardware components necessary to maintain Android devices.
If you need to replace a charger, screen battery, or other components for an iOS device (assuming you can replace the item at all), you’ll generally need to buy it directly from Apple. The price will typically be relatively high, and you may have to wait for the item if Apple’s supply chain is delayed.
In contrast, it’s usually much easier to find maintenance items for Android-based devices – even custom devices, provided that those devices are built with parts purchased on the open market. The parts also usually cost much less. Plus, they can usually be installed by your business’s own technicians without violating device warranties, whereas Apple generally disallows third-party repairs within its warranty terms.
5. Vendor Agnosticism
Although Android development is sponsored by Google, the code for Android is governed by an industry consortium (the Open Handset Alliance) and a variety of hardware and software vendors help shape the operating system.
This is important from a business perspective because it means that no single company has the ability to chart the future of Android, discontinue key features within the OS, or decide which hardware the OS will and will not support. Even if Android developers were to remove functionality, businesses that need it could build it back in by customizing the OS.
There is no such guarantee in the case of iOS, which is controlled by Apple alone. Although Apple has no history of upending the market by killing features or services, a business that builds its device fleet using iOS can never know if Apple might suddenly decide to change iOS in a way that breaks functionality that the business depends on.
There may be some situations where iOS is a better choice than Android as the operating system to power a device fleet. If you’re just looking for phones that your workers can use in the office, and you don’t mind paying the prices associated with iOS device acquisition and maintenance, iOS may work well for you.
But if you need the ability to customize your mobile OS, select from a broad range of hardware (including rugged devices), optimize mobile device costs, and future-proof your device fleet against potential changes to the OS, Android for business is the way to go.