For years now a debate has been carrying on about whether or not one should actually break into their hard earned savings in order to buy the iPhone, or simply choose to go another way and follow the Android trail. I’ve been privy to this seemingly endless ‘mind-game’ since the beginning and although I have my own reservations about both, I have noticed something quite interesting that I’d like to share (and I’m sure most of you would have drawn the same conclusion). 

The iPhone is not cheap, hence I choose to categorize it as a luxury/lifestyle product, and I’m sure there are a few who will agree with me. It’s not a product that can claim to be ‘affordable’, not by a long shot. And with each new iteration of the device the price steadily goes up achieving even higher levels of ‘grandeur’. 

Now here’s the thing… people who can’t seem to afford it are still buying it! No offence to anyone here but let’s face it, a Rs. 40,000 phone that can do just as much as one that sells for Rs. 30,000 or, in some cases less, is still very much in demand. Sure we all want the best things in life but for some, that’s a whole month’s salary. So what makes this device so enticing that it makes people take leave from work, pack food, gather warm clothes/ sleeping bags, send the kids to live with their parents and wait in line for days in the freezing cold ahead of a launch just to be the first to own this device? 

The lines get bigger every year

The lines get bigger every year

This phenomenon is not universal to all companies irrespective of hype generated around a device. Surely it can’t be the feature set, Android running devices offer just as many of not more in most cases. It can’t be the design, the iPhone 4 and 4S were virtually identical and quite simplistic in nature. Perhaps the premium quality materials that go into the design could be a reason but Nokia’s Lumia 800 and Motorola’s RAZR XT 910 also feature premium quality material. There were no reports of lines stretched out across the city (an exaggeration but not by much) for those devices. It’s not audio quality as HTC’s Beats audio engine or Dolby SRS audio enhancement featuring in a variety of devices are so much better. It’s not the 5 Megapixel camera with HD recording. Sony’s Xperia S with its 12MP edition would do far better and offers digicam like features. 

What’s that? Retina Display you say? Good point but screen sizes have increased and while the iPhone has retained the smaller display (3.5-inches) packing in the pixels, devices like the Galaxy Note and HTC One X have upped the viewing space and pixel count as well. Could it be the multitude of apps then? Well Android has a huge amount too with quite few of those that are paid in iOS being free on the Android app market.

I could attribute it to brand value and the iPhone being some sort of Status Symbol that allows for a certain amount of mobile bragging rights. I wouldn’t be entirely wrong. To most it’s a matter of simply saying, I have an iPhone and that would be better than claiming to have a Vertu device or the Tag Heuer Meridiist. People still tend to be more taken up with the iPhone which leads us back to square one, why the ‘insanity’ circulating around this one single product?

People save for months, sell their stuff and all this even after scraping together savings for the previous models to do the same a year later for the next-gen device. What brings on this madness. 

In my experience and after asking around, I’d have to go with user experience. Right now, being an Android user since month one of its launch, my impression is that Google’s OS is by far the most customizable and versatile but it’s un-refined. With ICS, things have the potential of being streamlined if companies ever decide to launch it as is. With UI’s like Sense and TouchWiz, ICS is more of a myth than a reality. 

Apple, on the other hand, offers a stupendous user experience that’s streamlined, simplistic enough for kids to use and universal through their mobile range. We’re talking about products that are over a year old being capable of running the latest version of the OS. It’s genius. Google, thanks to its Open Source functionality can be added to devices of all shapes and sizes and can be made available in all price brackets, but not all of the devices available today are ready for the next generation OS update.

iOS is clearly a very future proofed operating system packaged into a tidy little user interface and further into a simple, luxuriously designed shell. The functioning of the device, in general is seamless. Bragging rights aside, the sheer usability of the device makes all of its shortcomings take a back seat. It’s like buying a Ferrari to go grocery shopping, it’ll get you from point A to point B, just like a Maruti 800 but the ride and experience getting there is so much better. 

Of course Siri could also be another aspect for purchase. Who doesn’t want to have a sultry sounding woman respond to your every command, even if she doesn’t have all the answers.

So while I’m doing just fine with a feature rich, high resolution mobile camera, large screen display, slim,  sleek looking Android device, my desire for that damn iPhone still goes unfulfilled. 

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