The newest iPhone comes out in two weeks; the Android OS continues to deploy on better and better hardware; and both operating systems roll out exciting new features and innovations with each release. So which deserves your hard-earned cash? A Starting Point
You can evaluate iPhone and Android devices from countless angles, so rather than pretend that we've got the One True Comparison, it only seems appropriate to highlight that we're not necessarily your average user. For more specifics on how we judge these devices, read this footnote. For our purposes, we're measuring each phone OS against 20 features we care about most, declaring a winner (or a tie) for each category, and adding it all up. The extent to which our measurements match up with what you most care about may vary, but we suspect that many of you share similar values when it comes to your smartphone.
Ease of Use; Winner: iPhone
Android has come a long way in a short time, but from an ease-of-use perspective, the iPhone wins out. You can pick up any iPhone and quickly, easily understand what's going on. It's got one main button on the front of the device, and everything you do consists of tapping app icons from the home screen. Android devices have several buttons on the front of the device that perform a variety of functions, and once you unlock the screen (and depending on which Android device you have), you're confronted with many different possible home screens and ways of doing things from those home screens. Openness; Winner: Android
We really like that the Android operating system is open source, but what's more important to most end users is openness in terms of what you can run on these devices. The operating systems themselves are clearly important, but one thing's abundantly clear: the applications make the phone. And while Google has yet to get in hot water for rejecting apps based on anti-competitive fear or censorship, Apple has a lot. Battery Life; Winner: iPhone
Apple has taken battery life extremely seriously in their careful development of the iPhone, and it's shown. While Android devices get a kitchen-sink's worth of features that you may consider to be a fair tradeoff for battery life, there's little question that the iPhone's battery life outlasts that of most Android devices. Battery performance definitely varies from Android handset to Android handset (the recently released EVO is taking big hits for its poor battery performance), but the iPhone's battery performance—particularly the new iPhone's performance—generally outlasts Android's. Multitasking; Tie
It's a big deal that the iPhone is finally getting some multitasking support in iOS4, and while it's still not as true of multitasking as Android users enjoy, the tradeoff in terms off battery life improvements is important enough that, overall, we'd consider multitasking to be a wash. Software Keyboard; Winner: iPhone
If you talk to anyone who's used both the iPhone and Android with some frequency, the general consensus is that the iPhone's software keyboard is a good deal better than Android's default keyboard. That's unfortunate for Android users, but the consolation is that you can install any custom keyboard as your default keyboard on Android, and we've seen some solid keyboard alternatives. Still, the advantage, if only by virtue of being better out of the box, goes to the iPhone. System-Wide Search; Tie
Apple's implementation of Spotlight on the iPhone searches contacts, media, email, applications, notes, and calendar. Android searches most of that (but notably not email), but also integrates with auto-suggest web searches; it also lets other applications plug into it, so the more supported apps you install, the more robust the universal search becomes. Notification system; Winner: Android
This may seem like a silly thing to care too much about, but the iPhone's modal notification...