As we approach Christmas I’m getting lots of requests for advice on buying gadget gifts.  This year some of the most popular requests are for cell phones and tablets.  Whether you’re buying a last-minute gift or taking advantage of the sales following Christmas, here are some tips on buying these devices.

Starting with cell phones, there really are only two choices, Android and Apple.   Now you may never have of heard of Android, but a lot of phones are android phones.  A phone has to run an operating system, just like a PC has to run Windows (ok there are other options but everyone is familiar with Windows!).   Apple phones run an operating system called iOS.  Android is an operating system that was developed by Google to offer an alternative for phone manufacturers.  Samsung is the most popular manufacturer who now use Android on their phones.

Android is a very powerful, customizable and flexible platform; however, this does have some drawbacks.   With flexibility comes less control which results in a greater chance of getting problems with rogue apps that slow down your phone or worse, show pop up messages that are hard to close and can make your phone unusable.   If you’re careful about which apps you download and install, you’ll be fine – however there are so many out there it’s hard to know which ones are safe and which ones could be dangerous.   Take some time to read app reviews and research them before downloading.

The customizability offered by Android means you (and the phone manufacturers) have greater control over how the interface looks and works.   If you’re the kind of person that likes to spend time tweaking things then you’ll appreciate this.   However not everybody needs this and it can lead to confusion.

Updates are important to keep a phone working properly and securely.   There’s regular updates to Android, however the distribution of these updates is typically controlled by the phone manufacturers or carriers, which can result in long delays before updates become available.

As you can probably tell by now, I have a preference for Apple phones.   This is not to say that Android phones aren’t good – far from it, some of the best phones out there are Android and it’s always a battle between Android and Apple to have the best phones on the market.

The advantage with Apple is that the devices are designed to work well without you having to think about how to use them.   Updates are provided directly from Apple and can be set to automatically install overnight as soon as they become available.   But one of the biggest advantages Apple has is the way they use Apps.   All apps have to be bought through the App Store, and have to pass stringent requirements and tests before they can be made available.   Apple provides a lot of control over what apps can and can’t do, which means you don’t have the same concerns when it comes to installing them.   Don’t worry that this means there will be fewer apps – there are currently 2.2 million apps on the Apple App Store!   And all of them have been vetted by Apple to ensure they’re safe to download and use.

Now there are disadvantages to Apple devices.   The biggest one is cost.   The latest iPhone X (which I have to say is pretty fantastic) starts at $1319 when bought off contract.   However Samsung’s premier phone, the Galaxy Note8 starts at $1299 off contract.   Most people buy the phone through a carrier at a subsidized price so it’s quite revealing just how much these phones actually cost!    Where Android has the advantage is with the variety of options for cheaper phones though.   There are many cheaper Android phones to choose from.   I do believe it’s worth spending a little extra however, to get an Apple device given the concerns I’ve explained above.

So what about tablets?

Well, the situation is exactly the same with them.  There are Android Tablets and Apple tablets.   Here the price difference is even greater – the cheapest Apple tablet (which is the one I’d recommend) is the iPad at $449.   It’s possible to get an Android tablet for around $100 however I’d highly recommend you avoid these.   They’ll be so slow that you’ll end up leaving it in a drawer.  What seemed like a bargain will actually be a waste of $100!

Now some people will have Android tablets and phones and will love them.   The choice between the two really is personal preference and both offer amazing experiences.   But at the end of the day, my preference is for Apple.   And importantly my customers who’ve bought Apple devices have been thrilled with them!

Whichever you choose – enjoy and make the most of them!

If you have any questions or would like any advice on other gadgets for the season – please drop me an email and I’ll be glad to help.

Until next time – Merry Christmas!