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Why I would pick an iPhone over an Android device every time Pixabay

One of the new iPhone models, even the so-called "budget" one, the XR, may cost as much as thrice what a phone like the OPPO F9 does – even though the features are comparable.

But then it depends on what one is looking for – and anyone who is putting privacy first would opt for the Apple product, and not any Android device.

This op-ed is in response to one written by iTWire editor Stan Beer, in which he detailed his reasons for choosing an OPPO F9 — which runs the Android mobile operating system — over an iPhone XR. He definitely provided valid reasons for his choice. But people have different priorities.

Android phones cannot get away from the ubiquitous Google apps – Maps, Gmail, and on and on and on. None of them can be removed from the system; they can be disabled but the system instability and error messages that result when this is done, would lead any sane individual to re-enable them.

Google shamelessly spies on people, using their personal details to drive targeted advertising. And even when one turns off things like location, the company continues to record details. I don't think I need to go into detail; I have written about this countless times.

Apple is no angel when it comes to collecting personal data. But what the company collects is a very small fraction of what Google does. And its revenue does not come from advertising as Google's does. Apple gets its revenue from those same high prices which Beer was unwilling to pay.

While a recent speech about privacy by Apple chief executive Tim Cook was somewhat over the top, there are measures the company takes — like its introduction of intelligent tracking protection in a recent update — which are geared towards consumer protection. Only two browsers — Google's Chrome and Microsoft's EDGE — have no inbuilt protection against tracking users.

Apple follows the same principle that all technology (and many other) companies do – charge whatever you think the market will bear. Australia has always suffered from this approach, because it is universally considered that we will be willing to pay higher prices.

How long will an Android phone last? I've had experience with devices made by LG, Motorola, Alcatel, Samsung and OnePlus – the average is about two years of steady use before some problem or the other manifests itself. I have never used an iPhone, but I have a model 4, given to me by a friend, which still works. It is never used, apart for the occasional experiment.

For the better part of two years, I used an Ubuntu phone, and the spectre of privacy-invasion never manifested itself. But then Canonical, the company behind it, could not square the books and stopped development of the operating system in April last year. I am now using various cast-off Android devices until the next Linux phone, the Librem 5, is released in April 2019.

Using an iPhone would go totally against my grain as I have been a GNU/Linux user for the last 18 years. No Windows, no Mac. No walled gardens. But yet, when faced with a choice between Apple's proprietary system, which costs a lot, and Google's spyware, I would pick the former.

It all depends. You can be like Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google's parent company Alphabet, and say that if you have done nothing wrong then you should have nothing to hide — though Schmidt took exception when someone found out his phone number and posted it on the Web — or you can want some personal details to be known only by yourself.

What price do you put on something like that?

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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