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Bill Bennett

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Nexus 6P: Android thoughts

Nexus 6P

Google’s Nexus 6P is the best Android phone you can buy.

For many that means it is the best phone full stop. Some people are only interested in Android.

Android is the most popular phone operating system by a huge margin. Five Android phones sell for every Apple iOS phone.

Many, maybe most, Android users are happy, loyal customers. They like the software. They like the choice of hardware.

Freedom to tinker

Open source advocates like the freedom to tinker, even if they don’t all take advantage of it themselves.

Not everyone wants to spend a king’s ransom on a high-end phone. Android caters to those people as well as the well-heeled enthusiasts waiting for the latest and greatest.

Nexus 6P ticks all the right boxes. The phone is all about preaching to the Android faithful. Google has extracted the purest expression of its software and Huawei has packed it into a great high-end device.

Google priced the Nexus 6P a little below the nosebleed heights of the big brands’ top models.

In New Zealand Nexus 6P prices start at NZ$1100 for the 32GB phone. Most premium phones start at NZ$1200. That money buys the 64GB Nexus 6P.

What about iOS converts?

It’s a tempting choice. Yet it’s not one that will win many over from iOS

While the phone beats its Android rivals on almost every count, from an iOS user’s point of view shares one disadvantage with them: it’s an Android.

There are Apple customers who’s objection to Android or other alternatives is an irrational brand loyalty. Call it consumerism, prejudice or snob value if you like. Either way, nothing logical will change their thinking.

Those Apple users are a minority. For the others there are three big questions and they all come down to logic.

Phone security

First there are still questions over Android’s general security compared to iOS. Android defenders either don’t care, dismiss the issue or argue that their favoured operating system is no worse than iOS.

We’ll park that debate for another time. For now just take it on trust that many many iOS users are wary of what they see as Android’s relative insecurity.

Privacy

Second is privacy. Android phones constantly collect data about user activity, habits and location. Google knows an enormous amount about each Android user.

True, every other phone brand collects similar data. However, with Android collecting that data is Google’s business model. It’s how the company turns its Android into money.

Apple and Microsoft don’t offer the data their phones collect to the market in any form. Google uses it as the basis for selling advertising.

Privacy is a price

You may be happy with this. Many don’t care. If it was a widespread fear Andorid phones wouldn’t sell by the container load. Other Android users rationalise that giving away part of their privacy is a fair price in return for the value they get from Android phones.

One common comment I hear is that Apple phones are overpriced compared to Androids. One could make the case that Android phone prices are subsidised by Google’s data-mining. There are Apple users who regard the premiums they pay for their phones as fair exchange for extra privacy.

The apps

Perhaps the biggest advantage iOS has over Android is the merit of the iOS app store relative to the Google Play store.

Never mind what Google and Android fans tell you, aost Apple third-party apps are better in almost every respect. You may find exceptions to this rule, but they are rare.

Most iOS apps follow Apple’s, often strict, rules. This leads to a better user experience.

App user interface

Even now Android apps often use different user interface conventions, they don’t all put similar buttons in the same places. Swiping from left to right doesn’t always do the same thing. The buttons for back are not always the same.

This is rare in the iOS world.

App developers do their best work on iOS. Some tell me this is, in part, because there are better development tools. Others say it is a better operating system to build for. I’ve even been told writing for iOS is more enjoyable. Do happy developers make better apps?

Follow the money

I’m told the main reason most developers prefer iOS is that they earn better financial returns than from Android. Yes, that’s right, Android is 80 percent of the market, but developers make more money from Apple’s 18 percent market share.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some great Android developers or good apps. Developers tell me they like the open nature of the OS and from their point of view Android is improving faster than iOS, so it may catch up.

There are users who prefer Android apps. And there are many who prefer using kludgy free Android apps over paying a few dollars to developers for more polished iOS ways of doing the same things.

Nexus 6P a great phone

I’ve seen comments from blog post readers along the lines that only Apple users are foolish enough to pay for apps that are free elsewhere. Maybe people believe that.

Yet for now there’s a yawning gulf between the overall user experience of Android apps when compared with iOS apps.

Of course none of this matters to people who just want a phone, mail or other messaging and a browser.

Not everyone who would prefer a better phone experience can afford it. We have to remember the Nexus 6Ps, Galaxy S6s and Xperia Z5s all sit at the lofty heights of the premium phone market while a lot of the Android action is lower down the price scale.

Which brings me back to where the Nexus 6P sits in the greater scheme of things. It’s a no compromises Andorid, a great phone that’s priced just right for the market.

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