Ask LH: Should I Have Both iOS And Android Devices?

Ask LH: Should I Have Both iOS And Android Devices?

Dear Lifehacker, For the past year or so I’ve been using a Nokia dumb-phone as my mobile phone and an iPod touch as my portable organiser, text editor, web browser and so on. The Nokia has, sadly, seen better days and it is becoming inevitable that I’ll need a new phone soon. As I enjoy the iOS experience, and have built up quite a library of apps, the obvious choice should be an iPhone, but that will make my iPod more or less redundant. For that reason I’ve been wondering, is there anything to be gained by using both an iOS and Android (or Windows) device? Thanks, Mobile Overload

Dear MO,

While having one device that can do everything is a worthy goal, the reality is that many of us do end up toting multiple gadgets. For instance, my longstanding smartphone of choice is a BlackBerry Torch, but I also usually carry an iPod Nano as well for music playback. My Torch is a perfectly fine music player, but using a separate gadget means that I get more battery life out of both devices. Having no music on the Torch also means that I maximise space for apps and other information.

In your scenario, there’s a bunch of potential strategies you could pursue:

Sell your iPod Touch and upgrade to an iPhone 4. This will give you one device that does everything in a fashion you’re familiar with. The potential downside is that if you’ve got a higher-capacity Touch, you’ll need to spend a fair bit to get similar storage space. (You might also want to wait until the rumoured mid-year iPhone upgrades before splashing out your money.)

Keep your iPod Touch and buy an iPhone 4. This way, you’ll have a useful music player and a familiar-feeling phone (and you’ll be able to keep using any chargers and other accessories). It’s an expensive route though.

Keep your iPod Touch and buy an Android or Windows phone. You’ll have access to the best of both iOS and your chosen phone, and (potentially) a standalone music player. A new Android phone can be had for a lot less than an iPhone. However, you’ll need to learn an entirely new platform.

Sell your iPod Touch and buy an Android or Windows phone. This would make sense if you didn’t like the iOS experience, but clearly you do.

My basic feeling is that if you like iOS already, moving to the iPhone will give you the most pleasure and satisfaction. Whether you choose to keep your Touch as a backup/music player comes down to whether you can afford the new device outright. You’re already used to carrying two devices, so that won’t come as a shock. I think Android and Windows Phone 7 have plenty to recommend them, but I’m not sure that change for change’s sake would make sense in your case.

That’s my take, but there’s definitely other ways of looking at it. Additional insights from readers are, as always, welcome in the comments.


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  • I was in exactly the same position about 6 months ago. I used my Touch primarily because I have a point of sale / invoicing app on there that allows me to generate quotes and invoices on the run but I got sick of having to juggle both devices. I sold the Nokia and got an Android, however I still find myself using the Touch because I feel the invoicing app is much better than what is on offer for Droid at this time. I’m trialing a Droid app right now and in 2 minds as to whether to migrate my stock database across. As for the rest of the apps on my Touch, I’ve found good Droid replacements for just about all of them.

    Right at this time however I think the Touch has become more or less a security blanket that I would like to be rid of, in fact I think this comment has provided me the therapy I required and pushed me to take the plunge. The Touch will now be relegated to the house as my media remote and little more. Thank you!

  • If it helps, I have a Win7 device and decided to try and use one device for email, music, etc.

    So far so good. If I listen to music to and from work (about 40 minutes each way) and general phone calls and sms, a touch of facebook/browsing, my HD7 makes it through about 2 days of use before needing to charge.

    I do however carry my phones USB cable so I can charge if I need to, but once every few days seem to suffice. The biggest battery drains are Wifi, Bluetooth and touching the screens a lot (i.e. games).

    Would highly recommend the switch to a single device if you can do it. Makes your life a lot easier and cleaner on one device.

  • I’m an Android owner, so I’m going to try as hard as I can not to be biased on this one.

    My advice? Think of the phone as nothing more for the immediate time being, and weigh up which platform give’s you the best experience for a phone. If you know anyone that has an iPhone or Android device, have a go on theirs, if not see if there’s a demo model you can use from one of your carrier’s stores. Keep in mind though with Android that pretty much all manufacturer’s have put their own skin over UI, which will affect your user experience (though HTC’s SenseUI seems immensely popular).

    Once you’ve decided which you like better as a phone platform (and potentially made your purchase), you can then begin weighing up how you feel regarding continued use of your iPod. As Gus pointed out, you can expect less battery life from a single device fulfilling both roles. Further two different devices doing two different tasks is always going to perform better than a single device attempting to multitask.

  • I am going to be biased on this one…

    If you’re worried about battery life and storage size when migrating to a single device, go Android, that way you can carry a spare battery (which is easier to carry than a spare device), and get at least a 32GB SD card – in fact, get 2 and swap if you’re really worried…

    Who cares about a device becoming redundant – I still wear my grade 5 undies because I don’t want them to become redundant either. Aren’t you worried about your Nokia becoming redundant too? Just let go.

    Now on the other hand, if your library of apps is what’s important, go iPhone, although you can always browse the android market and see if you’ll get the apps you’re missing from there.

    As for Windows Phone, well, they lost me ages ago, and it’s going to take a lot for them to win me back…

    My advice is to totally forget what you have, and compare what each device offers as if starting off fresh.

    • “As for Windows Phone, well, they lost me ages ago, and it’s going to take a lot for them to win me back…”

      Before or after WP7? And what about Mango?

  • I don’t mind my phone being my media playback device for two reasons.

    I typically do not talk to people while listening to music.

    I have constant access to an iCharging cable as everyone has one at their house and I have a cable. Saying that, Angus’ situation is different as he spends a lot of time road warrioring.

    I would only say don’t go all in one only if you really need extra battery power. Which in my opinion most day to day uses do not.

  • Anyone who has listened to music through an Android device (especially with PowerAmp as the player) surely isn’t going back to listening through an iPod/iPhone. (Assuming good headphones, I guess – those crap things that come with Apple devices won’t sound even half-decent on anything, I suspect.)

  • Get some karma by giving your current iPod to someone who’d like one and giving your old phone to one of those phone recycling firms and then consoldate both functions into either an iPhone if you know you like the ios apps or Android if you’re feeling adventurous.

    Using a media streaming app on your iPhone/Android will let you access your whole home music collection whilst out and about anyway making it worth ditching the iPod for anyway.

  • Go for one device. I know the Nokia is not fav on this site but it does the job really well. I have an N8 and the music from that is great. Plus it will sync just fine with almost all music formats. It has an FM transmitter so you can play it on any car radio.

    I have music on a 32GB card and Video on another 32GB card so its all covered.

    It doesnt drain batt as bad as the iOS or Droid so you are likely to get a bit (wont be huge) longer life. It can be charged with USB type charger or standard charger so you’re more likely to find a charger if you need one.

    It has the best camera of any phone so you can be comfortable knowing you can drop that from your carry all as well.

    It will also connect by HDMI or RCA so you can run your music, videos, movies and pic’s from any TV

  • This is exactly what happened to me. In my case I won an iPod touch, which I really enjoyed. Then about 18months later my phone was getting old, with a battery life of about 2 hours, and so when I renewed my contract I had a choice of numerous smartphones. I chose an HTC Desire.

    From my personal experience, I’d sell or give away the iPod touch. Once I had a device that rolled all my requirements into one, I simply found that I didn’t pick up my iPod Touch anymore. The writer of the article says that he still uses his Nano, but that’s a different scenario because a Nano has a very different form factor to a phone. An iPod touch, on the other hand, is basically the same size and shape. So it’s really a phone, but not with the functionality of a phone.

    I can’t see much advantage of having both operating systems available to you. Both offer almost exactly the same functionality so I can’t think what you’d gain by having both. As to which one, well that’s up to you, I’m not going to get into an argument about iOS vs Android.

  • I’m no Fangirl but I waited my whole life for the gorgeousness that is my iPhone 3gs. and that was through Psion, Palm, HP and Nokia.

    However, I also have an Optus Tab – cos I wanted to see what Google had to offer and its a great machine, free apps and as customisable as you could want. Really you need to identify what you want. For apps I still think the IPhone is ahead, but Google is catching up. I still find it a little less instant on than the iPhone, the OS a little less stable. Cost is also an issue. See if you can get a loaner from a friend and try both – finally consider screen size; ultimately I prefer the Ipad for work as I email more than I call.

  • I know it’s not quite the same thing… but I have a Nexus One (android) phone, and went for an iPad (I guess somewhat analagous to your ipod touch?) and I don’t have any trouble running two platforms, so to speak. It’s nice to have some variety (that said, I will probably go iphone 5).

  • I have an iphone 4 (upgraded from iPhone3G) and an ipad. After getting the iPad I found I was only using the iPhone as a mobile phone and music/podcast player (ie not playing games, or using many apps)
    Since I was having issues with iTunes on my PC (music duplication etc) I decided to try an Windows Phone 7 (HTC). So far I like it. I think contacts and calendar are superior to iPhone, but it is still an infant operating system. Hopefully with Mango coming out later this year it will address some issues (multitasking, got used to it with iOS).
    I didnt go with android because it seemed to similar to iOS. That being said I will probably try an android tablet (Sony) later this year as an alternative to the iPad.

  • I have a nexus-one and an itouch 4g. The screen of the latter is far superior. The applications are different in the two devices. You get an (almost) perfect google experience on the nexus-one while on the touch this is not nearly as good. The good of the touch is having many ios only applications. The good of the droid is to have the freedom of the platform, many free applications: one for all, built-in wifi-spot capabilities (I use this to connect the touch to the internet). Finally, the droid emissions are very high due to 3g (as every phone). This prevents me to carry the device close to my body. The touch has not this problem because wifi emissions are small.

    If I was you:

    1. I would keep the touch to have the applications you want + a better screen.
    2. Take a cheap droid ~100$ (=crappy screen) to have the phone and an arsenal of good applications, including mobile internet connectivity.

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