There are a number of considerations when choosing a new business tech, particularly when mobile devices seem to become outdated every few months. The iPhone and iPad may have defined the category. More recently, however, Samsung has established itself as a serious rival, with the Android operating system now a clear alternative to Apple's iOS.
The smartphone war
A recent survey of US smartphone users, by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP)1, showed that Apple is taking many more customers away from Samsung than the reverse.
In the past year, 20 per cent of new iPhone users switched from an Android phone. Only 7 per cent of new Samsung owners previously owned an iPhone. Yet, those who upgrade from a standard mobile device are more likely to nab a Samsung. 37 per cent of new users choose a Samsung Galaxy model, while only 26 per cent go for the iPhone as their first smartphone.
So, does this make Samsung the 'gateway' device and Apple the more popular choice for those already familiar with smartphone tech and looking for a bit more from their phone?
Screen size matters
Samsung has attracted a number of new smartphone users simply by having a larger screen. Put a Galaxy S4 next to the iPhone 5 and Apple's offering looks rather feeble by comparison. A larger screen makes certain tasks easier, particularly reading and working with documents.
Both Samsung and Apple have tablets in approximately similar sizes. The most recent Samsung Galaxy Tab sports a 10.1" screen, while the iPad is only marginally smaller at 9.7". If you're obsessed by screen resolution, the iPad has the advantage here. As business tech rarely relies on viewing those PDFs in full HD, this is not a deal breaker. Both screens are large enough to present webpages effectively.
This is not so, however, when comparing the smaller tablets.2 The iPad mini has a 7.9" screen, only marginally smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note's 8" screen. But resolution is noticeably different. While the Galaxy Note's 1280x800 resolution easily displays a full Facebook page as intended, the iPad mini's 1024x768 display means you may need to do some sideways swiping to get the whole picture.
These days, no device is an island. Particularly in business, all of our devices need to work together so we can switch from one to another without conflicting data, inconvenient workarounds or being forced to convert documents from one format to another to continue working in a different application.
Samsung produces laptops as well as tablets and smartphones, but these run on Microsoft Windows and not Android, introducing a second operating system into the mix. Android and Windows do play nicely together, but they are not always fully compatible.
Apple's operating system stretches across the entire range, from smartphone to desktop.
Naturally, all Apple devices are designed to work perfectly with each other. Plus, Apple's iCloud means that data automatically backs up to the cloud and syncs with your other Apple devices. Simply open the app and your doc magically appears ready for you to keep working.
Google Drive is the Android alternative and uses a folder system similar to Dropbox or other third-party services. This may be a more flexible option if you like to have more control over file management, folder hierarchies and the like, but it isn't quite as seamless or automatic as iCloud. If your business already runs on Windows, this may be an easy compromise to make. You wouldn't want to replace the entire office just to introduce a few new devices. If your office runs on Mac, or is looking to invest in a fresh setup, Apple may be a more efficient choice.
Winner: It depends...
Rumours suggest Apple will launch an entry-level iPhone on September 10 to target first-time smartphone buyers3. This could be a highly successful move by Apple to compete with Samsung on price. Meanwhile, Samsung is preparing to release new versions of the Galaxy Note tablet and Galaxy S5 smartphone.
Each new release prompts more comparisons as experts crunch the numbers to proclaim one device superior to the other. Until the next release.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Jonathan has worked within, and written about, the technology industry for many years. Before going freelance as a writer in 2012, Jonathan had worked for Netregistry (web hosting) and Ninefold (cloud computing). Jonathan has won awards for his articles on online business for Nett Magazine and his over-opinionated blog Atomik Soapbox. He continues to write for Chief Content Officer magazine.