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What Is the Difference Between a Smartphone and an Android?

What Is The Difference Between A Smartphone And An Android

Smartphones and Android phones have become commonplace around the world in the past decade.

Once a luxury, having an internet-capable telephone is now a necessity for most people.

But what are the differences between smartphones and Android phones?

The difference between a smartphone and an Android is that a smartphone is any mobile phone that has internet capability and functions as a mini-computer, whereas an Android is a subset of smartphones and one of the major operating systems. Around 72% of people with smartphones use Android devices.

I’ll spend the rest of the article explaining the origins of smartphones and Android phones.

Read on to discover some of the key differences between the two.

I’ll also offer advice on what phone you should buy if you’re looking to upgrade your device.

Smartphones: An Overview

According to Lenovo, a smartphone is any mobile phone that runs off an operating system and serves as a mini-computer. 

Phone connectivity is an essential aspect of a smartphone, which means every device must make and receive phone calls and text messages.

Other crucial features of smartphones include:

  • Accessing the web using a browser or dedicated applications.
  • Taking photos and videos.
  • Playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and downloading files.
  • Viewing, editing, and sharing documents, such as text files, presentations, or spreadsheets.

The very first smartphone came out in 1994 – the Simon Personal Communicator from IBM.

The phone had a touchscreen and personal digital assistant capabilities, according to Product Evolution.

Smartphones have evolved a lot since the late 1990s, with the newest flagship phones having more computing power than computers from a decade ago. 

Companies such as Samsung include 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and powerful processors with their latest phones, which equal or surpass many laptops and desktops on the market.

Android Devices: An Overview

Android phones are a category of smartphone that runs the Android operating system.

Android is a mobile OS that runs on a Linux kernel. A consortium of developers called the Open Handset Alliance develops the operating system. They receive commercial support from Google.

Given it’s an open-source system, any phone manufacturer can use the operating system on their device.

Most companies that sell Android phones, such as Samsung, OnePlus, Sony, and Motorola, use Google’s Android version.

The Android smartphone operating system first became public in 2008, according to Computer World.

Android 1.0 was the first version of the OS, including essential apps such as Gmail, Calendar, and Maps.

Google updated its version of Android every year since Android 1.0 came out.

Some updates are minor changes to the previous version, which leads to names such as Android 1.1 or Android 1.5.

Significant changes get an entirely new number, such as Android 2.0 or Android 3.0. 

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Smartphone OS Comparison: Android vs iOS

Two operating systems make up the smartphone market at present.

Android and iOS are the two most prominent operating systems, making up 99 percent of the global mobile market.

Android represents roughly 72 percent of the smartphone market in the world, while iOS is the remaining 28 percent. 

Apple manufactures and sells every iOS device on the market.

While Google plays a significant role in evolving the Android OS, hundreds of phone manufacturers install Android on their devices.

Android Versions

Data compiled by Mobile Apps shows that Android has many different versions that are currently in circulation.

This is because Google unveils a new Android version each year, including substantial and incremental upgrades to various aspects of the user experience.

As of July 2020, roughly 22 percent of Android phones are running Android 10.0, the most recent version of the OS at the time.

A further 20 percent run Android 9.0, while Android 8.0 is the next closest with a 4% market share.

iOS Versions

Data from Statista indicates that as of April 2021, iOS version 14.4 had roughly 75 percent of the market share of all iOS devices.

The next closest was iOS 14.2 at 3.37% and iOS 13.6 at 1.65%.

Android vs iOS: Which Is Better?

Android Vs IOS

Where iOS Wins

The data above shows that the latest version of iOS has a much larger market share among all Apple phones than the latest versions of Android. 

That is because Apple supports its phones with prompt software updates for anywhere from five to seven years.

Android phones generally receive new software updates for one to four years, with the timing of those updates depending on the phone in question.

Someone who wants the latest version of smartphone software installed on their device the day it comes out would be a lot happier with an Apple iPhone.

According to the New York Times, iPhones also retain their value for a lot longer.

So if you take good care of your phones, you can hand down a two or three-year-old iPhone to a family member.

You could even sell the phone and put that money towards a new iPhone.

While you can sell Android devices after a few years, they typically lose value a lot faster.

Apple also has a better track record with customer support, as they have Apple Stores in practically every major city in continents worldwide. 

Getting hardware or software help is easier if you have an iPhone than owning an Android device.

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Where Android Wins

A key advantage for Android is its hardware diversity, according to the New York Times.

Many different companies manufacture Android devices around the world. As a result, you can find a quality phone within any price range that meets your hardware and software needs.

Android phones are also easy to customize.

For example, you can easily change default apps for various services on your Samsung, OnePlus, Google, or Sony device.

In addition, adjusting the home screen, notification LEDs, and lock screen are straightforward.

In contrast, Apple iPhones include limited customization options.

If you have a microSD card with many music, movies, or other files, you may prefer buying an Android phone.

Unfortunately, there are no iPhones with expandable storage, whereas you can find many Android flagships with microSD support.

Choosing Between a Smartphone and an Android

Choosing between an Android phone or an iOS device is challenging, as there are pros and cons to both ecosystems. 

If you are hoping to buy a smartphone on a budget, an Android device may be your ideal purchase.

There are quality Android smartphones available for knockdown prices.

The Motorola G Power 2021 from is an excellent example.

This device has all the features you need in a smartphone, including a quality camera, ample storage space, a fast processor, and a bright, high-definition screen.

Those willing to stretch their budget could opt for an Apple iPhone SE or the Apple iPhone 12; both are available on

The SE is the more affordable device, while the iPhone 12 is bigger, has a brighter screen, and boasts a better camera system.

When money is no object, your choice boils down to the operating system you prefer.

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21+, both available on, are among the best smartphones on the market today.

Final Thoughts

Smartphones and Android phones are easily confused, even though they are not necessarily interchangeable.

While all Android phones are smartphones, not every smartphone is an Android device.

There are also iOS devices, which make up nearly a third of the market share of smartphones in the world.

Android devices are excellent purchases for anyone on a budget.

People who enjoy tinkering with their phones and customizing every aspect of the user experience should buy an Android smartphone.

If you prefer an effortless and straightforward experience, an Apple iPhone that runs iOS may be a better option for your use case.

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