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Which Smartphone Should I Get?

Hi David:

My current phone is pretty much broken, but I don’t want my next phone to be an iPhone (because iOS 7 makes me seasick) or an Android phone (because I don’t want Google to spy on me). For anyone in my situation, which would you recommend: a BlackBerry 10 or a Windows Phone? If it makes a difference, my home computer is a Mac.

Meanwhile, thank you for providing a place where aficionados of both great technology and great writing can satisfy their passions for both.

—Noah

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Dear Noah:

Well, I’m happy to offer my opinion, but you may not like it!

It’s this: Your central premise is flawed.

When you say that the iPhone makes you “seasick,” I assume you’re referring to the zooming animations and the parallax effect Apple added to the Home screen in the iOS 7 software. (That is, the background seems to be more distant than the icons. So when you change the phone’s angle, it seems to have 3D depth.)

You can turn off both of those features. Open the Settings app. Then tap General, then Accessibility; there you’ll find the Reduce Motion switch. Turn it on.

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And presto: Icons no longer zoom open when you tap them. And the parallax effect is gone.

As for Google spying on you: We know that Google collects a lot of data from all those millions of Android phones — anonymously.

But here’s the thing: So does Apple from its iPhones, Microsoft from its Windows phones, and BlackBerry from its BlackBerry phones.

Maybe you think that Google’s spying is more sinister. Maybe you think it’s spying specifically on you.

Well, we have no evidence that that goes on. I suppose it’s possible, but here’s the thing: It’s equally possible that Apple, Microsoft or BlackBerry will do the same. We have no way of knowing. In other words, that’s not a good reason to rule out an Android phone, either!

All four of those phone operating systems — iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry — are beautiful, sleek, complete and enjoyable. They’re more alike than they are different these days.

So, really, you should choose your phone based on more important questions: What does it look like (screen size, comfort, design)? How good is the library of apps? How much do you like its ecosystem of accessories, movie/music stores, cloud services like calendar syncing?

In your case — since you’re a Mac guy — all three of those questions point to your getting an iPhone. There are lots of ways that the iPhone and the Mac sync up that will make you happy (your text messages, Web passwords, and photos are all synced, for example). And, of course, the iPhone comes with the world’s biggest, highest-quality app library.  

Or, if you want a bigger screen, you have a wide variety of gorgeous Android phones to choose from, too.

Again, BlackBerry 10 and Windows phones are excellent in their own ways. But by choosing these less-popular phones, you sacrifice the freedom of those huge, high-quality app libraries, and you trade away the depth and polish of Apple’s or Google’s syncing ecosystems. 

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