ONE of the many religious — and therefore unwinnable — debates that I am often drawn into is the relative greatness of Apple and Android. People also pitch the Samsung Galaxy S5 against the iPhone, or even Sony TVs against Samsung TVs.

It is remarkable how ardently people believe in their technology choices. In the past, it was just geeks who argued over whether Microsoft’s proprietary Windows was bad (or evil) versus the "joys" of open-source software, especially Ubuntu.

Now, the average consumer is engaged in the verbal equivalent of trench warfare (given how immovable they are from their points of view) over which mobile operating system best defines the always-on, capitalist world we’re living in.

Give credit to Samsung, whose marketing muscle has enabled it to be seen as the Android maker par excellence. It often eclipses Google’s OS, so that the fight for the best is between Samsung and Apple.

This is the question I get asked a lot: why do I use Apple products more than others?

My response: because Apple is just easier. And more user-friendly (especially its mobile gadgets) and more secure (its computers).

A part of my job is to test technology. This includes a fair number of gadgets, from smartphones to computers, tablets and televisions, and everything in between including headphones (which are the new sunglasses) and wearables like activity monitors (which are not yet).

I’ve tried Apple, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, Apple’s desktop Mac OSX, Ubuntu and the innumerable smaller operating systems that run on Kindles, GPSes and fitness trackers. It’s my job to test them and then give an honest, intelligent and unbiased opinion.

The sophistication of all these means the choice between, for instance, a top-end Android phone from Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Huawei or Motorola is pretty much on a par with an iPhone or Nokia’s luxuriously styled Lumia devices running Windows Phone.

Technology choices are more personal than ever. They are about buying into a brand association, rather than buying just a phone. But sometimes, ease of use tops that. And, yes, I chose the iPhone 6 Plus.

It’s a similar choice between BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi — all are good quality cars where a brand preference is often the deciding factor.

Choosing a new smartphone (or TV or new car) is as much a brand choice as it is a technology choice and what associations you intend your phone’s brand to portray about yourself.

But none of the others is as easy to use as an Apple device.

My friend Anthony, arguably the smartest of my smart friends, is even more of a cynic than me. He is much more technically savvy and has an MBA and all sorts of other qualifications. After being a hold-out against the iPhone, despite using Mac computers, he took the plunge and eternally summed it up thus: "finally, a device that works as advertised".

It’s so easy to use, I replied, that even a 1½-year-old can use it, as my equally tech-savvy friend Kim repeats as the conclusion to any debate about Apple’s usability.

And he’s right. Ask anyone with an iPad and a small child if their digital born-free kid had any trouble. And if they ever got the iPad back.

That’s not to say it’s best for everything. Anyone who uses the powerful functionality of Excel, for instance, should be on Windows. The underlying architecture of Windows makes Excel a far superior product than the much more limited version on Mac.

I use Microsoft’s Word on whatever laptop I work on because I like it, and because I’ve been able to customise it. And especially because it has a word counter in the bottom panel, showing a word-conscious journalist exactly how much more of this column I have to write.

Similarly, on my phone, the thing I do most is edit text. Apple just does it more easily. It’s more intuitive and, did I mention, easier?

Technology choices are more personal than ever. They are about buying into a brand association, rather than buying just a phone. But sometimes, ease of use tops that. And, yes, I chose the iPhone 6 Plus.

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Wed Dec 07 14:18:33 SAST 2016

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