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Is hardware or software a bigger determining factor when buying a phone?

It's time to buy a new phone. You walk into your nearest carrier store and take a look at the walls of options, surrounded by glowing screens and logos. The phones are sorted by their price and brand, and you probably already have an idea of what you're after. But what ultimately makes up your mind? Is it the shiny hardware? Or did something about the software grab your attention?

Most people buy the Pixel 2 for the software experience, but its hardware isn't without its flaws.

Ideally, your phone will nail both the hardware and software, but that's rarely how it goes. For a lot of Android enthusiasts, the Pixel 2 XL was supposed to be that perfect marriage ... until it had those wild display issues and a laundry list of other problems. It's mostly fine now, but despite still being one of the best phones you can buy, the Pixel 2 XL definitely isn't perfect on all fronts.

One of the reasons I held off on last year's Pixels was because they lacked waterproofing. This year, I was disappointed that the Pixel 2 still doesn't have wireless charging. It's not essential or even important for a lot of people, but I've started using wireless charging almost exclusively in my daily routine and it's just been nice to not have to mess with cables.

Other users refuse to buy the Pixel (and most other phones these days) because it doesn't support microSD expansion, and some still hold out for replaceable batteries — though sadly, their options are nearly nonexistent at this point. Maybe you wish the Pixel 2 had the wide-angle lens of the LG V30, or a physical camera button. Whatever your preference, you almost definitely have some minimum requirements to the hardware of your phone.

On the flip side is a phone like the Galaxy S9. From a hardware standpoint, the Galaxy S9 topples over the Pixel 2 in almost every way. It has the wireless charging I long for, a more powerful processor, more widely accepted mobile payments through MST and Samsung Pay, and significantly smaller bezels while retaining (admittedly lesser) stereo speakers.

Every phone does basically the same things these days, so is great hardware enough?

I don't think many people will argue against the S9 being one of the most beautiful and finely crafted phones around, but the software is bound to cause a bit more disagreements. Though it offers more features, the Samsung Experience software on the Galaxy S9 is vastly different from stock Android on the Pixel 2, with forked menus and duplicate apps galore — nearly every Google app has a Samsung counterpart, from the web browser to the email client and even the app store.

For me, that's easy enough to look past these days, especially with how easy it is to install a third-party launcher or even just hide the offending apps. I enjoy some of the added benefits that Samsung brings, namely Samsung Pay and some of the new camera tricks like 960fps slow-motion video, but if you just can't get along with the software experience then the Galaxy S9 might not be for you.

Likewise, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a great phone with outstanding battery life and beautiful hardware, but its EMUI software can be a huge pain point for users more accustomed to traditional Android experiences.

The good news is that these days, even bad software is still pretty good, and even budget hardware can accomplish a lot of what you used to only find in flagships. So what's your stance? Do you go for hardware features first, or is the core software experience more important to you? Let us know in the comments below!

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

114 Comments
  • Software is the most important to me, software that I like and enjoy using more specifically. That has been the biggest determining factor for my phone purchases for the the past 5 or 6 years.
  • Since their are many different Android phones to choose from - low end to high end, the hardware specs are important to look at when deciding which phone to buy
  • Software a la monthly security updates. Just look at the list of software based security issues last year. Getting monthly updates, even for a two year old phone, is important to me.
  • Android is the only mobile OS so vulnerable. None of the others have ever experiences such malware scalability like Android.
  • iOS is good for 4 years
  • To be honest, both. The software imo should be clean w/ the ability to customize to your hearts content and the hardware while not as important should be no slouch either.
  • Exactly. The hardware should support the software. People have their own limitations to what smoothly running software looks like.
  • I'm right there with you.
    It's both for me. Samsung Pay requires both hardware and software to function the way I use it.
  • Hardware for me is more important. Not just specs like SoC & Storage, but also IP rating, screen quality & such. Software for me is less important since I always use a custom ROM anyway.
  • I thought like this until I got the Galaxy S7. The USA variants to this day do not have custom ROMs.
  • I think both are important but Software, updates and consistent monthly security patches are more important to me when buying an Android phone and the Pixel 2 XL is my number one choice for that because I get all that along with the longest software support of any phone along with the fastest, smoothest and pure Android experience from Google.
  • Not longer than iOS by a long shot.
  • Hardware...Is more important...Software can be tweaked...But hardware is ultimate...
  • With the Pixel 2 XL you don't have to "fix" or "tweak" anything because it's exactly how I want it out of the box and that's what I like about the Pixel and Nexus before it, it's a bloat free experience and I don't have to think when do I have to disable first? And for that and many other reasons is why I'll always choose the Pixel. While I don't own a Pixel 2 XL yet (I'm using a cheap Chinese Android phone currently) but I will soon get one when my financial situation is sorted.
  • Just one thing to say, "Wireless Charging"?
    I guess not.
  • You say "YOU don't have to fix or tweak" because everything is how "I" like it.
  • Both. Pixels have good software, but hardware that is close to a deal breaker. You have to get through the hardware to even get to decent software.
  • The hardware of the Pixels is good, it has a top of the line processors, a good amount of RAM and the best smartphone camera and a solid design and the screen issues is way overblown and Google has fixed most of the issues and but is the display on the Pixel 2 XL as good as a Samsung display? Or course not but it's still more than good enough.
  • The screen issue isn't overblown for the money being spent on these phones. You may be willing to settle, but some are not. Hardware on the Pixel is decent, but not up to Samsung, HTC, Apple or even One Plus. Google has some work to do to catch up on that front. Software is good, but still outdone by Apple.
  • I'm sorry saying the display is on par with those phones but you're just nitpicking now as Google has fixed most of the issues and while the blue tint is still there, it's not an issue unless you like to use your phone, tilted forward or side ways but most people don't so stop attacking the Pixel 2 XL display, it's well documented, and as far as software goes Google's software blows Apple's restrictive and closed software out of the water.
  • It's not even the blue shift I'm talking about. It's the overall quality of the display. It's workable, but try hiolding it next to a Samsung, Huawei or even iPhone X display. Sorry Google, you don't get a pass just because it's stock Android. Beyond that, even if Apple's closed ecosystem isn't your thing, just try using a Pixel next to an iPhone X. It's no contest, iPhone blows it away. Don't even get me started on iMessage vs Google's crappy messaging apps. Or the Pixel's muddy, anemic sounding dac. Pixels are very good phones, and I'm going to keep my Pixel 2 ( mostly for the camera) , but until their hardware issues are fixed, they're not the best.
  • Not really. Apple's software works very well because it's made for Apple phones. The apps are superior and the hardware blows away any Android device. My 6s plus easily keeps up with my S8 and Pixel.
  • Good software can run on a variety of levels of software. Bad software performs poorly on any hardware. When hardware is needed exclusively over software, there will inevitably be problems.
  • Should say good software can run on a variety of hardware.
  • To me it's the software, but having good hardware is going to definitely compliment the software. The 'smartphone' experience is about having a personal assistant on the go. I rely on it amost entirely for work, traveling etc. I use it for communication, scheduling, paying bills, buying items, information, navigation, traveling, checking accounts, monitoring cards etc etc. Having the phone that stays current with security updates and OS updates is a priority. A good camera is a plus. That's why I bought the Pixel 2 XL. Plus no bloatware. Look at the latest Facebook fiasco. Bloatware (OEM and Carrier apps etc.) that has system access without going through Google Plays security plans is just a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Hardware is the 1st thing I look at. If it doesn't have the hardware I want, then I won't even consider it. I guess I'm more forgiving of software. I can change the launcher, and I'm not in the settings menu enough after initial setup to care what that looks like. I have been frustrated in the past with Samsung's UI (battery life response), so I do take that into account as well. Basically, software has workarounds, Hardware doesn't.
  • I used to be hardware allday long esp battery and camera related hardware, now phone's at around the same price are pretty similar in specs too, so now I choose on software, as close to vanilla as I can, last cpl phone's included a pixel then foolishly went and got an HTC desire 650 as a replacement for damaged pixel and very quickly got fed up of being ignored by HTC when asking about any security or software updates so I jumped ship to a Nokia 8, which am loving so far, plus it's pretty much stock android, and they're firing out security updates rapid
  • Software!!!!
  • Yes, after Bixby!... no more samsung!
  • Hardware is king. Now most Android flagships run similar and you can change the launcher to give it more of a stock feel. Again most flagships are getting monthly security updates for three years and at least two major operating system updates. The last significant OS update has been Marshmallow and most of the newer features that are being added are on many flagship skins.
  • Hardware is king only to you, what good is that all singing and all dancing hardware without great software and Google software is by far the best IMO.
  • But it only matters to "you" like you said in a previous post.
  • Good mix of both actually.
  • I agree that both are important, however, if the software is outstanding, I can overlook not so great hardware. Just as in cars, a beat up exterior could be hiding a beast.
  • Both. I buy BB devices for thr keyboard, I buy Galaxy Note for the S Pen. I dont use something like an LG Stylo or buy an active stylus since Samsung integrates their stylus so well. I dont buy an external thumb board because BB does it well enough with hardware, despite the software being buggy in my priv (not sure if Keyone fixed that).
  • Hardware is more important for me. I buy phones based on size (i.e. one hand usage, and how well it can fit in my small pockets) and then I go from there. I'm willing to deal with any software provided that the specs are at least midrange. After that, we go into the battery life and camera and everything else is either nice to have or I'm indifferent.
  • Hardware, definitely. I can (and do) change the software I run on it, but hardware is what it is and can dictate what the software can and can't do. Headphone jack, removable battery, MicroSD card and unlocked bootloader.
  • I prefer the best hardware, Launchers can literally fix anything you don't like about pre-installed software on cellphones and tablets.
  • I usually look at both and go for a happy medium.
  • The body cannot exist without the mind. - Morpheus Optimized software which makes the best use of hardware is more important to me than top of the line specs and hardware paired with ineffecient software.
  • Basically what are you willing to sacrifice.
  • I believe that hardware will come first for most people simply because we are drawn by bling whether we want to admit it or not. So we look for what we like in screens, cameras (many people anyway), unlock mechanisms (fingerprint on front, back, etc.), color of the frame and back (even though we will enclose it in a black plastic case), and then after we have purchased our shiny new toy...then we complain left-and-right about how buggy the software is!
  • Stanley, I have a confession to make... I bought the U11 mostly because of the looks!
    I never thought I would be in that position, but fortunately that wonderful back came with a gorgeous screen, great camera, stunning audio, great battery life, and fast performance. So, yeah, I'm guilty as charged, but this time it worked out ;) PS: I don't use a case most of the time, and it's held up better than expected.
  • I'm a big fan of when the software manufacturer also owns the hardware. (Pixel, iPhone, Surface phone?)
  • OS/Software is far more important than the hardware. Even the best hardware can leave something to be desired as far as the overall user experience with poorly optimized software. Look at most Galaxy phones, admittedly Samsung has gotten better with TouchWhiz, but having used a Galaxy S8+ for 3-4 months, I can tell you that i absolutely hated it, despite the great hardware, it still always felt sluggish compared to my Pixel 2.
  • Agreed. Even showroom floor GS8's seemed slower than my Pixel 2. Which I could deal with, but my primary concern with Samsung is the long-term performance. My brother has a 1-year old GS7 Edge that is infuriatingly slow already.
  • For a long time I couldn't get past Samsung's software but they've at least got it to the point that I can get it cleaned up enough that it doesn't bother me. Overall I'm happy with my S7 Edge. I like a nice clean dark theme that their theming engine allows, I disabled the duplicate apps, and replaced the launcher and keyboard. I just wish the settings menu didn't bury stuff so badly.
  • Hardware definitely. Seeing how some manufacturers suck at providing updates I don't really care that much for software and end up looking for ways to upgrade it my self. Looking at you Samsung...
  • Battery ... battery ... battery ... I need a phone that lasts all day with heavy usage, This crap about being easy to charge through the day just creates this insane hunt for a power plug and broken charging ports on phones. But I also don't want a slow, clunky experience just to have a great battery. Why are all the high capacity batteries in low to mid-range phones? Recently I switched from the Samsung S6 (which was HORRIBLE in terms of battery capacity for my usage) to a Google Pixel 2. And the experience has been great. I grabbed the 128GB Pixel 2 and have no storage issues, the battery easily outlasts me each day, nice camera photos and it has a solid software experience. Sure, the bezel is a bit thick and a larger display would look nice but I have no complaints about the screen that would stop me from recommending this phone. And, the lack of Samsung bloatware is refreshing. So basically I want it all. Good hardware and good software but battery was my #1 priority.
  • I'm with ya. What's the point of having the best hardware or software, if it doesn't last all day. I can even excuse alot of issues if I don't have to charge my phone throughout the day. But I go with software over hardware. What's the point of having all the hardware goodies if the software is clunky? Gotta have good software
  • Hardware. With Android at least you can always adjust the software via launcher or hack if needed
  • By hack you mean root it, right?
  • Yep, my thoughts.
  • As with iOS
  • I would say hardware gets my initial attention, as long as the software doesn't let the hardware down. They really go hand in hand, because the software is required to bring out the best in the hardware. The other side of the coin is that the best software in the world can't fix hardware limitations. The software can improve things, but only up to the point of the hardware limit. There are lots of example of this, but an example that won't get too many people riled up would be the HTC M8 camera. It did some cool stuff before Apple and Samsung could, and Apple even licensed some of the software technology from HTC. But the camera software gave mixed results, and the low resolution hardware remained an issue. HTC kept updating the software, and now a few years later, the image processing is pretty darn good, but it's still only a 4 MP sensor.
  • I, personally prefer better hardware over software whenever I go out to get a new device. It means so much to me. I long for those features such as a good IP rating ( 68 is the must), wireless charging, a headphone jack(which is becoming so uncommon that I should really forget about it.), a gorgeous, bright and crisp AMOLED display, stereo speakers,etc. For me Samsung probably does the right blend of hardware and Software. Maybe the Experience UI is a bit of a far stretch due to all those duplicate apps. But the overall vibe of the UX looks beautiful. Maybe they are very late at software updates( I have been waiting for Oreo update for my Note 8 since the times of the Dinosaurs) and their camera software gives a yellowish tint to the pictures .But they support the device and give the version upgrades for up to 3 years(flagships only). That is a right balance of hardware and software for me. If the software feels to be a let down a Launcher is always available. For specific features I use Microsoft's message organizer instead of the stock app, Google Gboard and Chrome instead of the stock ones etc. If the stock app seems unnecessary, just ignore it.
  • For me hardware is the first consideration. I don't like being stuck with unacceptable speaker sound, a bad display or a useless camera. The supplied software can always be replaced by third-party apps so it doesn't really enter into my purchase decision.
  • Hardware, that can take a upgrade of at least 2~3 os' versions. It doesn't have to be oem,or carrier updates(I just want the hardware). I'd rather rom anyway, the enhanced features are worth it to me. I wait for 6~7 months of warranty time before I root, and install a new rom though.
  • Mixture of both
  • Hardware everytime,i only buy devices with unlockable boot loader etc,then i can put what ever software i want on it.
    Even stock android is full of crap that hardly anybody uses or is there solely for makers own reasons,i prefer an absolutely parred down version of android,what can andriod oreo do that winmo 6.5 could be made to do,nothing important is tge answer,all i want is an updated version of htc hd2,then i can run anything I want,seeing as how its my device,i should have the right to ruin it if i want to.
    Does the person you bought your house from have a right to tell you what ypu can do with it ? Do car makers insist you only drive below 83mph ? No,so why should phone makers be allowed to semi cripple proper owners devices ?
  • That's a silly comparison.
  • You can't have one without the other. So for the sake of discussion, assuming a minimum that they are both reliable, robust and compliment each other. Hardware features are more important to me.
  • Hardware for sure. I've been using LG phones for a while now. When I buy a phone I check for the latest android version. but as much as I like the Pixel the lack of hardware features have kept me away. I have to have IP rating, headphone jack, and sd card. the LG V30 has been perfect. its software isnt even that bad. the slow updates are annoying tho
  • It is 2018, we should not have to choose.
  • It's the hardware. Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to software. I've tried all versions of android (pure/stock, EMUI, LG, Samsung, OnePlus,Sense) and they all have their pros and cons. As others have said, you can always tweak the software. You can't tweak the hardware. Unfortunately, there isn't a phone that has all the hardware features I want, so I do have to make compromises. I currently have a OnePlus 5, but I'm selling that because it isn't waterproof. At least in Seattle, I think waterproof is a must. I'm getting the HTC U11, but that doesn't have a headphone jack so we'll see how long I keep that. My perfect phone would have the latest high end specs, waterproofing, headphone jack, expandable storage, great camera, finger print scanner in the front and a large battery. And as long as the software works I would be happy.
  • When you unlock, and root, you can tweak certain hardware components. There's no shortage of cpu over clock apps, and other associated tuners, that can tweak components thru the software. You can't replace the parts, but yes, they can be tweaked. There are apps that can change the voltage(ever hear of setxperia, that can be used by other mfgrs phones?) and timing, to cpugovenors camera apps that utilize the camera, better than the stock app, etc, etc... You can't replace parts, but they can be adjusted. Phones aren't as easy as pc's, but tweaking is rewarding, if done right.
  • I try to meet both the hardware and software categories when I look for a new phone; but recently it comes down to software. The phone can be beautiful, but I'd rather it have the latest software and not have specific UI's (ie, Samsung's) because I'm not big into launchers.
  • Sorry but it has to be an equal balance of both or you will have a substandard experience.
  • I think hardware is the most important aspect. I like sturdy phones that look nice but are not fragile. Thats not to say that I'm ok with crappy software. I certainly expect that to work well but I'm just not that picky about it. I like LGs software experience if that tells you anything.
  • With having lots of experience with low to mid range android phones, slow cpu's, under powered gpu's so you can't get the most from games and meagre ram, not to mention crappy lower res screens and poor battery life. I'd pick hardware all day, a few software quirks don't bother me.
  • Cheap phones hardware.
    Flagship phones software. If I only had say £300 to spend I would look at the best hardware I could get for my money.
    If I'm buying a flagship I look for the best software as the hardware will be good enough for me.
  • But if you really think about it if you are buying a flagship, the software is usually going to be one of the most recent versions. So that sort of negates the need to specifically look at software. All the Flag ships now are basically running the same operating system. Now you cannot look at LG flagships which is the V 30 or the G6, especially the G6 and say that Hardware doesn't matter compared to the Galaxy S8 or S9. They are running almost the same Android for all intents and purposes. But you will get vastly different hardware specs.
  • S9 and Pixel 2 both running Android 8.1 would be a completely different software experience.
    Some skins are better than others, Oxygen on Oneplus is my current favourite and the Xiaomi is my least favourite.
    A really bad skin can ruin a perfectly good phone for me.
    Can't think of a current phone that if running my favourite Android skin wouldn't be good enough for me.
  • I used to do real estate and one of the biggest things that we would tell people is you can change how a house looks inside and possibly even outside, but you can't change the location. So in this instance you can change the software experience via launchers but you cannot change the hardware at all. So for me Hardware is what is needed.
  • Software, because a smooth, pure Android experience is harder to come by than good hardware. Phones nowadays are built so well (the majority) that you are almost always getting great hardware. I never find myself dissecting hardware like I do software. Even plastic-y Samsungs that I owned for years were well-built, albeit plastic.
  • I say hardware, software can be changed tweaked and updated with much less hassle.
  • Software. I'll use a plastic brick if it does what I need it to do how I want it done. Who cares what a phone looks like the first thing everyone does is slap a ugly case of skin on it anyway.
  • MicroSD and 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi are non-negotiable for me.
  • Think I would rather have 256GB of on phone storage than SD card.
    I've had two SanDisk cards fail in the last 12 months.
  • This is a tough one.. Windows phone os is way better than android yet android apps leave windows for dead. So for me if I could get windows Os with the choice and android apps I would take that over the latest hardware.
    But lets face it. good software and hardware go hand in hand.. Both useless without the other...
  • Good joke, Window Phone is crap and Android is way better and not just in apps, you can make your phone look how you want sideload apks like ShowBox outside the play store you can't do that on limited locked down window phone which is as restrictive if not more so than iOS and that's saying something, plus you're forced to use MS rubbish browser while you can change the default browser on Android, with Android there's no limits to what you can do with your phone.
  • What do you mean restrictive? Because you can't change a silly launcher? iOS still rules in the quality of apps, everything you want is there. The hardware is great and the software works better than any Android can.
  • Software/UI without question! A great software experience is what makes the phone worth having. Where would you rather stay; a hotel with a beautiful exterior but with one of the most uncomfortable beds you've ever tried to sleep in or one with just an okay exterior, that gives you the best rest you've had in ages? Hardware can only take you so far, the software is what matters.
  • Both, you can only improve a device in so many ways with software if the specs are sub par to begin with. The question then becomes, how willing is the manufacturer willing to support the device... Not just the normal two year limited support for the OS. Think One Plus X and many other midrange phones.
  • Definitely Hardware, Software can always be updated...
  • Hahaha. Right. We are talking about Android. Don't hold your breath for a software update!
  • For me it's a balance of both plus price. My budget is to tight to afford a new pixel or s9. I wanted to get the most for my money so I chose the ZTE blade z max.
    it has Very impressive specs for the money . And I've got nugot 7.1.1 so the software experience is pretty nice.
  • Hardware 60 : Software 40
    Like another person already said, the software issues can be fixed, but not the hardware issues.
    Even though Google pushes out month updates, they still haven't been able to fix many bugs. They also introduce new bugs while fixing old ones. I've had BT issue from day one with my Pixel 2 XL, Google said they fixed the bug, but they didn't. At this point, it seems like the hardware issue. When I tried my wife's S8+, BT worked just fine. Also, Pixel 2 XL display quality is unacceptable for a $1000 device.
  • Sounds more like a quality control issue than hardware persay.
    My Pixel 1 had the speaker issue but replacement was fine.
    Read reports of some of the S9's having some screen issues but wouldn't suggest the screen was bad hardware.
  • It's a balance. And that balance depends on budget, too. I wouldn't buy a high end phone without water resistance, no matter the software, but I'll compromise some on the hardware for fast security updates and ongoing OS updates. In a lower end phone, the mix is going to look a bit different- decent record on security updates, decent screen and smooth performance are likely to be the biggest issues.
  • Hardware hence the pixel
  • I'd have to say that I straddle the fence between software and hardware... Software wise yes, I want a good experience but I'm liable to just throw Nova Launcher on and make it look and behave how I want (so that's neither here nor there...). What I'd look for in software is that when you get into the Settings things are intuitive. Why should I hunt around for different things amongst different devices. I'm a Moto guy and still occasionally have to hunt for something in the Settings. My mother has an LG and I'm often totally lost in the Settings when she asks me to help her with something. I should be able to find things in the same spot across different devices. Hardware wise I also want a good experience. But I'm not nitpicking chipsets and camera apertures. I don't really care about a single or dual camera setup or whether it uses USB or USB-C as USB is still plentiful when you need a cord. Also as much as I'd like a removable battery, yes I've given up on that as more devices have moved to a sealed type setup. What I am interested in is a removable SD card considering the versions of the Android OS, and some phone manufacturers - looking at you LG, won't let you move apps that are seldom used from the internal to external memory. So I keep my 1300+ songs and pics on the SD card just so I've got room on the internal memory for whatever the apps want to do. Also a headphone jack. I don't want to have to remember about some silly adaptor. Just plug in to my car stereo and go. Most importantly it needs to feel solid. Perhaps I'm one of the few, but I'm not looking for a device that's overly thin or feels lite in the hand. I want something with a bit of heft. Something that when it's in my pocket I know it's there. This is what bothered me about early Android devices, particularly entry level devices, and the early Windows Phone. They looked like something that Mattle or Fisher Price would make...
  • Galaxies are the only devices which offer both, without compromise and lesser costs then it's peers. I have had motorola devices(for office) for long and they offer even a more compelling package at a more affordable price...but the hidden costs for something like this is that you need to have time,knowledge and money (for something like nova premium) to customize your phone. Touchwiz's only problem has been it's lagyness and it seems things are looking-up on that front since last year.
  • Software. Despite my OP3 hardware being somewhat boring and dated, the software experience is excellent (especially, having Oreo installed since October 17). It is thin, well-built and stood a few hard drops without any damage - can't really ask for more.
  • It used to be software. But now that Google has been copying Apple so much and phone makers are using 2:1 display ratios and notches it's more about the hardware. If the pixel 3 has a notch im just going to try out an iPhone as my next device. I think it would be nice to use software that has moved out of beta and if I have to live with a notch im not going to use a copycat that runs beta software.
  • Hardware for sure. Not all phones are created equal, article is misleading. Software can be tweaked, with hardware you are stuck till the end. Galaxies over always flawed Pixes any day. Better hardware from top to bottom plus 3.5 on.
  • I've had two Galaxy's motherboards fail.
  • Hardware first and software second. I won't settle for inferior hardware. Software that's not the latest still works. I'm not really interested in being a beta tester.
  • Not all bad software is beta.
  • First of all Android software has been lagging the hardware for few years at least. Google can't even adjust the Android navigation bar to be optimized for tall screens. If finger travel was the problem now with tall screens and Google's inability to optimize the experience we now have hand travel and grip adjustment. Simple things such as Return to previous screen now require two hands or palm movement. So software is behind times big time. Second, hardware manufacturers have milked the hardware plug and play game for 10 years neglecting software and now we are in dire situation. Now more than ever premium name manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Huawei, Nokia, TLC have a chance to create their own operating system to fight Google who is on a right track to take their piece of hardware pie with HTC.
  • Unless you've used an Android phone from a fee years ago then I think you'll find that Android has improved quite a bit, and has even surpassed iOS has being smoothest ESP if you use a Pixel or OnePlus.
  • It's not even close to being like even a three year old iPhone. It has improved but it's impossible for Android to ever compete on that level with iOS.
  • Wrong! It all depends on what you spend. If a iPhone, and a android are the same price, there's absolutely no difference in perceived speed, or smoothness. Yes, hardware in both platforms is that good now.
  • Unquestionably software and long-term performance for me, which is why I got the Pixel 2. The screen and build quality are both good enough, and the camera is obviously great. I'm very happy with it. That said, if I had any confidence the S9 would perform as well in a year as it does on day one, it would have been a much tougher decision.
  • This is it. If the phone isn't stock, I feel the longevity is less than it should be. Flagships these days are so good they should realistically hardware wise be able to handle 3 years no problem. But to do this, it needs software love. The only phones that get real software love are the pixels and android ones. I have had some hardware concerns with pixels. But I just cannot buy a Samsung phone. The update neglect would drive me nuts. And it'll be at a crawl after 2 years. And consider the hardware, that shouldn't be the case.
  • Huh? Flagships like Samsung phones get their software love up front. You can own a Samsung phone for 4 years and stock Android still won't have caught up in terms of useful features. As long as you get security updates, it's all good.
  • I can tell you use S series and Notes.
    Samsung software sucks on the J series.
  • No. Not since the S7 has it had a two-year issue
  • This one is easy. 50% or more of Android Central readers will pick software, in particular, stock Android. The rest of the world will pick hardware.
  • Software can improve.. hardware can't
    The best phone still was the Honor 8.. that fingerprint sensor speed is unsurpassed but that button inside the fingerprint sensor was the cat's pajamas! But..... they did have software issues with the gyro (couldn't use VR as you'd spin forever) and for some reason the sms didn't work right with Pushbullet.. but those things could have been fixed (if honor didn't just f*ck us all over). So it's a bit of both...
  • Hardware.
    I bought my last two phones for hardware.
    LG G6 US997 unlocked so that I could unlock the bootloader and I now have an Essential as my only phone. Feel in hand, developer friendly and the fastest processor.
    Camera is secondary. Software can always be updated.
  • Both, I don't want a phone with great software and ugly hardware like the Pixel 2.
  • Hardware. I would say software but we all know if you're not using a Pixel you wait. Some longer than others,
    Umm Samsung
  • Both, leaning towards hardware more.
    Mine Mate 9 is the perfect phone for me, it is big, has great screen, amazing battery life and great front and rear cameras, software is good too, though could be better. If i would buy any phone today, that will be only P20 Pro, as it has all what i want(well close to it anyway).