Why an iPhone is a better work-from-home tool than an Android phone (and how Google can fix it)

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro

Here on AC, I've made it no secret that I own and enjoy using an iPhone. Right now, my daily carry consists of a Google Pixel 4 XL and iPhone 11 Pro. The Pixel 4 is more fun to use, specifically thanks to its deeper level of customization, smooth 90Hz display, and better tie-in with the Google ecosystem (something I'm heavily invested in).

However, as someone that works from home, the iPhone is what I find myself picking up more often during the workday. The Pixel 4 is my go-to device for watching YouTube, playing CoD: Mobile, and using other mindless apps, but the iPhone 11 Pro has a clear advantage when it comes to being a tool that helps me stay productive and on-task.

That might seem like a sacrilegious thing to say on Android Central, but it's true.

Little features that make my workday so much easier

iPhone 11

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

As you'll find with a lot of my colleagues (and plenty of other people that work from home), Macs are often the go-to computer of choice. Whether we're talking about the MacBook Pro as a powerful video editing machine or the iMac as a simple, all-in-one workstation, there's no denying how good these computers are for getting stuff done. I work from a late-2015 iMac, and using an iPhone with it is a gamechanger for productivity.

Apple gets a lot of flak for its walled-garden of an ecosystem, but you'd be silly to say that living in it doesn't come with serious perks — my favorite of which is Universal Clipboard. It's a pretty simple feature, allowing you to copy something on your iPhone and paste it on your Mac (and vice versa).

Universal Clipboard is one of those features that's hard to live without once you've experienced it firsthand.

I personally get a lot of use out of this when it comes to entering passwords. As a 1Password user, all of my online credentials are stored away in my 1Password account which is locked behind a lengthy master password. My iMac doesn't have any biometric authentication of any kind, so if I want to access my passwords, I have to type in my entire master password and hope I don't misspell it along the way.

Since I have an iPhone, however, I can also just open the 1Password app on that, instantly access it thanks to Face ID, copy the password I need, and then click paste on my iMac. Just like that, I'm logged in and ready to go.

This is a very specific use case I'm describing, but there are plenty of other instances in which it can be a lifesaver — whether it be copying and pasting links, notes, you name it.

Apple's Handoff feature

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In a similar vein, there's the Handoff feature. I often take little breaks throughout the day to stretch my legs, but while doing so, I usually have my phone with me so I can still keep an eye on newsfeeds or ongoing Slack conversations. If I find a news story that I need to write about or if a PR contact sends me a link to a press kit, I can open it on my phone, sit down in front of my iMac, and click the Google Chrome icon that pops up to instantly transfer the tabs from my phone to the computer. It may sound kind of boring and only saves a matter of seconds in each instance, but all of that time added together over a couple of years is pretty significant.

Then there's the iPhone itself. It works beautifully in tandem with a Mac, but there are also standalone benefits that make it a more reliable work-from-home tool.

A lot of Android apps are now on-par with their iOS counterparts, but even here in 2020, iOS continues to have the better overall app ecosystem. Airtable and Concur are two work apps I rely on quite a bit, and comparing the Android and iOS versions side-by-side, they run better and are more nicely laid out on my iPhone than they are on the Pixel 4. You'll find this to be the case for a good handful of applications, and as someone that uses their phone as a tool for getting stuff done, having access to the best and most polished apps possible is a big deal.

What Google can do to fix this

Google Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

As stated above, I love using my Pixel 4 XL. If it offered the same functionality that my iPhone does from a productivity standpoint, I'd be happy to rely on it more often. I can't do that right now, but thankfully, I don't think it'd be too difficult for Google to make a few small updates to better compete with Apple in these regards.

Google's making steps to bring Android and Chrome OS together, but there's more that needs to be done.

In December 2018, Google rolled out a new initiative for Chrome OS and Android called "Better Together." Similar to how iPhones and Macs work so seamlessly with one another, Better Together aimed to bring a similar cohesiveness to Google's desktop and mobile platforms. It took the form of text message integration, instant tethering, being able to unlock your Chromebook with an Android phone — and that's it.

Google has a solid foundation with Better Together, but I would love, love, love to see it offer its own versions of Universal Clipboard and Handoff. Furthermore, if Google can find a way to extend these features to Windows and Mac through the Chrome browser or another app, that would greatly expand the number of people that would have access to these things (sorry, Ara, a lot of people still don't work on Chromebooks 😜).

As for the app situation, I think that's something that'll just have to get better with time. Android's app ecosystem is in a much better place today than it was a few years ago, and as more time progresses, I think that's something that'll continue to get better.

Find the workflow that's best for you

Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 displays

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Going out and buying an iPhone just for a smoother workday probably isn't the best use of your money, but if you do have an iPhone lying around and want to see how it compares to rocking an Android phone while you work from home, go ahead and give it a shot.

Yes, I could use my Pixel 4 XL and get everything done just fine, but compared to the iPhone, it's not as useful or as good of a fit with how I work.

Working from home is all about finding the balance that's the best for you, and for me, that consists of using an iPhone with my iMac. Your preferred workflow might look a little different, and that's perfectly fine, too. As long as you're staying productive and getting your assignments done in the best way possible, that's all that matters.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.