Yes, The iPhone Is Still The Best Smartphone You Can Buy

iphone 4s and money
$200 is a steal for this device.

[credit provider=”Ellis Hamburger, Business Insider”]

The iPhone 4S is the best smartphone you can buy for $200. Period.Despite some seriously enticing offerings from competitors like Samsung and HTC, the iPhone still has the best combination of hardware, software, and reliability.

The competition is getting close to matching the iPhone, but it’s still not there yet.

Read on to see my breakdown of why iPhone still rules our smartphone world.

It’s All About The Apps, And iPhone Clearly Wins
Smartphones have become gateways to the world of apps, a world Steve Jobs never envisioned would become as massive in scale as it is today.

Want proof? Look at your smartphone. It’s a grid of apps.

On iOS, which has the largest consumer base of any mobile operating system (60% of the market compared to Android’s 20%), the selection of excellent apps and games far exceeds what the competition has to offer.

I’m not talking about the number of apps, but the quality of apps. Both Android and iOS have more apps than you could ever hope to use.

By buying into iOS, you can guarantee that any company or developer will put out its first and best effort on the platform you’ve invested in. iOS owners spend more on apps, so it makes sense that developers would try hardest on the platform.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives on other platforms that are sometimes just as good. It just means that when you buy an iPhone, you can be confident that you’ll have access to the best mobile apps in the world.

Even Microsoft sees the draw. It built Photosynth for iOS months ago—the app isn’t yet available on Windows Phone.

And one last point—by purchasing an iPhone, you’re purchasing two or more years of frequent security and feature updates from Apple. Windows Phone has been slow, albeit consistent, with updates. Android updates have been an utter disaster, leaving many phones outdated not long after they launched.

This chart from The Understatement explains it all. Seriously—look at that chart.

It’s Not Just About The Specs
While there have been numerous complaints about the iPhone 4S’s battery life, I still think it outperforms most Android devices. On paper, several Android phones out there may have faster processors, more RAM, LTE, etc.

But what matters is what the user experiences. And the experience on iPhone is nearly flawless.

Apple decided to hold off on those fancy features so it wouldn’t have to sacrifice the features that really matter to users: a kickass operating system that is incredibly responsive and easy to figure out, great battery life, and excellent call quality. You can bet all the specs Android manufacturers like to brag about will come to future models of the iPhone, but not until Apple has perfected them.

This doesn’t mean I think Apple punted on the hardware with the iPhone 4S. The 8MP camera is arguably the best on any smartphone ever made. The dual-core A5 processor hasn’t choked a single time, no matter how much I threw at it. The Retina display is still the sharpest screen you can find.

What matters most is that the phone is blazing fast to interact with, and my mobile data speeds have never made me antsy or impatient.

Siri Is A Game-Changing Feature, And No One Can Compete
I’ve used Siri every day since I bought my iPhone 4S, and it has become increasingly useful. Siri makes many small and annoying tasks in my life much easier and less annoying to handle.

Android and Windows Phone both have excellent keyboard dictation software, but they don’t have the same system-level integration Siri does. With Android, you’ll need apps like Vlingo or Jeannie to help you with answering questions, waking you up in the morning, etc.

And they’re still not half as good as Siri. Siri just works, is a ton of fun to use, and is the new “killer app” for iPhone.

The Last Word
I loved the week I spent handcuffed to the Samsung Galaxy S II, and the week I spent with the Samsung Focus running Windows Phone Mango was even more enjoyable.

I believe that at this point, Android and Windows Phone are the closest they’ve ever been to eclipsing the iPhone and iOS. The iPhone is sensationally responsive to touch input, and competitors have almost reached this same peak.

Android’s upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich update is going to be excellent, and the phone it runs on (Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus) is set to be the best Android device ever built. Unfortunately, it could be as much as $100 more expensive than the iPhone when it launches.

At the end of the day, the $199.99 iPhone 4S is the prettiest, most reliable, most future-proof, and most fun smartphone you can buy.

Want to know more? Check out full reviews of the iPhone 4S and of Siri.