Spotify Mobile: Android vs. iPhone Smackdown!


UPDATE: a revised version of this page is here.

I finally managed to get a hands-on look at Spotify Mobile for the iPhone (thanks @JackalHeadGod). Being familiar with Spotify on Android, I was able to compare the two to determine what things they had in common and which features were unique to one device. Here then is the definitive report on which is best – it’s the Spotify Mobile Smackdown: iPhone versus Android!

Besides a few aesthetic differences, here is the complete list of features, blow-by-blow, unique to the iPhone version and unique to the Android version of Spotify Mobile.




Sync Over 3G

Offline playlists are Spotify Mobile’s killer feature (well, apart from having over 4 million songs in your pocket!), but on iPhone you must be connected to Wi-Fi to sync your playlists due to Apple-imposed restrictions. On Android you can sync over Wi-Fi or 3G: there are options to enable or disable “Sync over Wi-Fi” and “Sync over 3G” (although it does say the recommended setting for Over 3G is off).

Score: Android 1 – 0 iPhone


Sort Playlist Order

Spotify Mobile on iPhone lets you sort the order of your playlists: touch the mark at the right-hand side of the playlist then move it up or down the list. The changes are reflected on the desktop. On Android, you cannot sort your playlists: you must do this on the desktop.

Score: Android 1 – 1 iPhone


Sort Song Order Within a Playlist

On iPhone you can also sort the songs within a playlist. Again, this sortability is missing from Spotify Mobile for Android.

Score: Android 1 – 2 iPhone


021Voice-Activated Search

Here’s a feature to impress your friends with: Google’s Voice Search (which lets you speak your search query into your phone before doing some smart voice-to-text translation) works in Spotify Mobile for Android. Fire up Spotify, click the search tab, then say what you want to listen to. It works amazingly well, even when you have a slight accent 😉

Score: Android 2 – 2 iPhone


View Artist Biography

There seems to be no way to view an artist’s Biography page on Spotify Mobile for iPhone. On Android, every artist page has a set of three tabs: one for all the tracks (the Overview tab), one for top hits, and one for the artist’s biography.

Score: Android 3 – 2 iPhone


View Artist Top Hits

As with the biography, there seems to be no way to view an artist’s Top Hits page on Spotify Mobile for iPhone.

Score: Android 4 – 2 iPhone


Artist and Search Pages have Album Art

As you would expect, viewing the overview of an artist’s material on Spotify shows you little thumbnails of all the album art. You also expect to see the album art on search results. But this is only available on Spotify Mobile for iPhone. On Android, all you get is a jumbled list of albums with a white disc icon next to each one, as if it’s tried to download some artwork but failed.

Score: Android 4 – 3 iPhone


.View Disk Space Usage

Offline Playlists take up disk space on your phone. You can store 3,333 tracks provided you have the space. With Spotify Mobile for Android, there’s an About screen that tells you how much disk space is available, the total storage, and how much storage Spotify has used (in both MB and percentage). I have a 16 MB microSD card in my G1: Spotify reports the total storage as 15186 MB, with 8128 MB available to Spotify. I’ve synced a fair few playlists; my Used Storage is 7057 MB (46%). Spotify Mobile for iPhone does not report any of this disk space usage information.

Score: Android 5 – 3 iPhone


Home Tab of New Releases020

The Home tab in Spotify Mobile for Android shows you a selection of 16 new albums and singles on Spotify, just like the What’s New tab on the desktop version. It’s a quick way to jump to something new (especially given that none of the playlist or new-release recommender sites will work with Spotify Mobile). This page is absent from Spotify Mobile for iPhone.

Score: Android 6 – 3 iPhone


Run Spotify in the Background

For Android users, the fact that an app can run in the background is nothing special: most apps do just that, you can leave them running while you check that text message, tweet, or email that just arrived. But as has been well documented, Apple do not allow non-Apple apps to run in the background. If you’re listening to music with Spotify on your regular (non-jailbroken)  iPhone and you want to check an email, you need to stop the music. Granted Spotify will start from exactly where you stopped it, but Google Android knocks out the iPhone conclusively with this final unique feature.

Score: Android 7 – 3 iPhone


Final Score: Android 7 – 3 iPhone – Android Wins!


Spotify Mobile for Android comes out on top when it comes to number of unique features. Of course, some features may be much more important to you than others. I will leave the last word to @JackalHeadGod, software developer, geek, and confirmed Apple fanboy:

“The iPhone UI is far cleaner but lacks some of the features of the Google phone, including the killer feature of background listening. Users who want to text or check email without stopping their music would be best served by Google’s offering.”

See more on Spotify and iPhone or more on Spotify and Android.

iphone vs. Android image from

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  • Of course Android wins, it plays in the background! That’s about the biggest difference between them and the one that definitely matters the most.

    I am surprised at some of the differences though, the ordering and album art being missing on the Android version is quite strange.

  • Anders Saron Dalsgaard

    How do you get Google’s Voice Search???

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  • Cheers Phil, it does seem to me that the Android version has more bugs than the iPhone version. I’m sure the Spotify devs will fix those problems eventually.

    Anders, the voice search is a free download from the Android Market: just look for “Google Search by voice” from Google, Inc.

  • steve

    what about the quality of the audio when played through the phone’s loudspeakers? might be worth a point for the other side.. (not that you’d use it often)

  • I use my ipod touch at work in a dock and thus i don’t need to play the app in the background as i don’t have wifi there. When i Sync at home however it’s really annoying not being able to tell how much space Spotify is taking up, even deleting the playlists off the device doesnt help as you have to clear the cache. Having just an 8GB touch i have to keep 4GB free and limit myself to about 500 tracks from Spotify. I’m sure like most iphone apps it will resolve these issues.

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  • norz

    Interesting article, thank you very much! 🙂

    I’d be interested in knowing how much autonomy you get when using Spotify on the iPhone and on the Android device. But maybe the only difference would be due to the hardware…

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  • ben

    Afront: You don’t need to download Google voice search. It’s pre-installed. Just hold down the search button (the magnifying glass). Android blows iPhone out of the water, yet again. When is Apple going to get with the picture, & start supporting things that every other true smartphone already has? When was the last time you went to YouTube on an iPhone? How about never since there’s no flash. By the way: there’s no flash on the new $600 ipad either.

  • DAB

    Time to update this poll, I think they are pretty much even now! 

  • Yes, good idea! Actually Spotify on iPhone may have taken the lead here now….

  • jasica

    Great site. A lot of useful information here related to mobile !
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