The US Army has decided to stop using Android devices and has instead switched to iPhones for its special operations forces that engage in unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, direct action, foreign internal defence and counterterrorism missions.
The United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), a branch charged with overseeing the various special operations forces of the US Army, has decided to switch from using Android phones and instead include the iPhone 6S in its tactical assault kits, which are used by soldiers on special missions.
Special forces make use of smartphones currently as a battlefield situational awareness tool. The USASOC has apparently become fed up with the Android because it often "freezes up" while performing tasks.
A US Army source not authorised to speak to the media told the online defence and acquisition journal DoD Buzz that using Android smartphones has been a problem when soldiers try to view live video feeds which stream from military drones such as the InstantEye quadcopters by PSI Tactical.
The source said that when operatives try to run a split screen displaying both the a map of the route and the video feed from the drone, the Android smartphone freezes, won't refresh and often needs to be restarted, which wastes time.
"It's seamless on the iPhone," said the source. "The graphics are clear, unbelievable."
The USASOC iPhone Tactical Assault Kits feature a smartphone connected to a Harris AN/PRC 152A handheld networked radio which enables small unit leaders to keep track of their location, and that of their soldiers, using icons on a digital map – they also allow leaders to speak to other units across different waveforms.
This information, together with video streams and other surveillance data gathered by drones armed with sensors in the air, enable soldiers to make key decisions during a mission.
The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus have been underperforming against Samsung's Android smartphones in the US, compared to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices released in 2014, according to recent research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Sales are suffering because consumers are reportedly choosing to purchase 2014 models instead, or even the iPhone 5S, which is now over two years old.