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Smartphone Operating Systems

Android, Apple, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7 (WP7) are the current main smartphone makers of 2011. Which smartphone manufacturer is best for you? Below is a comparison of their relative strengths and weaknesses to help you decide.

 

Android

Android is an OS created by Google to make headway into the mobile phone market and to wrestle dominance from Apple's iPhone. From a small start a couple of years ago they have almost achieved dominance through their open attitude, trust in the Google reputation and wide variety of phone makers who want to jump on the Android bandwagon.

Because of this range of choice, Android phones are generally cheaper to run with lower monthly contract costs, and more free and cheap apps to install.

Android Pros
  • An excellent user interface
  • A wide range of phones built by different makers
  • Frequent updates
  • Open Architecture
  • True multi tasking - different apps run same time
  • Adobe Flash Support for videos and games
  • Less restrictions on apps
  • Better integration with GMail, Google Maps, etc
Android Cons
  • Updates are controlled by phone makers
  • Apps are not safety checked for malware
  • Many different types of phone = fragmentation

Apple iOS

Although smartphones existed before Apple's foray into the market (think Windows Mobile etc), it was their design and influence that really made these types of phone popular and mainstream. Since the iPhone's beginning they have set the standard in quality and ease of use and the other companies have been playing catch-up.

iPhones tend to aim for the stylish, higher end of the market with more expensive phones and apps as a result.

Apple Pros
  • An excellent user interface
  • Frequent iOS updates
  • Apps are checked by Apple first for safety
  • Integrated with iTunes media service
Apple Cons
  • No Adobe Flash support
  • Closed architecture
  • Not many devices, only iPhone and iPad

Blackberry

Blackberry (created by RIM) originally gained popularity in the corporate world with phones that housed a complete physical keyboard, making emails and text messages easier to type. Along with the best corporate mail exchange integration and security, they remain a popular choice especially for business people.

In addition to their traditional corporate user base, Blackberry's are also seeing a surge in popularity by younger users who like to send more text messages and other people who insist on a physical keyboard to type.

Blackberry Pros
  • Email security is top notch with encryption
  • Better company email integration
  • Apps more targeted at the business world
Blackberry Cons
  • Not many devices, all made by Blackberry
  • User interface is dated
  • More expensive apps and less choice
  • Closed architecture

Windows Phone 8

Made by Microsoft, WP8 is their latest incarnation of a smartphone OS which supercedes previous less popular versions. Taking a cue from Apple and Android, WP8 seems easy to use and less like a miniature versions of Windows desktop. A recent partnership with Nokia promises to make things interesting in the future also. As WP8 is the newest of the big OS makers, they are going through a feverish phase of small incremental updates.

At this early stage in the WP8 lifecycle, this OS seems more popular with people who value MS Office support and Microsofts other services.

WP8 Pros
  • An excellent user interface
  • Frequent updates
  • Built-in Office document support
  • Integrates with XBox gaming, Zune music etc
  • A new partnership with Nokia will stir things
  • True multi tasking soon
WP8 Cons
  • So far, not so many apps available
  • Apps first need to be approved by Microsoft
  • Closed architecture