The Pros & Cons of the major mobile operating systems

Major Mobile Operating SystemsSmartphone operating systems often inspire dire loyalty in their users. Once someone owns an iPhone/Android/Windows Phone they rarely switch. But sometimes it’s good to put emotional attachment aside and take an objective look at what each OS really offers – you never know, you might be persuaded to switch.

Rosemary Hattersley, of PC Advisor, took the time to write a multi-page look at the most recent versions of the iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. Here’s a recap of some of the pros and cons of each OS:

iOS 6

Pros

  • The latest version of Apple’s mobile OS … offers the broadest choice of apps of all smartphones and comes with plenty of Apple’s own apps.
  • The likable Safari web browser supports multiple web pages.
  • You can easily add multiple email accounts from Outlook to iCloud Mail, Yahoo, Google and Exchange, then designate contacts as VIPs. You can view inboxes separately or show all messages in a single inbox view. Mail is searchable by name or subject via a field at the top of the screen.
  • Integration with audio hardware is impressive via both Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay wireless streaming.
  • Aside from the sheer number of apps in the App Store, one of the big advantages of iOS is that Apple curates all apps, so rogue installations (and malware) are less likely than with Android.

Cons

  • The lack of support for Flash means some websites don’t work.
  • Voice search via the Siri digital assistant is largely a gimmick and requires a Wi-Fi connection to use.
  • [Document attachments] can be saved locally only if you have certain apps installed which support those file types.

Android

Pros

  • Google Ice Cream Sandwich (the version before the current Jelly Bean) covers all the basics, with fancier media management options (Samsung. HTC and Sony) and prettier weather and contact features (HTC in particular) being added on some handsets by manufacturers.
  • One clear advantage is the well-developed Google Maps app. Strong mapping, 3D and satellite views are accompanied by built-in voice-control and turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Android also offers built-in voice search, NFC support, screen mirroring and contactless content sharing. You can ‘throw’ photos and music to devices across the room and queue up actions in a form of home automation.
  • Google Now (which is now available for iOS devices, albeit in a slightly more limited form) serves up useful information based on your past behaviour, but also on location and time of the day.

Cons

  • Mobile operators such as Vodafone and Orange pimp their handsets with preinstalled entertainment extras and their own separate lists of recommended apps. In the past, these extras have interfered when upgrading to new Android versions.
  • iOS is stronger for kids’ games and educational content and for creative apps.
  • Some users will be put off by Google’s apparent ability to know everything about their web use, email accounts and personal details. Being logged in to the default Google Chrome web browser won’t help.

Windows Phone 8

Pros

  • Luxuriously large tiles offer access to People, Calls, Music & Videos, Xbox games, apps, Calendar, Camera and Photo gallery. Swipe down to reveal Office 365, SkyDrive and Local Scout – a location-based food, drink, business and entertainment finder.
  • Helpfully, if you need to drive to a location, your Windows Phone 8 will dig out an appropriate app from its Marketplace app store to assist or launch one you’ve installed.
  • If Find My Phone is switched on you can browse the Marketplace on your laptop and have apps install automatically over Wi-Fi – a slick option that allows you to browse app options in comfort before buying.
  • One of the highlights – if you happen to have young children – is Kid’s Corner. This is a walled-off area of the OS where you can give your kids access to games, apps and other things without the worry they’ll email your boss or delete your photos.

Cons

  • Windows Phone 7 smartphones can’t be upgraded to the latest Windows Phone 8 OS.
  • Although there are some great smartphones available running Windows Phone 8, it’s the lack of choice in the app store that holds it back. … There are still many, many useful apps which are missing: available only to Android or iOS users.

BlackBerry 10

Pros

  • It’s a decent revamp, with an infinitely swipable screen that eventually takes you through all the content on your phone. … It makes the few home screens on Android and iPhone handsets seem a bit passé.
  • BlackBerry’s new mantra is that everything is seamlessly connected and you don’t need to dive in and out of separate apps to see what’s happening.
  • Messaging support is unsurpassed, with amazingly fast text entry possible. Word suggestions pop up as you type but without distracting you.
  • Web browsing is very slick and, as with previous BB operating systems, media management is very good.
  • You can rename as well as enhance photos, then search for anything within your media library.
  • More than 70,000 apps launched with BlackBerry 10 OS in January, many of them high-profile such as Kindle ebook reader, Skype and WhatsApp for free messaging and media download tools to come. Business apps are well represented, while social media must-haves Facebook, Twitter and the more corporate LinkedIn are all preinstalled.

Cons

  • Navigation is still a little strange though.
  • App reviews on BlackBerry World are understandably scant.
  • NFC smart tags and voice controls ensure BlackBerry 10 covers most bases, but there’s no stand-out feature to put this slick system ahead of its rivals.
  • However, for many people, it’s the dearth of apps which make the Z10 or Q10 less appealing than a new iPhone or Android handset.
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