What Does OS Have to Do With It?

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on September 4, 2014, Buying Guides

If you’re busy choosing a new phone then you’ll have come upon the problem of operating system. Whilst many of us have a preference for say, Android, or iOS, some don’t, and choosing between the different systems can be confusing. That’s why we’re taking a look at the pros and cons of each of the four major mobile operating systems today.

What Are Your Choices?

There are four operating systems that are currently widely available, though there are other, smaller options however these tend to be more technically oriented and aren’t great choices for regular users. Basically you can choose between Android, iOS, RIM and Windows. So let’s take an in depth look at all of these.

Android

Android

Android

Latest Version: Android 4.4 Kit Kat

Available On: Pretty much everything except iPhones, Nokias and Blackberrys, most notably all the Samsung Galaxys, as well as most HTC models.

Pros: Android is the most popular phone operating system in the world right now, and that means lots of compatibility. There are plenty of apps to choose from, for example, as well as thousands of different hand sets. One of the main reasons that customers like Android phones is that they are very customisable. It’s easy to make changes to your phone in terms of wallpapers and icons, and if you’re technically minded you can even make programming changes. Android is also fairly easy to use, though not quite as simple as iOS, which we’ll come to in a moment. One factor that’s both a pro and a con for Android is that it’s open source, which means that anyone can design apps so there’s plenty of innovation.

Cons: That open source pro is also a con, however, since it means that unethical programmers can design apps that are basically viruses or spyware, so if you’re running Android you should also be running an antivirus programme on your phone. However, that is pretty much the only down side to using Android.

A Good Choice If: Android is the obvious choice for techies, but it’s also a good all round choice for most customers. There’s a reason it’s the most popular OS choice in the world, after all.

iOS

iOS 7

iOS 7

Latest Version: iOS 7

Available On: All iPhone models

Pros: By far the biggest advantage of Apple’s iOS is that it is extremely intuitive. That means that it’s super easy to use, even for complete beginners. All iPhones have a connection through iTunes, where it’s easy to choose from a large selection of apps, music and videos, as well as to store all your phone information on the Cloud (meaning you can store photos, for example, on the internet rather than taking up space on your phone).

Cons: However, you will be limited to iTunes for your app choices, you won’t be able to download from elsewhere, and Apple controls quite strongly which apps are allowed to be sold and which aren’t, so you’ll have to abide by their rules. Also, iOS isn’t very customisable, which is why it’s so easy to use, which frustrates more advanced phone users.

A Good Choice If: For none technically minded people iOS is a fantastic choice, and both older and very young users get a great phone experience with iOS. You might also choose iOS if you already have other Mac products such as a computer or iPod and want good compatibility.

Windows

Windows Phone

Windows Phone

Latest Version: Windows 8.1

Available On: Mostly Nokia phones, though HTC and Huawei also make a few Windows models

Pros: If you’re a regular Windows user on your home PC then Windows Mobile will be nothing new for you, the two systems are extremely similar. That means that a Windows phone is easy to use if you’re already using Windows 8.1, but does have a learning curve if you’re not. A Windows phone also obviously has great compatibility with existing Windows programmes such as Word and Excel, making it a good choice for business people. The look of Windows is quite innovative compared to other systems, with large moving tiles displaying information, rather than small home screen icons. Some people consider this design to be a point in Windows’ favour.

Cons: Windows can be tough to use on a mobile if you’re not already used to the system, and there isn’t much compatibility outside of Microsoft programmes, so there’s a limited choice of apps available. There’s little choice of hand sets as well, so if you’re not a Nokia lover then you might be disappointed.

A Good Choice If: If you’re already using Windows, then this is clearly a good choice, and if you’re looking to use Microsoft programmes such as Word on your mobile then this will be the cheapest choice, since other operating system apps for Microsoft programmes are extremely expensive.

RIM – BlackBerry

BlackBerry

BlackBerry

Latest Version: Blackberry 10

Available On: Blackberry phones only

Pros: For customers that want a phone with a physical keyboard then a Blackberry is the clear choice, and the RIM operating system is pretty simple to use, generally combining both a touch screen and a keyboard. Blackberry also have great messaging, chat and email programmes, making instant communication simple and inexpensive.

Cons: There’s very little compatibility for RIM outside of Blackberry apps, and there aren’t many of those at all. Web browsing on RIM is notoriously bad as well.

A Good Choice If: For those that use chat apps and mailing more than anything else, then a Blackberry is a great choice. Most other customers will be far from satisfied with the lack of features and power on a Blackberry.

In Conclusion

The operating system that you choose for your phone is very much a personal decision and comes down to what you feel most comfortable with. Each system does have its pros and cons, and some are better suited to different kinds of customers. By far the best way to choose an operating system if you’re not sure is to head to your local mobile operator and check out some demo models. Getting a feel for a system is a practical thing, and it really makes sense to try before you buy.