How to Pick Your First Smartphone: Choosing an Operating System

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Although it might seem that iPhones and Droids are everywhere these days, a majority of people are still using simpler phones. Looking at all the options, those who are ready to make the move up might feel a bit overwhelmed. Brighthand is here to help!

The first step is deciding which operating system you would prefer. If you were choosing a PC, the options would be PC or Mac, but with smartphones there are more possibilities: Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.

This is an important first step because it will significantly affect which models you can choose from. Making a snap decision without much thought behind it can result in you getting a phone you don’t really care for and are committed to using for years.

Google Android OS

Samsung Epic 4G Touch from SprintThe most widely used mobile operating system today is Android. It’s used on dozens of devices from just about every wireless carrier, and you can find it on models from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Sony, and more. These have a variety of designs, with a range of screen sizes and resolutions, with physical keyboards and without.

Android is highly customizable, allowing you to tweak its appearance and operation in many ways. And there are hundreds of thousands of apps for it, running the gamut from games to business software.

Perhaps the best way to summarize Android is to say that it’s the closest thing available to the “Windows” of the smartphone market: it’s the most popular and most widely available mobile OS.

Apple iPhone/iOS

Apple has a completely different philosophy. It puts all its focus on one smartphone model, seeking to make the latest iPhone the best device it can possibly be. The only company that makes iOS-based devices is Apple, and it tightly integrates its hardware and software.

Apple iPhone 4SThe result is a product that many consider superior, as long as they are willing to accept the limitations: Apple allows very little modification in the user interface, and there’s little range in the hardware options.

One of the strengths of the iPhone is the huge selection of third-party software available for it. This means that there are myriad productivity and entertainment options.

Apple keeps iOS as a closed system, but that allows it to carefully control the user experience, which its designers try to make as intuitive and easy to use as possible.

RIM BlackBerry

Canada’s Research in Motion once dominated smartphone sales in N. America, but that was in the days before Android and the iPhone. In the past year or so, sales of BlackBerry models have dropped significantly.

The main reasons for this is this operating system has not kept up in many of the features most consumers are looking for in an advanced phone: its web browser is slow and primitive compared to its rivals, and the selection of third-party apps is much smaller.

Still, the BlackBerry has an advantage or two. It’s preferred by those who only want a smartphone for handling their email on the go, as that’s its primary focus. Also, the BlackBerry OS is the most secure of any of the mobile operating systems.

Microsoft Windows PhoneNokia Lumia 900

Those who are big fans of Windows should be happy to know that Microsoft makes a version for smartphones as well. This has been embraced by the European handset giant Nokia, and their partnership is working to make this operating system more competitive with its more popular rivals. HTC and Samsung also make Windows phones.

At this point, there are only a handful of devices based on this operating system, and therefore there’s not a wide array of design options. Still, Microsoft makes sure that all the ones available have a fairly robust feature set.

There aren’t as many apps on the market for Windows Phone, but the number is growning.

Rather than the icon-based user interface all its rivals use, Microsoft created a tiles-based UI for this OS. The company liked this so much, it’s making it a part of Widows 8, so those who get a Windows Phone will soon have a smartphone and a PC with the same look and feel.

Conclusion

Although Android is suitable for beginners and advanced users alike, Android offers more for those that like to tinker with their smartphone than iOS does. The iPhone, on the other hand, is generally preferred by those who want a device that “just works”.

BlackBerry is a good option for those who are just looking for a secure way to exchange email while on the go, while Windows Phone should appeal to those who are fans of Microsoft.

Note: This is the first article in a series on choosing a first smartphone. Later articles will cover how the pick the best model for you.

 

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