An operating system (or ‘OS’) is the software that communicates with the computer’s hardware, manages resources and provides a user interface. Well known examples of operating systems in personal computers are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS, or the open source Linux OS. All phones use some form of operating system but in recent years, as smartphones have become more prevalent, the operating system of a phone has become a more important factor.
Four of the most popular smartphone operating systems at the moment are Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s BlackBerry OS. Each system has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so determining which is the best mobile operating system will often be a matter of personal preference. To help you decide which OS is right for you, consult our handy OS comparison chart to see how the key features of each measure up. Find more information on any OS that interests you by following the links below!
Which OS is right for me? Refer to our OS comparison table to compare the key features of all the major modern smartphone operating systems!
AndroidGoogle´s Android is a popular smartphone operating system launched in 2008. The Android operating system offers a high degree of customisability, a wide range of apps and a varied selection of handsets from numerous manufacturers.
iOSiOS is a smartphone operating system owned by Apple and used exclusively in their ranges of iPhones, iPads and iPods. iOS is one of the most intuitive and easy to use mobile operating systems and offers an unparalleled selection of apps.
WP7Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is a smartphone operating system developed by Microsoft. Launched in 2010, Windows Phone 7 is popular for its simple and attractive user interface, smooth performance and integration of social media features.
All of the major mobile operating systems in the market have a range of advantages and disadvantages. Because of this, many people have a favourite operating system but there is no clear consensus on which is ‘best’.
For example, Apple’s iOS is well recognised for having a very simple and intuitive interface and an extremely large selection of downloadable apps, but has been criticised for its lack of customisation options. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has also been praised for an intuitive and inventive interface, but as a fairly new operating system it lacks a wide range of applications. The BlackBerry OS has a range of useful features for business and security but can be complex and overwhelming for new users. Finally, Google’s Android is well regarded for its customisability and growing app market, but again can seem complex to new users.
While it is often technically possible to change the operating system of a smartphone, in most cases this requires a great deal of specialist expertise. Because of the complexities involved, the operating system is effectively a fixed and unchangeable feature of a phone for the great majority of users. Note that while you cannot easily change to a different operating system, many smartphones do receive updates to their operating systems that add new features or correct bugs.