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Types of Smartphone Operating Systems – What to Choose?

Updated on April 2, 2011


Smartphones have been growing in popularity for the past ten years. When these phones first came on the market they were primarily used by business professionals. Today, smartphones are accessible to the general public. There are lots and lots of different models and several different operating systems. Which one is the best and most useful for personal, entertainment and business use, respectively?

Nokia's Symbian

Symbian was one of the first real operating systems for smartphones. It was a great OS for simple gaming, basic media and text messaging functions, as well as basic email and web surfing applications. Symbian could be considered the first recreation smartphone OS.

However, Symbian – now a product of Nokia – was not designed for big documents or downloads. It didn't multitask very successfully either. Symbian has since improved, but is still somewhat behind the other major players in the market and primarily good for the most basic applications.

There are relatively few third-party applications for Symbian (which means any application not created by Symbian) compared to Android and iPhone. There is now a decent amount of apps, but Smartphone users who want to have a multitude of applications available to them may be disappointed with Symbian.


BlackBerry was, and still is, a very popular choice among business professionals. This operating system focuses on communication, with advanced email and web surfing capabilities, at least compared to Symbian. It could, and still can, send and receive emails from anywhere, so long as it can locate a network. Today they might look slightly outdated compared to the latest devices from Apple or HTC, but BlackBerry remains the go-to for business professionals.

iPhone iOS

iOS was originally unveiled by Apple in 2007. It is the operating system used on the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. iOS could only run Apple applications when it was first introduced, and could not multitask until version 4 was introduced in April 2010. The iPhone is certainly popular, and one of the best parts is the huge assortment of third-party applications for the devices. iOS is arguably the operating system that is easiest to use and the most accessible. The most apparent downside is the iPhone’s high cost compared to other smartphones with roughly the same capabilities.


Android is an open source smartphone OS based on Linux and sponsored by Google. Android smartphone sales were second in the first quarter of 2010. They ranked with BlackBerry OS and the iOS, respectively. Currently, there are about 90,000 applications for the Android OS, making it one of the most popular systems for developers to write for. One of the newest features that have not been available before is video chat. All the phone requires is a front-facing camera.

Android also has a bigger market for third party applications, with developer interest in making more third-party applications available to Android users-both for selling and giving away for free (but often ad-supported). With its ability to multitask, it is probably the most reliable and sensible choice for the everyday smartphone consumer. There are all sorts of Android smartphones on the market--from small and basic variants to high-end super smartphones like the Motorola Atrix 4G, which can turn into a laptop!

Windows Phone 7

The newest smartphone OS to hit the market is Windows Phone 7, which has just been release (October, 2010). Windows Phone 7 uses a mobile version of Internet Explorer as its browser and it aims to offer a familiar experience for Windows users. Adobe will also be included in the project with a mobile version of Flash. Bing will be the default search engine, but unlike other Windows Systems, consumers will be unable to change the default search engine. Software updates will be delivered via Microsoft Update.

The problem for Microsoft is that, at the time of release, some of the advertised features in the software will not be working. Add to this the fact that SD card support and unmanaged multitasking, which were available in the earlier versions of the Windows Phone program, will not be available in Windows Phone 7. For devoted Microsoft users, this might be easy to overlook, but for the average smartphone consumer on the street, it seems that Android or iPhone/iOS are the more dependable ways to go--at least for now.


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      Jacob89 7 years ago

      Hey nice lens you got there, Ive always liked informative info on smartphone stuff. Have you heard about Nokia ditching it's Symbian OS and replacing it with Windows Phone 7? Apparently Nokia will continue to use Symbian OS in other cellphones but just not the smartphones. Anyway I invite you to come check out my lenses and my most recent one about smartphone operating systems.