Mobile OS Review: Top 5 Mobile Operating Systems Comparison

By Carrie Tsai, Last Updated: September 14, 2020 INDUSTRY

Mobile phones especially smartphones are the technologically revolutionary offspring which has redefined and taken the digital world by storm. Today, we cannot live without smartphones since they are playing a significant role in redefining the way we get information and communicate with others. And smartphones are completely useless trash with no proper mobile OS, mobile operating system.

As the specifically-designed software that runs on smartphones and other mobile devices, mobile OS has a great place in the proper functioning of any mobile device. And much like PCs that have scores of different types of operating systems, smartphones can run different operating systems or different versions.

When in the market for a new mobile phone, many people pay less attention to the mobile OS but more to other factors like price, screen, RAM, battery life and camera. But in fact, selecting which one to buy has much to to with the mobile OS that runs the phone.

In the current market, there exists almost more than 100 mobile operating systems to choose between. But in what follows, we’ll explore the top 5 major ones that currently rule the kingdom and make a comparison among them in several different factors. After that, you can get a better knowledge of the mobile OS and next time you’re in the market for a brand-new phone, you can find it much easier to select the right one with the right mobile OS.

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Android OS

Android mobile OS is an open source mobile operating system powered by Linux Kernel developed by Google. It’s majorly programmed by C, C++ and Java and is designed primarily and specifically for touchscreen mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Since it was released, it has been Google’s champion mobile OS and always shows no sign of retreat. More importantly, it’s by far the most dominant mobile operating system across the globe.

Apps, UI and User Experience

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Android in the mass well serves its users by offering a plethora of productivity applications and flexible user interfaces.

In terms of apps, this mobile OS comes with the Google Play Store where users can search and download apps on their mobile phones. Unlike iOS, Windows mobile and Blackberry OS, Android is an open-source mobile OS which is free for any user and developer to use, change and modify and thus allows users to develop apps especially third-party apps as their default options. Hence, in terms of volume, its apps as well as the Google Play store far rival those of the other top 4 mobile operating systems.

As to the UI, Android mobile OS offers users flexible user interfaces which are smooth to run and easy to manage and control. Compared to iOS and other closed-source mobile operating systems, it has more flexible user interfaces, allowing any user to set up their own layout on home screen and add any custom widgets and shortcuts.

Another amazing UI feature for which the Android mobile OS is popular is multitasking. Android’s multitasking allows the OS to run several apps simultaneously in the background. It’s the Android itself that controls much of the multitasking. This feature allows you to flip between apps, making the operation much more convenient and efficient.

Customizability

Pros and Cons of Android OS

As mentioned earlier, Android mobile OS is an open-source operating system, making it more flexible in apps development and UI personalized set-up and more ubiquitous in devices making. Hence, compared to other closed-source mobile operating systems such as iOS and Blackberry OS, it has much higher customizing capability, allowing both users and developers to develop their own apps and set up personalized UI layout.

Updates

In terms of updates, Android mobile OS actually offers inconsistent and delayed software and OS updates. As the related survey indicates, only about 8% of Android devices are running the latest version, Android 10. This figure is in fact very low. Although Google is trying to solve this issue by introducing Project Treble and other improvements, efforts are nowhere near enough.

Security

Due to the lack of speedy updates, Android mobile OS is much less secure compared to the other 4 mobile operating systems especially Apple’s iOS. Indeed, Google has been being criticized for not letting Android really secure all the time.

As reports indicate, Android mobile OS is most vulnerable to malware, viruses and serious hacks such as Stagefright and Certifi-gate. No wonder it has a poor reputation for security — it’s behind in the update world and is still running software that’s years old.

Affordability

Due to its non-competed sheer scale and variety, mobile devices powered by Android mobile OS are cost-wise and are possible to get themselves far more affordable than the average devices running other mobile operating systems. Also, due to the fact that Android offers free apps and customization options, it’s the primary OS option for budget-conscious individuals.

Pros
* Flexible UI
* Ubiquity on a range of mobile phones
* Incomparable Apps in terms of sheer volume
* High-customizing capability
* Cost-wise devices

Cons
* Delayed updates
* Less secure

Apple iOS

iOS is a special mobile operating system developed by Apple. It is so far the most advanced mobile OS in the world and currently the strongest rival against Android in the section of the mobile OS. Coded in Objective-C, this mobile OS is completely closed-source and is exclusively designed for Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, etc.

Apps, UI and User Experience

Just like Android mobile OS, iOS also enjoys a great user-base since it offers users (individuals and enterprises) beautifully easy-to-manage UI and smooth-to-operate platform and software.

In terms of apps, iOS is accompanied by its unique Apple store which offers its users a great number of different feature-rich apps. And it’s worth noting that this platform has come with many productivity apps which can be the useful tools for enterprises and office workers.

However, different from the open-source Android mobile OS, iOS is exclusively designed for Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod. Thus, it has a uniquely unified UI across all apps and comes with apps that are Apple-exclusive.

Also, the closed-source feature also makes the multitasking in iOS quite different from its competitor Android mobile OS. Unlike Android’s multitasking which allows full apps to run in the background at once, the multitasking in iOS lets apps keep their certain features running in the background simultaneously (state-saving).

Customizability

Different from Android which is open-source and thus has high customizing capability, iOS mobile OS is closed-source and thus is limited in apps, UI and devices customizability. Its apps are entirely Apple-exclusive, its user interface is uniquely unified and its devices are completely Apple-designed.

Pros and Cons of Apple iOS

This means that you won’t be able to make significant changes and modification to the way your iOS device functions such as developing third-party apps. That said, you cannot gain the same level of freedom as Android on iOS.

Updates

Apple’s iOS does pretty well in updates compared to the other 4 mobile operating systems especially its biggest competitor Android mobile OS. Unlike Android which has poor updates, Apple’s iOS has control over updates, offering consistent and timely software updates to all iOS devices. Currently, the latest iOS version runs on about 70% of all iOS devices.

Security

Among the top 5 mobile operating systems, Apple’s iOS is the one which has gained most reputation for security. On the one hand, the tight guard that the Apple mobile OS has on its exclusive apps and the capability to roll out updates to all its devices timely bring up its strength in security.

On the other hand, Apple’s iOS prioritizes user privacy by encrypting personal data in its apps such as iMessage and has been offering innovative security features to its users, most notably Touch ID and Face ID in the iPhone X and later.

Affordability

In addition to its customizing limitation, the main lacking point of the iOS is that its devices are highly expensive. This is because the iOS devices are at the high end of the market in terms of quality, features and techs. Relatively speaking, compared to the other 4 mobile OS platforms, the iOS is much less affordable. For those who are budget-conscious, an iOS-powered mobile device indeed costs a lot. However, if you decide to buy Apple’s mobile device, iOS is the only option you have.

Pros
* Beautiful UI
* Great quality of apps
* Regular Updates
* Excellent Security

Cons
* Closed-source and locked-down mobile OS
* Limited Customizability
* Costly devices

Windows Mobile OS

Without questioning, almost everyone is well accustomed to Windows used in computers and PCs. Just like the PC Windows, Windows mobile OS is also developed by Microsoft just for mobile phones. It’s coded in Visual C#/C+ and comes with all the characteristics of the PC system, making it definitely one of the best mobile operating system for smooth operation. It’s closed-source and currently applied primarily in new Nokia phones.

Pros and Cons of Windows Mobile OS

Apps, UI and User Experience

Like the other 4 mobile operating systems, the Windows mobile OS has colorful and user-friendly interface and is easy to control and smooth to run. What makes it quite different is its easy integration with Windows programs especially Microsoft Office, making it a popular option for business people.

Customizability

Windows mobile is said to be the most flexible mobile OS in the closed-source OS family. Unlike other closed-sourced mobile operating systems such as iOS and Blackberry which can only exclusively run on phones made by those brands, Windows mobile OS is available on several types of phones. This is because Microsoft sells the Windows mobile to scores of different phone manufacturers. You can see the recent Nokia Lumia, Samsung Focus and HTC Titan 2. They are all powered by Windows mobile.

Updates and Security

Windows mobile OS rolls out updates consistently and timely. Updates keep it away from malware, viruses and hacks, making it considerably secure. Also, due to its low market penetration, it’s less of a cyber security danger, causing it more secure to use.

Affordability

In terms of cost, devices powered by Windows mobile OS span a range. However, the majority of them are affordable. Devices for workers are much more affordable and within your budget. Relatively speaking, compared to Apple devices, Windows mobile devices definitely cost much less.

Pros
* Smooth to operate and easy to control
* Colorful UI
* Microsoft Office suite
* Secure

Cons
* Support Limited Apps

Blackberry Mobile OS

Blackberry OS is the proprietary mobile OS developed by BlackBerry Ltd owned by RIM for the Blackberry mobile devices line. Coded in Java, it was first released in 1999 and was one of the oldest mobile phone operating systems. It’s designed primarily as functional for business applications.

Apps, UI and User Experience

Pro and Cons of Blackberry Mobile OS

Like Android, iOS and Windows mobile, Blackberry mobile OS is smooth to run and easy to control. However, its user interface is quite different from other mobile opereating systems.

It’s worth noting that some Blackberry-powered devices still retain the physical keyboard rather than applying the virtual touch screen. This makes them attractive to those who find it hard to use smart touch screen. What’s more, it’s geared more toward business people than consumers in their personal lives, coming with productivity tools. This makes it a dream for IT.

Customizability

Just like Apple’s iOS, Blackberry mobile OS is closed-source, which makes it only available on phones branded by Blackberry. That said, it cannot be used by any other third-party manufacturers.

Updates and Security

Different from Android mobile OS, Blackberry does quite well in updates to its powered Blackberry devices. In terms of security, it has gained strong reputation for security since it is immune from almost every virus. Its integration of secure containers from Goog Technology is what makes it much more secure.

Affordability

Compared to the more expensive Apple iOS devices and Android mobile devices, Blackberry-powered mobile devices are significantly cheaper.

Pros
* Unique UI
* Excellent Security
* Excellent option for business people

Cons
* Not customizable
* Lack of Compatibility
* Limited Targeted Users
* Affordable

Sailfish OS

Pro and Cons of Sailfish Mobile OS

Sailfish OS is an open-source and independent mobile operating system based on Linux. It’s primarily targeted for smartphones. It has been an excellent alternative to the current dominant mobile operating systems.

Apps, UI and Customizability

Just like the other 4 mobile operating systems, Sailfish mobile OS is very easy to operate and control with simple user interface. But in terms of apps, it installs very few apps and for better access to different apps, you need the support of the Android mobile OS.

Just like Android, Sailfish OS is an open-source mobile OS, making it customizable to other third-party manufacturers. Hence, it has flexible user interfaces and personally-tailored home screen.

Updates and Security

Like Apple iOS and Blackberry OS, Sailfish OS is excellent in updates and security. It comes with a great secure system to keep away from malware, hacks and viruses.

Affordability

Compared to the high-end Android and Apple iOS devices, Sailfish mobile devices are much more affordable.

Pros
* Independent and flexible
* Excellent security
* More Affordable

Cons
* Very few apps installed

So Which Mobile OS is Best for Your Next Smartphone?

Mobile OS plays an extremely important role in the proper functioning of any smartphone. When looking for a new smartphone, choosing which one to purchase indeed has much to do with the mobile OS. Now you must have a knowledge of the top 5 major mobile phone operating systems out there. But which one is best for your new smartphone? Well, it depends.

If you intend to buy an Apple device, iOS is the backbone. And you can get Apple-exclusive beautiful UI and excellent security for your next phone. However, if you’re considering a new phone specifically for business applications, Windows mobile and Blackberry OS may be the great options. Sailfish OS may be also a good choice if you want both flexibility and excellent security. Till then however, considering the flexibility, app ecosystem and customization, Android is surely the way to go for most individuals.

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Originally published at https://www.neway.mobi on September 14, 2020.

Carrie Tsai is part of team Neway and is always active to share her ideas of Neway. She enthusiastically dives each day into the depths of the mobile industry.