What really matters in a mobile OS

Metaratings
02 Apr 2014
00:00
Article

I have now used three mobile phones for a few months with different operating systems: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. I have tried to compare them, but more importantly to understand what really matters when you choose between mobile operating systems. The phones I have used are the iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Nokia Lumia 1520.

I tried to focus on what really matters to me - how and why I daily choose a certain phone. The iPhone is the most reliable device and has the most stable apps. Whatever you do, it normally works. You get a high quality app for whichever purpose or need. Its screen is small, but actually it’s quite a nice size to have in your pocket and use with one hand.

S4 is the best device to use Google’s email account (personal and business). Google Now is nice with smart reminders, public transportation and traffic information, and many daily needs. But not all functions and apps are stable. Sometimes new versions also start to eat battery power, like most recently after an update some apps drain the battery in just 5 hours. They are not properly tested before launch.

Lumia 1520 is like a small tablet (actually when it was in my briefcase at the Frankfurt airport security check, they took it out and said that I should remove tablets from baggage). It has wonderful battery life, it can work several days if I don’t use it too much. It has a good camera (although in some light conditions the iPhone seems to make better photos, even if based on data the Lumia should be better). Some of its apps work well, but still some basic apps (like real podcasts, BBC, and proper versions of some exercise apps) are missing. The apps are not as reliable as iPhone apps and some of them are surprisingly slow (e.g. Facebook and maps) to open, and screen is too sensitive for touches. And I have a fundamental problem with the tile UI, including the lack of folders and the complex navigation required to get to some basic settings. I think Microsoft should go back to ‘normal icons’ in phones but also in PCs. Car manufacturers don’t re-invent different kinds of steering wheels just to be unique.

What I typically can read from mobile phone reviews is a lot of numbers and also some fancy new things like NFC, wireless charging or bigger megapixel numbers. Based on my experience now with all three systems, phone manufacturers still have quite a lot of work to do with very basic things, to get the OS and apps to be stable, not crash, achieve reasonable battery lifetime and be capable of quickly and easily opening apps. I don’t expect a fancy and unique UI.

Maybe some fancy features and big numbers help to sell. But I believe that the iPhone created a new standard for what is a smart phone. And now manufacturers and operating system vendors should focus on developing stable and reliable devices that have good battery life. And I actually believe people prefer a kind of ‘standard UI’ with icons. I don’t believe in those mobile experts who say people are already tired of the iPhone’s UI. People are not tired of something that works well. I think the next big thing and revolution is something totally different than changing icons to tiles and forcing people to do the same old things in a new way. As I have written also earlier, the smartphone business is really entering a mature phase, and I hope that phones also mature, i.e. they don’t crash and drain the battery in a few hours.

So, which is my favorite phone? It is Apple’s hardware with iOS and Samsung’s screen size, Google’s integrated apps and Nokia’s battery life time.

PS: Microsoft now launched Office to iPad and Android. It was exactly what I expected in my Microsoft mobile article (Where’s Microsoft mobile heading). The Windows Phone environment is not enough for their enterprise and Office business.

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