Android vs Blackberry vs iOS vs Windows Phone

Thought I’d do a little comparison on the 4 different smartphone OS that’s ruling the market right now and give my opinion on this subject. I will mainly be using the phones I’ve used as a comparison.

 
 

Tech Spec

Phone

Samsung Galaxy S III

Blackberry Z10

Apple iPhone 5

Nokia Lumia 920

Operating System

Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean

Blackberry OS 10

iOS 6

Windows Phone 8

Screen Size

4.8″ Super AMOLED

4.2″ LCD

4.0″ LED-Backlit LCD

4.5″ Super Sensitive IPS LCD

Screen Resolution

720×1280 (306ppi)

768×1280 (355ppi)

640×1136 (326ppi)

768×1280 (332ppi)

Processor

Qualcomm MSM890 Snapdragon

Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon

Apple A6

Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon

Processor Speed

Dual Core 1.5Ghz

Dual Core 1.5Ghz

Dual Core 1.2Ghz

Dual Core 1.5Ghz

Memory

2GB RAM

2GB RAM

1GB RAM

1GB RAM

Storage

16/32GB Internal

16GB Internal

16/32/64GB Internal

32GB Internal

Add on Storage

MicroSD up to 64GB

MicroSD up to 64GB

None

None

Front Camera

1.9MP 720p video

2MP 720p video

1.2MP 720p video

1.3MP 720p video

Rear Camera

8MP 1080p video

8MP 1080p video

8MP 1080p video

8MP 1080p video with Optical Image Stabilizer

SIM

Micro SIM

Micro SIM

Nano SIM

Micro SIM

 
 

All four phones pretty much contain the same specs with the exception to Apple’s A6 processor and obviously the different screen sizes each phones uses.

 
 

Android

I have the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, Samsung’s flagship smartphone in 2012, it was released with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, later updated to 4.1 Jelly Bean. I have not updated the phone to 4.2 Jellybean as I am too lazy to reinstall everything and re-root the phone. It was my primary phone until I recently got the iPhone 5 where I was forced to get the smaller Nano SIM card. I am waiting for my adapter to arrive so I can interchange the phone whenever I feel like it. My history with Android first started with the HTC Legend phone, which after using for a while somehow disappeared on me. Later to be found a year later hiding in my car the entire time. My second android phone was the Samsung Galaxy S2 running Gingerbread, later updated to Ice Cream Sandwich until I sold it and upgraded my phone to the S3. I’ve always enjoyed using the Android as I can pretty much customize it to the way I like it and the widgets do come in handy from time to time. The tradeoff is the battery life being lowered but that is what changeable batteries are for. I’ve ran official ROMs and installed Cyanogen Mod on my phones to mess around with.

New (12/17/2013): I recently acquired the Motorola Moto X, thought I would include it in this comparison post as well. It is the first Smartphone outside of the Apple ecosystem to use the Nano sim slot instead of Micro Sim. This is to be expected as Sim cards have been getting smaller and smaller. Apple is just usually the one to lead the charge. The Motorola Moto X is considered Motorola’s flagship device therefore prices at a premium price point. As of this posting, mine is still running Android 4.2.2 (Rogers seems to be slow at releasing 4.4 Kit Kat to their Moto X users as all the other carriers around the world have already released it. I will update this post yet again with the Kit Kat experience.) Despite the fact it doesn’t run on the fastest processor on the market or even the second fastest processor, the software is optimized to fully take advantage of all the processor power it has. Scrolling on the device is very smooth and I have not noticed any performance issues with the phone while I was using it. Active Notification is a very useful feature Motorola uses on their phones making great use of the AMOLED display. AMOLED is a type of display technology where each pixel is self-illuminated thus does not require a led strip on the side. This is particularly useful on the Moto X’s Active Notification feature has only the necessary pixel will be lit up while the rest will remain in the off position making this feature use just enough power it needs which is not a lot. When you receive a notification the screen will turn on giving a preview of the message and either allowing you to unlock straight into the device or unlock the phone to the home screen. For people who often take their phone often just to check the time, the Active Notification allows you to pick up the phone and look at the time without needing to press the power button. It uses the Accelerometer and Gryo to detect that you are lifting the device. Turns on the lock screen with the time then after a few seconds will automatically turn itself off to save power.

Blackberry

I currently have the Blackberry Z10, which I got on launch day through my Bell line and have been using it since. Blackberry has come a long way with their phones. My history with Blackberry first started with the Curve 8900. I didn’t really like the keyboard on it all that much and it was only a 2G phone. Only EDGE was available and no 3G option. That made surfing the net all but impossible in the slowest mobiles speeds available. Later I upgraded to the 9700 bold which proved to be a much better phone and upgraded again to the 9800 when it came out. The bold keyboards were nice and the Torch slider was good to have. A common issue I experience with most Blackberries at the time was the ultimate performance degradation over time. You notice it after a couple of days without restarting the phone, the loading icon would occur more frequently and last longer to a point where you are forced to do the battery pull trick to restart the phone. The booting process on the Blackberry was notoriously slow, but the battery life more than made up for the faults. I later updated to the 9900 which sort of solved the random lag on the device but that did not last too long. It could be because I kept relying on the latest leak builds of the OS or it might have just been the inherit flaw of the old Blackberry phones. Other people had this issue and they were running on official firmware. All that seemed to have changed when Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion, purchased Mobile OS Company QNX and incorporated it into their product. The Playbook was the first iteration of the device, the Blackberry 10 OS is the second. Blackberry officially released the z10, their first BBOS 10 device on the marker later than everyone else. BBOS 10 is not backwards compatible with older blackberry nor are previous BB apps compatible with BBOS10. As such, their app market has to start from scratch and developers would have to rewrite their application to make it compatible with the new Operating System. One major thing that has changed is the dependency on the Blackberry Internet Service has been severed. Data is no longer encrypted and tunneled through BIS resulting in data speeds where they should be. That was a flaw with their old phones. All the data came through BIS or BES making every bit of data screened by Blackberry causing the speeds to slow down tremendously.

iOS

iOS, over the years has not really changed a whole lot in terms of looks. Feature wise contains the usual but their iTunes app store make it up for the most part. The one major advantage they have against all other phone makers is that their software is designed specifically for their hardware therefore the integration and performance will always been superior. Apple engineers do spend a lot of time making sure the performance is not hindered. Though the UI does show it’s age in the market as it has not been updated since the first iPhone came out. I first started with the iPhone with the iPhone 3G. Lined up to order one on launch day, was on the waiting list for a couple days before getting the call that my phones has arrived. Back then I thought it was a great phone. Being the first of its kind to hit the market. From then on I ditched it and went to Blackberry and didn’t look back on the iPhone until now. With the iPhone 5. I only picked it up because my sister said she wanted one. But then she went ahead and upgraded her phone for an iPhone 5. -.- Oh well. It’s not a terrible phone to use. The apps are simple to use. The only thing I like about the phone is the design looks nice and easy to hold. Software wise I stand by my judgment in that it is stale and in need of a major make over.

New (12/17/2013): iOS 7 made some radical changes to the operating system. Taking away the familiar stock icons that was present since the early iOS days for more “flat?” design. The new design made headlines all over the world. People either hated the new design or loved the new design. They also borrowed features from Android such as the swipe up (in Android its swipe down) to have quick access to settings such as Airplane mode, Wifi toggle, Bluetooth, night mode, rotation lock, brightness, media control, Flashlight, timer, calculator and camera. Unlike Android though they are fixed and cannot be modified. They also designed the stock apps to reflect the new look of the phone and redid the multitasking feature on the phone first introduced in iOS 6.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone is the last on the list of phones I am going to compare with. This surprisingly is my first “smartphone” I ever used. Though back then it did not have a data plan so I did not really take advantage of the features. My first Windows Phone ran Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional on the HTC Touch. Bought it at Pacific Mall for a pretty hefty price. I actually wanted the HTC Titan at the time but it was way too expensive for me to afford it. It was a decent experience. Got used to touchscreen typing on a tiny on screen keyboard and had a built in stylus. Performance was slow as hell though. After I got rid of the HTC Touch for the iPhone. I have not bothered with Windows Phone until I got a temp position at a Microsoft Specialty Store where I picked up the Samsung ATIV S and the Nokia Lumia 920. I gave the ATIV S to my mom to use and I occasionally witch to the 920. Both phones run Windows Phone 8 and essentially the same specs.

 

That’s just my history with each of the phone category. Now comes the comparison.

 

All four phones are their respective company’s high end phones. As such they all come with pretty much all the bells and whistles of it’s time. Mainly LTE speeds, qHD display (FHD displays are 2013 phones with the exception to the z10, Moto X. iPhone 5 is called Retina display at 640×1136), Bluetooth 4.0 support, large 4″+ screens and built in storage. Spec wise, they all pretty much use the same processor clocked at the same speed. iPhone is the only exception as they design their own processors for their phones.

Camera wise, the Nokia would win by a long shot. It is the only phone company to use Carl Zeiss optics and built in optical image stabilization technology normally found in actual cameras. This camera would be ideal for low light situation without worrying about blurry images and being stable to take them. The others are pretty much the same. The iPhone might come in second place. Nonetheless they all take pretty good pictures for a camera phone. Still does not replace a good DSLR, that’s if you’re willing to carry it around everywhere you go.

App wise the iPhone would win by a long shot with Android coming in close second. The Windows phone and Blackberry still have a long way to go to catch up to the amount of apps available to download. But since the iTunes app store has been around since 2007 it has had a head start compared to everyone else. Android is gaining grounds in this category though. Both the Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone 8 ditched their legacy app support thus their eco system is pretty much completely new. Their app catalog is growing by the second but nowhere near the scope that Android and iOS have built up over the years. Blackberry OS 10 does have a leg up on Windows Phone in the sense that as of 10.2.1.1055, though has not officially been released by any carriers, will support running Android apks without needing to convert into .bar files and sideloading. Though this would not be a native application. The Blackberry 10 has had the Android runtime in their OS for quite some time now. However, the only method would have been to sideload it and this was not meant for everyone. The 10.2 update brought the Android runtime to 4.2.2 support making it compatible even more Android Apps. Though my experience, I have discovered many Android apps did not run properly (if at all) on the z10’s Android runtime. Since this is a leaked firmware I will reserve judgment till later. Though using another platform’s ecosystem to boost their own is not an ideal solution. They should better promote development of native Blackberry 10 native apps and do more to promote the phone to the public. Their current situation is not good for the company in the consumer sector.

I covered using the phones as a navigation in another post, so I don’t need to reiterate it here. Next would be storage. They all come with internal storage of at least 16GBs. Only the Blackberry and Samsung has option for a MicroSD slot for additional storage capability up to 64GB. The Lumia 920, Moto X, and iPhone are stuck with what internal storage it comes with. Google, Microsoft and Apple offer free cloud storages of at least 5GBs. This makes is ideal for people to store documents, pictures, maybe even music and movies to allow more room for internal storages for application. Though Music and Movies would require more data to stream obviously. But having the cloud storage option does offer another way to store your files. Blackberry does not have their own service but they do have clients that support box and dropbox service.

A pretty important yet not such a big deal category would be software updates. Not a lot of people care about keeping their devices up to date, but I do. Apple is known to push their own updates via iTunes and has no carrier interference at all. Everything is done from Apple directly to the end user. The same does not hold true for any other platform. The Android OS is fragmented and unless you own a Nexus line device are relied heavily on the manufacture to develop and release updates, then goes to the carriers where they tinker with it to include their own applications and settings before the end users get to download and install it through either OTA or specific management apps. This causes Google updates to be slow since it takes time for the manufacture to push the updates to the carrier and then to the end users. However, since Android itself is open source, many Android developers got together to develop and release carrier free versions of the Android OS with a much higher frequency of updates. This method is meant for people who understand the risks involved and know what to do. I would not recommend this for people who aren’t tech savvy as one mistake can cause your phone to stop working. User a non-official firmware will void your warranty and if you do not know how to factory reset it properly, they will know you tinkered with the OS.

Blackberry is also in a situation where they release the updates to the carrier and they run their test on it before giving it to the end user. You can always download and install leak firmware at your own risk. Leak firmware are usually newer than carrier released firmware thus are not usually the most stable releases. Disclaimer: Running non-official firmware or leaked firmware will not void your warranty, however, the very nature of a leaked firmware means that the software is potentially still in its development cycle and may more operate reliably and are not officially supported by Blackberry or your carrier. It is not hard to install the leak firmware yourself. Use at own risk.

Windows Phone OS is maintained by Microsoft with updates pushed directly from them. The only thing that requires carrier support is Windows Phone’s Data Sense application. It is an application where it will monitor your mobile data useable and warn you if you’re about to exceed the limit that month. I am not surprise that a lot of carriers are excluding this feature in their windows phone builds as if the user knows how much data they use and control it, there is a less chance they run over it hence the carriers can’t over charge for using more data than allowed. Android first had this built into their phones. Blackberry still does not have a feature like this. But iOS has a similar feature to it.

Usability… This is subjective to everyone’s level of technical knowledge. iOS is still considered the easiest to use, followed by Windows Phone. Blackberry would place third while the Android would probably be placed last. For basic features, all 4 platforms are very easy to use and straightforward. What makes Android hard for most people are it’s customization. Not required for the function of the phone, Android offers the highest level of customization on any platform, allowing the use of widgets. Practically wise, Android would rank the highest for this very reason. Windows Phone, with their live tiles would place second. Blackberry would take third place while iOS would take last place. These are my opinion though. Every user uses their phones differently.

Blackberry to this day remains as the best phone for work. Why? Because it is still considered the most secure mobile Operating System on the market. Hell even the president of the United States uses a Blackberry. Talk about secure phone. It’s also got the Blackberry Hub which allows easy access to all your messages and interact with it. The other 3 platform still does a good job at messaging, but you have to go into each individual application to read and respond to message which require extra work to accomplish.

 

  • Note this blog post is a work in progress post and will be updated as I continue writing more to it.
  • Updated: December 17th, 2013

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