All these OSes have their own pros and cons and we have tried to discuss all these in brief over here, so that the next time you head to the market to get yourself a new smart phone you can make a smarter choice thats fulfills your requirement.
- Symbian OS :
Symbian OSes have been here for long and in the recent past the company was acquired by Nokia, which since then has shown full commitment towards this amazing platform. Almost exclusively targeted at ARM processor based systems, Symbian OSes and its associated user interfaces S60, UIQ, Series 90 and MOAP(S) powers almost the entire line-up of Nokia’s smart phones and also few models of some other brands like Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Sharp etc. The current version being released was 9.5.
As far as looks and feel is concerned its either you like it or you hate it. The OS is designed to be fast, less resource hogging, power efficient and more real time. However all these things are greatly influenced by the phone’s hardware and its capabilities, so you need to check out the phone to have a more stringent idea.
Security is a minor downside of the OS as there exists some viruses for the system and so you have to use an anti-virus software to keep your phone safe.
Coming to application support, a plethora of softwares exist for the Symbian platform and Java is also natively supported, so there is what you call ‘abundance’ in this aspect. Its so remarkable that you will get almost any imaginable applications that you might ever need like Flash support, acrobat reader, mobile office, even a apache web-server etc. Nokia users can head straight to Nokia’s Ovi store to get their hands on some cool symbian apps. So as far as application support is concerned its thumbs up all the way.
Read more about the Symbian OS on wikipedia .
- iPhone OS
Also known as the iPhone OS X, this is the operating system powers one of the most successful phones of this world. This OS is exclusive to iPhones and iPod Touches. So listing it here along with other OSes doesn’t serve the purpose of the post, as all it boils down to is something like iPhone vs non-iPhones. Anyways lets discuss about this brilliant OS. The latest version being offered 3.1.
The look and feel offered by the OS (and the phone) is simply unparalled. The interface is silky smooth and thanks to the iPhones hardware, the phone manages to get just everything right and does not leave much room for complaints in this segment.
There aren’t any severe security issues associated with the OS, although it did had some hiccups in the past.
And finally as far as applications are concerned, iPhone’s App Store has become a modern day cult. Although its not as raw as Symbian, its quite simply second to none. Wish this OS was available on other phones too, but i guess this won’t happen as its a typical APPLE product.
Read more about the iPhone OS on wikipedia.
- Google Android
Google Android was one of the most promising OS of recent times and arguably the second most awaited one after the iPhone stuff. And slowly but steadily the smart phone manufactures like HTC, Motorola are gladly bracing their new phones up with this child of Google’s. Its completely free and open source and runs Linux kernel in its core. The latest release on offer is 1.5.
The look and feel of the OS interface is decent enough, though it might not look appealing to many. You got plenty of stuffs to play around with starting from the awesome browser and ending with a command shell. The OS in short is simply brilliant although as everywhere overall performance will eventually depend upon the phone’s hardware. We are yet to hear about a sluggish android phone as most of the phones which are shipping with it have got pretty impressive hardware specifications.
Quite unexpectedly (thats because its a Google product, but wait Google is not getting everything right these days, is it ?), there were some severe security issues associated with prior releases of Android. But Google confirmed that their latest release is free from troubles.
The Android market (quite on lines of Apple iPhone App store) is growing bigger and bigger day by day, thanks to initiatives taken by Google, but still as of now its not even close to the legendary iPhones App store. It should not be a deciding factor though because Android is still the new kid on the block and its just a matter of time before the Android market gets flooded.
Read more about Android on wikipedia.
- Blackberry OS
RIM has definitely created history with their Blackberry line-up of smart phones. Blackberry(ies) use their propriety OS which again like the iPhone OS case, is exclusive to the Blackberry series of smart phones only. And that means everything manages to fall right on the sweet spot as the tailor made OS really brings the best out of the device. The latest version on offer is 4.7 which powers the Storm. The OS interface on offer is smooth and brilliant.
As far as security department is concerned, its one of the most secure and safest OSes out there. Probably the best.
Application support is pretty decent. You will hopefully get pretty much everything you may want. Since this is a business phone, you also get some decent business/productivity tools for eg. the famous Blackberry email server, also many share broking firms offer share trading client apps for Blackberry(ies) etc. The Blackberry has something called the Owner’s Lounge and App World, where you will plenty of stuffs to download and play around with. Also Blackberry has been promoting very hard these days to encourage developers to come out with more and more applications for Blackberry devices.
So, you can’t go wrong with a Blackberry. If you can afford it, that is. Read more about Blackberry OS on Wikipedia.
- Palm OS / webOS
The Palm OS, is one of the oldest player in the market. It had its own share of success and a never say die attitude. Recently when everybody thought that it was all over for Palm, it surprised everyone and came out with the drool-able Palm Pre powered by the new webOS. Palm webOS is one of the successor to Palm OS, ACCESS Linux Platform (ALP) being the other. webOS has a Linux core and makes use of new web technologies like HTML 5, CSS etc. The good old Palm OS powered various devices from Palm’s own Treo, Tungsten, Centro to few others of Samsung’s, Kyocera’s, Qualcomm’s amongst others. However Palm webOS presently could be found only on Palm’s own 2 devices, the Pre and the Pixi.
The webOS sports a brilliant and refreshingly new interface. The old OS suffered with some security issues, but the new webOS is yet to encounter something serious.
Application support for the Palm OS has always been decent, nothing great, though the new webOS promises to change that. But that is something only time can tell. The Pre however features something interesting called the Actvity Cards which are Third party and ROM applications accessible as movable, multi-view cards.
- Maemo :
This is yet another Operating system that has thousands of dollars riding on it. Nokia has high expectations from this OS. It will be making its debut by powering yet another highly anticipated product, the Nokia N900 PID. Nokia will do everything it can to push this one.
By the way with all the features that it has, it does look promising. Infact its going to be the closest thing to an actual desktop environment ever seen on a mobile platform.
It is basically a derivative of Debian Linux With oodles of desktop computer class application software support like the openoffice.org, Abi word processor, Pidgin, Mozilla powered browser etc. Security and software support is unparalled. It surely is the future till mobile devices become powerful enough to run proper desktop OSes.
Read more about it on wikipedia.
- Openmoko :
Openmoko is a geek’s delight. Its not yet targeted at general users and is currently recommended to advanced users only (read developers and techies!).
Its got everything a geek could dream of (well almost everything). Everything here is open source right from the hardware to the software and everything is customizable. So, if you are into it, go ahead indulge yourself into building a new hardware module or a new software application and try it out. Because this is what openmoko is all about.
Neo 1973, Neo Free Runner are the devices that are being powered by Openmoko. You also get the flexibility of installing Android onto them.
Openmoko uses the Linux kernel , the X.Org server along with its own custom designed graphical user environment (based on GTK , Qt etc) so that small less powerful handheld devices can run it easily. Because of such high level of similarity in its core architecture, existing applications of Linux platform can be easily modified to run on this platform.Read more about it on wikipedia.
- Montavista Linux :
Another Linux by product for the mobile and embedded platform. It has some pretty nifty features and focuses mainly on embedded systems such as automotive electronics, communications equipment , other electronics devices like digital musical instruments along with mobile phones.
Designed primarily to run on less powerful devices and be power-efficient at the same time, it does know how to survive with a bare minimum demand for resources. Recently, it managed to attain an unbelievable 1 second boot time.
It has been powering various mobile phones mainly of Motorola’s. Motorola A760 was the first device to be powered by it. Since then it has powered various Motorola phones including the Motozine ZN5, before Motorola decided to go with Android for its latest Cliq.
Software support isn’t great at all, I own one ZN5 and trust me it sucks in this department. Security is however tight. As of now, it seems that this OS doesn’t have a bright future as a mobile phone OS.
Read more about it on wikipedia.
Finally we present here a pie-chart which shows the market share of all the OSes. You may also like to read this article featuring a comparative study of all the smartphones of today’s world.