Anna's Guide: Choosing a new platform
When it’s time to go shopping for a new phone, it can seem a bit overwhelming - especially if it’s been a while since you’ve last checked out the market. You’ve probably spent the last couple of years or so blissfully learning and loving your current phone; unfortunately, like all good things, you realize it’s time for things to end with this one. Or maybe you’re just ready to change it up a bit. Either way, when looking for a new phone today you’ll find that you’re faced with a lot of options that have a lot of different features. But despite all of the options that you have to choose from, the first decision you’re going to want to knock out of the park is what platform you want to use this time around.
To help with that, I’ve summarized each platform for you to go through in order to give you a clearer picture of what you might be looking for on your upcoming switch.
With that being said, which platform should you choose?
If you’re completely new to smartphones you might not know that much like computers, smartphones come in different flavors. You’ve probably heard of the terms “PC” and “Mac” for computers; for smartphones there is iOS (Apple), Windows Phone (Microsoft), Android (Google), and BlackBerry (BlackBerry, formerly Research In Motion or RIM). Each has a different design and features that set themselves apart from each other. Here’s a quick breakdown of each from my perspective:
iOS is like a low maintenance companion. There’s not much customizing to be done within the phone itself, and it has a relatively easy learning curve. It’s also handy to have if you have other Apple products in the house. iOS devices also (generally) have a 3 year shelf life, which is great - many phones lose relevance after just a couple of months. With iOS, you don’t have to worry about that. Take the iPhone 4S for example. The phone came out in 2011, and is still being displayed and sold through most major carriers. You also have this huge selection of apps to choose from (closing in on 1,000,000 now, isn’t it?) which might be overwhelming, but you’ll never run dry. I recommend an iOS device to anybody who is new to smartphones, or to anybody who just wants to keep it simple for a while. Easy set-up, easy maintenance.
Android is for those who really love customizing. There are a ton of ways you can customize your Android device, which you can do right out of the box using 3rd party apps from the Google Play store or, when you feel more comfortable, you can consider entering the world of rooting and flashing custom ROMs. Android is also an open platform that is used by several manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei, Sony, and more. This means that if you’re not happy with the way one company uses Android, you have a plethora of other options to choose from. Android also has a huge amount of applications available, around the same amount that the Apple App Store has. If customization, tweaking, and apps-a-plenty are your thing then Android might be right up your alley.
Windows Phone isn’t as popular as iOS or Android, but it’s still worth considering; the minimalist design of the platform also gives this phone an “A” for easy learning curve. Microsoft also makes it a point to emphasise the importance of having a designated camera button, which most phones don’t have these days. You’ll also find that the Nokia brand of Windows Phones are particularly well-known for having some of the best cameras known to smartphones. Check out the Nokia Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel shooter, or the new Nokia Lumia 930’s 20-megapixel camera. These cameras also feature Carl Zeiss PureView lenses, which really enhances the quality of the images being taken. There aren’t nearly as many applications available in the Windows Phone Store as there are in Android or iOS, but the most popular and important ones are either already there or in development. If you’re a camera buff or have a Windows-centric lifestyle already, Windows Phone might be in your best interest.
Finally we have BlackBerry. BlackBerry OS comes in two different flavors: BlackBerry 7 and BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry 7 is going to be on some of the more traditional BlackBerry models that are still around. BlackBerry 10 is the newer platform that supports BlackBerry’s recent attempt to keep up with the everchanging smartphone market with phones like the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10. If you like trackpads and QWERTY keyboards, then BlackBerry 7 devices might hold the key to your heart. If you’d rather be more up-to-date and get with the touchscreen vibe, a BlackBerry 10 device might be more suited for you. Neither platform are cutting-edge when it comes to how many apps are available in the market, but BlackBerry 10 does have the advantage because Android applications actually work with this platform (which technically means BlackBerry 10 can support hundreds of thousands of applications). BlackBerry is also applauded for being one of the most secure platforms on the market, so if security is important to you I would encourage you to check out BlackBerry’s track record on the feature.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider with each platform. Some have more apps, some are easier to use, and some are more popular than others. The great thing is that out of all four major mobile platforms, one is bound to tickle your fancy more than others. Maybe you’ll get lucky and you’ll find that you like all of them for different reasons, like I do. Either way, hopefully this little rundown of each platform will help you in taking out the first step in finding your next smartphone!
Readers, which platforms have you tried? Which one is your favorite and least favorite? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!