Figuring out which smartphone you’re going to be using for the next several months, or even years, might be considered one of the bigger choices you make throughout the year. Here you are, deciding which one of these lovely phones is going to be your daily driver, your sidekick, the peanut butter to your jelly, and not only are there several models to choose from, but you also have four different platforms to pick from. While this decision might be easy for people who have been involved in the industry for a while and know which platform works best for them, there are still quite a few people out there who have never owned a smartphone in their life and have no idea where to start or what works for them.
I don’t consider myself a loyalist to any platform at this point. There are times where I prefer to use a different platform over another due to updates or just a general desire for a change of scenery, but by and large I don’t prefer one platform over another all the time. So, for anybody out there looking for some generic thoughts on each individual platform, I’ve decided to write about the things that I appreciate about each operating system, starting with the one that I currently use: iOS.
iOS is only going to be used on none other than the famous Apple iPhone when it comes to smartphones, so when it comes to shopping for an iOS device it’s going to be fairly easy to narrow down your list of choices. Right now, if you were to walk into any mobile retail store, you’ll likely find a selection of 4 iPhones: the iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.
One of the things I like most about iOS is also one of things that many people have against it: It’s a fairly simple platform overall. All of your apps are on home pages, so there’s no app drawer or anything where your apps are neatly tucked away. I’m probably more okay with this than a lot of people because I honestly don’t use tons of apps these days, so I’ll have one to two homepages at most. I also have a tendency to categorize my apps and place them in folders, and I try to fit all of my apps on just one home page if I can help it.
There’s also not a lot to customize on iOS. You can customize your wallpaper, ringtones, text tones and other normal stuff, but aside from that there’s really not much to do. It’s an extremely low maintenance type of operating system, which is nice when you’re not picky about what your phone looks like or you simply don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the cause.
If you really want to customize your iPhone, there is the option of jailbreaking the device, but that does take a bit of time and research to understand exactly what jailbreaking means and how to change certain aspects of your phone (fonts, icons, etc.) Jailbreaking your iPhone also doesn’t void your warranty, as you can simply restore your iPhone through iTunes and it will be like new.
If you purchase a new iPhone, you’re pretty much guaranteed supported updates over the next two years. A new iPhone typically releases with the newest version of iOS for that year, and then will receive two or three more updates over the next couple of years. However, I’ve found that the final update that an iPhone is going to get is usually one that pushes users over the edge to purchase a new phone. I was just using the iPhone 4S a little over a month ago, but I wouldn’t have had nearly as good of luck with it had the phone been updated to iOS 8, which was widely regarded as a terrible update for the phone. Regardless, your iPhone should at least be solid for the period of a 2-year contract. Any time after that, I would suggest ignoring the updates (or checking around the web to see if the update was alright for that particular model).
The app store for iOS is definitely one of the better ones out of the four platforms. I’ve pretty much tied Android with iOS at this point when it comes to app availability. Anything new or popular is almost always available on iOS first or second, and there’s a huge selection out there. If an extensive app market is an important aspect to you in a smartphone, this is a good reason to go with iOS.
Apple has also done a really good job of unifying the iOS experience. If you have other Apple products (Mac, iPad, or iPod) they all work across iCloud fairly seamlessly. Even if you don’t have other Apple products you can probably find ways to appreciate the iPhone (I have), but there’s no denying that Apple’s unification between its products is really well done.
Another benefit to iOS is that Apple and Google have continued to play nice. Where Android (or anybody else, for that matter) still isn’t able to use Apple’s services, Google services are available on Apple’s App Store. Official apps like Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Hangouts, etc. are all available through Apple’s App Store, and they work well.
Finally (and this has more to do with the iPhone itself rather than iOS) there’s never a shortage on accessories for the iPhone, ever. I’ve owned Windows Phones, Androids, BlackBerrys and iPhones and the iPhone hands down always has the most abundant selection of accessories to choose from no matter what model you go with. Older models, newer models - it seems like almost every accessory maker has something compatible with the iPhone, so that’s always nice.
In the end, the iPhone is good for people who want something easy to use and reliable. The operating system is, in my opinion, one of the easiest to get used to and has one of the most extensive application catalogs available. iOS might be one of the oldest operating systems around, but in my opinion it’s still managing to pull through just fine.
I still think the gradient design that came with iOS 7 and above is unflattering, though.