Sunday, 30 December 2012

Mobile phone buyers UK - Read this before you buy - 2

Smart phone operating systems
Here's a quick run-down of the main operating systems currently doing the rounds.

iOS is the software that Apple uses on the iPhone, as well as the iPad and iPod touch. When it was introduced on the original iPhone, iOS was revolutionary, as it was designed from the ground up to be driven via finger presses, rather than the styluses that were commonly used to navigate around previous smart phones.

What really sets iOS apart from the crowd is the intuitive design of its user interface. Most people can simply pick up an iPhone and start using it, without having to refer to a manual.

Apple has added numerous features to iOS over the years, including multitasking support -- so you can run more than one application at a time -- and cut and paste features for text editing. The iPhone's App Store has also been a huge success, offering thousands of applications to download, ranging from games to recipe apps.

iOS is still the gold standard for mobile operating systems. But the iPhone is a premium product and the latest version of the handset costs more than £500 SIM-free.

Android is Google's mobile operating system. Although Google created the software, it's offered for free to mobile phone manufacturers, and now many of the big names, including HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG, produce smart phones that use Android.
Android handsets actually now outsell the iPhone.

This is partly because there are simply more Android models on the market, but it's also because many of them are considerably cheaper than the iPhone. Prices typically start at around £100 on pay as you go.

Like iOS, Android has an intuitive touchscreen interface and offers advanced features, such as multitasking and live widgets, which you can place on the home screen. The software also provides access to the Android Market, from which you can buy and download apps. While the Market isn't yet as jam-packed as Apple's App Store, it isn't that far behind either.

BlackBerry OS

RIM's BlackBerry OS is only available on the company's BlackBerry range of smart phones. One of the key features of the OS is the way it handles push email. Basically, this means that new messages are pushed out to the phone as soon as they arrive in the user's inbox, rather than waiting for the inbox to refresh itself.

Push email has made BlackBerry phones hugely popular among business users, but cheaper models, such as those in the Curve range, have also started appearing on pay as you go deals aimed at consumers. These cheaper phones, combined with the Messenger app, which allows people to send instant messages for free to other BlackBerry handsets, has made the BlackBerry line popular among rioters youngsters.

The BlackBerry OS wasn't originally designed for touch input. Despite being upgraded to support touch in the last few years, BlackBerry devices still aren't as intuitive as Android or iOS devices. Nevertheless, a completely new version of the OS is in the works, based on the finger-friendly software of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Phones running this OS are expected to arrive in 2012.
Windows Phone 7


Microsoft has been tinkering around with smart phones since way back in 2001, when it introduced Pocket PC. But, although Pocket PC and its later incarnation, Windows Mobile, were packed with features, they were also clunky and difficult to use.

Finally, after the release of Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft decided to change tack and create a completely new mobile OS that would be better able to compete with iOS and Android. Windows Phone 7 debuted to surprisingly warm reviews in 2010, but has struggled to gain much market share, despite companies such as HTC, Samsung and LG producing Windows Phone devices.

The software may still have a bright future ahead of it, though. Nokia and Microsoft have signed a deal that will see Nokia start using the operating system on its smart phones towards the tail end of this year. Nokia is waiting for the new release of the OS, code-named Mango, before releasing its own Windows Phone 7 mobiles.

Symbian was jointly created by a number of mobile-phone companies, including Nokia and Sony Ericsson. The other backers gradually pulled out, though, leaving Nokia with overall control of the OS. It's found on a range of Nokia devices, including the popular N series phones.

Symbian was originally developed for use with a stylus. Despite tweaks over the years to make it more finger-friendly, it's not as intuitive as newer operating systems, such as iOS and Android. Recently, Nokia has decided to phase out development of Symbian as it switches to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform.

Bada is an operating system that Samsung developed for use on its touchscreen mobile phones. First appearing on the Samsung Wave, it looks similar to iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 but doesn't offer the same degree of functionality. Samsung reportedly plans to make the software open source in the near future, so that other companies can use Bada on their devices.

Ask your friends

Our reviews can tell you everything about a phone, from its appearance to its battery life, but we can't come to the pub with you to chat about your new device. That's why it can be a good idea to get a phone that uses the same OS as some of your friends' blowers.

That way, you can swap tips and app recommendations, as well as play games together across the same platforms. Plus, your chums are more likely to have the right charger handy if you have a battery emergency.

Keep your number

If you're moving between networks, you no longer have to switch telephone numbers. Since 2003, the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has stipulated that all mobile users are entitled to take their number with them when they change networks.

To move your phone number from one network to another, you simply need to call up your existing operator and ask for your Port Authorisation Code, or PAC number for short. You then give this PAC code to the operator that you're switching to and your number will be transferred across to your new network.



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