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Nov 15, 2009

iPhone vs. Android vs. WinMo vs. WebOS vs. BlackBerry – Fight!

WarOfPhones mobilespoon

Few months ago I wrote a provocative post comparing between different smartphones OS.

After getting hammered (pretty nicely I would say) by a lot of Google fans out there (but not only), furious about their little baby not winning the kindergarten contest, and after almost a year has passed, in which many have changed, I've decided to try again...

(Oh boy... here we go...)

So what's different this year? A lot:
Two new significant releases of Android, one new version of iPhone OS, some updates to webOS, one Windows Mobile 6.5, and a lot of features, comparisons, social networks, app stores, devices and more.

The Rules:

The rules are simple: I set the rules.
They are completely subjective to my personal preferences, they are based on my own experience (from using a lot of devices - but not all of the available models). 
Still, I will try my best to explain my reasons for the score and thoughts.

Oh, and remember; it's a general comparison, not concentrating on specific devices. The available devices definitely affect the scorebut the focus is in the OS.

So let's get ready to rumble!


Form Factor:

Form factor is not just about the design of a phone.
Having a large variety of choices also means you can find handsets with different prices, different screen resolution, different cameras, different speakers quality, different D-Pads (trackball, arrows, optical or none).
It means a freedom to choose the best option for your taste. 

In the past Microsoft used to enjoy a huge advantage with a really large number of form factors, but I believe this is about to change (already is actually) with many manufacturers abandoning the ship, seeking for opportunities with Google's promising OS.
Android will get the same amount of points here, as it now offer a lot of new devices, and good ones too.
BlackBerry has a number of options but most of them are pretty much similar (Candybar QWERTY). Still, they do offer a verity of good looking phones.
Palm, theoretically can have more than those 2 devices out there today, (and in the past they used to have nice set of devices), but at the moment it's just too little.
iPhone? Don't give me that. Seriously! It's true that every second phone today looks like an iPhone, it's cutting edge even after 2-3 years, but I will never forgive Apple for dropping the 'Send' and 'End' buttons. Never.
It takes me at least 3 clicks (on different places in the screen that need to look for!) to resend a call where as with my Bold I do it with just 1 or 2, on one hardware button...
Nope. Apple gives just one iPhone, so they are getting only one point...

Android: 5
BlackBerry: 4
iPhone: 1
Palm WebOS: 2
WinMo: 5


Touch screen:

It seems like everyone are heading towards having capacitive screens (even Windows Mobile devices!). I have no problems with that, but from the tests I've made the iPhone still has a little advantage here: the smoothest finger gestures, massive use in multi-touch capabilities all across the applications.
The advantage is becoming smaller every day, especially when some new phones come with a much better screen resolution, but if I need to compare the "bottom line" iPhone would still get a perfect score while all the others a little less than that.
Oh, and RIM will probably be last as they only have the Storm and I'm not sure it can compete with the others.

Android: 4 [9]
BlackBerry: 1 [5]
iPhone: 5 [6]
Palm WebOS: 4 [6]
WinMo: 2 [7]


User Interface Design:

With companies like Motorola, Samsung, LG, and especially HTC wrapping the original look of the OS with their own shells, it's really hard to tell what's part of the OS and what's customized.
Still, my feeling is that the iPhone who really started this revolution should win this section. Just for the sake of historic justice.
I would say that the Android, with an impressive progress in the UI side, is probably already better than all the others, and getting closer each day to being number #1.
Palm created a beautiful UI in webOS, but it's still a bit cranky here and there, and it will definitely progress slower than the Android in the long run...
Windows Mobile... What can we say... Lucky Microsoft had HTC and SPB to help them get through 2008, but during 2009 I saw a lot of Microsoft fans simply moving to iPhone and Android just because of the user experience... Windows Mobile 6.5 has added some nice improvements, but they are mostly superficial.
BlackBerry's GUI is closing this section, many apps still look like notepad running on Windows 97, although I think it has great usability (and this is why I added a dedicated section for that...)

Android: 4 [13]
BlackBerry: 1 [6]
iPhone: 5 [11]
Palm WebOS: 3 [9]
WinMo: 2 [9]


Usability:

My favorite topic. I can spend hours diagnosing every feature, how it helps me achieve what I'm trying to achieve, or not...
Of course most of you would expect to see iPhone as the natural winner here, but I must say that I actually think the iPhone has some usability issues.

As I see it, usability is not just about creating fancy UI, innovation and design. It's also about doing things with minimum clicks, minimum movements of the fingers, single handedly, and making things simple for the user.

While iPhone brings the prettiest UI, and the one which is actually fun to use - many activities are done faster with BlackBerry.
Instead of moving the finger all around the screen looking for the right spots - you get to do EVERYTHING by using 3 buttons; one trackball, menu and back. Fascinating, don't you think?
Subjectivity again, but for me making stuff with my BlackBerry (including typing long emails of course) is much faster than with the iPhone. (Browsing and zooming in/out images is an exception of course, but how often to you zoom a picture comparing to sending an email?).

Android: 3 [16]
BlackBerry: 5 [11]
iPhone: 4 [15]]
Palm WebOS: 3 [12]
WinMo: 2 [11]


Applications:

I would say that all platforms are now strong enough to allow the development of really great mobile applications.

Windows Mobile has a lot to offer for enterprise organizations looking for features rich (and native) applications, but most of them are not good looking and many of them are simply old.
Palm has a lot of old applications too, and with their virtual PalmOS running inside the webOS they managed to keep those apps alive(?).
BlackBerry does not offer that many apps just yet, and the development framework is not to be matched with the others, but still if you are looking for the basic facebook, twitter & stocks etc. - you will find yourself around.

That leaves us with the iPhone and the Android (what a surprise...).
The iPhone wins here, in terms of quality and numbers, but it doesn't have multi-tasking (the Android has).

Hmm... here's a struggle...

More applications, but no multi-tasking... instead, Apple created the push notifications, and a really quick task switching (closing one app and opening another - is really fast with the 3GS).
I must say that for me it's not enough; I really miss the ability to do many things in parallel, but it's not a deal breaker.
In fact, 80%-90% of the time I don't really need real multi-tasking, just being able to remain logged in to my chats, and that is why I will leave the iPhone as the winner in this category, even though I do think Apple should wake up fast with this one until it's too late.
Apple wins again, simply because they have everything I can possibly imagine, accessible, in their AppStore.

Android: 4 [20]
BlackBerry: 2 [13]
iPhone: 5 [20]
Palm WebOS: 2 [14]
WinMo: 4 [15]


Games & Entertainment:

This one is easy. iPhone.
Now, I know what people will say: Android will soon have more great games... Windows Mobile had it all around...
I'm sorry. Won't work. If I need to pick one phone now, that will give me the highest number of great games (and a lot of crap too, that's right...) and a lot of fun and funny tools - I'm getting an iPhone.

Android: 3 [23]
BlackBerry: 1 [14]
iPhone: 5 [25[
Palm WebOS: 1 [15]
WinMo: 3 [18]


Web Browsing

iPhone, webOS, and Android browsers are all based on the WebKit.
It means that they all allows a kind of similar quality and user experience. Still, from comparing Palm Pre, few Android devices (not yet the Droid I must admit) and iPhone - iPhone wins.
There's something which is just working better with the movements, the speed, something which I think cannot be measured, but it's just a matter of better user experience. (It's also more stable now).
I've heard that RIM is working on a new browser which will be based on the WebKit too, (GOOD MORNING!) until then - BlackBerry has the worst browser of all... I cannot open half of the sites I'm trying to read! Even Microsoft's browser is better!

Android: 4 [27] (I admit I haven't used the Droid yet)
BlackBerry: 1 [15]
iPhone: 5 [30]
Palm WebOS: 4 [19]
WinMo: 2 (just because of Windows Mobile 6.5...) [20]


Cloud:

They say SalesForce invented the cloud before we even called the cloud: cloud. (I wonder how search engines will relate to this phrase when people will look for clouds...).

Nevertheless, Google is the master of all clouds, therefore I will give it the maximum points here.
Not all of us like the idea of storing our data out there in the cloud. I, for instance, prefer keeping my information below my mattress, but you have to admit: Google services are totally awesome.
I'm using Blogger for instance, not the best blog platform (to say the least), but definitely one which is simple to use, free, and working like a charm.
Google analytics is another great example, and even though I'm not a huge fan of the cloud I'm slowly getting there with more and more services I'm using.

It's true that other platforms also integrate with Google apps nicely, Palm even called the new OS webOS, but there is a clear advantage to being a Google platform when you need to integrate it with... Google... don't you think?

Android: 5 [32]
BlackBerry: 2 [17]
iPhone: 4 [34]
Palm WebOS: 4 [23]
WinMo: 2 [22]


Emails and text messages

We all like having the latest greatest apps and games loaded to out smartphones, when in fact, what we do most of the time is use it for calls, emails and text.
BlackBerry phones, are still, (in my opinion) the best alternative for emails and text. The keyboard is fantastic, perfect, the push is done beautifully (without using any direct push tricks), and that red light?
I can stare at it forever, waiting for it to blink again...

Android: 4 [36]
BlackBerry: 5 [22]
iPhone: 4 [38]
Palm WebOS: 3 [26]
WinMo: 3 [25]


PIM and Office Tools:

Even though Microsoft has the best office integration, the many workarounds, tasks applications, and other PIM applications every other OS has, make it hard to give Windows Mobile the first place.

Having Excel is nice, but I never did anything significant with Excel mobile anyhow, and I can read power point presentations from my BlackBerry without having to get Office Mobile...

Android: 3 [39]
BlackBerry: 4 [26]
iPhone: 5 (because you can find it all in the store) [43]
Palm WebOS: 3 [29]
WinMo: 4 (just because I can integrate with Outlook tasks easily) [29]


Social Networks Integration

Poor Palm people.
They really thought their innovative synergy will make the Pre a best seller. Unfortunately, this is not something which is hard to imitate... even by 3rd party applications... and now everyone has it.
Commodity.

Will it be a draw? After all, every mobile phone today can integrate nicely with facebook, twitter, etc. Some Android phones are doing it a bit more elegantly, BlackBerry connects facebook and twitter messages with the inbox screen.

OK, you know what, let's give 1 extra point to Palm for the encouragement...

Android: 4 [43]
BlackBerry: 4 [30]
iPhone: 4 [47]
Palm WebOS: 5 (just because they say they invented it) [34]
WinMo: 4 [33]


Personalization

I cannot personalize my iPhone the same way I can add widgets to my Android or Samsung Omnia phone.
BlackBerry has also very little to offer here, but for its' business users, skinning and customizing the phone is not too important anyhow...
Windows Mobile is still very easy to tweak.
It's true that no matter how you try to change it, you are still stuck with the finger non-friendly settings screens and textual menus, but for the sake of keeping this section focused - here is the score:

Android: 4 [47]
BlackBerry: 2 [32]
iPhone: 2 (and just because I'm using a jailbroken iPhone...) [49]
Palm WebOS: 3 [37]
WinMo: 5 [38]


Final Score:

OK, it was a long one, check out the final results:

iPhone: [49]
Android: [47]
WinMo: [38]
Palm WebOS: [37]
BlackBerry: [32]

Summary:

The iPhone is our champion for this contest, but not by a knock out, Android, the emerging force, has come really close.

The results are completely different than a year ago.
Does that mean so many things have changed?
Or maybe it's just a reflection of my changing preferences?

Android has done really great, but at the moment, Apple's creation is still the most innovative phone gadget I've ever used, and still my choice to people who ask my recommendation.
True, some operations take too many finger movements, and it's still better to type with a physical keyboard, but the iPhone experience, look and feel, prestige, are all - almost perfect.

I'm thinking of getting an Android for my personal use soon. I'm just waiting for the one model that will really be irresistible.
Droid? Maybe.

Palm and Microsoft, long time competitors (not too many years ago), are at the moment out of the contest. WinMo is too old for today's stuff. It's still a strong platform, but consumers don't like it. Period. 
Palm has created a great operating system, but does not enjoy the strong momentum and resources Android does.

BlackBerry came last, but I'm sure the many addicted users will not agree with me.

Of course, such kind of methodical comparison is probably not the right way to select a phone...

Otherwise how would you explain that I'm using a... BlackBerry?



13 comments:

Joel said...

Great stuff. Thanks.
No reference to Symbian - isn't it an important Mobile OS too?

Anonymous said...

Laddie, you should try a Tilt 2.  I haven't had to use anything but my fingers on it yet.

Better screen than the iPhone - but even Atari used to make better screens than Apple offers.  Their clunky chunky icon smake my eyes ache

If you have to Jailbrake a phone to make it your own, it deserves a negative score, not a partial score.  Steve Jobs is trying to control your mind so don't give him a free ride for doing so!

More/better Apps for the iPhone - puhleeze Fanboy!  WinMo wins it handsdown.

Blackberry does better with mail - not than my Tilt 2!  I can get my email from any kind of email account.  See it in a rich format and use a better hardware keyboard then a Blackberry, or an on-screen keyboard that wipes th efloor with the iPhone's clunker!

In if say your data has some actually confidential info in it, on WinMo you don't have to use the Cloud to store it.

Hands down, WinMo still beats the competition.

Greg said...

I'm with Guest on that.  WinMo rules!

Bryce said...

@ Guest

While I agree with you in part as I am also a new owner of a TILT2(coming from a FUZE) I also disagree with some of your points...

 The screen is definatly much better than an Iphone or most other devices available except a select few...However, the resolution of the TILT2 is the limit of WM6.5...dont expect anything better unless WM7 ups the limit.

If he were to have covered Jailbraking, he would have had to go into detail about similar option for other devices whereas this is more of a guide for the average user, how the phone will work brand new. I personally feel that my cooked rom for WinMo is faster and more stable than an iPhone but lacks some of the Attractiveness. Of course I would rather have enormously increased functionality than a pretty GUI. Thats personal preference and I had to tweak it to do so. And yes I also agree that Steve Jobs wants to brainwash everyone, but I'm no apple hater either...(Love them mac book pros).

Apple does have the best App store with the most available...for now. Windows does have more apps available however most look like a Win95 screen popped up...eww. And these apps are not in a centralized location, rather scattered amongst many online app stores. The new market place is cool but not as developed...yet. So, watch where your throwin that fanboy comment!

I feel that WinMo has a slightly more up to date email client with slightly more usability however it doesnt run as smooth and simply as a blackberry. And when you are a business user...saving time is saving money. iPhone? hahaha who REALLY wants to type on a touchscreen? Honsetly? If they had a model with a hardware keyboard im sure A LOT of people would flock to them.

I would not say that WinMo hands down beats the compition. If you are a user who wants a device that can do EVERYTHING, and allows endless customization, WinMo is for you. If you want Stablility, Simplicity, and Ease of Use well you might wanna avoid it like the plauge.

I personally use a WM device because of the unique features that just can not be done on other devices. If i want my phone to broadcast its internet over wifi so I can connect to it like a router for my laptop...I can. No tethering charge needed, and ATT is none the wiser. There are many other little tricks you can do but all in all, It comes down to what you prefer. The majority of users dont need the extras that make WM worthwile to some. So why would they choose something with a less asthetic GUI?

Parrotlover77 said...

"Of course I would rather have enormously increased functionality than a pretty GUI."

My thoughts exactly.

Also, I think a very important category was left out: Software Development.  WinMo would get a 5 easily with that.  You have a choice of C# or VB.Net with fully managed code, both of which offer invoking underlying non-managed functions.  Or you can go all out and use Visual C++ for the full unmanaged experience (not for the faint of heart).  Plus, the APIs mirror the APIs used in Big Windows, which is the largets and most well-known consumer platform on the market today.  You have Visual Studio, of which there is no IDE and debugging tool even close to it!  You have MSDN and a gigantic support community on the web. 

The next closest would be iPhone, and only because of the sudden explosion of Obj-C for iPhone books/literature that have come out due to the demand of the device itself.  But despite being second, it would be a distance second at 2 because Obj-C has all the worst parts of Java, C, and C++, without any of the good!  However, at least on a Mac, you get a fairly decent IDE.  And it also shares some (most?) of its API with Mac.

Android would also be a 2 because although it is Java based and Java is well-known, it uses a lot of its own API.  The development tools are sparse.  Your best bet is Eclipse, which is to Visual Studio what a teletype is to a multi-function color laser copier/fax/scanner/file server business hub.

After that, 1s all the way.

Mobile Spoon said...

@ParrotLover

You are right about the developement section. I wrote it and dropped it in the last minute.

Although I really enjoy visual studio and the .Net capabilities - I couldn't say how easy it is to develop for Android and iPhone.

Both are newer, both enables great UI with little effort, and obviously, the games developers like the iPhon do make crazy things with the iPhone...

I figured I will not be able to cover this category in a proper way so I dropped it...

Max said...

I'm sorry, but WM should have won the e-mail contest. Among the unlimited choices in apps to deliver POP3 or DeltaSync mail, there is Exchange, which is powerful, cheap, ubiquous, and reliable. It is really the benchmark in business. I don't see why RIM took the first place, and more importantly why did iPhone and Android score more in this section? The iPhone simply does what WM did all along, and Android does not support Exchange natively.

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Anonymous said...

good

Anonymous said...

Until iphone decides to put flash on their web browser I cannot see them being the leader over Droid in web browsing ability. Especially with Apple refusing to bring this technology to their phone. Many involved web pages uses flash and without it iPhone uses must borrow a friends droid or go and find a computer to use!

iphone application developer los angeles said...

Great content! I go for Android and iPhone. The two are both great phones and powerful.

john said...

This is the war which will never end where daily you will find some amazing technologies.
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