Smartphones are smart for a reason. They make it easier to stay connected, keep informed, and be entertained no matter where you go. Even cooler? They do all this and fit right in the palm of your hand.
Today’s cell phones are more like mini computers, since they can pretty much do it all - from texting to web browsing to gaming - with ease. A far cry from the devices that we used just to make calls on the go, these smartphones run on an operating system like computers. In fact, a smartphone is usually defined by which mobile operating system (OS) it runs on and, for most people, there are three main options that stand out: Google’s Android OS, the BlackBerry OS, and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS.
But which type is right for you? Read on to learn more about smartphones and how to find the right OS for your needs.
Smartphone versus Cell Phone
A cell phone is a wireless device that typically provides voice communications, Short Message Services (SMS) or text messaging, and Multimedia Message Services (MMS) or picture and video messaging. This is a great option for people mainly looking to keep in touch via calling and texting and who only require a few simple features to enhance their experience (i.e. camera, music player, and calendar).
A smartphone performs virtually all the same functions as a cell phone, but it also runs on a mobile operating system (OS). An OS is the entire experience on your smartphone; it turns it into an email system, personal assistant, web browser, personal entertainment system, music player, portable gaming device, camera and GPS. So no matter where you go, you can stay connected to everything and everyone whether you’re online or off.
With smartphones, you also get the option to download software applications or apps. These mini programs live on your home screen and let you access information and entertainment without ever needing to go on the web. There are apps for almost anything you can imagine, from social networking to productivity to entertainment and more. Each OS offers thousands of free and paid apps that you can download onto your phone in seconds.
If you want to do more than call and text with your phone and stay connected in virtually every way possible (i.e. web browsing, e-mail, social media, blogging), a smartphone could be for you. Depending on which OS you choose, a smartphone can fit seamlessly into your life and perhaps even make it easier and more efficient.
Types of Mobile Operating Systems (OS)
Before you head to the store, take a closer look at some different OS options:
Google Android OS
If you enjoy customizing your computer desktop and background often, you should consider Google’s Android OS. This OS is great for anyone who thinks variety is the spice of life; it gives you the freedom to personalize your smartphone experience any way you want with apps from third-party developers, custom ringtones and wallpapers, widgets, and so much more.
Android is open source software that’s available on a wide range of phones from leading manufacturers like HTC, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and more. With plenty of styles, sizes and colours available, Android gives you the power to create a phone that truly is all about you.
You can create your very own smartphone experience with Android by customizing the home screen, appearance, menus and more to your heart’s content. You’re also able to create shortcuts and folders that organize things like your favourite apps, contacts and e-mails together for speedier access.
Widgets are micro programs used solely to get at-a-glance information from apps you frequently access, like Facebook and Google Calendar. With one look you can see news, updates, and alerts right on your home screen without launching the full app.
The Android market offers over 250,000 free and paid apps, as well as a wide selection of apps that you can download from different sources across the Internet. Fans of Google will also love that their favourite apps, like Gmail and Google Maps, are already pre-loaded on their phones.
Smartphone manufacturers can also install their own branded apps into the hardware to give you a more unique experience. While this openness gives you more freedom, a little more care should be taken to figure out which apps are truly worth downloading.
BlackBerry 10 OS
If you love to share and get things done fast, then you could become a fan of the BlackBerry 10 OS. This operating system works quickly and efficiently while providing a smooth experience that adapts to your needs – literally. The BlackBerry Keyboard learns the letters you tend to mistype and subtly adjusts to make sure you hit the right key. It’s one way to make sure you never send mixed messages again!
Stay on top of your e-mails, messages, status updates, Twitter feeds and more from one place with the BlackBerry Hub feature. Create the perfect shot with Time Shift mode. It captures the milliseconds before and after you hit the shutter, so you can adjust certain moments of your picture. Scroll back to when your friend’s eyes are open and catch your other friend with a smile, then combine it all into the same photo.
BlackBerry Messenger(BBM) Video
Squeeze in some face time with friends and family using BBM Video with Screen Share. It works between BlackBerry devices and lets you share what’s happening on your screen, so you can show off photos and web pages or review a document together. You can even share the view from your camera, which is perfect for when you’re traveling, at a conference, or enjoying a really epic sunset.
The BlackBerry Browser is built to be fast, so you can spend less time waiting and more time discovering. Use tabs to browse multiple websites easily or open up a site with the Reader feature for a distraction-free experience. And when you find something that’s just too good to keep to yourself, you can easily share the link through e-mail, BBM, or post it your favourite social network.
BlackBerry World is not only a marketplace filled with thousands of free and paid apps, but you can also download movies, music, TV shows, eBooks, digital editions of magazines and newspapers, and more. It’s the perfect place to get your entertainment fix and find the ideal productivity apps.
BlackBerry is renowned for their security features and with BlackBerry Safeguard, you can be sure that everything on your smartphone, from your messages to your photos to your apps, stays private. You can also use BlackBerry Protect to find your lost phone and remotely lock or wipe it completely to ensure that your data can’t be accessed.
If you’re a fan of the Windows operating system, then you’re going to love the Windows 8 OS for your smartphone. This interface is easy to use, highly intuitive, and extremely customizable. Your home screen is filled with colourful Live Tiles that can feature whatever you want and be arranged however you like. Every Live Tile can also be synced with your social networks, e-mails, favourite food blogs and more, so you’re always up to date on what’s going on.
At the heart of this OS is Windows 8, which is also used in PC’s and tablets. Sign up for a Microsoft account and you’ll be able to access your e-mail, contacts, calendar, system preferences, and more across all your devices – even your smartphone! It’s also optimized for touch, so you can let your fingertips do all the talking.
More than 100,000 apps are available in the Windows Phone Marketplace and an average of 200 new ones are being added each day. You can even use the integrated Microsoft Office apps to create new documents and perform limited editing.
From apps to pictures to music, this OS makes it easy to have everything you need at your fingertips. With your Microsoft account, you’ll be able to access your Xbox Live account, retrieve and store files in the cloud, and sync many of the same settings on your PC or tablet to your smartphone.
Near Field Communication
The Windows OS is NFC-enabled so you can wirelessly share data over short distances by simply tapping your Windows Phone 8 with another NFC device.
Best Buy Mobile offers the best choice of smartphones on the widest selection of networks in Canada. Our Mobile Phone specialists are friendly, non-commissioned, and live and breathe everything mobile! We’ll help you find the right phone to fit your personality, lifestyle and budget.
Whether you’re new to a smartphone or a veteran user, we’re here for you for the entire life of your phone. Through our complimentary Walk Out Working program, we’ll help you set up features on your smartphone, transfer your data from one phone to another, teach you some cool tricks, and answer any questions you may have. Visit Best Buy Mobile to learn more.