Let Me Upgrade You! (Your Cell Phone That Is.)

For most of us our lives are segmented into two year intervals. Two year service contracts to be exact. That’s right, every two years we get the opportunity to re-sign with our current cell phone provider or move onto the “greener pastures”  of another company. One of the perks of signing a new contract is the opportunity to get a new sleek phone at a heavy discount. As you can guess, my two year contract is about up, and I’m starting to weigh my options for my communication future.

When it comes to phones and features, the smartphone is king. This category offers PIM (Personal Information Management), video, audio, and internet functionality closer to your laptop than a mobile phone. When choosing a smartphone it really comes down to the OS (operating system) which one prefers. This is especially true because there are only a few companies that actually make & design their devices (ex. HTC makes phones for almost everyone). In the US market there are 5 major OS’ to choice from : Apple OS, Blackberry OS, Windows Phone (aka Windows Mobile), Android (aka Google OS), and Web OS ( there is a 6th major smartphone OS;  Symbian but it is not a factor in the US market.).

The Apple OS is found exclusively on the Apple Iphone (I bet you kinda guess that). The Iphone is only available on AT&T’s network. Its is a robust device, that offers may choices to its owners. The biggest selling point of the device is its App store. With thousands of apps available, owners have apps for games, productivity, and multimedia right at their fingertips. Iphones feature a touchscreen with a virtual Qwerty keyboard.

WebOS is found exclusively on devices made by Palm Inc, the company that made the PDA famous. It is currently offered on two devices: the pre and the pixi. The OS offers many the features that the Iphone does including an app store. However, the number of apps pales in comparison to the sheer number offered by Apple. WebOS phones feature both a touchsceen and Qwerty keyboard.

Blackberry OS is found on Blackberry devices made by RIM. Seen as the ultimate in business devices due to its quick, efficient, and secure delivery of email, it now offers multimedia and app features on pair with other OS’s. Also the sheer number of devices that offer Blackberry OS caters to also every consumers’ taste and network. Most Blackberry devices feature a physical Qwerty keyboard and a non touch screen (the blackberry storm & storm 2 are the only exceptions).

Google with Android is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes mobile devices, but the OS has spread like wildfire. It is a touchscreen oriented OS that whose open source status allows many people and cell phone maker to customize the OS as they see fit. The OS offers many of the normal smartphone features: PIM, Multimedia, and an app store. Many see Android as the Iphone’s most direct competitor. All Android phones feature a touchscreen, with only some offering a physical Qwerty keyboard.

The granddaddy of the major OS’ is Windows Phone or Windows Mobile (WM) as it used to be called.  It offers all the normal bells a whistle that you expect with today’s smartphone, but WM has been playing catch up to the innovation features that Apple brought to the table with the Iphone (app store, an effective touchscreen, etc). Windows phone also comes in two varieties: Professional (touchscreen) and Standard (No Touchscreen).

I have had the pleasure of toying around with all the various OS as have many of The Webster’s contributors. Avery Dibiase was a proud user of a Tmobile Dash but the upgraded to the Google G1 and loves it. Key Noble “upgraded” from an Iphone to a Dash 3G (some may see this upgrade as a downgrade, hence the quotations). After using many PDAs and phones over the years, Dredded Deuce is a proud Iphone user and is not looking back.

All of the OS’ have their benefits and drawbacks, but personally I think that I am biased to Windows Mobile. I have had a windows mobile device on my hip since 2003, and regardless of OS’ lack of innovation in the past few years I still find myself drawn to these devices.

(L-R: Audiovox Maestro 02-04, Dell Axim 04-05, PPC 6600 05-06, PPC 6700 06-08, & Dash 08- Present)

At the end of the day it’s all about choice. Touchscreen or no touch? Keyboard or no keyboard? Do you what a more email centric phone or one that’s more multimedia focused? I don’t know about you, but a Windows Mobile 6.5 device with a sliding keyboard and touchscreen are in my future. What upgrade is in your future?

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