Which operating system is best for mobile devices

Mobile operating systems (for smartphone / tablet)

In addition to the hardware, a smartphone also consists of an operating system that can be used for phone calls, mobile surfing and navigation and local services. Simple operation by finger via a touchscreen has become established not only with smartphones, but also with tablets. In addition, the ecosystem of easy-to-pay and install apps and other digital content is an important part of the success and popularity of a mobile device. Systems for which there are many apps turn a smartphone into a universal tool. The predominant operating system developers Apple and Google make their users system-dependent. Switching to another mobile system is very difficult.

Overview: Mobile operating systems

In fact, there are only two mobile operating systems left.

  • Android (Google)
  • iOS (Apple)

All other operating systems only exist on a few end devices or their development has been discontinued.

  • Windows Phone (Microsoft)
  • Sailfish OS (Jolla)
  • Tizen (Intel and Samsung)
  • Ubuntu (Canonical)
  • Blackberry (Research in Motion)
  • Firefox OS (Mozilla)
  • Symbian OS (Symbian Foundation)
  • WebOS (LG)

Android (Google)

As a rule, Android is associated with Google. But Android is being developed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Behind it are companies such as HTC, Motorola, Samsung, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Google.
Android is based on Linux, the user interface of which is designed for finger operation via a touchscreen. In principle there is a standard user interface, which can, however, be exchanged for alternative user interfaces. Typically, Android includes many Google applications such as Maps, Youtube and GMail. Depending on the smartphone manufacturer, these services are more or less integrated.
Android has a huge developer community. Cell phone manufacturers such as Motorola, Huawei, LG and Samsung use Android for their smartphones. For this reason, Android is the most widely used operating system on smartphones and smartwatches.
Many hundreds of thousands of apps are made available through various app markets. They are maintained by the manufacturers or by Google.

iOS (Apple)

iOS is the operating system for Apple smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and media players. For example the iPhone and the iPad. When it comes to hardware as well as software, Apple holds all the strings in hand. Apple provides its devices with new functions with regular updates.
Apple was the first to succeed with its app store, which is now the most important component of a successful mobile operating system. A central app store covers all imaginable wishes. The selection of applications for the iPhone and iPad is so large that you are spoiled for choice.

Windows Phone (Microsoft)

Windows Phone comes from Windows Mobile and is one of the oldest smartphone operating systems. Windows Mobile's predecessor is Windows CE and was first used on PDAs (Pocket PC) and later on smartphones.
Even under Windows CE, Microsoft overslept the trend towards finger operation. The original Windows PDAs were primarily designed for pen operation. For fingers, the buttons on the user interface were too small and based too much on the "Windows" scheme. Windows Mobile is also based heavily on its big brother. The surface therefore looked slightly old-fashioned and confusing. Microsoft has introduced a new operating concept with new versions, but unfortunately the classic Windows feeling is still present. This is why manufacturers like HTC have developed their own interfaces for their Windows smartphones, which Windows Mobile only uses as the core.
It was only with Windows Phone that a separate user interface for touch devices was developed with "Metro" and brought to the desktop under Windows 8. The focus here was on perfecting the integration of various device types into the Windows and Microsoft environment. For this reason, Windows smartphones are particularly popular with business customers who maintain a Windows server environment.
Windows Phone and Windows Mobile are no longer being developed.

Sailfish OS (Jolla)

Sailfish OS comes from former Nokia employees who founded Jolla to develop the open operating system Sailfish OS. It's a full-fledged Linux with root access. Software and hardware can therefore be adapted as required. A big advantage is that Android apps run on it without any restrictions.
So far there is only one smartphone with Sailfish OS. The Jolla Phone from Jolla itself.

Tizen (Intel and Samsung)

Tizen is an open, universal operating system that is not only intended for smartphones, but also for smartwatches, cameras and smart TVs. Printers, Blu-ray players, microwaves and washing machines are also conceivable.
Tizen 2.0 emerged from the projects Maemo from Nokia, Moblin and MeeGo from Intel and Bada OS from Samsung. The result was a chic user interface (from Meego) with a large range of functions (from Bada OS). Developers can choose to develop their apps in HTML5 + CSS + Javascript or C ++.

Ubuntu (Canonical)

Ubuntu is actually a Linux distribution based on Debian for desktop computers. Canonical also offers a mobile Linux that should run on most Android devices. Mobile Ubuntu is practically a port from Ubuntu to mobile devices. The idea is a uniform surface for different devices. Some control elements can be found in both versions.
Canonical has stopped efforts to make a mobile version of Ubuntu.


BlackBerry is based on Java and is developed by BlackBerry (formerly RIM, Research in Motion) and used on devices called BlackBerry. BlackBerrys have come to be known as mobile email devices. They were the first to be able to receive e-mails as soon as they entered the server. For this purpose, a special server sent the incoming e-mails to the mobile device using the push method. The most important thing about this service is not the device, but the server behind it, which takes care of the e-mail delivery. He can also synchronize contacts and appointments. The collaboration also worked with Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino or Novell Groupware. While the server was only worthwhile for large companies, there was an Internet service for private users or small companies that was offered by the mobile network operators with special data tariffs.
Many people hungry for communication initially had two devices in their pockets. A normal cell phone and a BlackBerry. The BlackBerry later replaced the cell phone. Even if BlackBerrys are similar to the usual smartphones and have, for example, media players, GPS, cameras and games, the e-mail function continues to play the main role. The data exchange with the server is encrypted and thus corresponds to an important requirement for business devices.
The specialty of this operating system is the separation of private and business apps. While the business area can be managed remotely, the private area remains under the control of the user. In addition to native BlackBerry apps, the Android apps also work. The official Google Play Store is missing, however.

Firefox OS (Mozilla)

Firefox OS is based on the Firefox browser for desktop computers. The idea behind Firefox OS is an open source software that anyone can contribute to and that any manufacturer can use license-free for their smartphones.
Applications for Firefox OS are based on the same techniques that anyone who has already built a website is familiar with. Apps are built in HTML5, CSS and Javascript.
Firefox OS was discontinued in late 2015 due to unsuccessfulness.

Symbian OS (Symbian Foundation)

The starting point for Symbian OS is the PDA platform Epoc from Psion, which was used in smartphones from Nokia and Ericsson. Symbian, a consortium of Ericsson, Motorola, Psion and Nokia took over the further development. Nokia later took over all shares in Symbian. Today the Symbian Foundation is responsible for Symbian.
Long before Android, many manufacturers built cell phones for Symbian. Including LG, Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Symbian comes from a time when conventional displays with underlying buttons were common. Although HTC, Microsoft and Apple relied on touchscreens from the very beginning, Nokia ignored this technical development and justified this with the high price and the susceptibility of touchscreens to errors. IOS from Apple and Android from Google found this gap and ensured that Symbian devices were scrapped within a very short time.
Symbian OS has now also been designed entirely for finger operation. From a purely visual point of view, the surface is still reminiscent of old days. But that no longer matters today.

WebOS (LG)

WebOS was developed by the PDA specialist Palm, which was bought by Hewlett-Packard (HP). Hewlett-Packard realized very quickly that WebOS would not last long compared to iOS from Apple and Android from Google. For this reason, after much back and forth, the decision was made to release WebOS as open source.
Today webOS belongs to LG and is used there in their televisions with Smart TV. It no longer occurs in cell phones and smartphones.

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