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The heart of your phone: everything you need to know about mobile operating systems

Published 9th December 2022
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What makes a smartphone 'smart' is the operating system (OS). Operating systems manage the device’s resources, run applications, and provide an interface between users and the device. Understanding mobile phone operating systems is essential for anyone interested in understanding the technology powering their mobile device.

The two big operating systems

The two remaining mobile operating systems are Android and iOS. iOS is made by Apple exclusively for their iPhones. Android is developed by Google and while it is used in their own Google phones, it is also freely available for any manufacturer to use.

Today, all mainstream phone brands other than Apple use some version of Android. Some brands, like Samsung, have modified the base Android OS, giving it a different visual appearance and adding some features such as improved haptic (vibration) response and better 'drag and drop' functionality for moving files.

Android vs iOS

The main differences between iOS and Android are as follows: Android is more customisable, while iOS offers a more rigid, tailored experience. iOS is easier to navigate and has better built-in messaging services, while Android has better location services support. Both Android and iOS allow users to set screen time limits, block content, but iOS has better support for minimising inter-app tracking.

Now that you know the basics, you're better equipped to make the right choice when you buy new, used or refurbished smartphones.

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