Choosing your next smartphone can be an arduous task. From the ubiquity of the omnipresent iPhone, the plethora of choice offered by manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony, and least we forget the Canadian favorite BlackBerry there is no shortage of options. This editorial will try to guide you through the process of what to look for in your next smartphone purchase. This guide is geared towards people making their first smartphone purchase but can have relevant information for someone looking to migrate to a different OS.
In the world of smartphones, there really are only four viable players; iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS. When choosing your next smartphone, it’s of the utmost importance to identify what aspects of smartphones your value over others. We will now list the strengths and weaknesses of every single platform. Once a platform is chosen we can then narrow down model and carrier choices.
The crown jewel of Apple’s “walled garden”, iOS singlehandedly shook the mobile industry to the core and changed it forever. It’s what powers the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Strengths: Stability, Performance, App/Multimedia Ecosystem, Consistent Experience (from model to model)
Weaknesses: Customizability, Hardware options
Google’s Android has come a long way since humble beginnings in the shadow of the iOS. It is now the most ubiquitous Mobile Operating System on planet Earth not only surpassing the Apple product but completely leaving it in its dust. It powers everything from Smartphones, to tablets, to cameras and even smart TVs.
Strengths: Customizability, Hardware Options, App/Multimedia Ecosystem
Weaknesses: Version Fragmentation, Inconsistent Experience (from one manufacturer to another)
While Microsoft has struggled to generate consumer market share with Windows Phone 7, it certainly won’t give up. With Windows Phone 8 (and Windows 8), the unification of Desktop, Tablet and Smartphone experience is taken to the extreme. With this new unified vision of what a Microsoft experience should be Windows Phone 8 looks like it should be on the rise, thanks to beautiful hardware and intuitive and simple software.
Strengths: Stability, Performance, Customizability, Consistent Experience (from one manufacturer to another), Hardware Options
Weaknesses: App/Multimedia Ecosystem
Once a shining beacon for Canadian tech companies, BlackBerry has, without a shadow of a doubt, fallen from graces. Much like Microsoft, BlackBerry faces an uphill battle against juggernauts in Android and iOS. The initial response to Blackberry 10 and the all touch BlackBerry Z10 has been pretty positive with many BlackBerry loyalists happy with the now modern OS while others are still biding their time for the QWERTY equipped BlackBerry Q10. What is clear though is that BlackBerry will need to shore up third party developer support with a large chunk of their App World offerings being simple Android Ports.
Strengths: Stability, Performance, Customizability, Consistent Experience
Weaknesses: App/Multimedia Ecosystem, Hardware Options
Even if I could present all the information in the world, ultimately choice comes down to preference. Depending on the platform that most interests you, there is a wide range of choices. Consider also the carrier of your choosing, since some of these phones are carrier exclusives. Please note that this only encompasses phones released in 2012 and first half of 2013.
There really are only 2 choices (with capacity choices in between), if you’re on a budget or like smaller screens grab the iPhone 4S, else grab the iPhone 5 if LTE connectivity is a must. Both models are available from Rogers, Bell, TELUS, Fido, Virgin and Koodo.
Here are, in no particular order, the best overall offering from each manufacturer:
Honorable mentions to the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, HTC One X and LG Optimus 4X HD
Like Android there are several manufacturers to choose from:
Honorable mentions go to HTC Windows Phone 8S.
Anything running the old Blackberry OS 7 or earlier is a non-starter (Bold, Curve, Torch), I recommend ignoring them all together. If you are considering choosing the Canadian made BlackBerry, there are only two choices; the All Touch Blackberry Z10 and if you must have the hardware keyboard, there is the BlackBerry Q10.
While this isn’t an all-inclusive list of what’s available out there, it gives an idea of the cream of the crop. While we understand people aren’t always looking for the best or latest and greatest it’s important to think about the considerable investment a smartphone can be. Whether it is a 3-year agreement with a carrier or a costly off-contract purchase, it’s usually a choice you want to get right and we hope that this brief guide has helped in some way.