Apple iOS 5 vs. Windows Phone Mango vs. Android

The next iPhone is now official and it will be rocking some new software but Apple’s competitors have been doing some great things over the last few years. How does iOS 5 compare to Windows Phone Mango and Android? I’m glad you asked.

iOS 5

Apple detailed many of the new features in iOS 5 at this year’s WWDC event and it brings many changes which should make the iPhone more powerful and easier to use. It also saved a few big surprises for the official unveiling of the iPhone 4S, including a potentially-powerful voice-controlled Siri assistant.

The iPhone 4S will let you use your voice to accomplish things like finding a restaurant around you, determining the weather, scheduling an appointment, sending out e-mails and text and a whole lot more. While Android and Windows Phone also have strong voice-control integration, it appears as if Apple’s is implemented in an easy-to-use way that could be very appealing to the mainstream.

Perhaps one of the best new features in iOS 5 is a revamped notification system that is similar to Android. Instead of an annoying pop-up menu in the middle of your screen, when an app has a notification, it now shows you in an unobtrusive way on top and you can pull down a notification window. It’s a similar method as in Android but these are grouped by apps and you can dive directly into the app which is trying to get your attention by tapping on it. In fact, having this new notification system is one of the major reasons I switched from Android and after using the iOS 5 beta for a few months, I couldn’t imagine going back to the regular pop-up notifications.

Apple’s iOS 5 will also have iMessage, which is sort of Apple’s version of the super-popular BBM. With this, Apple users will be able to communicate with other Apple users via text and pictures with no per message cost. While some may feel this is limited by only being for Apple products, if you hang with an iOS crowd, this can be a great way to keep in touch. You can also look forward to deep integration with Twitter, which makes it very easy to send out URLs from your browser and it also provides an easy way to send pictures to your followers from the camera app.

Speaking of the camera app, Apple’s iOS 5 improves what is already a very popular camera for shutterbugs. Tapping the home button twice at the lock screen will enable you to quickly jump into the camera app for catching those “magic moments.” If you have a passcode set up, this quick way into the camera will not allow anyone to hop back to your homescreen or even view your photo gallery without inputting the passcode. The software will also include a built-in photo editor.

The Safari browser will also get a nice bump in performance, as you’ll now have a Reading List which acts in a similar fashion to Instapaper. There will also be a new Reminders app which also includes geo-fencing capabilities, a Newsstand app for keeping track of all of your newspapers and magazines and Game Center will also have some boosted features.

Another great aspect of iOS 5 is that it brings strong cloud support to Apple’s devices in the form of iCloud. This will enable users to sync their apps, media, pictures and more across Apple devices without having to plug in wires. Additionally, this will enable users to back up their devices daily over the air and you’ll finally be able to set up an iOS device without having to plug it into iTunes.

It’s important to note that the new features of iOS 5 are really cool but the foundation itself is very good. No matter what you think of Apple or its products, it’s undeniable to say that iOS has set our expectations for what a modern smartphone platform should be with its great multitouch, excellent browsing and a strong app ecosystem. Android is catching up in terms of number of apps but there are still a handful of super-popular programs like Instagram which start on iOS first and maybe find its way to other platforms.

Apple iOS 5 continues the evolution of the iPhone platform but it is not as far ahead of the competition as it once was.

Windows Phone Mango

Microsoft is really trying to play catch up in the smartphone space even though its Windows Mobile software was out there before Google’s Android was a gleam in Andy Rubin’s eye. It released Windows Phone 7 last year and it was a fresh take on mobile computing that was hamstrung by a few missing features and a lacking app store. Now that Windows Phone Mango is out, Microsoft has a platform that can truly go toe-to-toe with iOS and Android.

Ever since we first saw Windows Phone, we liked the user interface which focused on live tiles instead of static app icons. Microsoft has told us that its mobile platform has always been built from the ground up with the goal of helping users complete task quickly – the information on the tiles should help users do things like figure out who is trying to reach them and why in a quick and easy way. The platform is filled with visually-stunning screens and animations which really make Windows Phone handsets come alive.

With Windows Phone Mango, Microsoft has added to the functionality and perhaps the best improvement is the ability to quickly switch between apps without having to go to the home screen. You simply hold down the back button and your running apps will be displayed in a cards-like interface and you can quickly flick through them and choose the one you want to use. It’s a much-needed feature for the platform and it just adds to the overall flow of the device.

The integrated Bing app has also been improved, as this now includes a Shazam-like music ID service, a visual-searching capability that is similar to Google Goggles and a location-based points-of-interest finder known as Local Scout. While there are some third-part apps which do these services a bit better, having these all at your fingertips with the push of the search button is very nice and convenient.

Windows Phone Mango also has deeper integration with online services like Twitter, LinkedIn and Microsoft’s Skydrive. The social-networking tie-in is great because it helps you keep track of your connections in a single place and you can even use your Me tile as a social-network aggregate. Microsoft’s Skydrive is an awesome free service which gives you 25 GB of data in the cloud and this software update now makes that easily accessible from your handset. Additionally, the added threaded messaging for IM, Facebook chats and SMS is a nice touch.

Windows Phone Mango comes with Internet Explorer 9 baked in and this is a great way to browse the web from your phone. Microsoft has taken care of a lot of nagging issues with the platform like having a URL bar in IE9 when you’re holding it in landscape mode and you can finally create custom ringtones.

While Windows Phone Mango is a major update that really makes the platform a good product, there are still a few things missing. Some of these like the lack of a landscape orientation in Local Scout or the music app can be fixed quickly by Microsoft but the company will need a much-stronger third-party developer push and great hardware that’s marketed by carriers in order to really succeed. The Windows Phone marketplace now has 30,000 apps and it has the same growth rate that Apple did with its App Store in its first year but Microsoft is not competing against Apple in 2008, it’s competing against the current versions of iOS and Android in 2011.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about Microsoft’s chances with Windows Phone and the Mango update truly makes it great product but its success will lie in its developing ecosystem of devices, apps and carrier involvement.

Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich

Apple iOS 5 vs. Windows Phone Mango vs. AndroidIt’s tough to fully judge Android right now because we’re a week away from what should be the next version of the platform, Ice Cream Sandwich. The latest rumors suggest that major feature upgrades will come with the next version (Android Jellybean?) and Ice Cream Sandwich could focus on unifying the tablet and phone versions to make things easier on developers. Even if that’s the case, I know Google will have a few tricks up its sleeves and throw us some new features.

Even without Ice Cream Sandwich, Android is a flexible and powerful operating system with a thriving app and handset ecosystem. It’s more than capable of sending and receiving phones and text messages, the e-mail capabilities are best in class if you use Google services, the Chrome-like browser continues to improve and deliver a great browsing experience on the go and you can pick an Android handset in nearly any form factor you want on every single carrier.

Android is extremely flexible too, as you can hop between a Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG phone and have a different experience on each, even though the foundation of Android is similar. Heck, the Amazon Kindle Fire uses this and unless you care about mobile tech, you wouldn’t even know that Android’s under the hood.

This openness and flexibility can cut both ways, as Google has been forced to create an alliance which will address fragmentation and the lack of timely updates. The other side of that coin is the freedom to choose which device you want and customize it to your heart’s content.

There’s an argument which says the little transition animations in iOS and Windows Phone create an emotional connection with the user, one that is lacking in Android’s software. Blake Stimac had an amazing rebuttal to that notion: the flexibility of Android allows you to customize your device to such a degree that it is way more personal and emotionally connected to the user than iOS or Windows Phone can be. We’re not just talking about rooting and installing custom ROMs (most people aren’t going to do this), as you can swap out the keyboard if you don’t like it, put highly-functional widgets on your home screen to give you what information you want front and center and even fully replace system functions if you please. While iOS users are happy to finally have Twitter integrated into the OS, Android users have long been able to add Twitter, Facebook and other services thanks to its open API structure.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich should debut with the so-called Nexus Prime and we’re looking for things like a new lock screen, some overall user interface polish and continued support for Google’s excellent cloud-powered services. We’ll know a lot more about this in a week.

Google’s Android operating system offers a powerful and flexible platform with a variety of form factors, apps and carriers. It’s generally not as pretty as iOS or Windows Phone and updates can lag but it’s still a really good smartphone OS.


Each of the three major platforms offer its own advantages and drawbacks. Apple’s iOS is very simple to use, has a robust app ecosystem that is growing larger by the day but it’s essentially Apple’s way or the highway. You could argue that Microsoft’s Windows Phone Mango is the most visually-appealing of all the platforms but its device and app ecosystem leave something to be desired. Google’s Android is extremely customizable and powerful but fragmentation is still an issue.

Despite the flaws of each platform, each offers an above-average or great mobile computing experience. Your personal preferences with apps, content and carriers may lead to you to one platform other the others but you can’t really go wrong with getting a a high-end Android, iOS or Windows Phone Mango device. That’s pretty cool.

  • Anonymous

    so why the sweat?

    • Anonymous

      Ha. You’l have to ask our designer

  • SomeGuest

    I think iOS5 is the better all-around OS especially when you factor in iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Hardware, Software Performance, App Store, iTunes Store, OTA Updates, WiFi Synching, Synching to Outlook, etc.  It just seems like the most well-rounded.

    Android is the most flexible, and is making a huge impression with devices like the Galaxy S II.  Unfortunately, most Android devices AREN’T Galaxy S IIs.

    WP7.  Well, it’s still missing a decent notification system (no cache for Notifications like Android or iOS5).  Apps leave a lot to be desired.  Developer Support is shaky at best.  Even Microsoft hasn’t updated their own apps for Mango, yet.

    Biggest issue with iOS Devices is the screen size.  3.5″ or go Home (unless you want an iPad).  Biggest issue with WP7 devices is screen resolution.  4.7″ screen.  Enjoy WVGA…  Biggest issue with Android is performance on many devices.

    As far as I’m concerned, Apple has iPhone, WP7 has the Samsung Focus S which is IMO the future face of WP7 as far as an all-around attractive device with a good screen (outdoors and in, day or night) is concerned.  The Galaxy S II is like the current spokesperson for Android.  There’s basically two choices for Android handests if you want hte best experience:  Nexus S (prime, soon), or Galaxy S II.

    • Justd80010

      Ummm, live tiles notify you right on the main screen. Email, missed calls, voice mail, everything my Android notifications indicate.Even when your friends post on FB or twitter you can customize a tile to notify you. Without a pulldown, without having to access the app, so by your standard WP7 has to be considered the gold standard in notifications. Apple is good, but as it’s been pointed out already – Android and Apple now look more like Windows than MS Windows does. Windows’ Metro UI looks new and fresh and dynamic and Apple and Android are just a glut of static icons that you have to click to interact with your expensive, supposedly life enhancing software. Microsoft’s argument that your phone should be more than just an app launcher (Iphone/Android) and that it shouldn’t take 4 weeks and hours of numbing frustration to learn how the basics of your phone works (Android) is a good one…

    • bob

      Unlike when you factor in SkyDrive, integrated text/FB/MSN messaging, Skype, Hardware, Software Performance, a non-bloated app store, Zune, WiFi Syncing, Syncing to Outlook? I haven’t been lacking an app yet that there isn’t a good substitute for. OTA updates? Well, there haven’t been rampent bug fixes to worry about, so I’ve had to plug my phone into my computer twice now. Whoo. Such a burden.

      There isn’t anything that iOS really has to offer over WP7. I doubt Siri will actually work that well in the wild when it comes to conversational speech recognition. That was the promise of search engines like over a decade ago, and look where it got them. If we can’t do it with text input, how do you think speech will work? And now that people are used to Google, speaking to your phone like you’re entering a search query is almost more natural. The developer support is there, it just takes time to build a store from scratch; devs that work on the platform love it, because IDEs are one thing that Micrsoft has down better than anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    Android FTW!

  • Is not Mango Microsoft’s way or the highway, and Android Google’s way or the highway?

    I’m certainly recommending my parents switch from their Samsung Windows phone to iPhone 4S as soon as their contracts allow.

    • you’re an idiot.  If you buy mango or android you have the ability to choose hardware from any company that makes phones for that operating system.  ios is only on  iphone no other hardware companies but Apple.  This is why people buy other phones, because they’re faster, cheaper, and more customizable to an individual.

    • Anonymous

      Samsung Windows Phone was released only in November of last year, their contract won’t be up at least until another year. By that time Windows Phone 8 with quality of Nokia hardware will leave any Apple offering in dust. My Samsung Focus with Mango already leaves in iPhone 4 in dust, not my words, but of my friends who own iPhones!

      • Justd80010

        Yeah, what happened to day with Apple just catching up with current Android and WP7 offerings on voice, camera and processor there is a giant opening for Nokia to release a device that makes the Iphone look like yesterday’s news. I think Nokia will have best of class maps and a screen with better blacks (better blacks, better colors) than any other display on the market for instance.

        • Anonymous

          …but i doubt Sea Ray and Sabre will be positioned as the flagship.  That is more likely to arrive early next year (Q1).  However, if Sea Ray is anything like the N9, then it’s likely to do very well in North America.

          • Justd80010

            I hear rumor that Samsung is releasing the WP mango flagship this month but I agree, I think Nokia’s best WP7 device won’t hit the market until sometime in the new year. I would be interested in switching from my HTC EVO to the Sea Ray if the specs on it turn out to be true, but I really dig the large screen so hopefully Nokia will produce it’s flagship with a hi-res 4″ + screen w to steal some of HTC’s shine on screen sizes.

    • Justd80010

      To an extent. Microsoft learned a lesson from Google’s fragmentation issues and place restrictions on OEMs modifying the OS so that essentially whole new versions are created. Versions that then must be supported, or not. There is only a single version of WP running on almost every device and when there is an update they can all be updated and supported as with Mango where all devices are being updated by Microsoft to 7.5 because none of the OEMs was allowed to change the OS to the point where it can’t be updated. But manufacturers can run different cameras, apps, displays, and forms… with Google OEMs can do pretty much whatever they like as far as I know… IOS can’t be altered at all by anyone. Who even has access to the code besides Apple?

  • wp7 has got really old specs

    • Justd80010

      The OS doesn’t need a dual core processor. I haven’t heard of any users complaining about performance on a Mango device – The OS is optimized throughout to prevent hangups and lags.

    • Guest

      that is like saying about a person that is more intelligent because of a bigger head.

      • Anonymous

        Android…the Herman Munster of OS’s?

    • That’s because Windows Phone doesn’t need new specs.  It’s an extremely snappy OS with no lag at all.  Adding more power would do nothing more than drain the battery faster. 

  • I think Windows Phone mango is still WAY underestimated.  You made icloud sound like it was such a big deal but in reality it’s the worst of all the cloud options for smart phones.  With windows phone you can have skydrive (25 vs. 5 gb of free mem.) integrate everything between pc and phone. this means you can edit office documents that you made on your computer on your phone without even downloading the file, plus you can back up your whole phone on it.  Whats more is that Windows Phone has caught up in everything but it’s operating system is considered to be the best out there as far as asthetics, usability, and speed. Plus windows phone can be on phones by any phone maker but avoids androids problems by placing requirements for their  partners so app devs don’t have to froth out the mouth trying to make their app work on a thousand diff. form factors.  Whats more is that the phone has integrated xbox live and office, the very best for play or work (unless you’re a fan of PSN which is completely understandable, the playstation is an awesome system)  plus the social integration way better then any other.  What else? too much more, it just looks and is an awesome system the only thing holding me back is the fact that I’m not a big fan of mobile computing (that money could go to building a computer) and the fact that I want to see what nokia is going to dish out ( sabre and ace anyone?).

    • Anonymous

      I’m actually a big fan of Windows Mango but the dev, handset and carrier ecosystem just aren’t there yet. App makers aren’t clamoring to get on Windows Phone first, handset makers are using their cutting-edge tech on Android and carriers are in love with the iPhone and Android. 

      • maybe not but I’m not someone who needs obscure apps (studies suggest 90% of apps most people want are available on windows phone) and the use of apps in the windows phone mango environment isn’t very prominent, but still a good point and a hold back for some, plus the very name “windows phone 7” is unimaginative and stupid, seriously they need to rename all their products GET OVER WINDOWS! just name it something cool and meaningful (and I don’t mean put a vowel in front of all their product names.) anyway if I get a smartphone it’s almost certainly windows phone or possibly android (due to hardware).  Can’t wait to see how this tech uproar ends.

        • Justd80010

          It’s like saying Coke or Nike or Ford should, “get over the name and move on…” Didn’t help when they named their MP3 players something imaginative and fun… Zune… I would like to go to Best Buy and say, “show me a Metro phone…” or “Windows Tiles phone…” But who cares. The real problem is that when I went to Best Buy they had what seemed like 100 Android Phones, a giant Iphone display but only a single Windows Phone, the HTC Trophy… MS should buy dedicated floor space at retailers like WalMart, Radio Shack and Best Buy, and tons of ad space on Amazon and put up compelling displays that showcase their OS on their partner’s devices apart from the sea of Android phones. It’s hard to buy a gadget you can’t play with and these phones are just hard to find. Maybe when Nokia drops they’ll push their phones at the retail level better.

        • Justd80010

          Agreed on apps, when Iphone came out with those “there’s an app for that” ads it really seemed cool, but now I see it was only novel. The idea of being able to use a $500 phone as a level seemed sweet – until I realized that’s what they make $15 levels for. So why would I want, let alone need, an app for that. Android has 250,000 apps, but I only have about 30 on my phone. And I haven’t missed the rest. Incidentally I’ve also got about 2 pages of empty, wasted space where I guess apps should be. As chipsets get more and more powerful native integration, baked-in functionality is the future of smart-phones, watch as Apple moves away from “there’s an app for that” toward, “we’ve got that built in.”

          • Anonymous

            OMG…then Apple’s big secret is to make IOS more like… … …Symbian!

          • Justd80010

            Whatever they make it like, the cutting edge in mobile software is using the OS for basic funtionality like streaming music and video gaming, etc, rather than 3rd party apps – which may or may not be good and in some cases are malicious. Android OEMS are creating skins and widgets in an attempt to do this but like it or not, and I assume you don’t, MS is way out ahead because this functionality is Metro UI DNA so that even the 3rd party apps for the platform seem more powerful and native than they do on IOS of Android. Just one of the advantages of sitting back and really taking time to analyze how people use mobile, what they want, and where the trends are leading rathan than just jumping in with a copy like Google did. But you can probably only see it as “being too late to the game…” We’ll see soon which camp is right.

        • Anonymous

          I agree with you on a few of those points, in particular the role of apps in the platform. If it’s not app-centric, then why would innovative app devs want to go there? 

          I’m not a huge believer in having tonnage of apps but there is something to that selection. Let’s say 90-95 percent of apps in an app store are crap, that still means 10 or 5 percent are good. With a higher app selection, the number of good and great apps grow. 

          On another note, I’ll be in London later this month for Nokia World and I absolutely cannot wait to see its Mango goodness. 

        • Anonymous

          Should have called it the Zune Phone.

      • Justd80010

        I agree that the device ecosystem is under-developed and that OEMs are putting their best efforts into Android devices – however the idea the IOS is easier to use than WP7 I think is incorrect. In fact you’re the only ones I’ve read indicate that. Most reviews I’ve read indicate the WP7 is more intuititive and has a shorter learning curve than either IOS or it’s imitator Android.

  • Amin Amin

    I have really come to like iOS and Windows Phone 7 is working very well for me as well (I always thought it was a bit behind but the new update has really changed my views). Android is the one that I cannot stand, i have had it freeze and crash, it generally lags on both the phone and the transformer tablet: hopefully they will some of its major issues in the future.

  • Narendra Rajcoomar

    Thanks for the write up its very much informative 

  • Mike62467

    I have to agree…two of my friends owning the new iOS5 with Siri have both had problems with accuracy.  I’ve had absolutely no problems with voice text/commands with my Focus (mango).

  • Rajchauhan13730

    if apple could add file management system like Android, then no one gonna use android. I have used all the platforms existing but I haven’t liked anything better then apple & can’t think of switching over again.

Back to top ▴