If you're contemplating making a switch to another platform or are getting your first smartphone, consider these pros and cons for each type.
Pros • Apple's edge in the smartphone market isn't the hardware, it's the software. The iOS operating system is much more elegant and easier to use than the others. It's also more reliable. The operating system is made for just the Apple iPhone. Only Apple makes both the software and hardware, and they are built to work with each other. The result is a more streamlined and stable experience that you know will work.
• Even after seven years, the iPhone camera is still one of the best mobile cameras available, though Samsung, Nokia and HTC have made tremendous strides with their cameras. Expect Apple, however, to up the ante on their camera sensor next month when the company announces the next iteration.
• The iTunes App Store still has the most apps available of any platform. More importantly, most developers will create their apps for the iPhone first before any other platform. Where's "Plants vs. Zombies 2" for Android? It's not out yet.
• Apple's products work especially well with other Apple products. If your whole family uses iPhones and/or iPads and Mac computers, staying in the Apple ecosystem makes everything easier, from sharing apps to transferring music and videos from one device to the other.
Cons • But if your family members are not using Apple products, it can be tougher for Apple to work outside its ecosystem.
• While iOS is a more stable and simpler-to-use operating system, it has fallen behind in features, especially behind Android. There are not as many camera software features, for example, and notifications are still not as good as they are on Android. Apple has been playing a lot of catch-up lately.
• Apple has especially been behind in its hardware. While Android-based phones from Samsung, HTC and Motorola have gotten much bigger with screens larger than 4.7 inches, Apple has stubbornly remained small with its 4-inch screen. And the HTC One, for example, has not one but two speakers that face the users, creating much louder sound compared to the iPhone's tinny sound.
Pros • The Android operating system developed by Google is an open platform, meaning that there are fewer restrictions for developing for it. So certain apps ones that can turn your phone into a WiFi hotspot for free, for example can be had on the Google Play Store while you won't find them on the iTunes App Store.
• There's a much greater choice in Android handsets. There's a plethora of manufacturers making phones powered by the operating system, including Samsung, Motorola, Sony, HTC and more. So there's bound to be a phone out there that meets your needs from small to big screens, each with different features.
• It's much easier to store and delete videos and music on an Android phone and it doesn't require a music-management program like the not-so-friendly iTunes. Android also is a little more friendly with Windows users than the iPhone.
• Right now, the most innovative software features are coming out on Android Google Now, activating commands directly from notifications, newer camera features are just a few.
Cons • Because Android is an open platform, handset makers and carriers each will take the core operating system and make changes, adding tweaks and features or changing the look of the interface. Consequently, Android can be much more buggy depending on the phone. It also means that one Android phone won't be exactly the same as another. Going from one handset to another requires a learning curve.
• Because of this fragmentation of the Android operating system, not all apps developed for Android will work on all Android phones. And the Google Play Store still doesn't have as many apps as the iTunes Store nor as many of the most popular ones.
• Most Android phones still are not as smooth or fast in operation as the iPhone. Though the latest batch, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One have processors powerful enough that scrolling on the screen and responsiveness are much better.
Pros • Windows Phone probably has the most beautiful interface of all platforms with its animated tiles that are constantly updated with information. The operating system also is silky smooth in operation, including scrolling and launching apps.
• Nokia, which is strictly a Windows Mobile platform, is producing the best camera phones, especially for low-light settings. There has been nothing but praise, for example, for the new Nokia 1020, which boasts a 41-megapixel camera.
• This is still the only platform that has a complete mobile version of Microsoft Office.
Cons • Windows Phone is taking a beating in the marketplace. Of the phones shipped in the first quarter of this year, only 3.2 percent of them were Windows Phone-based.
• As a result, developers think of this platform very last when making mobile apps. The app store has only a fraction of what the others have.