Smartphones and Operating Systems

by Atinuke Naomi

Smartphones and Operating Systems

Smartphones, which can be categorized under mobile devices, are one of the best innovations technology has brought to people’s lives. We can only imagine how life was before smartphones came about and it isn’t a pleasant imagination as we have come to enjoy the comfort and convenience it has brought us.

Smartphone, according to Wikipedia is a portable computing device that combines mobile telephone and computing functions into one unit. Way before they came into existence, people sent messages via post offices, fax machines, and land phones. To keep memories, people who could afford it carried a camera around, which is not comfortable for mobility These are just a few of the scenarios that made the entire innovation behind the creation of smartphones worth it. A smartphone can’t be what is it without an operating system though.

An Operating system(OS), in simple terms, is a software interface that controls the usage and allocation of hardware resources such as disk space, input and output devices, memory, CPU time, and memory.

Operating systems can be categorized into two; Open and Closed sources. Proprietary can be interchangeably used for closed source, as it means that the OS is only used in the manufacturing company devices. There are different types of OS including;

Mobile OS: Just as the name depicts, the mobile OS works with any device that is mobile (from mobility, meaning movable). They are designed to accommodate the needs of devices like smartphones and Tablets as they fit into the category of mobile computing and communication-centric devices. Android and iOS are examples of this type of OS.

Desktop OS: This type of OS works on traditional personal computers. It is larger than Mobile OS as they are designed to accommodate more computing resources. Examples are Windows OS, Unix, Linux, and Mac OS

Embedded OS: From the definition of an OS, it is clear that mobile devices and PCs are not the only parts of technological innovations that need OS to function. Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Point on Sales (POS), and medical devices used to place patients on life support need OS to be able to perform the reason for their creation. What makes embedded OS stand out is that it has just one function, which is why it must run smoothly without crashing. An example is Embedded Linux.

Real-Time OS (RTOS): This is always in connection with the real world and its response to a sudden change in a real-life situation must be prompt, especially when an accident occurs. VxWorks and FreeRTOS are examples of this RTOS.

Network OS (NOS): This OS is used in the facilitation of clear communication between devices working on a Land Area Network (LAN). It is used in switches, routers, firewalls, etc. RouterOS and ZyNOS are examples of this type of OS.


Since the first section of this article is about smartphones as a part of mobile devices, we will take a look at the Mobile OS. Some of the OS available are:

  • Android OS (Google inc.)
  • iPhone OS (iOS) (Apple)
  • Windows OS (Microsoft)
  • Symbian OS (Nokia)
  • Bada (Samsung Electronics)
  • Blackberry OS
  • MeeGo OS (Nokia and Intel): it is a joint open-source OS.
  • Sailfish OS
  • Palm OS (Garnet OS)
  • webOS (Palm/ HP)
  • KaiOS
  • Harmony OS (Huawei)

Although, Android and iOS are in popular demand. It is important to be able to answer the “why” question as to why you are choosing a particular operating system. Operating systems are being chosen by the manufacturer of the devices. Before choosing an operating system, you have to keep in mind a few things. Two of them are;

  • The nature of the apps you need: Some apps are only available on a particular OS, you must check them out before buying a device.
  • Your budget: While this might not be a big deal, it is important to know that iOS devices don’t come cheap except if you are going for used ones. The same thing applies to the Google Pixel and Samsung flagship series. The difference between iOS and Android when it comes to the budget is that other android phone brands would fit into your budget while Apple is known for creating only luxury.



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