Smartphone face-off: iOS 5 vs. Android 4 vs. Windows Phone 7.5 vs. BlackBerry OS 7
Now that every major mobile platform has gained a substantial update, which smartphone is the best for business?Follow @MobileGalen
When it comes to lowlights, the lowest of the low is the overall BlackBerry experience, a painful mishmash of DOS-like screens, early-Windows-like menus, confusingly obscure icons, and partial use of touch. A close second is Windows Phone's unreadable text, caused by a deadly combination of small size and low-contrast colors.
Deathmatch: Security and management
The BlackBerry has the greatest degree of security and management, but it requires the use of the extra-cost BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), and many of its security settings require IT intervention. It's a Pyrrhic victory. Without BES, the BlackBerry is even less secure and manageable than Windows Phone 7, though BlackBerry OS supports VPNs, whereas Windows Phone 7 does not.
iOS comes in second after the BlackBerry, with core security capabilities manageable directly from Microsoft Exchange and extended controls manageable through mobile device management (MDM) tools. iOS 5's new support for the S/MIME email security protocol and other MDM extensions improve on the iOS 4 capabilities that finally made the iPhone acceptable to many IT organizations. Android 4 has improved significantly in this area, leaving Windows Phone 7 the only mobile OS that can't have at least moderate security and management applied to it.
Looking forward to 2012 improvements
It's clear that the iPhone 4S is the best smartphone overall, at least today. But there's room for improvement in the iPhone, as there is in the other mobile platforms.
A crying need for all is printing capability. Although iOS has a printing facility built in, it works with only a handful of AirPrint-compatible printers, and the recent iOS 5.01 update broke several printing utilities that exploited a hole (now closed) in iOS that allowed wireless printing to other devices. What's sad is that even with these severe constraints, iOS has the best printing support of the bunch.
As smartphones grow more capable, screen mirroring and the ability to use input devices -- keyboards and mice -- will be more useful as people start to use them as surrogate PCs, at least occasionally. iOS 5 (on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2) and Android 4 already support screen mirroring over a cable, and iOS 5 supports it through the AirPlay protocol currently available only on the Apple TV. There are ways to connect USB keyboards to iPhones (through the Apple Camera Connection Kit, if the keyboard's power usage is low enough), and Motorola Mobility's docks provide HDMI and USB connectivity to its various "business-capable" Android smartphones. But it'd be great if you didn't have to look for hacks or be limited to just a few smartphone models to use them as on-the-go PCs.