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11/22/2011
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Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout

As enterprise IT loosens its death grip on the RIM BlackBerry, we test the top mobile rivals. Dig into a real-life comparison of user experience, apps, enterprise readiness, and more.

The iPhone and Android phones are pecking away at BlackBerry market share like vultures on roadkill, especially within the walls of the enterprise.

New BlackBerry phones and an improved BlackBerry OS 7, along with a promising, consolidated platform in BBX, and even an Apple-esque leak about a new phone (code-named London) are not enough to satiate end users lured by new mobile apps, and swayed by a massive cultural shift. Even Windows Phone 7 is gaining some momentum, thanks to a compelling user experience and a healthy and growing list of apps.

Corporate IT is finally changing its stance on a BlackBerry-centric mobile world. Or as InformationWeek's Eric Zeman recently proclaimed: "iPhone Ousts BlackBerry From Boardroom, iPass Says."

It's time, therefore, to take a closer look at the contenders to replace the BlackBerry. For several weeks, I've been testing the iPhone 4S (AT&T), Google's Android (Gingerbread version) running on a Samsung Galaxy SII (a T-Mobile version and one from AT&T,) and Windows Phone 7.5 running on an HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile) and the Nokia Lumia 800 (not available in the U.S. yet).

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S

I tried to truly use each phone on a daily basis, rather than spend my time pouring over specs and trying every feature. In other words, this comparison focuses on the usability and practicality of each platform. In fact, there are many useful features that I found and couldn't find room for in this comparison. I hope readers will share some in our comments section as well.

I am, in fact, a BlackBerry user through and through. I've been using one for the past several years, occasionally testing some of the other platforms. I've recently switched my full-time smartphone allegiance to the iPhone 4S, thanks to a loosening of corporate IT policy at InformationWeek's parent company, TechWeb.

I tried my best to mimic phone experiences across all platforms. That's a bit harder than it would seem, given that many of the underlying services--notifications, location-based services, social network integration, and so on--differ. I set them all up to use WiFi, GPS, mobile networks, and a common set of applications.

Smartphone choice comes down to a handful of items: design, overall user experience, applications available, enterprise support and security, and a grab-bag of other features--including camera, cloud services, voice-activated services, and performance issues such as browser speed.

There's one more thing: Some buyers care greatly about notions of openness--the ability to run whatever apps they want, to use a phone on any network, to customize the phone without limitation. Other buyers just want the most simple, flawless experience, and don't wish to deviate from the pre-set choices. Neither is wrong, it's just a personal decision; and truth be told, some people don't even know that it's a choice they can make.

In this regard, Apple and Google sit on opposite ends of the spectrum, one controlling everything from the phone to the OS to the apps (Apple), with the other creating a somewhat-open OS that runs on many phones with a fairly accessible application ecosystem (Google). Microsoft sits somewhere in between, choosing not to manufacture phones (for now), but creating fairly tight rules about the hardware its OS runs on.

These are difficult decisions, especially since most people need to live with the choice for two years (the length of most standard carrier contracts); within those two years, everything changes again in dramatic fashion.

You can't go wrong with any of these platforms, from an end user point of view. I chose the iPhone for now because it marries my personal and professional worlds in ways that no other platform can quite match. But Android is damn close, and with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), it may indeed overtake iOS. In fact, if the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is an even better version of the Samsung Galaxy SII, I may wish I had waited to make my final choice. And in another year, as Nokia and other manufacturers keep making better hardware for Windows Phone 7, and as Microsoft continues to improve its OS with the Apollo release, I may regret my choice yet again.

But such is the way with the mobile wars.

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ANON1249584737867
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ANON1249584737867,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2011 | 11:54:49 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Windows Phone 7 (or 8) isn't going anywhere until Microsoft builds LTE support into them, because Verizon won't carry them until then, and Verizon is still the 900-lb primate in the zoo. And it is a shame, because Microsoft could be making a killing, since the iFone doesn't have full functionality on the Verizon network (CDMA and LTE just cannot do the multitasking that GSM can; sorry -- and if you don't believe me, get iFones from Verizon and ATT and talk on them while trying to use a Web search for the nearest diner). Verizon has the coverage and the customer base, and ATT has the technology and the handsets.
GrantMoerschel
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GrantMoerschel,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 11:02:33 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Like Fritz, I too wonder how many of the, what is it 300+, BES policy types are actually used. I'd bet most IT staff implement the same type of policies across the board and I'd also bet alot of those policies are pretty basic. Apple is increasing their inventory of control hooks and it will be interesting to see how Android ICS does in this area as IT and MDM vendors wrap their arms around it. Oh and the integration of the 3LM.com hooks too on Android is something to watch.

Has anyone seen survey data on the average complexity of BES policies and whether they tend to be at parity with other platforms? Meaning... even though BES policies can be complex because of lots of knobs and switches, do people use the controls?
kroyalty410
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kroyalty410,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 3:12:36 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
try this one if you are a facebook junkie: go to your facebook account settings and chose "mobile > add a phone" and follow the instructions to add your phone. make sure to include texting the letter "F" to 32665 (FBOOK). afterwards, add facebook as a contact and then tell the phone to "text facebook" and you can update your status via voice all hands-free :)
kroyalty410
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kroyalty410,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 3:10:04 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
If you do - also try launching any program you installed via voice. just say "Open appname" where appname is the program you want to run. no need to hunt for it :)
speterpott99
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speterpott99,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:52:24 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Given so many folks are switching from Blackberry to Android, there's an app that helps setup a new android phone, specifically for BB folks making the change. Might find it helpful... Welcome Home to Android.
klutz606
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klutz606,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 3:28:24 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Our IT group supports the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, I keep returning to the Windows Phone. WP7 with the latest OS update is very easy and fast to use. I've been able to get all the applications I want. I believe Microsoft has the best end-user experience and is best positioned to gain more market share quickly.
WP7
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WP7,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 9:55:45 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
For future reference...

It's really simple! The mistake you made was to add all your accounts to the first Linked Inbox.

Suppose you have 4 email accounts which you have already setup on your phone (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) and you want one linked inbox for Outlook and Hotmail, and one linked inbox for Gmail and Yahoo. Here's how you do this -

1. From your apps list, click on one of the accountsyou want to link (eg Outlook) to open the email app.
2. Click the 3 dots to bring up the menu, then click "link inboxes".
3. It will show you "This Inbox" which will be the one you clicked on (eg Outlook) and below that it will show you all the other inboxes which you can link. From that list, click Hotmail. This will link your Hotmail and your Outlook accounts into one inbox.
4. Now click "rename linked inbox" and save it. Lets call it "Work Email".
5. Now come out of the email app and you will have a new tile called "Work Email" which you can pin to the home screen and contains both your Outlook and Hotmail account. Your individual tiles for your Outlook and Hotmail will no longer appear in the apps list until you decide to unlink them.

Now repeat this for your Gmail and Yahoo account to create a second linked inbox, called Private Email for example.

Now you know how to do this! :)
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:35:24 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Taken out of context, I suppose it does seem casual. However, I happen to work in an enterprise that DOES ban the Android. It allowed me to use it fully, however, for the purposes of my testing.
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:33:40 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Question 1: Hasn't it already? Question 2: When will it win on the tablet?
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:32:49 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Steve, I agree that solutions like Tango (that are cross platform) are better. I think Skype, by the way, is the ultimate killer cross platform solution, because over time the mobile version will surely do more than just video chat. However, quite a number of people are compelled by Facetime, so we might have to disagree on that point. Just because you or I wouldn't buy an iPhone for that reason doesn't mean that people don't.
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