Smartphone Buying Guide

The offer of mobile phones has never been provided, but paradoxically, it has never been difficult to navigate and choose the most suitable to smartphone usage. That is why, the Journal du Geek helps you see more clearly in this jungle. This guide is for all with some tips for beginners while others are for those who already know very well the area.

Choose smartphone comes with several questions. Budget, ergonomics, functionality, autonomy… are all criteria that will guide you to the choice of a particular mobile.

First, before even mention the hardware, we must distinguish the supply of smartphones based on different mobile OS. The operating system is the cornerstone around which a smartphone is built.

Different mobile OS


iOS is, as you know, Apple’s mobile OS. Present on both the iPad and iPhone from the Cupertino, it can rely on its well-stocked app store: the App Store has over 700,000 applications.

The 6th version of iOS, iOS 6, was an opportunity for Apple to make major changes to its mobile OS. Apps YouTube and Google Maps are not pre-installed automatically. However, Google offers YouTube app on the App Store. However, no Google Maps app on the iOS apps store. By buying an iPhone (or iPad), you will rely on maps (Maps English), Apple’s mapping system that was at the center of criticism since the launch iOS 6. Google, however plancherait on a version of Google Maps specifically for iOS and there are other alternatives (Web app Google Maps accessible from a browser, Bing service, Nokia…).

With iOS 7 (available since October 2013), Apple has added new features (like iTunes Radio) but also messed the design of its mobile OS.

Under the leadership of J ohn Ive , iOS 7 gives way to flat design . Place in bright colors and simplicity to improve ergonomics.

Apple also benefited from this new iteration of iOS to integrate its service streaming iTunes Radio. But iOS 7, it is also a new version of the Safari web browser (available with full-screen mode), automatic updating of applications, the ability to share photos with Airdrop (between iOS devices, Apple TV and Mac) the outline of the notifications from the lock screen, improvements to the Siri voice assistant (with the possibility to tweet or update their Facebook status …) …

He is not here to make history or describe the details of Apple’s mobile OS.
Be aware that it has some specific features that must be borne in mind. Thus, Apple requires publishers of web browsers using WebKit. Specifically, Apple requires developers of browsers to use the WebKit library to integrate a rendering engine in their browser. This proves probématique for some publishers and foundations as Mozilla uses Gecko, which for its Firefox browser (Firefox OS). The Norwegian company Opera, however, showed that it was possible to overcome it indirectly. Opera Mini but iSwifter use their own rendering engine on dedicated servers and then send an image rendering to iOS devices. The code of web pages and is not downloaded or run on the iOS device. One trick to circumvent the restrictions imposed by Apple that could inspire Mozilla and who especially deserves to make more fluid navigation.Still others present on iOS browsers are based on WebKit (Safari of course, but also Chrome, iCab Mobile …). Specificity that seems trivial, but is quite revealing of the policy with Apple iOS. However, if iOS is actually closed with all faults that entails, it also allows Apple to shape at will.

Finally, it is difficult to draw a rule concerning the obsolescence of an iPhone, we can build on the example of iOS 6. The penultimate iteration of iOS 4 is supported by generations of iPhone: the iPhone 5, 4S and 4 course but also the 3GS. The latter was released July 19, 2009 in France, there is a little over 3 years.However, difficult to draw a systematic rule of this example. Thus, the first iPad which is marketed in the US since April 2010 did not have the right to update iOS 6 (its hardware is however slightly more powerful than the iPhone 3GS).

Let us add that the iPhone 5S is the first smartphone to ship a 64-bit processor architecture (Air iPad Mini with Retina tablets have followed suit then). This means that iOS 7 is both compatible with applications compiled for 32-bit architectures and 64-bit. But rest assured, it does not directly affect the user experience.


This is the mobile OS developed by Google. Needless to present in detail (it would take at least a full dossier for this). However, be aware that unlike iOS, Android is a mobile OS open source . It is developed to be so omnipotent that it can be adapted easily to very different terminals. Its application store, Google Play (formerly Android Market) account since late October 2012 more than 700 000 applications.

We distinguish the version called “stock” Android, that is to say one that is not personalized and which corresponds to the ROM “liberated” by Android. Then there is the custom versions that are multiple and specific to manufacturers, but also to mobile operators. It is for them to differentiate the OS and natively integrate their apps and services. Samsung offers the overlay Touchwiz, HTC: Sense, Motorola: MotoBlur, Sony Timescape, LG: Optimus UI …

Only the end of the Google Nexus line runs under the ROM unmodified Android. However, there are manufacturers that change very little the original ROM.

The Google mobile OS has evolved since its beginning in 2008. Initially available in an industry designed for smartphones defined on THEINTERNETFAQS, it was later enriched with a version exclusively for tablets with Honeycomb (Android 3.x). The convergence of the two branches was done with Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. It was followed by Android 4.1.x, aka Jeally Bean was announced in June 2012 at the Google I / O conference.The Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 tablets smartphones, have the distinction of being the first Android devices to come out with the preinstalled version 4.2 which retains the name “Jelly Bean”. The next major version is Android 4.3, aka “Key Lime Pie”, while Android 4.4, aka “KitKat,” debuted with the Nexus 5 (it is now available on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7).

By opting for Android, you must know if one desires a wrapper owner or not. It modifies or less (depending on manufacturer) user experience. If this is the Android experience “pure” you are looking for, it will then opt for a Google Nexus smartphone stamped. The latest is the Nexus 5 (produced by LG, as the Nexus 4). These models are those who receive updates quickly. other manufacturers of smartphones (Samsung, HTC, …) are updated with a period that varies but can be quite long between the release of a new ROM by Google and its adaptation to a particular smartphone. We report in our columns in these updates.

Finally, some may issue a desire to install an alternative ROM, called AOSP ( Android Open Source Project ) on the smartphone they will buy. To this end, it will take the rooter, that is to say, to assign admin rights from the terminal before installing the ROM. This step is sometimes complicated or rendered almost impossible (by manufacturer) in some models of some brands. Furthermore, it goes without saying that with such ROM, features installed by the manufacturer disappear. The best example for this is the Samsung Galaxy S3 (but the Galaxy S4, Note 2, Note 3 …) which incorporates features such as S Voice (intelligent voice assistant developed by the South Korean company), a proprietary photo application …

Finally, note that Android is the fastest OS progressing in terms of market share. Thus, in the third quarter 2013, 81.9% of smartphones shipped Android turned against 12.1% (second place) for the iPhone.

Windows Phone

Microsoft was present in the sector of mobile phones with Windows Mobile. But it could not hold a candle to iOS and Android. The Redmond company has worked on a new mobile OS and fall 2010, it launched Windows Phone. The OS has been immediately welcomed by specialists. Innovative and unique, it has breathed a breath of fresh air on the mobile phone with a user interface of its own. The OS runs through hubs and implements thumbnail (or tiles) that are updated in real time. Fluidity is actually present.However, Windows Phone, the first major upgrade was Mango (aka Windows Phone 7.5) followed by Windows Phone 8, is still struggling to attract the public. However, if its market share in mobile telephony remains modest, it increased in recent months. The entry-level models (Lumia 520 and HTC 8S) are not strangers.

The absence of some killer apps (even if things move including the recent arrival of Instagram …) is probably still one of the main obstacles to the progress of Microsoft’s mobile OS.

However, in late October 2012, Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 version of the maturity of its mobile OS. Several manufacturers have shown their interest in this latest version of the OS: Samsung Ativ S with the Nokia Lumia with 820, 920, 925, 1020 and 1520 and HTC 8X and 8S with. Exit the heart of Windows Mobile, WP8 is based around the Windows NT kernel. It supports libraries in C ++ and therefore porting Windows 8 apps for WP8 is greatly facilitated.

But above all, WP8 finally enables manufacturers to offer devices that rival the competition with NFC support, multi-core processors, microSD cards (even if it is not possible to install apps ( can however install an application from a microSD card to the internal memory) …).

Note also that Microsoft began deploying the third update to Windows Phone 8 since October 2013. On that occasion, WP8 supports more powerful processors such as the Snapdragon 800, larger screens (more than 5 inches and up to 6 inches) but also Full HD. The number of live tiles on the home screen from 4 to 6. felt good features are also emerging such as “Driving Mode” (the notifications are made at half-mast when you’re driving) and simplifying the sharing internet connection (via Wi-Fi hotspot) with the Bluetooth appairageen.

In addition, the Windows Phone Marketplace (Marketplace), the apps store for Windows Phone, has seen strong growth with now over 145,000 apps .

Select Windows Phone, it will also go for a phone that will fit perfectly in the ecosystem Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8 (and RT).

Finally, Windows Phone natively integrate the Xbox Live support. The interactivity between Xbox 360 / Xbox One and Windows Phone is very interesting. Microsoft also launched SmartGlass at the end of 2012. This is a bridge (or a second screen) between the Xbox (360 and One) and Windows Phone. This application is also available on Android application stores, Fire OS (OS tablet Kindle Fire), Windows 8 / RT and iOS (it is not available on the BlackBerry World in hand).


RIM’s mobile OS was a huge success before the iPhone steals the show himself. The company is struggling to renew. However, Thorsten Heins, RIM CEO joysticks from January 2012 to November 2013 tried to get the company back on track.

To this end, RIM launched the BlackBerry OS 10. The first terminals under this OS arrived in the first quarter of 2013 with the figurehead BlackBerry Z10 (and more recently the Z30 features a 5-inch screen).This new OS is based on QNX as BlackBerry PlayBook OS (OS of the PlayBook tablet).

In early December 2013, John Chen, the acting CEO of the group, has set the record straight by stating that “BlackBerry was by death.” Despite financial losses and massive layoffs (40% of the workforce), the group purchased the Canadian company Fairfax Financial attempts to get the company back on track.


Bada ( “ocean” in Korean) is the OS developed by Samsung. It is found only on Samsung terminals such as Wave. Samsung has released the first quarter of 2010. It was a huge success in the hexagon with the 3rd place on the smartphone market (behind iOS and Android). TouchWiz interface found that Samsung also deployed on its Android smartphones. The South Korean manufacturer has released several models including the Samsung Wave, Wave II and Wave III. With Bada 2.0 OS supports NFC, HTML5, multitasking …

If Samsung drew a cross on this OS, it relies heavily on Tizen, OS successor to MeeGo and Bada incorporates elements precisely. It debuted as the LiMo (Linux Mobile) and has the distinction of being open source (unlike Bada). It can be installed on many devices (smart TVs, netbooks, tablets and smartphones) and supports applications written in HTML5. The year 2014 should be truly the year of his birth even if the Japanese manufacturer has already launched a Systena under Tizen 2.1 tablet.

Dinghy / MeeGo

The opensource OS MeeGo is the successor of the Maemo OS developed by Nokia; it also integrates mobile OS Moblin elements supported by Intel. The Finnish manufacturer has abandoned in favor of Windows Phone 7 in 2011. But Jolla, a Finnish startup funded in part by Chinese funds decided to take over in the continuity of Sea, a fork of MeeGo. A first model under Sailfish OS (now called the La Jolla OS), available since November 2013. If he has a modest hardware, it is compatible with Android apps (which are accessed via Yandex Store, the application store of the Russian company Yandex).


We saw evoking Bada, it is a mobile OS open source Linux-based. Like Firefox OS, applications are mainly written in HTML5 web apps. This is the Linux Foundation umbrella Tizen but those are Intel and Samsung that ensure its development.

Firefox OS

This is the mobile OS that the Mozilla Foundation has developed. Originally called Boot to Gecko (B2G), it is built around the Gecko rendering engine for running web applications written in HTML5. The first models to ship arrived in the first quarter 2013 (first in the Brazilian market).

The LG Fireweb Firefox OS 1.1 will soon be available in Brazil (and in other Latin American countries) via the operator Telefonica Vivo at a price of 450 Brazilian reals, the equivalent of 140 euros.

We see, Firefox OS is primarily confined for now to emerging markets.