About your phone

Operating systems explained

What is an operating system and what does it do?

An Operating system (OS) is what runs a computer, and since smartphones today are handheld computers, they have an OS as well. The operating system determines which functions your smartphone can run and how its memory gets managed. The OS is also a platform that runs applications or ‘apps’.

What different operating systems are there?

iOS (Apple), Android (Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei, Moto, LG, Alcatel) and Windows (Nokia) are the most common operating systems.

If you already have a smartphone, you can find its OS information in your settings menu. If you’re buying a new phone, you can see which operating system it uses by checking the handset's specifications information.

What's the difference between them?

Each OS has its own look, feel and functionalities, and the choice of which OS is mostly one of personal preference.

iOS is the operating system behind all Apple devices, including iPhones, and can only be found in Apple products. Currently Apple’s App Store has over 500,000 apps that you can download and run on your iOS device.

Android OS is owned by Google and is open source software. This means that the software can be changed by anyone and can therefore be found in many devices. The Google Play Store has more than 370,000 apps.

Microsoft’s Windows platform uses a unique tile-based interface. It features removable and interchangeable square sections on the home screen.

Find out more about operating systems on the Uswitch website.

Processors explained

What is a processor?

A Central Processing Unit (CPU) or ‘processor’ is a device’s ‘brain’. A dual-core processor chip can process faster than a single-core processor chip, but it sometimes does this at the expense of battery life. Quad-core processors provide four chips, and octo-core devices have 8 chips.

What's the difference between processor powers?

Processor power is measured in clock rate. When clock rates are compared across the same processor family and generation, the difference in processor power can tell you about the mobile phone’s speed and performance.

Camera phones explained

What to consider when buying a camera phone

Megapixels

The resolution of digital cameras and camera phones is measured in megapixels, where one megapixel is one million pixels. In general, the more megapixels, the better the printed image.

Front and rear-facing cameras

Mobile phones usually come with two cameras. The rear-facing camera is the ‘main’ camera with higher resolution capabilities. The front-facing camera is usually a lesser specification.

Autofocus & Image stabilization

These allow the camera to focus correctly and remain still, so your shots aren’t blurred.

Flash

There are three types of flash. Single LED is standard flash. Dual LED is twice as bright as Single LED and good for video as well. Xenon is the brightest and produces the best quality low-light pictures.

Internet capabilities

You’ll need at least WiFi and 3G internet capabilities to allow for picture data transfer, and built-in support for image sharing will make it easier to upload your pics. You might also want automatic geo-tagging, which stamps each shot’s location as well as the time and date that it was taken.