Head to Head: iPhone 4 vs Windows Phone 7 vs Android

We compare the features of the three major smartphone operating systems, iOS4, Windows Phone 7 and Android, to see which is best-suited for business use. Our findings may surprise you.

Applications and productivity

Third party applications are now crucial for any smartphone, allowing you to add new functionality to your hearts' content.

The two leading app stores in terms of the number of apps available are the Apple iTunes App Store and the Android Market, with around 300,000 and 100,000 apps available respectively. Although quantity is no guarantee of quality, a broader choice of apps is rarely a bad thing.

Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

The number of apps that will be available in the Windows Phone 7 Martketplace hasn't been finalised at the time of writing. However, it has been suggested by a Microsoft spokesperson that there will be more apps launching on the platform than the 2,000 apps that were available for the iPad at its launch.

Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 is probably the best operating system out of these three for productivity. Although full details of what will be available at launch haven't been announced, Microsoft's suite of Office applications does come preinstalled as part of the Office Hub. Android and iOS are dependent on alternative, third-party office suites.

From the Office Hub, you can create, edit and save Word documents, edit Excel spreadsheets and view PowerPoint presentations. However, we can't yet comment on how well they deal with files that have complex formatting and use features only available in the desktop Office programs.

All Office files can be sent as email attachments directly from the Office Hub, rather than having to switch to the Outlook email application. In addition, documents can be shared with colleagues using either a mobile version of SharePoint 2010 or the Windows Live SkyDrive online storage service.

Android

Even though the approval process for developers wishing to sell their apps through the Android Market is much more lenient than Apple's process for the iTunes App Store, app developers haven't taken to Android as much as they have to the iPhone.

Nonetheless, there are now currently around 100,000 applications available for Android. Many are free and some of the most popular iPhone apps are also available on Android.

Preinstalled productivity applications vary from handset to handset, depending on the whim of the manufacturer, but a respectable selection of office suites are available on the Android Market, including the ever-present Documents To Go.

iOS4

Apple's iTunes App Store is by far the most comprehensive smartphone applications store. There's almost every type of app you can think of, from games to utilities and business applications. There are currently more than 300,000 applications available for iOS devices.

Very little in preinstalled on the iPhone 4, so you'll have to be prepared to download applications if you want to use it for productivity. There are thousands of applications you can download for working remotely including Documents To Go, SharePlus Office Mobile Client and Smart Office. We have our concerns about Documents To Go though.

There are also many more restrictions when developing apps in comparison to Android. Although this arguably ensures that the quality of iPhone apps is better and decreasese the likelihood of app-based phishing scams, it also means Apple can censor apps according to its tastes which not everyone will agree with.

The App Store does have features that are not available or exist only in rudimentary form on other platforms, such as in-app purchases for buying more features and content. However, the App Store is integrated into the iTunes desktop program which can make it tricky for an IT department to centrally manage apps on a large number of deployed iPhones.

Winner: iOS4

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