An exhaustive comparison between Android, iOS and Windows OS

While deciding to buy a smartphone, we normally look for the hardware - processor, camera and so on, but do not pay attention to the software that runs the phone. How do the three major operating systems compare to each other? We will analyse the three based on some important aspects here.

To be frank, choosing an OS is a bigger task than deciding on an actual phone. All of the three - Android, iOS and Windows OS have their own set of pros and cons listed against them. We will discuss each of them on the basis of some broader categories and decide on a winner in each scenario. It would help us pick a good OS in conclusion based on these findings.

Look and Feel

Almost all of them have begun to rely on the minimalist approach. Android has come up with the "Material Design" with its latest update. The look is minimalist and simple in nature. It is, in fact, pleasing to eyes with the simplest of animations. However, since Android is an open source platform - manufacturers come up with their own skins to give their individuality. Basic structure remains the same with app drawer, notifications and a homescreen, but there is a lot of variation from manufacturer to manufacturer.

As far as iOS is concerned, it has gone bright after recent update to iOS 7. However, there are complaints from users about the animations being tough on eyes. iOS 8 has brought in further improvements. Compared to Android, you get an individualistic appearance which does not change across devices. iOS has taken a queue from Android and introduced the pull down notifications and a Control Center. The Control Centre pulls up from bottom and gives quick access to frequently used tasks like screen brightness, airplane mode etc. Android has no Control Centre, but has the functions incorporated into the notification menu.

Android gives you the freedom of customization. It offers rein to the developers to come up with their own customisations. You can drop widgets and app shortcuts on the homescreen for most used apps. Less used apps can be left in the app drawer. iOS lacks this fluidity.

Windows OS offers you the same interface you have come to find on Windows PC. It offers you the versatility but still it falls short of iOS and Android in many respects. It lacks the separate notifications. You need to rely on the Live Tiles on the homescreen.
Winner - Android is most fluid here. It lets you customize your phone the way you like it to. However, since, the three OSs have some positive points in their own right. We can say Android and iOS are almost equal with Windows lagging marginally.

Apps and App Store

iOS has always excelled in this section. With its quality management being much stringent, you can expect to see a good number of quality apps. The free nature of Android App Store leaves a lot to be desired as far as quality is concerned. Many apps are known to arrive on iOS first before appearing on Google Play Store.

In terms of numbers, iOS has around 1.2 million apps while Google Play Store has a collection of 1.3 million. Windows Phone Store lags considerably behind with just 300,000 apps availability. As far as usability of Stores is concerned, all three have many discrepancies. They lack a lot in this respect when one has to search through a plethora of apps. However, iOS leads the pack by a whisker with its recommendations followed by Google Play Store. Windows lags too much in terms of usability and looks. One needs to mention about the great exception that Android has on offer. It allows you to have multiple App Stores. Thus we have Amazon App Store or such others. It also allows you to sideload an app from your PC. iOS and Windows do not allow third party app stores. You need to stick to their official app store to find your favourite app.
Winner - iOS by a slight margin, followed by Android.

Customisation and Flexibility

Android has always been the most flexible of them all. It allows a free rein to users and developers alike. You can move your files in folders as you would wish to. You can change a keyboard, install a third party launcher to change the look of your phone and also backgrounds. iOS and Windows are averse to such customisations. iOS seems to be waking up to the need for flexibility with the latest iOS 8, however developers will need time to implement those changes. Windows is the most rigid in terms of customization options. Except moving and resizing the tiles and changing the background, nothing is customizable.
Winner - Android for obvious reasons.


We all know that Apple is not into making budget smartphones. An iPhone is always the costliest out there in the market compared to other devices. Windows on the other hand, is catching up with Android in being able to come up with some really inexpensive phones. There are manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Huawei who have signed up with them as partners and we may be able to expect some budget devices on the platform soon. But, nothing beats Android in being economical. There is a huge number of low cost devices running on Android from a large number of manufacturers. Incidentally, Google has always optimized the OS for low end hardware. You can find a device running on Android at practically any price point.
Winner - Android without the need for any proof.

Battery life

Since the devices do not come with a common hardware, it may not be possible to come up with a decisive winner in this department. Apple seems to be able to make optimal use of battery theoretically, but fails miserably in practice. Android allows you to check battery status in detail – on per app basis. That way, you can conclude which app is draining more battery. It also allows you to have a Battery Saving mode wherein you can disable certain background tasks. Some manufacturers come up with their own battery saving modes which help you in tweaking settings to save the juice.

Windows too offers a battery saving mode. It allows you to disable some non essential processes to save battery. iOS does not have a Power Saving feature. It can be safely said that iOS is the worst performer as far as battery life goes.
Winner - Android.

Cloud Services and Auto Backup

Android beats the other two in its Cloud Storage services. Windows does not fall behind either. Windows offers 15GB of free storage on OneDrive for a new user while Android provides the same 15GB storage on its Google Drive. On the other hand, iCloud from iOS offers you just 5GB of free space. Also if you want additional space, Android is cheapest among the three. Windows comes a distant second while Apple is the costliest of them.

Google+ on Android offers you an automatic backup of your photos. Windows allows you to backup your photos on OneDrive on Windows or Android. iCloud cannot backup videos. Moreover, as said before, it just offers a storage of 5GB compared to 15GB on OneDrive and Google Drive. Incidentally, Google Drive lets you backup unlimited photos and videos in standard size.
Winner - Android


If security is one aspect that is more important to you, I would advise an iPhone. It is the most secure of the three operating systems. It has a tight quality control for apps and this ensures better security measures. It is also able to push updates to more devices simultaneously adds up to the ability of being secure.
Android is vulnerable to threats and malware because of its open source nature. However, the numbers being mentioned over the internet could be an exaggeration. Individual manufacturers have always been taking extra efforts to make Android phones more secure. Windows is used less widely and as such not much affected. Even then, it has been making efforts to beef up the security aspects of its devices to woo the business community.
Winner - iOS


All of them offer good mapping solutions. They allow you to download offline maps, help you with turn by turn directions and offer good estimates. However, Google maps has an edge over the other with regular updates and inclusion of more POS – Points Of Interest. Besides, it also supports other maps solutions like Here Maps.
Winner - Android

Also Check Out: Android Marshmallow - The New Features and Capabilities

Software Updates

Software updates come up regularly on all three platforms. But when it comes to having control over their software, Windows and Apple reign. Devices are updated in a regular manner. Google has a rather stranger way of updating their devices. If you own a Google Nexus device, you will get updates in a timely manner. But, if you own any other Android phone, you are at the mercy of your carrier and the manufacturer.
Winner - iOS

Wrap Up

We can compare the platforms further on the basis of camera, calls, messaging and connectivity among others. But, they will be almost similar to each other in these respects with minor differences. Counting on the points above, Android emerges as the biggest all rounder. iOS is a good OS which offers you a uniform experience. It boasts of quality apps, security and a great camera, with being blamed for the premium tag. Windows has always been far behind. It has always been struggling to keep pace with Android and iOS. Cortana is one of its strengths, but at the same time it does not offer you any compelling reason to go for it.

Article by Timmappa Kamat
Timmappa Kamat is a technology enthusiast. He has an active interest in newer technological developments. He is fond of new gizmos & gadgets. He loves to share his knowledge through tech-savvy websites as a freelancer. A Mechanical Engineer by profession, he is equally interested in blogging, with his own blog. He wants to carve a name for himself in blogging arena one day! If you need any clarifications about his articles,please respond here below or get in touch with him through his profile.

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Author: Ankit29 Jul 2015 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Outside USA, Cortana is not actually its strength! On Windows phones it says that I don't support your language or region even when the language I have set is in US English.

But otherwise I actually prefer using Windows phone. I had Lumia 520 earlier, then I shifted to Android but found its UI unsatisfactory. Also, no Android seems to be an exception to the hang problem. So after around 11 months I have now finally switched back to Windows phone with Lumia 535 and I am loving it!

Author: Timmappa Kamat31 Jul 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Thanks for chipping in with that useful information on Cortana. Coming back to the topic of Android being my favourite, I consider it better than Windows because of the fluidity and the level of customisation it offers. IOS has its own positives in terms of quality and security. I do not find anything great in Windows - at least now. Hopefully, it will bounce back and come up with something new and competitive enough.

Author: Ankit01 Aug 2015 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 25

Have you actually used a Windows smartphone? I have used both Android and Windows. Windows UI is much more fluid that Android any time. I don't know about the high range smartphones but for budget ranges, i.e. below 15k, Windows in any time much better!

In terms of customization I really don't see what is the issue. Even if you are moving the files in your Android, it is still in the same SD, isn't it? Windows saves the files by default in folders. Whether you want to save it in phone or SD, it is your wish. That is what you have in Android, isn't it? Also, now you have apps for Windows which allow you to move files around like you can do in Android or you can even connect it to a PC to do so.

You have custom keyboards in Windows too and you can change the background on a Windows phone too! A little more research required from your side probably?!

One area which Windows lags is its Store, but that is obvious because it has not enough users to attract enough developers.

I notice that you have graded Google map better than Windows. Do you know with Here Maps you can download the map of a whole state on your phone and that is actually in 3D view. Google Maps has actually a very serious limitation of allowing only the holding of offline maps as a cache and not in fixed memory. Which means you will have the map details offline of only a very small area. Whereas in Lumia you can have the maps of the whole country offline at once and then never worry about data usage while using it.

Other thing I noticed while using Android was that many of its apps require internal memory even when you are installing it on SD card. This means if you are holding a budget smarphone like I had before my Lumia, I had to worry too much about memory. In Lumia, if it is going to SD then it means completely on SD! No need to worry about how many apps you have on your smartphone. Don't mind but I think this article is not actually a balanced comparison between the 3 operating systems. You haven't used all 3 of them long enough (even if you have used them at all!) to actually know which one is better in which area.

Author: Timmappa Kamat01 Aug 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Well, I have used all of them, but I must agree that I have used Windows sparingly. That's because I do not own a Windows phone nor my friends do. My observations are based purely on what I found out from personal experience with them.

I welcome your observations based on your actual experience. This will in fact, improve my knowledge on the same.

Author: Timmappa Kamat06 Aug 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

As an afterthought, however, I feel Windows lags behind in the smartphone OS arena because of being a late entrant. Though it was present even before Android, they did not pay much attention to smartphone OS. In spite of being an able software, it fell short due to its lack of farsightedness to foresee the development of smartphone into something that would be of universal usage. It could have developed the OS (and the app store) - which it is trying to do now - years ago and it would have become the number one software. It lost out to Android even when it was capable of making it big.

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