Recyclezone Blog
A Guide to the Types of Mobile Phone Operating Systems

A Guide to the Types of Mobile Phone Operating Systems

When deciding on a new phone, it may be easiest to choose a newer version of what you already have, but this way you won't discover what else is out there. There are many things to consider when buying a new phone, but one of the mistakes many people make is forgetting about the operating system. Recyclezone have explored the different types of mobile phone operating systems and their features, making your decision process much simpler.


The Big Guns: Comparing Android and iOS

First of all, let's compare the two main operating systems: Google's Android (a.k.a. 'stock' Android) and Apple's iOS. They dominate the mobile phone industry with most consumers using one or the other, and there are many ways in which they can be differentiated:

1. Accessibility


On top of text size, colour, voice assistance and accessibility shortcuts, Android and iOS offer apps distinctive to them. iPhones' Assistive Touch collates a device's functions and settings within a box, helping anyone with motor skill impairments. Some Samsung models feature an 'Easy mode', aimed at stripping back the interface without sacrificing the quality of the phone. However, these options for Android depends on the brand and model, whereas Apple's interface is uniform across all devices - this makes it the favoured choice for this purpose.

2. Data back-up and transfer

WINNER: Android

Both phone operating systems offer large file back-up and storage options, but iCloud's storage is a little smaller. iPhones find themselves a little lacking when it comes to transferring files too. Transferring from iPhone to iPhone is no problem, but if you're moving away from iPhone and towards Android, the process isn't as straightforward. Many prefer Android phones for this reason, as there is less concern for data security and losing important files when switching or selling your phone.

Copyright: quangmoo/

3. Customisability/versatility

WINNER: Android

Android phones are renowned for customisability. Most brands allow you to change home screen layouts, add widgets, icons or shortcuts, and even use launchers to imitate a whole different interface, whereas iOS offers much less freedom. Some people prefer this, others revel in the opportunity to tinker around to make an optimum set-up for themselves. But that's up to you to decide.

4. Updates and security


Both Android and iOS users can be rest assured that the apps and operating systems of their phones will be updated. However, the speed and time this occurs can vary for phones with the Android operating system. iOS updates are fast and reliable because their operating system is restricted only to iPhones, but because Android is modified for different brands, they choose whether or when to release updates. While the risk of malware in either operating system is very low, delaying possibly vital security patches could increase the risk of your phone being hacked.

Other types of mobile phone operating systems

It's not all about stock Android vs iOS. Android is an open-source operating system, so other successful brands have used stock Android as their base, layering up to make their own interfaces. The success of these brands has dramatically increased, making them current contenders for some of the best phones, and worth taking a moment to consider. Fortunately, we've done that for you!

Samsung Experience (Samsung)

Samsung have been in the game for a long time, creating one of the most successful types of mobile phone operating systems. Samsung phones offer additional services for Samsung-only users to enjoy, establishing their 'premium' approach to mobile phone manufacturing.

Distinguishing features:

  • Additional apps and services like Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, Voice Assistant Bixby and more - these are Samsung's versions of the Google equivalents, and unfortunately cannot be uninstalled if deemed unnecessary.
  • Fingerprint sensor - swipe down on the sensor (location dependent on the phone) and the notification shade will appear in the same movement onto the display.
  • Edge screen - handy boxes for frequently used or favourite apps. Swipe from the left for edge apps, edge contacts, edge tasks and more.
  • Edge lighting - pulsating, changing lights that notify you if your phone is asleep/faced down.
  • Samsung ID - Samsung's version of Google Drive.
  • Smart Switch - quickly transfer images, contacts, settings and more from one device to another.

It's worth noting that Samsung are currently beta testing their new One UI operating system. The transition to this new system is imminent and dependent on the model of the phone and area of the world the user is located in. As it occurs, though, we will update this article with the latest feature information.

EMUI (Huawei)

Huawei are making waves and rapidly establishing themselves in the worldwide mobile phone market. Their latest EMUI 9.0 is the type of operating system that focuses on a minimalist style, simplifying operations and the user's life. It strips back settings and functions, whilst still showcasing quirky idiosyncrasies.

Distinguishing features:

  • HiVision - the user can scan landmarks, menus, paintings and more while travelling and HiVision will provide them with more information.
  • Wireless control - wirelessly connect your device to printers, projectors and more for effortless operations.
  • Knocking screenshots - knock twice on the devices screen to take a screenshot.
  • Phone Clone - eases past difficulties in phone to phone data transfer.
  • Password Vault - Store all your passwords in an encrypted vault, unlocked only by your fingerprint, face ID or lock code.
  • Huawei ID - Huawei's version of Google Drive.

OxygenOS (Oneplus)

Oneplus focuses on speed and being "smoother than stock" - it's no surprise then that Oxygen OS most resembles stock Android. They are sleek and no-nonsense phones marketed as community-led and inspired by fans. They have even opened the floor to their fans, allowing a successful entrant to design a new feature to be incorporated into the newest update.

Distinguishing features:

  • Parallel apps - newer models allow dual sims, meaning dual accounts for apps and features can be registered and switched between.
  • Shelf - similarly to Xiaomi's App Vault, the Shelf allows users to pin favourite or frequently used widgets and apps to one area.
  • LED notifications - the user can also assign certain coloured lights to certain apps.
  • Fast charging - Oneplus chargers can allegedly charge a device from flat to 50% in just 20 minutes.
  • Screen off gestures - many Android phones now employ gestures (swiping certain ways to achieve certain commands), but the OxygenOS is an innovator in this area. Oneplus phones can additionally allow the user to swipe in the shape of a letter on a sleeping device and bring up the camera, contacts list, and more.
  • Three finger screenshot - swipe three fingers down together to take a screenshot.
  • Alert slider - flick a switch on the side of your device to change from silent to normal, or normal to vibrate.
  • FileDash - high-speed transfer system to send and receive large files between devices.

MIUI (Xiaomi)

Xiaomi are fast becoming one of the best budget smartphones. Relatively new in the West, Xiaomi's MIUI 10 focuses on the sensory experience. This type of operating system also resembles a combination of iOS and Android, with their research and development team allegedly choosing the best features of both and incorporating them into one system.

Distinguishing features:

  • Ambient/natural accents that can replace notification, timer, and application sounds.
  • Full screen - the entirety of the available screen has been used in most Xiaomi phones, unlike other Android phones that limit visual integrity through notches and bordered screens.
  • App Vault - the app vault allows the user to organise most used features and apps into one place, similarly to the likes of Oneplus's Shelf function.
  • Mi Drop - a fast file transfer function, allowing the user to rapidly send files from one Xiaomi phone to another without internet connection.
  • Second Space - Access different profiles within one device using different passcodes or fingerprints.
  • Scrolling screenshots - take screenshots longer than the phone screen size, then crop, resize and edit before sending them.
  • Universal remote - connect your device to TVs, ACs, fans and more.
  • Mi Cloud - Xiaomi's version of Google Drive.

What do I do with my old phone?

We hope that this detailed guide has nudged you closer towards making that final decision! But now you may be wondering what to do with your old phone? You could sell it to someone else for a small amount, or you could do your bit for the environment and recycle it for cash!