One of the major misconceptions today is the idea that the worth of a mobile handset is strictly based on what features the handset has to offer – does it have a 2, 3.2, 5, 8 or 12 megapixel camera, is it a touchscreen or a slider, does it have a standard, virtual or slide out QWERTY keypad, does it support DivX and Xvid video playback etc. Jargon be damned, for quite a few people, and some I know personally, it’s just stuff that looks like it would make this handset worth the money you’d shell out for it. Bits of 'technical' information thrown in by manufacturers to make the handset seem like it’s worth more than what the price tag says. Of course features are important, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not everything.
For some the operating system is an important aspect to consider even if they have no clue when one’s better than the other. However, someone probably mentioned that a Windows Mobile operating system (OS) is better than the one Nokia is using or vice versa and so a decision is made based on just that bit of information. One OS being better than the other is a matter of opinion, a subjective selection if you will. What should be taken into account, and this holds true especially in this day and age when we’re witness to the boom of social networking, is the User Interface (UI).
The UI should give you, the mobile user, the ability to seamlessly integrate your online lifestyle with the handset. It’s the UI that actually drives the handset’s usage adding to its overall prowess. Take the Android OS, it’s designed to be a social networking friendly system, however without a suitable interface laid on top of it, its ability to relate to the social networks of the World Wide Web becomes quite blah. It’s just a bunch of pages to which you can assign shortcuts which means you’ll just be dragging your finger across the screen through pages, like in the iPhone till you find the app you want. Widgets are the way to go, mini applications designed to provide quick access to the data you need when you need it without going to the main app. It’s so much simpler.
Devices like the ultra budget ‘Chinese’ mobiles use a Java based operating system and although there’s really not much a manufacturer can do about it, a few have overlaid some really funky interfaces that will enhance your user experience. In simpler terms, you’ll enjoy using the handset a lot more. HTC’s Sense UI is one of the more popular interfaces on the mobile handset these days. They’ve managed to successfully incorporate it on the Android OS as well Windows Mobile Systems with slight tweaks to suit the kind of user for each. Applications are designed for these new age mobile desktops and home-screens using widgets make it even easier for users to have control over their devices.
Handset manufacturers are periodically updating their devices with new firmware that add a little more life to the overall look and feel of the OS and UI. BlackBerry’s OS 6.0 is going further revolutionize the overall functionality of the once all-business handset range. From ramping up the media players interface to enhance the handsets social networking capability the new OS brings in a new interface that will make the BlackBerry range even more appealing than they are as is.
Apple’s OS 4.0 also promises to bring 3GS users quite a few of additional functionality especially with its new multi-tasking feature. But the overall change in the interface with the ability to create folders, a better email layout etc., does take a really good, and very sought after device to a whole new level of appeal. All of this with a few tweaks to the visual appearance and functions of the handset.