Not necessarily. Smartphones can be vastly different, not just with different platforms but different models within the platform. If there's a specific feature that you really want, be sure to double check and make sure you buy a phone with it. IPHONE Price range: free-$399
Current models: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 with different memory sizes
Description: In terms of single models, the iPhone is the best-selling smartphone by far and the one that has gotten the most attention from the public.
All iPhones are chiefly operated by just a touchscreen and a single home button. Every function or application is represented by its own icon that can be tapped to activate, and all the icons are placed onto a series of home screens that can be swiped from side to side. The exception is four icons of your choosing, such as the phone function or the email button, that permanently rest on the bottom of each screen.
The operations are simple and smooth. Other than the settings button, which can affect a variety of options across the phone, you can do anything by tapping the appropriate icon.
Apple doesn't give you as much freedom to customize the experience as other platforms.
Backing up the phone requires the use of either iTunes, which can run on a computer and also allows you to import your personal music collection, or iCloud, which can store your information wirelessly on remote servers. No non-Apple alternatives are available.
The iPhone generally has just three models available at a time -- as they get more expensive, they get faster and have more features. Whenever Apple updates and improves the iOS operating system, every phone has access to it at the same time. The iPhone 5 is generally regarded to be a great phone, and the iPhone 4 is still a decent choice, particularly because it's now given away free with a cellular contract.
Pros: Simple, slick operating system. The most apps of any platform by far. Friendly to newcomers. All models are well-regarded. Unified operating system updates.
Cons: Not as customizable as other smartphones. Battery isn't removable or replaceable. The iPhone 5 versions with more memory can be pricey, especially because memory isn't upgradable. No alternatives to iTunes or iCloud. No widgets.
Might be good for: Newbies, fans of other Apple products, those willing to trade options for style.
WINDOWS PHONE Price range: free-$179.99
Current models: Nokia Lumia 900, HTC Trophy, some others
Description: If you've used a Windows PC, you may think Microsoft's smartphone platform will be similar. That's not the case at all. Microsoft's created a portable operating system with a striking look and a unique feel.
Like Android, navigation is done with a touchscreen and three buttons. Rather than populate the home screen with icons and widgets, Windows Phone 7 has a number of tiles that lead into categories such as "media" or "people." From these major categories, users can then get into specific functions.
Each of the tiles in Windows Phone 7 are dynamic, with the people tile cycling through a number of profile photos from friends in social networks, for example. Panes are customizable, and a tile can be created that's a shortcut to a frequently-used app. Overall it feels more customizable than iPhone but less than Android.
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