What Differentiates an iPhone From Its Competitors?

By Alan Bradford

The unique iPhone hardware, the iOS operating system and other features have generated high sales and customer loyalty.
i Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Apple iPhone is a leader in overall market share of smartphone operating systems as of early 2011 and it's still on a path of growth. IPhone customer loyalty is among the highest for smartphones. Though many of the features of the iPhone are similar to other devices, there are some factors that set it apart from other smartphones in the market.

Operating System

Currently Apple sells only two smartphones, the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4; both run the iOS operating system. Compare that to Research in Motion's Blackberry OS, which runs on seven different smartphones in the United States alone, or to Google's Android OS, which runs on well over a hundred different smartphone devices. Apple has ensured that their iOS operating system software runs only on their own hardware devices and therefore places tight controls on development of new versions and updates.

Screen Resolution

The screen size of the iPhone is 3.5 inches diagonally across, which is comparable to most other smartphones and smaller than some. However, the latest iPhone 4 model uses what Apple calls Retina Display technology, which bumps up the screen resolution to 960 by 640, compared to other smartphones at around 800 by 480. This increased resolution enables sharper images than can be found on many competing displays.

iTunes and App Store

Apple has always required customers to use the iTunes application to manage media files on their iPhone device, such as music, video and photos. While other smartphones have tools available to perform such tasks, no iPhone competitor requires the use of any of these tools to manage content. Integrated into iTunes is the Apple App Store, which acts as a portal for iPhone users to purchase and install applications. Other smartphone operating systems, such as Android, use a similar portal, but their stores have not yet reached the size and scope of the Apple App Store.


One aspect that has frustrated iPhone users and caused some consumers to avoid purchasing an iPhone is its inability to support Flash content. While there has been some negotiating between Adobe (the owner of Flash technology) and Apple, no agreement has been reached. Apple has chosen to provide similar video and animated content in an open-standard system called HTML5, which is growing in acceptance among many media outlets on the Internet. Several websites that have offered predominantly Flash content are now offering the same content using the HTML5 standard.