I’ve always felt like you can’t make a judgment on something if you don’t know the other side of the argument. I’ve been a longtime fan of Apple and their iOS devices. I’ve owned every iPhone since the 3GS and two generations of iPads. You could say I’m kind of a fanboy.
There comes a moment where I kind of get bored by technology. I certainly have an “oooh shiny” problem when it comes to phones. I follow most of the major gadget blogs and every time a new device comes out, I want it (or at least try it). Sometimes I make the jump and try an approximation of it. A few years ago, I switched my iPhone 4 for an LG Thrive. It was a prepaid phone for AT&T that I was able to buy outright for $150. I got to try Android on a not very nice screen on what wasn’t even a decent phone when it came out. Needless to say, it ended early (after about 2 weeks and the announcement of iOS 5, the beta of which I quickly installed on my phone). Fast forward to last summer, when I picked up a Galaxy Nexus unlocked from Google. With a flagship device, direct from Google, it was a winner. I really got to know Android and liked it quite a bit. This is where the “making a judgment” piece comes into play. As I traveled for work, I ran into a lot of dead zones on AT&T’s network. My contract was up, so I switched to Verizon to get better coverage. At this point (6 months with Android), I had to make a choice. Stay with Android and deal with Verizon, who notoriously holds updates for no real reason or switch back to the iPhone, where Verizon doesn’t have their grubby hands. I switched to the iPhone and I’ve been quite happy with my decision. I don’t really miss Android. My final opinion on it? They’re both great OSes and have access to every major service (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, etc.) you could ask for. I personally prefer the iPhone and generally direct people who ask me to it specifically for ease of use and the more guided user experience.
I’ve had an itch lately to try something new. This time it was Windows Phone. Microsoft made a huge change 3 years ago to overhaul their entire UI from Windows Mobile (which was really a shrunken Windows XP UI) to the Modern (Metro) UI. Bold colors, “flat”, and consistent. It was a huge change and has spread to the XBox and Windows platforms. So far (3 days in), it’s been kind of nice. With Windows Phone 8, they’ve made large changes to allow more customization of tiles and switched the underlying kernel from the Windows CE kernel to the NT kernel. They also support higher resolution screens and brought Apple-like multitasking in. I say Apple-like because the apps don’t actually run in the background, they’re there and can run at intervals. I picked up a Nokia Lumia 822 on eBay for $120 and it’s quite nice. It’s a bit wider than my iPhone 5, but with the case I have on my iPhone, the Lumia is only a hair thicker, taller and heavier. It has LTE and an 8 MP camera on the back. Overall, it’s a pretty nice phone but not the flagship level device a Lumia 925 or HTC 8X is.
Even though I’ve only used it for a few days, I’m quite impressed with Windows Phone 8 so far. There seems to be a solid development community, and they seem to be very enthusiastic about making apps for services or needs that may not have a first party client. Case in point: Google Music. iOS has a few clients, but no first party clients. Windows Phone is in the same boat, but it seems the developer of CloudMuzik is more responsive and keeps up with feature changes than the developer of gMusic for iOS.
There are some things in iOS that I miss. One is Notification Center. Microsoft wanted to get a notification center into Windows Phone 8, but ran out of time. It appears to be coming with a future update to Windows Phone. While the live tiles are nice, a central notification point is needed. Another thing I miss is lock screen notifications. With WP8, you get 5 app slots to show a number of notifications. Like 1 missed call, 2 new e-mails, etc. I have phone, text messages, my two email accounts and voicemail in those slots. Because of this, I can’t show 1 new mention on Twitter or 25 new articles in NextGen Reader. In addition, you get one “detailed” slot where you can have an app show more than just a number. I chose Calendar and it shows me my next event. Live tiles in Windows Phone can mean anything from a simple number badge on the tile to the actual notification from the app. It just depends on how the developer configures the tile. This is where a Notification Center can come in. The live tile idea works in theory, but not entirely.
As of now, I don’t think I’d completely recommend Windows Phone to everyone but it’s certainly come a long way from the Windows Mobile days. If you’re bored with Apple or Android, give Windows Phone a try. You just may end up liking it.