An iPhone user’s (surprisingly positive) knowledge with Windows Phone

April 2, 2015 - fall Denim

Just over a year ago, I experimented with an Android phone. I’d been extraordinary about Android, and felt a best approach to conclude what it offers—and review it to iOS—was to try it out in a real-world situation.

This past Christmas, a caller proudly showed my his Windows phone, and we was intrigued. After removing a good debate of a Windows Phone OS, we motionless to buy a cheap, unbarred phone and try it for myself. I’ve been regulating it off and on for a past dual months. While we wouldn’t switch from my iPhone, I’m utterly tender by what Microsoft has done.

Getting a hardware

As with Android, there are lots of Windows phones to select from. It’s not usually a doubt of silver, space gray or gold; it’s a full line of phones during a far-reaching operation of prices, from mixed manufacturers. The phone we had seen during Christmas was the Lumia 930, Microsoft’s “flagship” phone, that is a well-built, appealing phone, nonetheless still about half a cost of an iPhone. we didn’t wish to spend that many money, so we opted for a £90 Lumia 535 (current cost is a US, about $130–150). When we purchased it in January, a Microsoft-built Lumia 535 was a cheapest phone that shipped with Windows 8.1 Denim, a latest chronicle of a Windows Phone OS.

The phone itself is as we would design for a device that price. It’s got a 5-inch arrangement (a bit bigger than a iPhone 6), and a cosmetic behind pops off simply to insert your SIM card, SD card, and change a battery, if we ever need to. (While a phone usually comes with 8GB storage, we combined a 32GB SD card.)

When we supplement an SD card, we can select that forms of equipment get stored on a phones inner storage and that goes on a SD card. (Click to enlarge.)

While it doesn’t feel as good crafted as an iPhone, it’s gentle to hold; it’s not as sleazy as a iPhone 6, in fact, creation it a bit easier to reason on to. The 5MP camera doesn’t reason a candle to that of a iPhone, and a potion is positively cheaper, nonetheless for a price, what do we expect?

Trying on Denim

What meddlesome me many in this phone is a handling system. As many as we found Android clunky and unattractively designed, we was unequivocally tender by Windows Phone 8.1 (hereafter, Denim). Setting adult a phone was a lot easier than environment adult a Android phone, in partial since Denim supports iCloud for contacts and calendars out of a box. You simply supplement your iCloud account, and we can entrance and refurbish your information easily. With Android, third-party collection are mostly needed, creation it a genuine headache.

The marquee underline of Windows Phone is a tiles that we place on a categorical home (or Start) screen. Each of these tiles is an app, contact, map location, website bookmark, Office file, album, or more, and they can be in 3 opposite sizes, as we can see below.

Windows Phone tiles can be vast rectangles, as for email in this screenshot, vast squares, as for Photos or Weather, and tiny squares, as for several of a apps sparse opposite a screen. (Click to enlarge.)

I generally like a approach we can change a blueprint so it isn’t usually a grid of icons. As we can see above, my home shade distributes opposite sized icons in opposite places, giving it a reduction orderly look. It’s also scrollable—instead of being solidified during a distance of a display, we can supplement some-more tiles and appropriate adult to see them.

Note also that some of these tiles are folders: a Settings folder, during a top-right, and a Music+Videos folder on a left. Tap a folder tile and it opens to uncover a tiles it contains; daub once to launch a app or other items. You can select an accent tone for these tiles. we chose teal, nonetheless we can collect from 21 colors, and also select a wallpaper picture or print to go behind a tiles.

Live Tiles can be live—they refurbish with a latest information, such as weather, sports scores, and news headlines. Unfortunately, they can also be irritating during times, like flashing ads on web pages. For example, we use Flipboard to keep adult with a news, and that app’s Live Tile is constantly flipping between a red block with a headline, and a print with a opposite headline. Depending on that apps we have on your home screen, we might have lots of tiles relocating to uncover we what’s new. In addition, folders constantly cycle their apps opposite their tiles to uncover we what’s behind it.

Windows Phone has a program “home” button, a Start symbol we can see during a bottom-center of a above screenshot. Tap that once to go to your Start screen. Swipe to a left to entrance other apps, ones that we haven’t combined as tiles. The Back arrow takes we behind to what we were observation before, either it’s a shade in a phone’s altogether interface or an app—I’d adore to see a customary Back symbol or gesticulate on a iPhone.

Syncing calm to a device

Microsoft provides an OS X app called Windows Phone that allows we to sync calm to their devices, and to duplicate files—such as photos—from a device behind to your Mac.

The Windows Phone app is a arrange of iTunes lite for syncing calm to a Windows Phone. It also works with something called a “Zune.”

This app has an strange series of bad reviews on a Mac App Store. we didn’t use it a lot, nonetheless it did sync song and videos (without DRM) comparatively smoothly. It’s singular in functionality, though, compared to iTunes. You can’t sync contacts or calendars from a internal app, if we don’t wish to use iCloud; we can usually sync photos from iPhoto; and it doesn’t sync photos automatically from a phone to iPhoto. (You need to crop a phone, and import them yourself.)

What about apps?

And there’s a rub. Apps are a biggest problem with a Windows Phone. Sure, we have all a Microsoft apps, and if you’re a a Windows PC user, you’ll be right during home. But a altogether app landscape is what’s hampering adoption of a Windows Phone. It’s a duck and egg problem: If there are few apps, users are reduction expected to select a platform, and low numbers of users (the Windows Phone worldwide marketplace share in 2014 was a insignificant 2.7 percent) don’t enthuse developers to emanate apps.

Windows Phone doesn’t have as many apps as Android or iOS, nonetheless many of a biggies are here. (Instagram, shown during right, is strictly in beta.) 

You’ll find a tip games, a biggest amicable media apps (Facebook and Twitter, nonetheless only a beta of Instagram), and many more. Sheer numbers meant nothing; both a iOS and Android app stores are 90 percent dreck. But if pivotal apps that we need are missing, afterwards we won’t be tempted to buy this phone.

One pivotal underline iOS users would skip on a Windows Phone is iMessages; you’ll have to tumble behind on content messages or remonstrate your friends to all get a cross-platform messaging app like WhatsApp. And of course, Skype (owned by Microsoft) replaces FaceTime, so you’ll still be means to video chat.

And, of course, there’s Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri-like voice assistant. In my tests, it seems to work sincerely well, though, for a initial few weeks, it told me, “I can’t pronounce your denunciation yet.” You’d cruise that U.S. English would be a initial accessible language, nonetheless we cruise this was usually a bug.

One criticism on a Windows Phone settings: a settings shade looks like someone usually comparison a sequence of a several settings during random. It’s intensely difficult to find what you’re looking for when you’re new to this device.

Summing up

The Windows Phone handling complement truly astounded me. Once we got used to it, we found that we could do critical tasks as fast as on an iPhone, and during a distant reduce cost. Even a top-of-the-line Windows Phone is half a cost of an iPhone, and we can supplement an SD label to boost storage.

I resolved my essay about regulating an Android phone with this statement: “With an unbarred phone during this price, we wouldn’t demur to suggest Android to anyone who is not married to a Apple ecosystem.” This unequivocally is a pivotal component to cruise if you’re formulation to switch to another platform: app lock-in. However, if we had to choose, I’d collect Windows Phone over Android in a heartbeat. It’s attractive, easy to use, and in some ways—because of a customizable home shade with Live Tiles—provides some-more actionable information than iOS.

If you’re a Mac user, and don’t count on too many iOS-specific apps, take a demeanour during Windows Phone. You might be astounded too.

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