[UPDATED 05/11/2010: Seems signal strength can be displayed by clicking on the top of the phone at any time. Also Facebook sync can be made to only add information to existing contacts. Clever stuff. Have made a note to own a phone for longer before reviewing next time!]
Within this article I have written about Windows Phone 7’s features, compared it against the iPhone and have listed points of needed improvement.
– Lucid and Quick OS
– Well Designed Email Facilities
– Microsoft Office Applications
– Very good web browser
– Xbox Live
– Some bugs (fixes are quickly arriving)
– Facebook synchronisation has a flaw
– Signal strength bar only on lock screen
As of tomorrow I will have owned Windows Phone 7 (WP7) for a week. During this time I have pushed the phone to the limits asking it to carry out all the tasks which would have otherwise been the duty of my iPhone 3GS (running iOS4). Although I am an intern for Microsoft this review will be open and honest about how I feel about Microsoft’s latest mobile OS. For your information I am using the HTC 7 Mozart. However I have also used the Samsung Omnia 7 and HTC 7 HD. This isn’t really a review of the HTC 7 Mozart but instead the actual OS.
Windows Phone 7 is an intuitive and creative OS. The menu comprises of a series of tiles, known as hubs, which lead to each section of the mobile “Orange”, “People”, “Mail”, Messaging”, “Zune”, “Xbox”, etc. Each hub provides you a glance of what is happening within each section. Within a couple of minutes of picking up the mobile it was clear to see what each section includes.
Once you are handed WP7 it is very quick to get started and you will find yourself ready within a few minutes. Synchronising with Facebook is a feature shared by other mobile OS but I believe it has a flaw. At first glance syncing your Facebook contacts with WP7 is great but hardly any of my 400+ contacts actually provide their mobile numbers. This leaves my mobile with a hefty address book but barely any numbers to call or txt with. Apart from this synchronising is very useful for starting your social media activities and for viewing photo albums within WP7’s “Pictures” folder. Other account link-ups include hooking up to Windows Live, Google Mail… and so on.
I have never used such a good email client; even better than Blackberry. Setting up accounts takes a couple of minutes in the “settings” menu and once done a mail hub will appear on the main menu. Opening this will reveal all my emails, along with a section where I can view my Outlook folder. For those who deal with hundreds of emails each day you will know folders and rules are vital for organisation.
Using Microsoft Office is simple. If somebody emails me an Office document then I can open it with Word, Powerpoint or Excel. These aren’t just readers but instead the real deal. I can edit documents and send them back easily. This makes WP7 ideal for those of you who need to quickly turn around documents.
For Xbox enthusiasts you will know that Xbox Live is integrated into WP7. You can sign in with your Live account (or set one up from the mobile) and enjoy single or multiplayer games which earn you points and achievements. You can even edit your avatar using Xbox Live Extras. Games are slightly on the pricy side at just over £5 but there are plenty of free applications to try out as well.
Just like the iPhone has iTunes, WP7 boasts Zune. From the Zune store I can purchase music or using the Zune pass download an unlimited amount of music and stream music wherever I may be. Using Zune on WP7 is a breath of fresh air and features an interface I prefer against Apple’s iPod Touch.
Compared Against the iPhone 3GS (iOS4)
Apple has pushed forward applications on their devices. This has sparked conversations of the “applification of the web”. The huge amount of applications on my iPhone actually requires more key pressed and finger brushes compared to WP7. Opening Facebook on my iPhone involves opening my social media folder and then selecting the application. For WP7 it is only one click on “People”. For those who are about to say ‘Well, don’t use folders then’… I need to. Without folders I would need to brush sideways to access more applications.
The iPhone is an application mess. Using less applications means I can’t complete all the tasks I need to or requires me to ditch my mobile games. WP7 automatically places games into Xbox Live and allows me to place my applications onto the main menu or sub menu (found by pressing left from the main). The previews from the tiles on the main menup means I don’t even need to select an app. I can just view the latest status of @Panda_Eyed’s Facebook status by unlocking WP7 and viewing her tile. No key press needed.
I know I said this is a review of Windows Phone 7 and not the HTC 7 Mozart but I just had to compare camera quality.
This picture was taken with the iPhone 3GS.
This picture was taken with the HTC 7 Mozart.
Issues with Windows Phone 7
This is perhaps the easiest section to write because cons are much easier to see than gratifications.
- In the evening of the first day of owning the mobile I plugged it into charge at night whilst still switched on. In the morning the green light on my HTC 7 Mozart was showing a green light which indicated a full charge. I unplugged and unlocked the mobile… to find it completely unresponsive. I held the top button in as if to switch on and still nothing. Eventually I had to remove the battery which resolved the problems. After a quick Bing Search it appeared other users have had the same issues. I have not encountered this problem since.
- There have also been a small number of crashes. The Twitter application occasionally crashes on start-up, the market place has crashed and Zune used to stutter some music tracks. I must stress that I expected these issues to happen due to WP7 being a shiny new OS. Over this week updates have been sent to my mobile which are gradually resolving problems (especially glad that Zune is healthy again).
- Microsoft, please place the signal strength bar on the main menu. It might not look as pretty but when travelling (which I often do) it is currently impossible to know how strength has changed. The only way I can view signal strength at the moment is by unlocking the mobile. This is a hassle and a pointless key press. Change it.
On the whole my experience of Windows Phone 7 has been impressive. Bugs are to be expected in a new OS release but considering the quick release of updates this isn’t something consumers should be worried about. Using Windows Phone 7 is a fresh new mobile experience which everyone should try.
So yes, I do plan to purchase one after my iPhone contract has expired.
- What is your experience of Windows Phone 7?
- Are you thinking of purchasing Windows Phone 7?
- Would you like to know anything about Windows Phone 7?