Two Weeks a Windows Phone User

So I decided to make the switch from iPhone to Windows Phone a couple weeks ago, and thought I would share my experiences after two weeks on the platform. Thanks to Nick Landry (@ActiveNick) for giving me the final nudge I needed to make the switch.

This is actually my third try making the switch, but it is going much better than the first two. The very first was when Windows Phone first came out. Back then the platform was pretty raw and there simply were not enough apps. Second try was in the Windows Phone 7.5 days… again, still not enough of the right apps in comparison to iOS at the time even though the platform had matured a lot. This time, overall, I am extremely happy with the platform as a whole and with the apps available. In fact, I would say that a lot of the same apps that I use on my iPhone have a better overall user experience on Windows Phone than on iPhone.

Overall impressions of Windows Phone in general:

  • User experience of the platform (operating system) and apps following the platform design guidelines is way better than iOS. The fluidity of moving from app to app and navigating around within apps and phone level settings and features is awesome. Feels much more modern and well thought out than iOS.
  • Built in apps are great (People hub, news, music, video, photos)
  • Most importantly, every major app I used on the iPhone is available on Windows Phone and most are feature complete in comparison. Some lack minor features and that gets a little annoying (ex: Amazon Kindle allows you to change font size and color on Windows Phone, but lacks the ability to change the font to a different one – i.e. sans serif – whereas the iOS one does allow that), but that is not Microsoft’s fault, just need to put pressure on the app vendors to get feature parity. But all the major apps I use regularly (Pandora, Kindle, WeatherBug, Netflix, Vevo, TripIt, Twitter, Facebook, United, …) are all there and work great.
  • There are also a lot of really great apps just for Windows Phone that I did not use or do not exist on iOS. MetroMail, Nokia apps (Camera, MixRadio, HERE Drive, HERE Maps)
  • Initially my biggest point of frustration as a Gmail user was email, but then I discovered MetroMail (thanks Khaled @ImmortalFeb) and my Gmail life is now complete again on Windows Phone with full labeling and archiving capabilities.

In terms of what hardware I have, I started out with a Lumia 635 because I am an AT&T user and that was the best handset they had that was similar form factor to my iPhone 5s. The overall user experience with that phone was really good, but the stats on it are fairly low end and I was wanting to try a phablet with some more horsepower and screen real estate, so I traded it in for a Lumia 1520 after the first few days.

  • Overall impressions of the Lumia 1520:
    Fantastic performance
  • Great screen, having the extra real estate is wonderful for most things I do on the phone while stationary
  • Excellent camera
  • Long battery life
  • A little hard to use single handed. My hands are not large. My ability to hold in my right hand and navigate with just my thumb is severely diminished, particularly on the go.
  • One big negative: button placement. This is a BIG phone. That means you have to grip it a bit more explicitly than you would a smaller phone to control it. Where do you grip a phone? On the middle to lower sides of it. Where did they put the lock button and camera button? On the middle and lower side of it on the right side. Stupid, stupid positioning in my opinion. Biggest thing I dislike about the phone so far. Constantly accidentally lock the screen when I am reading something or turning on the camera app. The top and bottom have no buttons at all, why could they have not put the lock button on the top where it would have been out of the way and maybe put the camera button upper left?

So overall, I’m very happy with Windows Phone and will probably stick with it this time. I’m keeping my iPhone around for now on another line for development purposes, but find myself missing it very little. The only iOS features I do miss at times are:

  • iMessage – I have a MacBook Pro and iPad and loved the integrated texting across all my devices. But many friends are not on iOS, so could never do that with them anyway.
  • Find my iPhone – my wife and I use this to coordinate our location sometimes without needing to call and describe where we are at. Wish I could find something similar that worked across platforms (wife is not switching for now)
  • Thumbprint password on iPhone 5s. Very handy when mobile to just touch and hold to get past the lock screen.

Bottom line, if you are not already a dedicated iOS or Android user, you will love Windows Phone. Even if you are, you will probably love Windows Phone after getting past the fact that things are a bit different and you have to learn some new patterns of use. The Nokia Lumias are fantastic phones from a hardware perspective and have great apps that accompany them, so they are the perfect fit for the Windows Phone arena.