Back when Windows Phone first launched, I spent time reviewing handsets like the Nokia Lumia 900. But until the past few weeks, I hadn’t had the opportunity to spend some serious hands on time with Windows Phone 8. I decided to take a one month challenge, trading in my iPhone and iOS for the HTC 8X, which is Microsoft’s Flagship Windows Phone device. We’ve talked about what’s new in Windows Phone 8 before, but if you’re an iOS user who has been considering making the jump, check out what my experience has been like with Windows Phone.
I might get slammed for saying this, but in my humble opinion, Windows Phone has the nicest user interface of any smartphone out there. To that effect, it’s a lot cleaner and more modern than Apple’s aging iOS. And while it does take a bit of getting use too, after all it’s not icon driven the way every other Smartphone O.S. is, fortunately, the U.I. is super intuitive unlike the variating flavors of Android floating around out there.
I’ve been using the iOS keyboard for such a long time now, that jumping ship to another onscreen keyboard can be intimidating and take some adjusting too. As a matter of fact, each time I try out a new Android phone, I get frustrated by the different onscreen keyboards they tout. Fortunately, the Windows Phone onscreen keyboard is nothing short of superb and responsive. The keys are big and well spaced. Even as an iOS user, my fingers are able to quickly adopt to the Windows Phone keyboard. The Word Flow Keyboard also does a great job of learning to predict the next word in your sentence. You’ll find yourself flying through emails and texts in no time at all.
I was smitten with Live Tiles from day one, but Live Tiles have gotten even better on Windows Phone 8. Live Tiles lets you Pin people and apps to your start screen, so that you have easy access to your most important parts of your phone. Live Tiles are also able to stay updated by feeding you live information. That includes everything from your inbox count, to you next calendar appointment, to the weather, news headlines, flight information, and more. New in Windows Phone 8 is the ability to resize your Live Tiles in a choice of 3 different sizes. The result is a more personalized and efficient start screen experience, which is tailored to your needs. iOS has nothing to offer that comes close to Live Tiles. Instead, on iOS, customization means changing the wallpaper on your home screen and lock screen.
Do you get nervous each time a kid asks to play with your Phone? Well, I sure do. But with Windows Phone, I can hand over my HTC 8X to my little cousins without any qualms. That is because the Kid’s Corner feature lets you specify which apps, games, music, and videos they can use. This protects everything else on your phone from them with a password. Granted, iOS does offer a similar feature with their Restrictions settings, it’s good to know that you don’t lose that kind of control if you move over to Windows Phone.
While there still aren’t nearly as many Windows Phone apps as there are iOS apps, the app selection for Windows Phone is continuously getting better. Most importantly, the majority of my most essential apps are all there now – that includes Whasapp, Spotify, Dropbox, Skype, TripIt, Pandora, eBay, OpenTable, and Foursquare. But unfortunately an official Instagram app is still not available, and the unofficial Instagram apps available on Windows Phone are weak. That said, Nokia did announce that a new Hipstamatic Oggl app will be headed to their Windows Phones, and it will allow sharing to Instagram.
The selection of Windows Phone handsets is getting better and better. And they are getting more affordable too. Nokia and Windows Phone just launched the prepaid Nokia 521 for T-Mobile offers unbelievable value for a $129 price point. And there are plenty of choices at the high end too, for example, Nokia just launched the Lumia 925 which packs in a PureView camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. I have been carrying around the HTC 8X, which comes in a selection of bold and fun colors. I love the device’s compact form-factor, and really, has a phone ever looked this good in yellow!
If you want to create or edit a Word or Excel file on iOS, you’ll need a third party app. This is something that I have always found frustrating on iOS. On the other hand, Windows Phone has support for Office documents right out of the box, all through its Office Hub. Office Hub will even sync your office docs straight to SkyDrive in the cloud. Overall, when it comes to Microsoft Office integration, no one does it as well as Windows Phone.
A feature that I could not live without on iOS is Find My iPhone, which lets you locate your iOS devices, should you leave them behind somewhere. And heck, we’ve all been there. Fortunately, the Find My Phone feature on Windows Phone lets you locate, ring, lock and erase your phone remotely.
iOS users have high standards for usability and function. Fortunately, so does Windows Phone, which is why making the switch has been pretty painless for me. Besides, Live Tiles are the best thing since sliced bread. And at the end of the day, no one does customization as well as Windows Phone – nor does any one do eye-popping colored handsets better than Windows Phone. That said, my biggest challenge over the past month while using Windows Phone 8 has been not having access to an official Starbucks or Instagram app. But I’m hoping that these apps will arrive sooner than later. All in all, we think an iOS user should give Windows Phone a chance. It certainly has the potential be the next great mobile OS that everyone wants to own.