I like Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango." OK, so most of you who read my column regularly are thinking, "There he goes again, just taking the Microsoft side." But wait a moment. I didn't say I love it. I didn't claim it to be better than an iPhone. I just said I like it. Here's why I like it but don't love it.
I've said for months that I would give up my Android smartphone for a Windows Phone 7.5 device to see if Microsoft's mobile platform could be a real contender for professional use. Now that my Android contract has expired, I've made the switch. I'm now using a Nokia Lumia 710, which has a 3.7-inch touchscreen with a 5-megapixel camera, LED flash, and HD video. (The Lumia 900 is all the rage right now, but my carrier, T-Mobile, doesn't offer it yet.)
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My first day with the Windows Phone 7.5 device was tough because I've been working with an Android for several years, refusing to switch over to the iPhone. My hope was that the Android OS would eventually top the iPhone, but after using it through several versions, I've concluded that Android simply doesn't offer the polish of an Apple product. The iPhone's advantage isn't just its iOS operating system and related software; the actual phone that Apple has created has incredible photo and video quality that I haven't seen matched. Maybe the Samsung Galaxy S III will be the Android device that finally matches the iPhone, but it's not available in the United States yet, so that wasn't an option.
The Windows Phone 7.5 interface is quite intuitive, so the switch was easy. I find Metro's UI somewhat confusing because I have no idea what all the little signs inside the little circles mean (I like that there are three little dots you can tap to find out what the signs mean), but overall, Metro is easy to navigate. Its settings are easy to change and configure as well. It's not rocket science to operate, and it has a flow to it in terms of typography and navigation that is much more cohesive than Android's UI.
I tested out several important apps for news, weather, and stocks. I also downloaded the Skype app and tested it with the Skype app on an iPad. It all worked great. Apple's FaceTime videoconferencing (restricted to iOS and OS X devices) seems a bit clearer than what's available for Wimdpws Phone 7.5's Skype, but maybe I've had too much of the Apple Kool-Aid myself lately. I like the Zune application for my PC to sync with the smartphone, thanks to its intuitive approach. I strongly prefer it over iTunes, which has an awkward Mac feel. With Microsoft having killed its Zune media players last fall and now saying the Zune software will disappear soon too in favor of new Xbox-based software, my fingers are crossed it'll stay intuitive.
I also like Windows Phone's visual voicemail feature, which allows me to scan my voicemail and just select the ones I want to play. (Yes, I know the iPhone has had this since 2007, but not Android.) I can quickly delete voicemail or call that person back with a single click. Apparently this is a feature that is carrier-enabled, so I'm glad my carrier supports it.