Saturday 21 January 2012

A Brief Review of Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 is probably one of the coolest smartphone OS's you've never used. It's nothing like Windows, and very different from iOS as well as Android. I really like the smooth transition effects, and the general snappyness of the phone.

Some reasons why you'll actually like a Windows Phone:

  1. Simple and easy to use (for the most part). Don't quite agree with this commercial though, some things are a little more difficult actually (see my WP7 wishlist below!)
  2. Excellent Facebook, Linked in and Twitter Integration. In particular I like the integration of Facebook and Windows Live chat with text messaging so you can quickly switch back and forth
  3. Fancy transition effects. 
  4. You can edit Microsoft Office documents!
  5. In built music recognition feature (like Shazam) that works quite well

One bad thing about Windows Phone, however, is that the hardware is not standardized. This means that using one phone may not give you the same experiences as using another, since one design may be more prone to accidental clicks than another. Or, one design may have a larger screen resulting in lower battery life but better ability to type. Not being able to really try out the phone at a store and it's cool transition effects is also a downside.

Some things in WP7 I'd like to see worked out in future versions (dear Microsoft, I hope you are reading this wishlist) that you may not like about WP as well:
1. They actually made some things a little more difficult while trying to make things easier. A good example of this is making and receiving calls. In order to make a call, you click on the "Phone" live-tile on the live tiles screen. This actually takes you to a list that shows the history of calls... instead of taking you to the dial pad. Unless may be you just had a missed call, in which case going to the missed calls list directly would be more convenient, there's no reason to tuck away the dialpad under some menu. Another problem is answering calls. To answer calls you actually need to perform two steps! First you need to "Swipe Down", and then click the "answer" button again to take the call! I personally think that this is just silly. Swiping down should automatically trigger the answer call response. I've missed a few calls thinking that swiping down would answer the call. Also, I think that Microsoft should do something to allow people to access their messages and emails right from the lockscreen.

2.5 Basic apps: While the lack of apps for the platform is no big surprise since most developers seem to be developing for other more prominent and potentially lucrative platforms, Microsoft really needs to do some thinking about default apps. A fresh windows phone ships actually without a stopwatch and timer app (it does have Microsoft Office though...). Even my 8 year old flip phone has that (and a flashlight app)! Sure, you can download a few apps, most of which don't work all too well, but this is something that any new phone should come with. In-built music recognition and QR code readers are great, but please stick to providing some basic apps that every other platform out there has.

2. Internet Explorer: Any smartphone in today's market needs to have great web browsing capabilities. IE, for some reason, has a lot of difficulty handling large divs, and handling iframes properly. A good example is visiting If you scroll left or right, the text in the div gets cut off! Apart from the browser's incapability to support web-kit like styling elements and divs it also has very poor "tabbing" capabilities. If you need to switch to a tab, you need to drag out the menu from the bottom, tap tabs, and then tap the tab of interest.

4. Adding contacts/searching: Too much jumping around to do. To add someone to my contacts list, I first need to click name, add their name, click save, then click phone, add their phone and click back. Why not put all of these fields on one page like every other mobile OS out there? Also, searching for contacts is kinda  tough even though you can click on a letter and it shows you contacts with a particular letter, you can't go one level further and sort by Letter-Vowel combinations like iPhone and Android (just a thought).

5. Live-tile and app screen: While having live-tiles is great, having only 6 of them visible in one viewing is not all that great. I really wish there was some way to make some tiles 1/4th the size of the current ones, so 4 tiles could be squeezed in the same place to avoid scrolling. Also, scrolling up and down the app screen is somewhat of a pain if you happen to have a lot of apps.

6. Scrolling: The only way to get to the bottom of a very long page is to keep scrolling for a day and a half! May be they could allow people to move the scroll bar?

7. No tethering! Yes, my carrier actually allows me to tether, and I've done so successfully (and rather easily) on my android. Not sure why Microsoft doesn't want to bother adding this.

While Windows Phone 7 may not be as fully featured as other systems, I'd say that it's definitely getting there.

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!

1 comment:

  1. What happened to the Windows phones? Did they die a slow or fast death? I have never come across someone with one. It seems with the rise of ISIM integrated sims, and iUCC, anyone can develop a smartphone. How good it is though, is another issue.