Review: Windows Phone 7, part 2

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv-fbO-_xl0[/youtube]

Another Great Windows Phone 7 Ad.

In my last post I confessed that I basically landed my Windows Phone 7 through a series of default decisions, and not because it immediately caught my attention. That’s not a great testimony to the efficacy of their advertising and my awareness, but it is honest! So what about this phone? Is a former iPhone fanatic going to be satisfied with this new phone from a company with a less than stellar record of smartphone production?

The answer is yes.

Physically, the WP7 is a bit larger than my iPhone. It has a very bright 4″ super Amoled touch screen. On the back is a 5 megapixel camera with flash. (There is no front facing camera, as is featured on iPhone 4.)  Upon taking a picture one has the option of uploading directly to Facebook, which is seamless and usually very swift. Further specifications can be found HERE. It operates on the newly released Windows 7 platform.

Windows Phone 7 has, I believe, carved out an interesting niche that is most obvious by it’s start screen which assembles various live tiles. You can choose which tiles appear on the start screen, and you can choose their color. Some of them automatically have changing pictures.At a glance I can if I have text messages and/or missed calls. This is not exclusive, as I could see that on my iPhone. But I had to squint. These large tiles clearly display the information I need to know very quickly. While iPhone let me  have folders on the front screen (and my friend Phil asked for folders within the folders), WP7 has a large clear display and the most important things to me are right there for me to clearly see. It is a different visual product that after using for a month I have grown to enjoy.

There are some things to get used to. After all, Apple has ruled the smartphone world for a long time now, and even before that the online music world with iTunes. With the WP7 you are asked to transition to Zune. Now I remember Zune as one of those mp3 players nobody had. My friend Cecil admits to having a Zune sometime in his past, but he is an iTunes fanboy now with no thought to changing. It is an adjustment for me, honestly. I also need to clarify that I do not use my phone as a music device. I have some music stored there but mostly I do not use it to store music. I would have no problem doing so, though, through the Zune software.

Just as iPhone connects to the computer, brings up iTunes, and you can go to the iTunes store, the WP7 has Windows Marketplace. Now there are over 300,000 apps in the iTunes app store. They’ve been at it a while. The Windows Marketplace opened in October 2009 with 246 apps. According to WP7applist there are now 7926 apps, 30% of which are free. My impression is that there are less free apps than iTunes app store. Many of them have free trials. The growth rate of apps in the Marketplace is consistent and rapid.  And my experience with both app stores is that the vast majority of apps are of no use to me whatsoever.

I know there are some things that will be important to some people, but not that important to me. For instance, if you use Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word documents – all of them integrate into the phone and sync together somehow. I have no interest in this personally, but I hear that this is a good thing for those who use these items.  [UPDATE: I received an email with a Word document attached and was happy to be able to open it up and read it on my WP7! jd] Also not of much interest is the X Box connection. You can log in to your X Box account and there are several games that you can play / keep up with. I do not have an X Box, but the games look great. The camera does shoot video as well, but I have not tried it out.

I’ve noticed that I do not have nearly the dropped calls that I experienced with iPhone. Calls, games, music, social networking, photography, calendar … this phone does everything I want my phone to do. In my last installment of this review I’ll share with you the particular apps that I’m using that have made WP7 a great experience thus far.

~John