Anybody who knows me in person is aware that I am a very Microsoft committed person. As a Microsoft Office 365 MVP I use Microsoft technology day in day out with some high effort towards public cloud services. But that does not mean that I use any Microsoft device: my all day laptop is a 11’’ MacBook Air with Windows 8 on it and I used an iPhone since 2009. The MacBook Air is always good for starting conversations in front of presentations or talks to customers. The iPhone was a nice new gadget in 2009 and I stayed with it over the last years, buying the iPhone 3, the iPhone 3s, the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s.
But with Windows Phone 8 I started looking at Windows Phone again. My last Windows Phone was a Qtek 8500 for a long time and I loved this small device. The iPhone feels like a brick in the beginning. But I loved it: the iPhone is a good phone with lots of apps which I downloaded (and most of them I never used again).
With iPhone 5 there was no further improvement on iOS. It’s always “the same”: a stable and usable device. Now a little lighter in weight. But not much more innovation or news. I bought the iPhone 4s because of Siri and learned that it was not worth it. But the iPhone 5 did not give me the “I wanna have one” kick – it helps me thinking: ok, I’ll wait for the next release.
In fall 2012 I started looking at Windows Phone 8. I tried already a Lumia 800 and thanks to BuildWindows and Nokia (now Microsoft) I got a Lumia 900. In December I decided to buy HTC 8x for me and our whole team for Christmas. I like the HTC 8x because of it’s design and weight…. but let me start with the whole story.
Live Tiles: Windows Phone 8 gives you news and information in short form through Live Tiles. You can group people from the people hub and watch their news and infos very quick. This is a feature I really like because with that I am able to have people’s news in one place without needing a dedicated app for it.
The different devices: I love to have choice between various devices. I decided for the HTC 8x because of it’s weight and design. I like the buttons – other’s find them hard to handle. On the other side you’ll miss the design you know: I always try to switch on my phone by pressing the Windows Button – a feature that is only available on the Ativ S.
Make it yours: with the new tiles concept you are able to create your “own” phone – with various background colors and a lock screen which changes daily, thanks to Bing. You can have your most used apps on the start screen, in various sizes and colors. With iOs you have screen after screen after screen.
Synchronizing and restore: the need of iTunes is a disadvantage. Even as a cloud guy I never used iCloud. I like it to have the Windows Phone 8 connecting like any other device to the computer. Also SkyDrive Sync is awesome. But if you need to reset or restore your Phone the iPhone functionality is much better: simply connect the phone and everything is done from a backup. Windows Phone 8 also has some backup functionality via SkyDrive – it does not work for me and I doubt it’s a good functionality. Also the hardware reset is easier with an iPhone – with the HTC it sound like: press A-B-C, three times A then ten seconds C and after 5 seconds B. Not very intuitive.
Possibility to use a bluetooth headset again: I used bluetooth headsets with all my Windows mobile devices and with the iPhone I learned that it’s not possible if you want to hear your conversational partner. So I used the iPhone headphones – I also use them now for making Lync calls on my notebook and even with my Windows Phone 8.
Battery: I am a heavy phone user and the battery on the HTC 8x lasts during the day – but not longer. This is pretty much the same like it was with the iPhone – I’ll charge both during the night. But the iPhone battery has a much higher quality – it charges very fast (an empty HTC 8x needs a couple of hours to get recharged) and it lasts a little bit longer.
Photos: Point for the iPhone where the camera is excellent.
Apps and availability of apps: I am not a heavy app user. I used some main apps on the iPhone: Tom Tom for navigation in Europe and USA, Facebook App and Dermandar for panorama pictures and Foursquare. I use the standard mail and calendar app and also the contacts. With Windows Phone 8 I have to switch to Navigon for navigation.
Nokia users are fine: they receive the built in Nokia navigation with their devices. Windows Phone 8 in larger markets like USA and Germany are even better: they will receive those apps also: “Available for users in the US, the UK, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.”
Windows Phone 8 users in smaller markets do not have that opportunity. They have to buy the one and only navigation system which is available for them. I really regret that Tom Tom does not offer an app for Windows Phone 8. But I cannot understand why manufacturers like Nokia don’t offer their apps for all devices in all markets. Hey Nokia, I am also willing to pay for it! But it won’t let me buy a Nokia device just because of that single app. I think there is some kind of market loss in acting like that. This is very old school….
Pretty much the same story with the panorama photo app: I asked my Windows Phone user friends which apps they use and the Nokia fraction uses the Nokia app (which is not available, not even for money) all others use…nothing. Or apps which are not able to stitch a panorama photo. Some send me links to apps – but if you used an app which is easy to use and easy to handle and makes everything right it feels like you try to make fire with two stones. Or let me explain the other way: if you need a panorama photo app, build yours with that MSDN example. I am a phone user and that’s like explaining a consumer who wants to buy a pullover to go to a store and buy wool and knitting needles. I am now really happy to have Photosynth again on the Windows Phone 8. And dear Windows Phone 8 users who never used iOS: please stop sending me half made panorama apps.
The Facebook app and other social media apps: the Facebook app on the iPhone is good and useful. Think because it is built and frequently updated by Facebook. With frequent updates you receive the most current new things on Facebook. With the Facebook App on Windows Phone 8 you have an app which reflects Facebook functionality from the last year. The app is nice, but not as useful as the iOS app. The overall app quality has some room for improvements.
I liked the foursquare app on Windows Phone 8 more than on iOS but switched now to 4th and mayor. Twitter is Twitter on any device. But with the people hub and the Me Hub you can handle social media another way and I like that a lot. Very easy to post updates, view news and other things. Chat status is….kind of challenging: many people start a conversation with me via Facebook chat because they think I am online. Don’t judge me for that: it looks like I am online but I don’t like to chat the whole time on my phone – and I won´t.
The device itself: as I mentioned earlier I bought HTC 8x for our whole team for Christmas. After 8 weeks 90% of all devices were broken, only one (1) device was not repaired or replaced yet. The first one on the next day after our Christmas party. We had several issues but most of the devices simply switched off and you were not able to switch them on again. I thought it was a hardware issue but I am not sure anymore because I’ve heard the same story from other users with other brands. I am objective enough not to blame HTC for this, I know that could happen with Apple, too. But with Christmas presents it just don’t feel very good. I like the form factor, the haptics and the weight a lot. And I also like that the phone cleans itself - if you use an iPhone it is greasy and you have to clean it often. The HTC 8x only needs one single swipe over your jacket or something else to be cleaned. Maybe that’s a gorilla glass 3 feature – anyway – I like it a lot.
The standard apps around E-Mail, contacts and calendar are better on the Windows Phone 8 – the people hub is innovative and with the mail app you are able to read mails even if your eyes are getting older or more tired in the evening.
With a Windows Phone 8 you have definitely a PC device and not a Phone. With all advantages and disadvantages. In the moment I’ve to restart my phone to be able to use it in our car on the speakerphone. This starts happening after an update. Also sometimes when an app crashes the whole phone restarts. To be honest: also the iPhone has problems with software updates but from a phone point it is more stable.
But in the end: during a repair cycle of the HTC 8x I switched back to the iPhone – and I missed the Windows Phone. The iPhone is maybe the better phone in the moment but there is less innovation there and for me using an iPhone is a little boring. I’ll show Microsoft my respect in going an innovative and new way with the Windows Phone and the tile concept – that makes it a new looking device and not a bad copy of an iPhone. The UI is intuitive.
Both platforms have advantages and disadvantages there is neither a go or a no go. It’s more personal preferences.
There are some great articles from my fellow MVP’s Joel Oleson and Jeremy Thake about their experiences and a nice article from Oscar Godson. Jeremy switched to Android and Joel back to iOS. I’ll stay, Windows Phone 8 – for the moment.