There's No Way I'd Ditch My iPhone For A Windows Phone

windows phone 7 home screen

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

After about a year, I’m still not sold on Windows Phones.I was really excited when I first saw the new OS last year. Finally, someone created a phone that wasn’t another iOS/Android knockoff. This was something different and unique. Something pretty.

Until now, I’ve only had limited experience using Windows Phones. My colleague Ellis Hamburger loves them, so I decided to give it a shot.

I got my hands on Samsung’s new Focus S the other day. Instead of doing a traditional review of the phone itself (it’s good, trust me), I decided to concentrate on the Windows Phone OS instead.

I tucked away my iPhone 4 over the last week (with a few exceptions) and decided to make the Focus S my primary phone.

In short, I don’t think Windows Phone 7 is quite there yet. While there are a lot of interesting concepts behind the phone like native Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn integration, it still feels jumbled and messy. Windows Phone 7 has a ways to go before it can catch up to iOS and Android.

Keep reading to see why.

First, here's how I'm scoring Windows Phone 7

I'm primarily an iPhone user. However, I do own a Nexus S too, and I constantly test Android phones for review on SAI: Tools. I know both iOS and Android backwards and forwards.

But for the purposes of this feature, I'll just be comparing Windows Phone 7 to my iPhone.

Scorecard

iPhone: 0

Windows Phone: 0

Windows Phone doesn't need maxed out hardware to work

Part of the beauty of Windows Phone 7 is that it doesn't need fancy dual-core processors or souped up RAM to run smoothly. Even on a modest processor, the OS sings. It's lightweight, functional, and doesn't eat your battery by running processes or widgets in the background. Swiping between screens, launching apps, and loading web pages feels just as fast as any other dual-core phone I've used.

Scorecard
iPhone: 0

Windows Phone: 1

Integration with Facebook, Twitter, etc. is nice, but it can get messy

I don't think anyone has really nailed how to integrate social networks natively on a phone. iOS takes a modest approach, allowing you to share stuff on Twitter. Android syncs nicely with Google services, but you'll need separate widgets or apps if you want to include anything else. (This will change with Ice Cream Sandwich in a few weeks.)

Windows Phone 7 takes the opposite approach, letting you connect to all the major social networks natively on your phone. It's a pain to set up each one individually, but once you do, all your friends' messages, status updates, photos, etc. are synced in the 'People' app.

But it's far from perfect. In fact, it feels downright messy. It's difficult to tell where the updates, messages, etc. are coming from. (Was that a Facebook message? SMS? LinkedIn connection?) I got so confused by the flood of information that I disabled my social networks from the phone. For now, it's easier for me to check everything in separate apps.

I prefer the iPhone's modest approach to native social networking. I'd rather wait until someone figures out how to make it work well before I declare someone else the winner.

Scorecard
iPhone: 1

Windows Phone: 1

The Windows Phone 7 calendar gives me a headache

While I like how easy it is to set up Windows Phone 7's calendar, the layout is a total mess.

I use Google to manage my both my personal and work calendars. Windows Phone makes it a snap to keep it synced across all my devices, even iCal on my desktop.

But when I try to check events on the phone, I have trouble telling what's what. The calendar automatically pulled in my Facebook events without asking me to opt in, so my calendar was a cluster-you-know-what of work events, stories I have to write, and silly happy hours I get invited to on Facebook that I never would've looked at anyway.

Calendar for iOS is the exact opposite. You only see what you want to see in a nice, clear format.

Scorecard
iPhone: 2

Windows Phone: 1

Windows Phone 7 needs a better app selection

This analysis is hardly new, but it's true. No matter how good Windows Phone 7 gets, it doesn't stand a chance unless it can get more app developers on board.

All the basics like Twitter, Facebook, and Evernote are there, but you can bet you won't see developers launch the next big app on Windows Phone any time soon. The next Instagram, Instapaper, Reeder, etc. will be on iPhone first.

As you can see in the image here, a lot of the top apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace are sex and porn apps. Not exactly useful.

Scorecard
iPhone: 3

Windows Phone: 1

Live Tiles are a great alternative to widgets

iOS only allows two widgets right now: Stocks and Weather. And both are stuck in the Notifications centre.

Windows Phone 7 takes a different approach with its 'Live Tiles,' icons on your home screen that update in real time. Want to see the latest photos from your Facebook friends? Just glance at your home screen. There's no need to launch a separate app.

Same goes for RSS feeds, weather, SMS notifications, you name it. It's a clever and useful alternative to the widgets I'm used to in Android and iOS, plus it doesn't crush battery life.

Scorecard
iPhone: 3

Windows Phone: 2

iMessage thumps Windows Phone's messaging system

iMessage quickly became my favourite feature of iOS 5. Most of my friends and family use an iPhone, so texting is now faster and doesn't count against my carrier's limit.

Windows Phone takes a different approach, integrating messaging from Facebook, Windows Live, SMS, and other social services into one app. Just like the status update integration with social networks in Windows Phone, messaging across all those networks can get really messy really fast. It's difficult to tell where the messages are coming from.

I prefer the simplicity of iMessage. If I want to ping someone on another platform, I'd rather open the app and do it.

Scorecard
iPhone: 4

Windows Phone: 2

Built in Microsoft Office is a major plus

It really bothers me that Apple makes you shell out $10 in the app store for each of its productivity apps: Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. That means you're out 30 bucks if you want the whole suite.

On the other hand, Windows Phone 7 comes loaded with Microsoft Office at no extra cost. Office is still the standard for spreadsheets, presentations, and documents and Microsoft doesn't tax you extra if you want to use it on the go. You can't beat that.

Scorecard
iPhone: 4

Windows Phone: 3

Windows Phones are still subject to crapware from carriers

Here are some of the apps that came pre-loaded on the Samsung Focus S: AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T myWireless, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio...you get the idea.

One thing I love about the iPhone is that I never have to worry about my carrier loading it with crap I don't want. Unfortunately, Windows Phones still fall victim to that. I'd rather be able to choose the apps I want, not have AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile shove them in my face.

Scorecard
iPhone: 5

Windows Phone: 3

iCloud vs. SkyDrive

Windows Phone 7 has its own answer to iCloud called SkyDrive. The two services are nearly identical, except Microsoft gives you a whopping 25 GB for free versus iCloud's measly 5 GB.

Still, they both do the same thing: You can automatically back up your files, photos, documents, etc. and view them online or on the desktop. There's also a handy 'find my phone' feature in case your device is lost or stolen.

This one is a draw, so no points awarded.

Scorecard
iPhone: 5

Windows Phone: 3

Conclusion: Windows Phone 7 is on the right track, but it's not there quite yet

Both Android and Windows Phone 7 are still playing catchup to iOS. But the gap is getting narrower and narrower with each update.

I really do enjoy Windows Phone 7's fresh look. But Microsoft figures out a way to load get more developers on board and fix the messy social networking integration, I'm going to stick with my iPhone and Nexus S.

The Final Tally
iPhone: 5

Windows Phone: 3

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