I’ve been using the Samsung Focus 2 Windows Phone for a little over a week now. The experience has been interesting to say the least.
This is the first time I’ve ever used a Windows Phone for more than 10 minutes.
So I know you’re wondering, just how is it?
The experience pleasantly surprised me. The interface was zippy. I liked the grid layout.
The Focus 2 isn’t the best all-around phone out on the market. I was actually OK with that, because certain specific features made it attractive to me.
Number one, it can access AT&T’s faster LTE network, which made surfing the Web, social networking, and downloading new books awesome. The screen also impressed me.
Those are the kind of things you skip over in a superficial test, but that matter increasingly the more time you spend with a device.
Read my full review of the Focus 2 for all the details on this new device—or keep reading to get a glimpse into what it’s really like to live with a Windows Phone for a week.
This feels different. I'm very used to swiping left and right when using my iPhone. With Windows Phone, everything is vertical. This isn't a bad thing. It just takes a little getting used to.
The layout is cool. I like the live boxes and how they update when new information is available.
I can't take my eyes off the screen. It's bright, and has three different settings--low, medium, high--making everything easy to see.
Samsung really is the king of screens. (Unlike many other phone makers, it actually manufacturers its own screens.) This may not be a 'retina' display, but it's still amazingly sharp even on the lowest brightness setting.
I'm really starting to like this device.
I'm searching and searching for all my favourite apps and not even a handful of them are available.
Apps are what really make these phones personalised and the selection in the Windows Marketplace is subpar.
A lack of popular apps is really crippling Windows Phone.
Reading on my iPhone screen really annoys me. It's not that big and despite it being bright and having a retina screen, it's always felt scrunched.
The Windows Phone is different. I found myself zipping through books on the Kindle app while commuting to and from work. I really liked it.
There were times when I would put the device in my back pocket and forget it was there. The phone only weighs 4.3 ounces. It was also nice to have the option to remove my battery.
Still, the phone has everything I need--but not everything I want.
One night I was listening to iHeartRadio. When I was done I paused the app and hit the Windows button to return to the home page. I thought that by pausing the music and leaving the app this would stop it from running in the background.
The next morning I woke up late because I never realised that the iHeartRadio app was still running and using up my battery.
Multitasking--running multiple apps at once--is supposed to be an advantage. Instead, it killed my battery and my alarm clock. That's not a feature, that's a bug.
Microsoft needs to update its software to smartly close out background apps when you exit them or keep them alive, depending on circumstances. Ideally, you shouldn't even have to decide when you need to do this--Windows Phone should do it for you.
I went to a very crowded festival on the sixth day of using the Windows Phone.
Because of the massive crowd (and so many smartphones) my iPhone had poor service. I couldn't make calls or check websites. Even text messages were having a difficult time getting through.
When I got separated from my friends I used the Focus 2 to call them. The connection worked perfectly--and this was also on AT&T, the same carrier that my iPhone used. I also accessed websites without problems.
This could be because the Focus 2 runs on AT&T's faster LTE network--or it could just be that Samsung has higher-quality radio hardware and software than Apple. All I know is that my Focus 2 worked when my iPhone didn't.
It's Day 7 and I've gone back to my iPhone.
Overall, I really enjoyed using this phone. The interface was snappy, it never froze up on me, and the form factor made it really easy to hold. But the Windows Phone OS still has a long way to go.
The lack of apps and 'sexy'-looking phones is crippling Microsoft.
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