Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Despite its flaws, there’s still a lot to like about Windows Phone 7. It’s a unique take on a mobile operating system.
Unlike Android, which is in many ways a copycat of the iPhone, Windows Phone stands out as a fresh take on mobile.
And in some ways, it’s actually better than iPhone, the top-selling smartphone at the moment. We’ve been playing around with Windows Phone 7 a lot since the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 and put together a few features that make it better than the iPhone.
WARNING: Before you go nuts in the comments, let’s be clear. We’re not saying Windows Phone is better overall. We’re not saying iPhone is better overall. These are just individual things we think Windows Phone does better than the iPhone. That’s it.
It's no secret Microsoft is having a hard time getting developers to make apps for Windows Phone 7. In fact, Microsoft has been paying developers to build apps.
However, many of the apps that are in the Windows Phone Marketplace are simply gorgeous. In many cases, they look better than they do on the iPhone. Our favourites (so far) include: Foursquare, Spotify, Evernote, and Facebook.
Windows Phone 7 has a handy app called People that pulls in updates from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Instead of opening each individual app, you can view all your friends' status updates and notifications within the People app. It's very handy.
We don't think Windows Phone has the best multitasking solution. Android wins there. But managing multiple apps on Windows Phone is a lot better than it is on iPhone.
On Windows Phone, you just press and hold the back arrow button at the bottom of your device. This pulls up a slideshow of apps you currently have open. Just tap the app to reopen it.
On the other hand, the iPhone makes you double tap your home button and swipe through rows and rows of icons. It's really tough to find the app you're looking for and probably one of our biggest pet peeves with the iPhone's software.
It's always bothered us that Apple won't allow widgets on the home screen. (Widgets are mini apps that provide live information like news and weather without having to open up the full app.)
Microsoft has a smart solution. Instead of widgets, each app on your home screen acts as a Live Tile. They give you a quick glimpse of what's going on in each individual app. For example, the Foursquare app shows your friends' most recent check ins.
Microsoft has a different approach when it comes to licensing the Windows Phone 7 operating system. It holds its hardware partners to strict requirements to ensure each Windows Phone device will be able to receive the latest software updates, apps, and improvements.
As a result, you have several options to choose from if you want to use Windows Phone 7. HTC has the absolutely massive Titan II. Samsung has an iPhone-sized device called the Focus Flash. And of course, there's the gorgeous flagship Nokia Lumia 900. It's simply the best platform for those who want more choice in hardware.
Like any other smartphone, Windows Phones include basic text messaging. But if you sync your phone to your Facebook account, you can seamlessly switch between Facebook chat and normal text messaging with your contacts. It's a great way to limit how many text messages you send each month.
Yes, the iPhone has iMessage for sending free texts, but not everyone has an iPhone. Chances are just about everyone you know already has a Facebook account.
Windows Phone 7 takes contact cards a step further than other devices. Instead of just showing you the name, email, and phone number, you also get a list of recent emails and text messages from your contacts. That's very helpful if you need to quickly look up all the communication you've had with a person.
Windows Phone has built-in support for Microsoft Office documents. That means you can view and edit all your Word documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations on any Windows Phone.
There are several apps that do the same thing on iPhone. Apple's solution is to make you pay $10 for each separate app. (Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.)
Even with all its features, Windows Phone 7 is a relatively lightweight operating system compared to Apple's iOS. You don't need crazy, souped-up hardware for it to run smoothly.
That means Windows Phones tend not to be too expensive. (The Nokia Lumia 900 only costs $100 with a two-year contract.) It also means battery life is incredible on most Windows Phones.