I’ve had my iPhone for a week, while I’ve tolerated Windows Phones for over three years, from before I even had a daughter. That means I’ve used Windows Phone 8, then the wonderful improvement that came with 8.1, and the confusing mix of regressions and improvements that 10 brought. Perhaps because I masochistically clung to a Blackberry for so long, I found it easier to accept the limited apps on Windows vs Android and iOS. You don’t miss what you’ve never had. I’ve had what was top of the range in 2012 (the Nokia 920, perhaps perversely purchased in 2013 when it was already slipping behind) and later the plastic-toy-like Lumia 640, a phone sold at the point Microsoft had stripped all embarrassing mention of Nokia away from their smartphones. With technology, people often assign beauty to what they’re familiar with (you have to make some justification to yourself for why you spent all that money on a slab of glass and plastic that’s ever-so-slightly different to what somebody else did) so my judgment can and should be viewed as a personal, and possibly jaundiced, view of the world. There aren’t enough objective facts to go round, but here’s the reasons I prefer my old phone to its replacement, as well as some of the things I won’t be sad to consign to the recycling bin of history.
The iPhone 6S is surprisingly heavier than the 640 despite having a smaller screen. We’re not talking so much that I can’t lift it, and I suppose it gives a sense of heft and solidity which the 640 lacks. So that’s something to be neutral on.
I was surprised that the iPhone keyboard isn’t as good as the Windows one. To get a full stop you have to press twice as many buttons as on Windows, and likewise for commas. Maybe I’m failing due to some simple configuration issues, but out of the box it’s lacking.
What’s much worse is the quality of the auto suggest. This is before I’ve trained it, but there are auto corrections that make no sense: by default, my phone wants me to change every instance of “wife” to “Wife”. That’s aggravating enough, but on Windows you could just highlight the word and double tap the shift button to cycle the case through all-caps and then lower case. On the iPhone, enjoy retyping the word. Other little idiosyncrasies like having to double tap for caps lock rather than just holding down on shift for a bit longer are probably up for debate from a usability perspective, but that’s at least one place that Apple don’t provide the best UI choice.
Oh, and sometimes I’ll type something, tap on one of the iPhone suggestions, and then … nothing happens at all. Is that a feature?
I didn’t think I’d find Microsoft Edge to be a better browser than anything else (it suffers from odd rendering and in the current release I’m testing, it does something stupid with mobile vs desktop pages) but it has one great feature, reading mode. You just tap a button in the address bar and it rerenders the page with white text on black, stripping out everything extraneous so you can just concentrate on the content. When I’m tired, this is a real boon for readability vs black on white.
On the downside, there seems to be a bug where if I turn the mobile hotspot on and then later off again, my 640 won’t be able to access the internet until I do a full reboot. On the upside, I can call my hotspot whatever I want, whereas with iOS it has to have the same name as your device. Again, quite a personal thing, but I have Dave The Phone and I’d like to be able to choose what he’s visible as to other people. This is more of an issue if you’re trying to share data, and you can’t tell which of the hotspots named “iPhone” is the right one.
There are far fewer apps for Windows Phones than anyone else (apart from maybe Blackberry, I guess) but I find some equivalents I just can’t get on with. But that’s most likely personal taste, although I can’t find a good RSS reader.
I can’t stand the physical home button on iOS devices and how you have to click it. It just feels so antediluvian. Again, personal taste and habit.
On the 640, you can swap it out for a spare if you need to. On the iPhone, no chance.
Or rather, no Cortana, especially as I’m in Singapore and (thanks Microsoft) Cortana isn’t available here. I have it by pretending to Microsoft that I’m American, but Apple don’t allow me to get away with such shenanigans. It’s hard to say which is better, although I already see some strange stuff with Siri’s info about you: you have to specify a contact, which makes little sense as your address book should be full of people you know, not your own contact details. Or am I needlessly skeumorphic?
Glance Mode, double tap to wake and Night Shift / Quiet Hours
On the Windows lock screen, you have choose to have it run darker colours during night hours, and display a few bits of info like the time. On the iPhone, it seems you just get to wake the screen up to full brightness, or nothing. You can also get the phone to wake by just double tapping the screen (whereas iPhones have the home button, but as I’ve already said, I don’t like having to click that). On the iPhone you can choose to change the colour profile of the screen in the evening. On Windows, your phone can auto reply to calls and emails outside of hours with a vehement response. Call it a draw?
On the other hand…
Bluetooth works on iOS. On my 640, I keep losing contact with my headphones (which now refuse to pair) and my Garmin, which paired with the iPhone in less than 20 seconds, has never successfully paired with the Windows phone. I like things that just work.
This is a wonderful, joyous thing to have, though I guess Windows Hello on the latest, greatest models (va a mid range phone from last year) might supply similar convenience.
I regret not having any screenshots in this post, but that’s because I don’t know how to on my iPhone, and the power button has stopped working on my 640. Call that a draw?
So, not an unqualified trip to smartphone paradise. I’m a bit surprised that so many of things that Windows Phone does well haven’t been duplicated by the other platforms, but perhaps just like me with my Blackberry, nobody knows what they’re missing. Or in a few weeks I’ll be totally integrated and admit no criticism of the iPhone.