10 Reasons I Didn’t Realize I Missed Windows Phone

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You know, I have been happily wedded to Android for a while now. I’m typing this on my old Nexus 7, and it’s still a great device. It’s not as hardy under the hood as my Note 3, on which I do most of the art for this site. But even this Nexus 7 is a powerhouse next to my first smartphone from as few years ago, the HTC Surround. I charged it up for a lark recently and realized that as much as I enjoy Android, there’s a lot still to love about Windows Phone — things that are still true about the platform today.

10 – It’s Fast.

Like, very fast. It feels faster than my Note 3 sometimes, especially when doing core OS work and using default apps, and the Note is still one of the fastest devices out there, running a bleeding-edge OS. I’m impressed at the impression of speed (if not raw computing power) of this now four-year-old device. (Happy birthday, HTC Surround!)

9 – It’s Pretty.

And charming. All the little motions, actions, flips, and whatnot

8 – The Lack of Apps Isn’t the First Thing You Notice.

Futzing around with this old WP 7.8 device made me realize that the core OS had enough built-in functionality that I didn’t miss my ridiculous app ecosystem while doing most of my usual phone tasks. Which reminds me…

7 – Hubs Were Clever, and They Will Be Missed.

Hubs were kind of aggregators for information pulled from various accounts and apps. The Me hub, for example, pulled all my major social media information together, and I could interact with my friends and followers right from there. One consistent, clean experience across all my accounts.

6 – The Mail App May Not Be Amazing, But It’s Crazy Readable.

Unless there’s some wonky formatting in the message, the bold, bright, type-first design really makes messages easy to read and digest quickly, with very little chrome to distract from the content.

5 – It Feels Like My Phone.

The extra work I put in to customize my homescreen and get all the live tiles where I wanted them makes it feel way more like my phone than even the deep customizability of Android. Yes, I know it’s a superficial customization, but it feels more meaningful, because the thing that most reflects me on Windows Phone is the thing that I interact with first whenever I pick up the phone.

4 – Live Tiles are Still an Awesome UI Paradigm.

Not only do they convey a ton of good information when they’re done right, but Live Tiles as a graphic element are kind of genius. Their animations bring the phone to life, asking for your attention instead of demanding it. Having an app suggest that there’s an action to be taken and giving you the sense of what that action will be is very friendly.

3 – The Voice Controls Are Solid.

Even before Cortana, Windows Phone had great voice control. Get a text? It’ll tell you who it’s from and ask you if you want it read aloud. Once it’s read, do you want to reply? It’s that easy. Google voice stuff is really impressive, but I’m becoming more and more intrigued by Cortana (which will be coming to Windows) and frequently miss the ease of use of the TellMe stuff from Windows Phone 7.

2 – The Camera is There When You Need It.

Hardware camera buttons are a great idea. Being able to take photos while the phone is locked is a great idea. If I reach for my phone while it’s in my pocket, even my ages-old Surround is ready to take a picture by the time I’ve got it up to my face. On my Note, I still need to decide whether I want my phone secured or camera-ready. It’s a drag.

1 – It’s A Joy to Use

This is what ever other platform lacks. Thanks to the consistent experience and everything else I’ve mentioned, there’s a lightness and playfulness to the software that makes it a joyful experience. My Note is an impressive device, but I don’t know that I’ve ever felt like I was having fun simply navigating around my phone, doing day-to-day tasks. I pick up this old phone that’s an absolute dinosaur given the life cycle of technology, and it’s fun.

I’ve written more about Windows Phone in the past. I hope that sooner rather than later, Microsoft leverages their purchase of Nokia to make some hardware that will steal me away from the Note. Give me a big damn phone and a sweet stylus and I’ll happily come back, Microsoft.

Until then, every now and again I’ll poke around at my old phone here and remind myself why Windows Phone is pretty rad.

Until next time, folks, paddle your own canoe.

-Trevor

4 Comments
  1. I own a Lumia 820 and I completely agree with you. Am actually an iPhone developer by profession and am always surrounded by apple devices but they never feel the way my wp8.1 phone does. Easy and fun. All the apps I will ever need are on wp. Truly who gives a damn about having millions of apps in store when am not going to use half of them. All I want now is a phone that isn’t as bulky as 820 from Microsoft. A truly awesome device to go with wp8.1, and the coming wp10 update. Here’s hoping.

    • WP definitely needs a flagship phone that’s competitive with other devices, for sure.

      I think “who cares about the apps” is kind of a red herring, though. Sure, most people won’t actually trawl the store for apps, but overwhelmingly the people selling the phones will not recommend them on that basis. And they’re right. There aren’t as many apps available and so many of the ones that are there are kind of sub-par. Still, as a core experience, I still think it’s one of the best.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • I know that for financial reasons, iPhone is good for developing apps. Does you or your company find potential to develop for Windows Phone, considering yours (and all others) experience with WP is really good? Like it’s funny to a degree, the handful of people I know that have WP other than the people I’ve personally guided to it, are IT people. Like a sea of corperate managed iPhones, Android and even Blackberry’s still.. and the IT guys.. Windows Phone.

      I think smartphone experience is everything. For many, it’s apps, and that of course is iPhone and to a degree Android. If you’re not app-centric, Windows Phone is totally amazing. That said, everything pressing and relevant is there.

      • Not OP, but if you look around in the Windows Phone subreddit you’ll see stories of developers who have tried at one point or another to make their apps work on the WP platform and it’s basically a money pit. MS made a big deal in the WP7 days about saying that their developers made a ton of money off ad revenue compared to other platforms, but that’s changed pretty substantially as the amount of garbage in the store has skyrocketed and MS has been less and less diligent about cleaning up their mess.

        The other problem, I think, is that since WP’s market share is at the low-end and in non-English-speaking countries, the market for paid apps is also quite slim. If you’re an English-speaking developer launching an app, you want to put it on platforms where people have the means to pay.

        This isn’t from market research or anything. I’m just kind of cobbling together conversations with devs and tech bloggers. The WP app gap isn’t about developers, it’s about market.

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