Windows Phone 7: Why I Left My iPhone

I seem to still be finding my niche for blogging here at Evangelical Outpost. I’ve become the local guru on hip-hop, which doesn’t surprise me too much. Looking through my history, the only other topic I’ve written enough about to warrant a conclusion about my interests would be technology.

In a post I wrote just before the announcement of the iPhone 4S, I mentioned that I was a fan of the iPhone. The statement remains true, though I am no longer a user of an iPhone. In fact, this last Christmas I decided that it was about time I looked into Microsoft’s mobile ventures of the last year or two: Windows Phone 7. I’ve always been a fan of Windows in the desktop setting, having used the majority of OSes the major corporation has produced since Windows 95. Yes, for those wondering, I even ran Vista for about a year. In spite of its poor launch, Vista was actually a relatively solid operating system. But that is a topic for another post (or perhaps one that should just be buried).

I think I’ll embrace the technology niche and, today, I’m going to reflect a bit on my brand new Windows Phone. For the record, and for comparison purposes, I swapped out my iPhone 4 for an HTC Titan. The phone is considered one of the best phones on AT&T’s lineup, and I managed to get it for the selling price of my iPhone. A relatively free upgrade to something I’ve wanted to try for awhile now? Yes, please. And now, on to my reflections. These are in no particular order, and at times will feel as though they are direct comparisons to the iPhone. But hey, that’s what happens when you use one sort of phone for a few years and then make a switch.

  • The screen is huge. The iPhone has had the same screen size for its numerous iterations (with the exclusion of that 10 inch variant er, the iPad), but other operating systems do not have that limitation, since there are many manufacturers. This screen is over an inch larger than the iPhone, and it manages to feel huge without making my pocket feel significantly more full.
  • The retina display on the iPhone is really cool. As much as I am loving my Titan, having less pixels per inch is occasionally noticeable. Still, it feels more crisp than my iPhone 3G.
  • The Windows Phone experience makes the world feel larger than on other devices. With the iPhone, everything feels contained–apps hold certain bits and you know what every little thing does. On many apps for Windows Phone, words run off the screen, and menus feel larger than your phone can actually handle. It really does feel like I’m holding a portal to a larger world, rather than holding a world in my hand. It is a strange experience, and one that took some getting used to, but one that I am rather enjoying.
  • The experience also feels significantly smaller: the app story (dubbed the Marketplace) is sorely lacking in quantity and choice. While major options are there (Netflix, Skype, etc.), there are still lots of little things that don’t seem as well done, or are the last option for developers (Angry Birds: Space hasn’t show up, for instance).
  • For the majority of the time, the phone actually does not tell me how much signal I have or how much battery I have left. In fact, the familiar bar across the top of the screen is only populated with the time. This encourages the user to not worry about the phone and focus more on what the phone is leading towards: this is still a portal and not the world itself.
  • I’m still really confused about what apps I need to use or want to use. That comes with any change in OS, though.
  • Tiles are an awesome way to populate a home screen. Updating tiles make the home screen feel alive but not explosive. This is the most containment you see in the OS: individual tiles manage their own text without appearing to lose control. I am still unsure about having a ‘me’ tile (which contains my notifications), but this is mostly because I’m not used to seeing my own picture every time I unlock my phone. I later discovered that this was a bad idea when I posted a terrible picture of myself.

Overall, I’m enjoying my new phone, but I am mostly spending time adjusting at this point. I’m not yet sure if one or the other is a ‘better’ platform (even for me, as opposed to for the general masses), but at least it appears that Windows Phone is a viable option. I’ve come to love my new phone, even as it has tried to convince me that I should get in, get what I need, and get out. Perhaps that is why I love it.

Image from Flickr.

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J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).