As I start to wind down the 30 Days With Windows Phone 7 series it occurs to me that there is no single Windows Phone 7 experience. The wireless provider I rely on, the smartphone manufacturer I choose, and the specific model of Windows Phone I use could significantly impact the outcome.
Love it or hate it, there is something to be said for the one-size-fits-all approach of the Apple iPhone. Because Apple controls all aspects end to end of both the software and hardware involved, it can ensure a more consistent user experience than other mobile platforms. The diversity in Windows Phone 7 introduces variables that Apple doesn’t have to contend with.
Microsoft seems to be trying to straddle the line between Android and iOS in that regard. Microsoft licenses the Windows Phone 7 OS to multiple smartphone manufacturers, and it has made sure that Windows Phone 7 devices are available from all major wireless providers. But, at the same time Microsoft has been stricter than Google is with Android–or than Microsoft was previously with Windows Mobile–when it comes to hardware specifications.
In the course of my 30 Days With Windows Phone 7 journey I have used two different smartphones–the HTC HD7S, and the Samsung Focus. Setting aside for a moment the fact that my HTC HD7S was running Windows Phone 7 “NoDo” while the Samsung Focus was using a pre-release version of Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango”, the hardware itself is very different between the two.
The HTC HD7S has the look and feel of quality. It is heavier than the Samsung Focus, but not in a way that makes it seem heavy–in a good way that reminds me that I am holding a solidly built device. The Samsung Focus is both thinner and lighter, but it feels like it is constructed entirely of plastic–including the display–and feels cheaply made. The display is actually very thin and strong Corning Gorilla Glass, but it feels like plastic. I prefer the heft of the HTC personally.
The HD7S also has a larger display. It is not substantially larger–4.3 inches compared to the 4-inch display of the Samsung Focus. Size isn’t everything, though. Both devices have a resolution of 480 x 800 which means that the Focus has higher pixel density. The Focus also has a Super AMOLED display that is crisper and brighter than the HTC.
Although both smartphones share the identical 1GHz Qualcomm processor, I always felt like the Samsung Focus performed better. It seemed to open apps, and surf to Web pages quicker than the HTC.
With the additional size and weight of the HTC I’d expect it to also have a larger battery and better stamina. Alas, the Samsung Focus has better battery life than the HD7S. HTC claims five hours of talk time and 11 days on standby compared to the 7 hours of talk time and 15 days on standby for the Samsung.
Those are just some of the differences I noted playing with the two different devices. There are also devices with slide-out surround sound speakers, or a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Soon, a new generation of devices will hit the street and the options will expand to include larger displays, faster processors, better cameras, longer battery life and more.
There is no single Windows Phone 7 user experience. To get the most out of “Mango” you need to do your homework and compare the pros and cons of the different smartphone models to find the one that fits your needs the best.
The bottom line is this: Caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) because your mileage may vary depending on the “Mango” smartphone you choose.