It will still be a few days until the Mango smartphone arrives, but this is good. It gives me an opportunity to experience NoDo firsthand for a while before Mango comes along to rock its world. It will give me better perspective on the improvements in Mango relative to what Windows Phone 7 is now.
During the next few days, though, I don’t plan on focusing on NoDo per se. As many comments and emails pointed out, NoDo will soon be extinct like the Dodo so it won’t do me much good to get too personally invested in it. What I will do to keep things moving along while I wait for the Mango smartphone is to check out various aspects of the Windows Phone 7 OS that are consistent between NoDo and Mango.
For today, though, I want to examine the double-edged sword of diversity. I have been using an iPhone for a few years now. I have switched during that time from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4, and I have been waiting for the iPhone 5. But–with Apple–iOS and the iPhone are essentially one and the same and the only options in terms of smartphone hardware are whether I want it in black or white.
Not so with other mobile platforms like BlackBerry, or Android, or Windows Phone 7. No, with these platforms there is a diverse plethora of handset options distributed by a range of manufacturers (except BlackBerry which has a variety of smartphones, but all from RIM). As if that isn’t enough, which smartphone I can get also varies by wireless carrier.
The range of hardware options makes reviewing the mobile OS more complex, and it makes choosing a device a much more confusing decision. Microsoft lists 10 Windows Phone 7 smartphones on its site–including the HTC Titan and HTC Radar devices just announced this week. But, one is exclusive to Sprint, one to T-Mobile, one to Verizon, and four to AT&T (the remaining 3 don’t have designated wireless carriers).
If I were a Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint customer, I guess my decision would be simple. I might not like it, but choosing would be simple because there only seems to be one choice. But, I am an AT&T customer, so I have four smartphones to pick from. I have options from LG, Samsung, and HTC. I can have a pure touchscreen, or a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. I can get a 3.5-inch, 4-inch, or 4.3-inch display.
With the iPhone, I can either like it, or not like it, and it is what it is. But, with Windows Phone 7, I might hate it on one device (I am not a fan of the HTC Surround), and love it on another. I might have complaints about the clarity of the display that are a function of the hardware rather than the OS. I might have issues with the call quality, or the sound from the speakers when I am playing music.
The whole thing presents a dilemma, though–a double-edged sword. It is nice to have options rather than be forced into a one-size-fits-all box, but the flip-side is that there is no single “Windows Phone 7 experience”.
As I go through the next 28 days working with Windows Phone 7, keep in mind that my experience is at least partially a function of the hardware I am using. I have the HTC HD7S now, and I think my Mango device will be a Samsung Focus when it gets here. But, preference of form factor is subjective, and your Windows Phone 7 mileage may vary depending on your hardware and wireless provider.