Why I left Windows Phone 7

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23 Jan, 2012 9:00 pm

31 Comments

There has been a rant brewing since I switched from Android to Windows Phone 7 back in June. I finally switched back to Android at CES when I got Casi from our German site to bring me over a European edition of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

For those of you who might assume that I had a second handset, I didn’t, the HTC Mozart was my only phone, I didn’t have a review unit to flip on to, I used it as my dedicated handset for 7 months. In case you’ve forgotten that was a few months of Windows 7 before 7.5 Mango was released. When the update was released the three biggest issues that I had were fixed, kind of. (I have other issues that weren’t ‘addressed’ but we’ll get to those later.)

So what did Mango kind of fix for me? Well I was really happy that tethering, multitasking and the ability to upload photo’s to twitter were finally available. Now technically these features were added, but they weren’t added well, the only one that went off with out a hitch was tethering. This was huge for me, I finally was able to stop carrying around a 3G dongle and ripping my phone apart every time I wanted to use the internet on my computer…and trust me I needed to a lot since the ability to get things done on Windows Phone 7 is limited.

Multitasking was also added, but after coming off of Android you realize that its not true multitasking. It’s the iPhone-style of multitasking which means that apps are frozen and not running in background and only some activities like streaming audio, will be allowed in background. Maybe if you’re moving over from iPhone you’d be ok with this, but you won’t be ok with the realization that you’re basically moving on to a super feature phone not the superphone experience you’re used to on the iPhone.

Being unable to upload photo’s to twitter seriously damaged my ability to share on the go it actually caused me huge hassles at press events. Without the ability to upload I would have to email photo’s to myself and use a TweetDeck to share. However, remember my complaint that I needed the internet on my computer to blog, so unless unless wifi was provided I had my SIM card in a dongle so email from my phone wasn’t possible.

The sad part of this story is that even though I have the ability to upload photo’s directly, the poor quality of the apps leaves me needing multiple applications to get the job done. I use MoTweat the most but it takes so long to upload the photo (even when connected directly to my 100MB/5MB home internet) that the screeen times out and since there is no true multitasking the upload has to start over. That means you have to keep your finger on the screen to keep the app live so you can share. Does that sound like a great experience? So for uploading I have to use the original twitter app which isn’t reliable for updating the feed. So I have to use a combination of twitter apps, not ideal. My biggest issue with most apps is that entire columns will stop updating Direct Messages in MoTweat quits and I have to uninstall and reinstall the app to get it working again. Or switching between mentions and your stream takes forever like in the twitter app. If you have a twitter app that you think works perfectly please let me know how long you’ve been using it with out it glitching out on you. I’d love to find a good one.

What about my other issues that weren’t fixed in the Mango update? My biggest pet peeve about Windows Phone 7 is the lack of Google Maps integration. I went back to Android not because I’m so love with Google but because Bing maps sucks.

I live in Taipei, my Chinese is tragic at best, my friends all have Android phones, they are roughly 70% of the market over here. Since many of my friends can’t read or write in Chinese and we want to meet up at some unknown location, they drop a pin and send it over. Easy enough, just open it and show it to the taxi driver and off you go…that is if I was using an iPhone or an Android Phone. In Windows Phone 7 it brings up an image of map, one that can’t be zoomed in on. And since there is no options for downloading other browsers you’re stuck with the mobile version of Google Maps. If I relied on Bing Maps entering the name of restaurant would only point me to the country of Taiwan if i’m lucky.

Thankfully all isn’t lost, there are some hybrid apps available that do the trick, gMaps or Bingle are my two favorites and they generally get the job done. But these still don’t get around the inability to share location easily.

I touched on another issue just now about browsers, you can’t actually download another browser. It’s an issue because once or twice a month I would get a message saying that my browser was out of date. The page won’t load properly and my experience ruined. If you just used the phone for a few weeks you might not notice, this is only something that I started to notice as an issue after a few months of use. So beware you’re going to start craving gestures that have become standard in browsers found in iOS or Android.

Now let’s talk about apps, yes, it’s getting better 60,000 apps available so far and Microsoft is very aggressive about getting more apps in quickly. My issue is that when they do come available they often suck. Let’s take What’s App, very popular app that allows you to chat between operating systems. It’s available on Windows Phone 7, even though it’s got all the features available on other platforms, the actual execution of the app is terrible. Certain people have been waiting for me to get back on What’s App and they weren’t in the automatically generated contact list, and there was no way to search for them. So I had to ask them to send me a message so that I could respond and chat, there was no way to manually add or search, Fail! Also, messages often appear hours or even days late, testing with someone in the same room showed some shocking delay’s.

So around Apps, the question should be if they are there, how well were they implemented?

Next on my long list of things I don’t like about Windows Phone 7 is the maximum resolution of 480×800. The iPhone has a resolution of 960×640, Android is seeing higher and higher resolutions of 1280×800. However Windows Phone can handle only 800×480 so the 4.7 inch big HTC Titan has a pitiful 800×480 display resolution.

I used the HTC Mozart for nearly 7 months, I couldn’t have used it for so long and not liked something about it. I love the email client, its the best I’ve seen on any operating system. The use of white space is amazing and it offers a very clean experience that kept me hooked. It’s clear that BlackBerry users will love it since email is a big part of that user experience. I also liked the tiles, it’s clean and easy, the live update didn’t really add much to my experience but its an easy way of creating a customized home page. Switching between apps was also a nice experience but all in all, the inconveniences it created in getting around and being connected to the real world has me running back to Android.

Those are my reasons for leaving Windows Phone 7, Sascha Pallenberg had a discussion with Rob Jackson over at Phandroid about Windows Phone 7. After 7 months of me complaining to Sascha about my Windows Phone it’s not surprising in this discussion he had a lot to say about why Windows Phone 7 would not succeed. Surprisingly his talking points are more centered around ecosystem so it’s a pretty interesting listen if you weren’t convinced that Nokia might be in trouble hitching their wagon to the Windows Phone train.

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  • http://www.rwalrond.com RWalrond

    Funny. I take a picture, hit share and twitter is an option for me. Perhaps you’re using your phone wrong. Either way, WP7 won’t please everyone, I’m sure the other platforms are not perfect either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimthepostman Kim Weigand

    a quad core cpu doesnt make a phone “interesting” at all. it’s the software that ties us to a specific phone. i would clearly give that point to windows phone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.norris3 Jon Norris

    Guess it depends where your interests lie. I certainly find quad core phones interesting, regardless of the OS.

  • Chris

    I started writing a response to this
    and it ended up being four paragraphs so I will save that for my site and just
    leave the highlights. Full disclosure I am a Windows Phone fan and have bought
    11 different Windows Phones over the last year!

    You complain about uploading
    pictures to twitter and blame one app as making the entire platform bad You do
    not need an app to upload pictures to twitter it is built into the phone and
    after 7 months, you probably should have figured that out. (If you are playing
    the reviewer role)

    Android has many crap apps and
    stolen apps even some that steal data I do not hear you downing Android for
    that problem.

    If Google maps were such a requirement,
    why even bother with Windows Phone as if that would be a priority over Bing
    that to me is just silly.

    There are certainly other browsers
    in the market place after 7 months you should have known that. (If you are
    playing the reviewer role) They all use the IE engine is maybe were you were
    going not sure though. Through all the phones and year I have been using the
    platform never once have I seen that error on a site. Not saying it didn’t
    happen to you, just saying that it in no way common.

    I do not understand the complaining
    of the screen resolution on a device you never used. I own three Titans and
    never once has anyone looked at the screen and felt it did not look good. Moreover,
    believe me. I stick this beast into the face of every Android and iPhone fan I
    see. Stop echoing the sentiments of other reviewers and form your own opinion.
    The screen is fine.

    I find it hilarious that you say you
    like the live tiles but the video you are sighting as a good reference against
    Windows Phone thinks they are boring.

    Why are tiles that update and
    constantly show new information boring but icons that do nothing, are sexy and
    exciting?

    Look my point is not to denigrate
    your opinion, as it is yours to do whatever you want with, however, if you are
    going to trash a platform at least be upfront where your heart is because it just
    cheapens your points.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.norris3 Jon Norris

    “Stop echoing the sentiments of other reviewers and form your own opinion.”

    I think what you mean here is “stop agreeing with other professional reviewers and start agreeing with me”.

  • Chris

    Absolutely
    not my point whatsoever and here is why. I find that the statement
    “pitiful 800×480 display resolution” on a device she never mentioned
    she used is very strong. To be clear, the writer complained about the
    resolution on the Titan and not on the phone, she made it perfectly clear, in
    the next line, the HTC Mozart was used for seven months. If she said the
    resolution on the Mozart was bad then I would simply disagree with the opinion.
    However, I find it very suspect that the resolution point was made on a device
    where every single one of the early reviews wondered if it would be a problem.
    I can say without any doubt that I own three Titans and none of them had a
    resolution problem nor has anyone who looked at my devices complained about the
    resolution.

  • http://twitter.com/vincebelpiede Vincenzo Belpiede

    try out @Nokia Maps on @Windows:disqus Phone in Taipei!

  • http://twitter.com/vincebelpiede Vincenzo Belpiede

    and yes you can share images on twitter with WP7

  • Rik Carton

    Wow, what a horrible story! Good thing you switched back :-)

    After having used the Galaxy Nexus until now, can you comment on its battery life? Will it get you through the day?

    Thanks!

  • Jordan Hoffman

    Yo dawg, deez windowz needz more rezolution

  • Anonymous

    it worked for you because you actually took the time to use the phone. Alot of these reviewers just like to spread the FUD.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your feed back, the resolution debate is purely preference…I’ve had lots of interesting discussions about why some people care and some don’t.  Side by side Titan vs Sensation XL, I’ll take the XL.

    And the Mozart isn’t a premium handset or a flagship device and its small size expects low resolution, I bring up the titan because it has to compete with other high rez phones. You might not care about screen resolution but on a large phone it matters to me.

    Also, leave a link to your site where you mentioned you posted a full article hating on what I wrote…would love to read it! 

  • http://www.netbooknews.de Sascha Pallenberg

    BS, Nicole has been using this phone for over 7 months!

  • http://www.ubergizmo.com/hubertnguyen/ Hubert Nguyen

    I like the Windows Phone platform, and while I think that it has a lot of potential, I do think that Nicole brought a lot of valid points about the weaknesses of the platform. While Nicole did not “need” to use Windows Phone for 7 months,

    I’m glad that she did because it often happens that reviews are written literally “overnight”, and therefore authors don’t have the time to appreciate all the aspects of their handsets. Also, because she used it as a primary phone, she needed to find workarounds to get the job done. This is useful info because some people may find the workarounds to be acceptable, while others won’t.

    Chris, some of your comments amount to “love it or leave it”, and it is true that Nicole could have left WP7 a long time ago, but regular people may engage in a 2-yr contract, so knowing how the device performed over time and in relation to the progress of technology is a good thing.

    In the end, we all have our preferences, but for those who seek out extra bits of information that could be a deciding factor for their own usage, this article is a very good piece in my opinion. Obviously, you like the WP7 platform, and so do I , but I think that Microsoft should address the weak points, while reinforcing the strong ones. Mapping has some readability issues, and the fact that we’re not able to see the % of battery life is bad. They need to be fixed, and I’m sure that it will be fixed, if enough people like Nicole provide genuine feedback.

    We shouldn’t use WP7 (or any platform) just because we “love” it, we should use them because they make our life better.

  • kip Hartwell

    Hi.  I have to argee with Nicole here, the screen on the XL is what made my recent phone decision easy.  On the apple vs Android debate, I tell people to stick with the one they know, but avoid WinPhone if you can.  Sorry Win but 8 better be good.

    Nicole, send me a PM if you can.  I would love to hook up with you at next Computex or before to talk tech in Taiwan.  I almost took Gee Cher for my Chinese name too.  And I (almost) know what that means here :)

  • Mikey865

    She couldn’t figure it out in 7 months?
    Ive never posted a pic to Twitter before so I checked just to see if I can on my WP7. Sure enough…hit share, then twitter. Done.

  • Chris

    I
    agree with you that using the phone, as a primary phone is definitely the way
    to review a device. I don’t think you quite caught the gist of what I was
    saying. If you are going to another platform there are certain things you
    should expect. If I were to switch back to my Android phone, I would not hold
    against it the lack of Bing support whether or not I am a huge fan of it
    because I would not expect Google to integrate with Bing. It just comes off as
    a preconceived bias and handicaps the competing platform. That is why I said if
    Google integration was a huge requirement, then there is no way a Windows Phone
    will meet that. It’s like buying a Ford which uses Sync technology and saying
    there is no OnStar integration which Chevrolet uses. The requirement for Google
    services is valid however if I was recommending a device and had that need
    there is no way I could say get a WP7. I would have to say you will have to use
    the Bing Services for certain things and forget about Google or stick with
    Android.

    Finally
    while it was great to use the device for seven months there are some “weak
    points” that were completely inaccurate which is not helpful to anyone. The
    point of no other browsers is the marketplace is inaccurate and what I really
    consider to minor oversight. But the biggest injustice is the twitter comments. That is
    just way off. The whole point of Windows Phone is to rely less on going in and
    out of apps to do everyday tasks and uploading pictures to twitter is one of
    them. I am sorry but she made it clear that uploading pictures to twitter is a
    big issue. And, I will say it again, this feature is absolutely built into the
    phone. You could never install a twitter app and still upload pictures to
    twitter all day long. These are not opinion here they are fact. The only thing
    I can say why this could be missed is if this feature is not activated at her
    location which I do not believe is the case but you never know.

  • Chris

    What kind of advice is “stick with what you know but avoid winphone”? What is the basis for that notion? That to me is a silly stance and I hope nobody goes to you for advice about smartphones. Even I being a huge Windows Phone fan will recommend a device based on what the person does and what they need.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.norris3 Jon Norris

    “I find it very suspect that the resolution point was made on a device where every single one of the early reviews wondered if it would be a problem.”
    Perhaps if plenty of other reviewers pointed it out, and it has proved problematic over seven months of full-time usage, it actually IS a problem?

    Also just out of interest – why do you own three Titans?

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  • Chris

    I bought the First Titan for me then
    decided to use the international version so I let my friend use it while I use
    the international version. Then after using the international version, I found
    out that it cannot connect to my MicroCell which is a problem since I work from
    home. My friend wanted to keep the Titan and I didn’t have the heart to take it
    back so I bought a third one. Moreover, in the next few months when the Titan
    II comes out I will switch to that one.

    On another note to your point of
    more reviewers, pointing out screen resolution there is another side to that.
    Perhaps most reviewers find that it is not a problem. And purely preference as
    Nicole pointed out. Just a thought.

  • Chris

    I bought the First Titan for me then
    decided to use the international version so I let my friend use it while I use
    the international version. Then after using the international version, I found
    out that it cannot connect to my MicroCell which is a problem since I work from
    home. My friend wanted to keep the Titan and I didn’t have the heart to take it
    back so I bought a third one. Moreover, in the next few months when the Titan
    II comes out I will switch to that one.

    On another note to your point of
    more reviewers, pointing out screen resolution there is another side to that.
    Perhaps most reviewers find that it is not a problem. And purely preference as
    Nicole pointed out. Just a thought.

  • Scott Landry

    blah

  • Nico Grüner

    Hi Nicole and thanks for your story,
    At this time i use Android and WP7 side by side and can only say that all what you have talk about are true.
    The Mail app is a very nice part of WP7. multitasking on WP7 as not a multitasking, it is more like a “turbo” app starter.
    I have start to use WP7 to develop also apps for it but this is the next hard point. You are right, there are more than 60.000 apps in the store. The problem is that you have most of this apps twice in the market.
    This is a result of the restrictions from MS and his system.
    An small sample:
    Android:
    In android you have google translate. If you get a sms in kind of language what is not so yours, you start google translate and click at the lower left side to tranlsate a sms. Select the sms and it is translatet.

    WP7:
    Because of the restrictions from Microsoft side there is no way for developer to get access to the sms message part in WP7.
    To translate a sms, you must open the sms, long press the message until the context menu is showing. Next press kopie to clipboard and close the sms service.
    Now you must the browser, go to your friendly translation service, long press the field for the text at the webside and if the context menu is showing press past.

    I dont know how Microsoft will get more share in the markt if he don’t understand points like this.

    My actual Android phone is a HTC Desire HD and now i will start to look for a new one.
    I look more and more times to Samsung. What you all think about the actual Samsung phones? I have read that the battery is not the best one, is it true?

  • Hank Reed

    I think that is what you would call an opinion…

  • http://www.netbooknews.de Sascha Pallenberg

    Here is a little wrapup of my phone history in the last 5 years:

    I’ve been using BlackBerrys for 3 years, switched to the HTC Desire in August 2010, then to the HTC Mozart (which i gave to Nicole afterwards)and finally the Samsung Galaxy S2, which i got last August.

    I loved my BlackBerry, i really did but when i am switching back to it right now it feels like going back to the 20th century and i am amazed how RIM was capable of keeping me in this bubble for so long.

    The Desire was a great phone and established my love for Android. Switching to the Mozart and Windows Phone in February 2011 was great…. for about one day because then i got bored. 

    Windows Phone is the smartphone for feature phone users!

    The Galaxy S2 is the first real superphone i’ve got and i just love it. Actually i don’t even have the need to upgrade soon… maybe to it’s successor with a higher resolution. The performance is great, the camera is the best point and shooter i’ve ever had and yeah, battery life… i know. I can make it through a whole day and that’s all i need!

  • Anonymous

    wow, you are a reviewer on a tech site?  If you prefer android that’s fine, but this is the worst article I’ve read since the Molly Wood debacle on CNET.

    Zooming on maps is excellent.
    Sharing via twitter is all over the system including built in if you add your account.
    Connecting to people is excellent.
    You are the first to get that IE error as far as I know.  Maybe reach out to WP support?
    Sharing location is absolutely everywhere in the system and applications alike.

    The resolution?  Well thats a preference, and up to you if it bothers you.  I have yet to meet anybody who says my original focus screen doesn’t look good.  HD resolutions are coming in Apollo btw.

    The way it tombstones apps is superior to android, but that’s a preference.  If you like to constantly monitor your system to keep rogue apps from killing your battery, by all means.

  • Wong Wei Joon

    As a Mozart user same as you, but with longer period (approx 12 months) I cannot find a problem to upload photo to twitter…
    Zooming on maps is functioning well…
    people are connected with windows live, facebook, twitter, linkedin, and even exchange & active sync.
    Multitasking is a personal preferences, same as resolution and pixel density.
    Never had the problem you mentioned with IE 9.

    I’m using it from the pre-nodo stage until now Mango, it is indeed lack of features (features here I mean essential features as a smartphone) until Mango patch it up. It might still not be the first choice of OS for everyone, but I felt that I had choose a right phone, which makes me do more in less time.

    After changing to WP, i had lots of free time to do my reading because I spend less (actually almost none) to tinker with my phone, I’m not trying to prove you wrong, but only to prove you that there are actually something you still missing…

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  • http://twitter.com/Grumpigeek Grumpigeek

    I just want a phone that can easily sync tasks with MS Outlook 64-bit on my PC at home (NOT via Exchange – I don’t have access).
    I have looked at Windows Phone 7.5, Android and iOS.

    All three platforms have major shortcomings when it comes to syncing with Outlook.
    The only solutions available are best described as “workarounds” involving third party apps, the cloud, Toodledo, Companionlink, Gsyncit, ad nauseum and then jumping through about 20 hoops setting it up.
    Incredibly, WP7.5 seems to be the worst of the three. Unlike all previous generations of Windows Phone you can no longer just sync with Outlook via USB cable. How insane is that?

    In summary, Microsoft (shamefully), Google and Apple have all made syncing with Outlook on a PC almost impossible for everyone except tech-heads who are prepared to waste days cobbling together a solution that barely works. 

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