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Gabe / on Tue, Jul 12 2011 at 4:10 pm

Windows Phone 7

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I sometimes use my minor Internet celebrity to get cool shit. Recently I was able to acquire tickets for my wife and I to the sold out Whedonesque Burlesque show here in Seattle this weekend. I was also able to get the Windows Phone guys over at Microsoft to send me a Samsung Focus. I’ve been getting bored with my iPhone and after playing with WP7 at an AT&T store I was interested in making a switch. So I’ve had the Focus for a little over a week now and I just wanted to share my thoughts.

First of all I should tell you what I use my phone for in order of importance.

1.Phone Calls
2.Email/text messaging
3.The Internet (News,blogs,buying movie tickets,other Internet shit)
4.Camera
5.Navigation/maps
6.Games
7.Misc. Apps

I mention that because obviously what you want from a phone will determine if you like it or not. As far as my priorities are concerned I am really impressed by WP7.  I’ll talk briefly about how the phone handles my list up there but first I want to say that the user experience is really the distinguishing factor in my opinion. I know how ridiculous it sounds to say that I switched to a Microsoft device because I prefer the UI design and the way it “feels” to use the device but it’s true. I’m not sure when MS became the scrappy underdog hungry to shake things up with a radical new idea but here it is. I really love the design elements and how consistent they are throughout the entire experience. I realize that probably isn’t enough for most people to change phones but as someone who loves design and “new art” it was enough for me. With that said I still need the fucking thing to work. So how does it handle my list of needs?

1. Phone Calls A

You can call people and talk to them and it sounds very good.

2.Email/text messaging B

The phone is super fast and the UI is snappy and clean. This is a case where it does essentially the same job as my iPhone but I prefer the UI. Some things like threaded email messages are missing but coming in the Mango update from what I understand.

3.The Internet C

Maybe it’s the screen resolution or maybe it’s the browser but I feel like web pages and text just don’t look as good here. I know the iPhone 4 has a pretty sick screen and it could be that I’m just not used to terrestrial resolutions. Either way I don’t like it as much. It functions but I prefer my iPhone for browsing the web.

4. Camera A

I LOVE the camera on the Focus. The phone has a dedicated camera button on the side that you can press to wake the phone up and launch the phone app. I realize this is coming to the iPhone in an update but I’ve got it now and holy shit is it awesome. I can not even count the number of pictures I have missed because I had to turn my phone on, slide it open, launch the camera app and wait forever for it to load. Eventually I just stopped taking pictures. I’m actually using the phone now and it’s great!

It’s also worth mentioning that this is another area where the WP7 UI shines. I love the active square that shows my pictures on the home screen and the way it displays my collection inside the app.

5. Navigation/Maps A

As far as I can tell this functions about the same. If I need to find a pizza place near me or a comic book shop or whatever I can type it in and populate a local map with hits. I can select them to get info like phone number, directions and that sort of thing. visually there’s nothing special about how the WP7 phone handles this task vs. the iPhone. It works just as well which is fine with me.

6. Games C

I’m honestly not a big fan of playing games on my phone. Maybe on a plane trip or something but in general that’s just not what I use my phone for. With that said the offering here is pretty slim. I do like the Xbox Live integration but there just isn’t much reason to use it right now. It’s cool that while I am playing GeoDefense my achievements are linked with my Live account and contributing to my Gamer Score but the truth is I could not even tell you want my Gamer Score is. That’s just not something I care about. I may not have played a lot of games on my iPhone but I certainly appreciated the ability to grab a couple awesome games before a trip.

7.Apps D

This is at the bottom of my list because I just don’t get many apps. I had three pages of apps on my iPhone and that is with no folders. I thought that was normal until I saw a lady sitting in front of me at a movie turn on her phone and start swiping through what must have been a dozen pages of FOLDERS each one stuffed with apps. Maybe I’m the weird one I don’t really know.

Again, I still could not help but appreciate the depth of the App store in the iPhone. I may not use a lot of apps but I liked being able to type in something like Warmachine and pull up an app that lets me build armies. You just can’t do that on WP7. Sure the big stuff is there. I have Flixter, AP mobile,Twitter,Amazon that kind of thing. It’s the odd stuff I find myself missing and that’s just a symptom of how new the marketplace is. Obviously that will get fixed in time but it’s a huge problem now and one you really can’t ignore.

Now there are a few things I didn’t mention. Music and Facebook are probably big ones but I don’t use my phone for that stuff. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that I could sinc all my iTunes music with the Focus. I guess I just figured that stuff was trapped in i-devices forever.

Overall I am really impressed with the phone and the freshness of the UI has me very excited. For the stuff I want to do it does a great job and from what I’ve read the Mango update will add some real improvements. I’ll be leaving for San Diego and Comic Con next week and I think that will be the real test. When I travel my phone becomes super important. I’m a little nervous to take the Focus but I plan on giving it a try. I’ll make another update after I get back and let you know how it went.

Also I’d like to thank you guys because I don’t think I do that enough. I have an incredible gig here and it’s all thanks to you continuing to come and read the site. So Thank you.

-Gabe out


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