- Why do you use Windows Phone?
This is a loaded question given my tumultuous history with the eco-system. But there are a couple very good reasons. However the reason I started to use WP is different from why I use it today. At the time, I was using a Google Nexus on Verizon Wireless, a decent phone that was running MIUI v4. I thought I was in heaven given how zippy the phone seemed to be. But then the problems started. The back cover wouldn't slip back in; I had an amazingly difficult time transferring music and videos onto it; it was extremely limited in its mere 32GB of storage... these are all problems with the handset, but it's important to note that this was the flagship phone from Google. Although manufactured by Samsung, it was still promoted as the bare-minimum Google phone. Aside from Verizon's crippling of the phone, I realized that a lot of the issues I had with this phone were with Android itself. It would overheat, it would crash, apps would crash, and eventually I switched back to a 3G-only HTC Droid Incredible running Gingerbread.
And this is where my love-affair with Android ends. Ice Cream Sandwich, while not bad, was the biggest of the end. Jellybean all but killed it, and then my brief stint with the Sony Xperia on KitKat reconfirmed my suspicions: I needed to get a divorce and stay away from this toxic relationship. Around this time, I was also really soured on the Google experience, namely the way they were attempting to record, document, and take over my online life. It got to the point where I replaced the search engine with DuckDuckGo and IxQuick. For when I do need Google-based results, I used Startpage, which pulls in Google from a proxy. I closed my Google Mail accounts, keeping only one around for spam. I downloaded all my files from Drive and removed them. I stopped going to maps.google.com.
I toyed around with the idea of getting an iPhone, particularly because I already run OSX. But even before I began playing around leaving Google/Android, I needed a phone that would work in Europe. Although Verizon phones are unlocked for GSM use, the Nexus has no SIM slot. AKA, it has absolutely no GSM bands. This resulted in my need for a cheap phone from Amazon. The options were pretty slim, and this was also before Nokia had enough the incredibly affordable Lumia 520. In my research I realized that Windows Phones were a good $100 cheaper than their Android counterparts. If an Android phone was $250, there was a $150 alternative with the same specifications. With that, I bought the LG Quantum C900 running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. This was in 2013, with Windows Phone 8 released but still in a rather embryonic state, and its app market wasn't quite as robust or mature as Windows Phone 7.5. I couldn't use the phone in the US, so I wouldn't be able to test out anything other than syncing and e-mail setup until I got to Europe, but once I landed in Switzerland (and later Germany), this phone was now my daily driver. I put the Nexus in my sidebag and didn't touch it until I landed back in the US.
The week I spent with the Quantum, in Z?rich, Berlin, and Frankfurt, was put through all the tests. Call, camera, text, Viber, navigation, and data. It failed on battery life miserably when needing to use navigation, but I suspect this had to do with the cable I used to charge the phone. Charging via the laptop took a very long time, and I had no European wall charger. Regardless, that's an issue with the phone, as is the camera. That said, I adapted to the Windows Phone dynamic in about five seconds. Windows Phone is easy and requires little to no thought to use; at least, once you get it into your head that it's not Android, and it is not iOS. This rang true when my mother bought her HTC 8X and only asked me about 2 questions before zipping off to mobile bliss and never needing to ask me another question again. Windows Phone had its issues, but the way the menus were laid out just made so much more sense than in Android or iOS, particularly the app drawer and start screen. The design was also a big draw, given how hideous Android can get and how static iOS is. The animations, the look, the feel, the speed. It was all so appealing. I had gotten used to it by the time I landed back in the USA, and while it was nice to have that beautiful screen in the Nexus, it only took one day home before I realized how slow and cluttered and clunky my Android phone truly was.
One month later, I switched to AT&T (mistake) and bought the Lumia 820. For anybody who recognizes my username or avatar here, it's likely due to the complete meltdown I had last Summer after Windows Phone 8.1, especially after they released it officially with that abysmally embarrassing Xbox Music app. Not to mention the disemployment of the hub paradigm that made me and many others fall in love with Windows Phone. Disappointed and disillusioned, I switched back to Android. It was like dating my ex-boyfriend with whom I have amazing sex, but the chemistry just isn't there in every day life. The camera on the Xperia Z2 is butter, and I got some incredible shots, far better than with the 820. And it's true, the battery life was just as good. It was also nice having more robust versions of apps, like PlanetRomeo and Copy. That said, something just didn't feel right. And I knew we were headed for trouble when the native launcher crashed upon its first boot. I sold the Xperia two months ago and switched back to the 820. Most of the issues have been ironed out with MusicDrop, the 30GB of OneDrive storage, and the new fantastic Video player, not to mention new 3rd party and official apps that have been released since that time. Even just yesterday, the movie editor app was released, and I realize now that when people said I'd come crawling back, they were damn right. Windows Phone and the suite of OneDrive Apps really have matured into fantastic products.
- What do you like / love most about Windows Phone?
It's lightweight nature. My issue with Android is that it does not use its powerful resources in an effective manner. This is something that iOS used to do well, but seems to further lose its way with each update. This is a hold-over from the 7.5 days. If you time 7.5, a Lumia 520 running 8.1, a 928, and 1520, they will all respond with the same amount of snap. Multi-tasking is also brilliant. I can open the subway app, check the train times, switch albums really quick, jump into Tumblr (Turtle Blog Viewer), and then take a quick picture in about 20 seconds. This would take about 5 minutes with Android if nothing crashes. Not only that, but these updates aren't killing my battery life. iPhones work best with the Operating System designed exclusively for the handest. The iPhone 4 works like a dream with iOS 6. Just into iOS 7 territory and you're plagued with a slow, buggy handset. This doesn't seem to the best an issue on Windows Phones, regardless of their specs. And because Nokia, HTC, Samsung, and Microsoft know this, they can offer a phone for as long as $50, have a sleeper hit, and still offer an amazing user experience perfect for budget-conscious or younger users. I see a lot more Windows Phones in Germany than in the United States, and a lot of 14, 15 year olds use them. I'm guessing because their parents aren't going to spring for a $500 iPhone for a teenager. I love that versatility and power. I'm planning on selling my 820 and using my 520 as my daily driver because I need cash (broke art school student). But dropping to the 520 means the only thing I'm sacrificing is a slightly better screen and the flash on my camera. Big deal.
- Do you like the integration with Windows and Xbox?
- Why do you use Windows / Xbox?
I don't use Windows or Xbox. For games, my interest stopped after the PlayStation 2, when game developers decided that graphics and realistic violence were more important that plot and puzzle solving. I need to be able to use my brain if I'm going to sit in front of a screen playing for hours on end. From Pac Man to Tomb Raider to the Legend of Zelda, these games have elements of puzzle, and to win, you can't just run around aimlessly. In terms of Windows, I won't be going back any time soon. I've been a Mac user for years and in college, I made the complete jump and stopped relying on Windows as my safety net when I realized that it wasn't necessary. I use OSX as my daily driver, this because of Adobe Creative Suite and VinylStudio, but my dream machine is my Elementary OS Linux laptop, which has lower specs but runs on clouds. And now that 8.1 offers file managing on device and I integrate with OneDrive, Copy, and MusicDrop, it no longer really matters if I use Windows, OSX, or Linux to sync my device. In terms of Windows as a desktop operating system, I feel that it lightyears behind what I want and need. It's not intuitive, it's not easy, it's not fun to use. The version of Metro they designed for Windows 8 has nothing to do with the beautiful and elegant Metro they designed for Windows Phone 7 - 8.1. I don't understand how they could mess it up that severely, and I do not understand why seem content on crippling themselves. People who use that Windows 8 Metro carry over that negative impression to Windows Phone. Perhaps they could have focused on being more consistent. And because of that, not to mention its just confusing set-up and design, I steer clear of all things Microsoft aside from their online suite and their phones. I even ditched Microsoft Office for LibreOffice for its ridiculous pricing and constant need to run validation checks. The prime example of Microsoft not knowing crap about modern operating systems came when my boss asked me to fix his wife's laptop. Windows Update auto-updated a small file that completely destroyed the computer's ability to properly display graphics, resulting in a blue screen of death roughly every 10 minutes. That's pathetic.
- What excites you about the future of Windows / Windows Phone?
I look forward to seeing that Windows Phone logo next to some more major apps. I also look forward to Windows Phone getting back to that place it was with 7.5 and 7.8. There was a real sense of community, like it was all a secret society with our own methodology. I hope that Microsoft curbs its enthusiasm for copying Android and remembers to remain true to the fanbase that gave them the ability to crush Blackberry.