Thursday, 1 December 2011

Smartphone revolution

As of yesterday, I've finally joined the smartphone generation. This post was actually started from my new phone, but after inputting the title I stuffed it up, so I'm completing the usual way, au PC.

Anyway, so what did I go for? The main decision was, obviously, OS. As I've really enjoyed using our iPad the past year, iOS was the immediate front-runner. And not just for the operating system - iPhones are, indisputably, beautiful devices. Particularly the iPhone 4 (= iPhone 4S), but even the iPhone 3 has a certain desirable charm to it (much like, but much better than, my old iPod Classic). But it's not the only contender.

There is, of course, Google's Android OS. But I can't say that I've ever been drawn to this. Principally because it's just a great big iPhone rip-off. While the OS does come in a number of flavours, and is heavily customisable, the bottom line is that Google shamelessly stole its overall look and feel from the iPhone. And since it's clearly not an iPhone, the net effect is to look like a cheap rip-off. Sorry.

Blackberry? Who? Sorry, another non-starter.

Which leaves only the newest kid on the block, Windows Phone 7. Its predecessor, Windows Mobile, was sufficiently poorly executed and adopted that I wasn't even aware that it existed, but at a meeting earlier this year in Paris, I caught my first glimpse of its wholly re-designed successor. I had heard about it on and off since it was released in 2010, but it remained a largely unknown quantity to me until the appearance of some new, and pretty attractive, hardware in the past few months. In fact, when I first visited Carphone Warehouse a few months back, the sales assistant tried his darndest to divert me to iOS and Android.

So, we're back in Apple vs. Microsoft territory.

Anyway, for all of its beauty, both OS and hardware, dropping down from my "big screen" iPad experience, leaves the iPhone a little underwhelming. To be honest, I'm also just a little bit tired of the interface - it's actually slightly alarming how quickly its formerly stylish simplicity now just seems dull. And, for complete disclosure, I'm getting really quite fed up with Apple's smugness and the unquestioning idolatry of its (many) fans.

In fact, Apple has now claimed the place in my personal hell that was formerly occupied by Microsoft in the heyday of its war against Netscape. Which makes it quite troublingly ironic that Microsoft, through (the beautiful) Windows Phone 7, has been the victor in my personal smartphone war. Talk about turning the tables.

So far, I'm not disappointed. My Nokia Lumia 800, while not quite as luxurious as an iPhone, is a great platform for WP7. And the OS is a real joy to use. Possibly just because it's new, but I think it's got legs and I don't expect to tire of it anytime soon. But we'll see. I suspect I'll revisit it from time to time - possibly even more frequently if I work out how to post properly from it!



Graham said...

Nicely teased out :) I did wonder myself about the Lumia before I plumped for the 4s but thought in the end that even though i was impressed by the joined-up social/messenging aspect of Windows Phone, those ever changing tiles would drive me nuts!

Plus, I have too many contacts on ios5 now. Hard to resist those free texts...

Plumbago said...

The tiles aren't quite as changeable as they appear in some demos. And it's only some tiles in the first place. Most simply don't change.

The social networking thing I'm pretty "meh" about. I hope it doesn't lead me into being sucked into Facebook more. That said, it does a nice job of tying all the various social streams together.

As it happens, my contract comes with unlimited texts, so I don't lose out there. I think I'm down for 200 minutes phone, unlimited texts and 750 MB data, though I'm a little unsure about what constitutes data traffic. When I use my wifi at home, is that use?

One factor I didn't mention in my post is that, since I'm not sure that Windows Phone will persist and thrive into the future, I thought I'd better use it while I still can! I'd be annoyed if I didn't at least try it before it died out.

Anyway, so far I'm very pleased with it. It certainly has quirks that make it both more and less straightforward to use than iOS, but nothing too painful. Today we used its inboard sat-nav app to get us to a National Trust site we'd never been to before. That was nice.

Doubtless I'll post more on it when I've been using it for a while. I may post some pictures from (and of) it to Flickr soon.