In my recent article, In pursuit of my ideal mobile OS, I mentioned how Symbian was a middle ground OS for me considering the extremes that the current line-up of mobile platforms feature. What I failed to mention in that article is that Windows Mobile, the dead ancestor of Windows Phone, was also good in my books.
You see, Windows Mobile was nothing like Windows Phone. For starters, it wasn’t sleek. But then, it also had features that Windows Phone only has in its dreams. There was multi-tasking, USB mass storage, and Bluetooth file transfer, among others.
Windows Mobile powered some of the most popular smartphones of that time, though it never gained anything close to Symbian’s near total dominance.
Windows Mobile had two variants. The more popular one was the “Pocket PC” version which was touchscreen based and needed a stylus. The “Smartphone” variant was non-touch and was designed and more suited to the candybar form factor.
My first WinMo smartphone was the Sprint Mogul, a variant of the HTC Titan. I acquired it in June 2008. It was a CDMA device which I used on the Reltel (later ZOOMmobile) network. It ran the Pocket PC version of WinMo. The Mogul was a side slider with a superb hardware keyboard that won my heart immediately. One of the great versatility of WinMo was the sheer range of keyboard shortcuts available, making for great usability.
I was so smitten by Windows Mobile that the next month when I saw a candybar product from Samsung, I jumped at it. And it was one of the best mobiles I ever spent my money on – the Samsung i780 (pictured above).
The i780, which ran WinMo Pocket PC edition, was a top-notch productivity tool, and I had a hard time letting it go. The integration of WinMo Pocket PC’s touch-based interface into the candybar form factor was superbly done by Samsung. As a matter of fact, I used it for over 3 months before that touch of insanity that propels the essence of Mister Mobility broke through. I sold it to a non-geek friend who still swears till today that the i780 was a heck of a device.
I owned five WinMo smartphones after that, and none quite did it for me like the Samsung i780 did. The HTC Touch Pro came close, and I remember it with fondness too. The Touch Pro ran WinMo Pocket PC edition and had HTC’s custom UI baked on top of the OS. Note: not into the OS. It was more of a layer on top, and so not as integrated as what obtains with Sense 4.0 on the HTC One X today.
My last WinMo device was the LG W550, a candybar dude running WinMo Smartphone version. I acquired it in March 2010. It was an okay device, but not exceptional in any way.
I wish I still had a WinMo device in my archives – you know, for history’s sake. Microsoft has since abandoned it for Windows Phone, a sleeker, more modern but less versatile platform, in my opinion. I don’t see why the strengths of WinMo cannot be built into Windows Phone. But what do I know?
I doubt that I can comfortably use a Windows Mobile device as my primary smartphone anymore, but I sure do miss the platform.
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