I recently had access to an HTC HD7 device running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) for close to three weeks and have used it extensively so I can share some of my thoughts on Windows Mango.
Let’s take a look at the outstanding features and weaknesses of Windows Phone Mango in a concise list before I jump into more details:
1. Clean, elegant UI
2. Excellent Email implementation
3. Good Web Browser
4. Microsoft Office integration
1. No USB mass storage
2. Pseudo Multi-tasking
3. No proper Bluetooth file transfer
Now for the details.
User Interface And Experience
Windows Phone has a very different, decent user interface. as a matter of fact, the UI is my favourite among the existing mobile platforms. I prefer it to all others.
Everything is fluid and seem to flow into one another with lots of space. I am a minimalist at heart and so really do find the UI and UX top notch. This is a well-done minimalist interface.
Microsoft say they have added multi-tasking to Windows Phone, but it isn’t quite through. What has been done is an implementation similar to what obtains on iOS in which an app is frozen when you leave it and resumes when you return to it. This is in sharp contrast to what obtains on Symbian, BlackBerry, WebOS and Android. On these other platforms, apps actually keep running in the background.
Still, the experience is not actually bad. Some services are able to keep running in the background regardless of what else you are doing. For example, music playback goes on even when you move away from the music player.
Running on a 1GHz single core processor, the HTC HD7 purs along nicely without hiccups. However, I observed that 3rd party apps resumed a bit sluggishly when you return to them. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the developers hadn’t had time to make them Mango compliant yet.
The Windows Phone onscreen keyboard is the best of any of the mobile platforms that I have used. It really is very good. however, I also noticed that the keyboard takes up over half of the display when launched. Perhaps this is why it is that good.
Web And Email
Microsoft has a reputation for putting out the worst web browsers. Well, forget that on Windows Phone. This browser is powerful, fast and sleek in use. The user experience is nice. There is no Flash support though, but then a lot of people don’t seem to be bothered by that.
Email is another area where Windows Phone shines. Setting up and using email on mango is such a pleasant experience. Again, it is my opinion that it is the best email experience on any of the existing mobile platforms.
Social networking is baked into the Windows Phone contacts hub. Log in to any of a number of available services, including Facebook and Twitter, and you are good to go. As a matter of fact, you can do Facebook Chat right from inside your Contacts app. You can also update your profiles and view what your social networking contacts have posted. It is all very neat and cohesive.
Apps And The MarketPlace
The Windows Phone MarketPlace has grown quite fast and now has over 70,000 apps. Much of what you need is in there. The problem is that I was not able to buy a single paid app, because of Microsoft’s restrictions. The MarketPlace is not open to a lot of locations yet.
As such, I was stuck with only free apps. I saw apps that I had both the desire and the means to pay for, but I was unable to make a purchase.
Dependence on Zune and SkyDrive
Windows Phone depends heavily on Microsoft’s Zune desktop software (which has never been a favourite of mine, though it has its following). The platform also relies heavily on SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud service, for file storage and transfer.
While I love the UI, email and web on Windows Phone to bits, this lock-down to Zune and SkyDrive are big issues for me. and for many others around. Still, there are those who don’t mind.
Windows Phone Mango is a significant upgrade for the platform. It has made Windows Phone more relevant in the smartphone race. Still, some glaring omissions need to be addressed. USB mass storage and Bluetooth file transfer are two key ones. The MarketPlace needs to be opened up too and more countries supported.
For now, the only way to get files on and off a Windows hone are through Zune on PC, email or Microsoft’s cloud service. You can’t take a picture and share it with a friend via Bluetooth. Same for office and video files.
Should you buy a Windows Phone device? Only you can answer that question. Like all other things, your decision will depend on your needs and situation. That’s why I have prepared this guide. You take a look at what you want and run them against what Windows Phone offers. The call is yours.