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An iPhone user's (surprisingly positive) experience with Windows Phone

Kirk McElhearn | April 6, 2015
Hey, Cortana! Kirk McElhearn gave up his iPhone for more than a month to see if the grass is greener on Windows Phone.

What about apps?
And there's the rub. Apps are the biggest problem with the Windows Phone. Sure, you have all the Microsoft apps, and if you're a a Windows PC user, you'll be right at home. But the overall app landscape is what's hampering adoption of the Windows Phone. It's a chicken and egg problem: If there are few apps, users are less likely to choose the platform, and low numbers of users (the Windows Phone worldwide market share in 2014 was a paltry 2.7 percent) don't inspire developers to create apps.

You'll find the top games, the biggest social media apps (Facebook and Twitter, but only a beta of Instagram), and much more. Sheer numbers mean nothing; both the iOS and Android app stores are 90 percent dreck. But if key apps that you need are missing, then you won't be tempted to buy this phone.

One key feature iOS users would miss on a Windows Phone is iMessages; you'll have to fall back on text messages or convince your friends to all get a cross-platform messaging app like WhatsApp. And of course, Skype (owned by Microsoft) replaces FaceTime, so you'll still be able to video chat.

And, of course, there's Cortana, Microsoft's Siri-like voice assistant. In my tests, it seems to work fairly well, though, for the first few weeks, it told me, "I can't speak your language yet." You'd think that U.S. English would be the first available language, but I think this was just a bug.

One comment on the Windows Phone settings: the settings screen looks like someone just selected the order of the various settings at random. It's extremely complicated to find what you're looking for when you're new to this device.

Summing up
The Windows Phone operating system truly surprised me. Once I got used to it, I found that I could do important tasks as quickly as on an iPhone, and at a far lower cost. Even the top-of-the-line Windows Phone is half the price of an iPhone, and you can add an SD card to increase storage.

I concluded my article about using an Android phone with this statement: "With an unlocked phone at this price, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Android to anyone who is not wedded to the Apple ecosystem." This really is the key element to consider if you're planning to switch to another platform: app lock-in. However, if I had to choose, I'd pick Windows Phone over Android in a heartbeat. It's attractive, easy to use, and in some ways--because of the customizable home screen with Live Tiles--provides more actionable information than iOS.

If you're a Mac user, and don't depend on too many iOS-specific apps, take a look at Windows Phone. You may be surprised too.

 

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