Windows Phone 7 review– 4 months in

I’ve had my Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7 since November 2010, and it’s time for an updated review now that I’ve had some “quality time” with the device and new OS. 

Device

I’ll start with the device itself.  Simply put, after getting some hands on time, I think it’s overall a great device – with one fairly annoying problem.  The hardware buttons along the bottom are just too sensitive.  I’m slowly training myself not to hit them accidentally, but I’m kind of missing “real” buttons.  Other than than, I really have no complaints.  Great screen and display, good call quality great camera and HD video.  The speaker is plenty loud, and I’ve had no issues using speaker phones.  I have AT&T, and don’t know if it’s the phone or improved service, but I’m experiencing far fewer dropped calls than I did with my previous phone (iPhone 3GS).  I can make it over the bridges in Tampa without dropping call now. 

Operating System

On to the operating system, Windows Phone 7.   In general, purely as a business-focused end user of the OS, I’m fairly happy with it.  It took a little time to adjust to, but now I find myself more productive on it as compared to when I used an iPhone.  Key features I use now, and don’t think I could live without anymore are:

Lock screen notifications : especially with email – this has probably saved me a few hours over the last 4 months – no “unlock button press, slide, PIN code” to see if I have any new emails – just unlock button and look.  I’ve also gotten used to the fact that the lock screen notifications show you only new since the last time you opened that app – not total unread.   Not only am I used to it now, I rely on it – I don’t care about unread counts now, just how many are “new”.

Tiles : In my opinion, tiles really are extremely useful, and I wish more apps made more use of them to display data in the Home screen.  I have mine arranged in what I think are the right order now to put as much useful info at the top as I can fit.   The Calendar tile is the one I use most – it tells me what my next upcoming calendar entry is for that day.  Side note: it looks like we are going to see more tiles from Microsoft.

Email flags : I get probably around 100-150 emails a day, and I use flags to keep track of what I need to follow up on.  Flags sync beautifully with Exchange, and there is a view in the email client to just view flagged emails (and toggle those flags).  Sounds like a simple thing, but iPhone didn’t have that and it hurt.  When I get up on the morning, I open email, switch to the Unread view, set my flags, mass delete spam, and when I get into the office after taking the kids to school, I follow up on those emails.  Simple! 

I’m really ready for an update – especially the copy/paste update coming soon.  I share some of the concerns recently posted by Mary Jo Foley.  This is a v1 product, competing against products that have been out for a while.  I’d like to see Microsoft really step up the update cycle – even if they are focusing on just 1 or 2 features at a time.  I do have to say I’m disappointed to hear that the Mango update won’t be coming out until late this year.  By then we’ll likely have iPhone 5 and Android 3 – to stay in it, Microsoft has to put the gas pedal to the floor to take the lead. 

Summary

Recently, I got asked the question from a Windows Mobile MVP “so do you find yourself buried in your phone less, like in the series of “Really?” commercials”?   I said “yes, I do” – but the reason for that is two-fold.  First, yes, you don’t have to spend time looking around in different apps to get questions – much of the data you need is in one place.  Secondly, there are just fewer apps to “play” with, so there is less of a need to be buried in your phone.  This will change over time, and we are seeing important apps make it to the platform, but there is a long way to go.   Mobile empires aren’t built over time, but you don’t just get lucky either – it takes a world-class product that’s world-class in all aspects.  There are some areas that Microsoft has to improve, but for only being in the market for really 4 months now, they are off to a good start.   

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