It was September 1st, 2010 and I scrambled down to the nearest AT&T store to pick up Microsoft’s latest promise of the future – Windows Phone. I planted down my hard earned cash and got rid of my iPhone, with the twinkle of a new Samsung Focus (powered by Windows Phone 7) glistening in my eye. I had never been more excited for the launch of a phone, this had to be the best operating system the world had seen.
After a while, my Samsung Focus began to slow down, I upgraded to a Samsung Focus S, and then a Nokia Lumia 900. At about this time, Microsoft decided to kill off Windows Phone 7 in favor of their newly redesigned Windows Phone 8 platform. While upset, I did what any loyal fan would do, and supported the company by picking up a Nokia Lumia 920. Finally, when my contract was up, I grabbed a Nokia Lumia 1520 – it was the best phone I ever owned. And then it happened – I left.
I had the chance to move to T-Mobile, and due to my dislike of AT&T’s price money mongering, I happily made the switch. When I approached the counter, I had a few options when it came to picking up a phone. There was a Samsung Galaxy S5 that yelled out its cool, yet possibly gimmicky features, and an iPhone, that yelled… well, shiny.
Like a cautious drug deal, I ended up purchasing the Samsung Galaxy S5. I ran back to my car with the purchase and stared at my newfound guilt. After almost half a decade of owning Windows Phone devices, I held a Google Android device. “This is an experiment”, I told myself – it wasn’t.
Months later, I sit here with my Samsung Galaxy S5 and cannot imagine going back to a Windows Phone, but there is still an irony present because my favorite mobile operating system continues to be Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. In my mind, Windows Phone was the perfect idea that just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.
At first, the benefits were clear, they began to pop up one by one and I loved each and every one of them. To start, I had access to a world of apps; it had been so long since I was on a platform with a full ecosystem, that I forgot what could be there. I figured that Windows Phone had my essentials and that was all I needed; however, I was wrong. In the Google Play Store I found apps for my Fujifilm camera, my Toyota Corolla, my CVS prescriptions, my website hosting site, and even my favorite local smoothie joint.
I was also able to pick up a smartwatch, and not just one smartwatch, I had a plethora of options to choose from. I could get a Galaxy Watch, a Moto 360, a Pebble, and a MetaWatch – the possibilities felt endless. Android felt like it was soaring at the cutting edge of technology and Windows Phone had gotten left behind at the gate.
One of the benefits of Microsoft's new mantra is the idea that their services should be available across all devices. This means that I can easily enjoy OneNote, Outlook.com, Skype, and the Xbox One SmartGlass app on my Android device. If there is a Microsoft service, there is probably an app on Android. The only application that I am missing from the Google Play Store is Xbox Video - when will Android get that?
So here I am. I sit here at a café using my shiny Samsung Galaxy S5, while continuously checking my smartwatch, using a plethora of apps, and enjoying a number of Galaxy features that do feel a bit gimmicky, but are a blast to use.
However, I still miss my original love – my Windows Phone.
Even on days when my Galaxy performs without a hitch, I miss features that my Windows Phone had provided. Microsoft’s platform included a number of great features. Suddenly my Live Tiles were replaced with memory hungry widgets. Oh my beautiful Live Tiles, they are nowhere to be seen on Android. Instead of having all my information at a glance, I have a weather widget and two news widgets sucking the life out of my device.
Speaking of battery life, where the hell is it? My phone drains faster than any device I have had before. Of course, Android lovers continuously tell me that it is Samsung’s Touch Wiz and that I have to live “stock” on a Nexus device for the full experience, however I lose all of my carrier features including WiFi calling. All Windows Phone devices just work without endless excuses (sorry to steal the Apple mantra).
I also can’t help but to miss Cortana. Let’s get this straight, Cortana is not better than Google Now. In my testing, Google Now continuously outperformed Cortana and deliver superior results. However, when I used Cortana, I felt like I was working with an assistant – the coolest in the world. Google Now feels like a machine throwing information in your face – “here is your info you lazy human who can’t be bothered to type out a four word question”.
Of course, there are many other “mini features” that make up Windows Phone and reminds me of the times past. Lumia’s glance screens was one of my favorite features, but the only Android phone with anything even remotely similar is Motorola’s MotoX.
Different parts of Windows Phone also just seemed to work together nicely. I could have five accounts merging contacts in my People’s Hub without an issue. On Android, there is always an issue cropping up and some applications (many of them) don’t recognize the merges.
However, despite my love for Windows Phone, I just cannot go back. If I had to summarize it, it would come down to the age old argument about applications. There are tons of apps on Android that I rely on every day that Windows Phone just doesn’t have. In addition, some of the apps they do have, such as Spotify, are slow as molasses on a cold day compared to their Android/iOS counterparts.
I wanted to share my experience switching from my favorite mobile operating system in the world to Google’s Android. The conclusion, I miss using Windows Phone, but I can’t go back. Windows Phone is the perfect idea in my mind, but there are still nails that have to be hammered down and walls painted.
Microsoft, I can’t wait to come back to Windows Phone – make it possible.