My daily smartphone for the last few years has been Windows Phone. I am currently using a Lumia 1020 as my daily driver and I am happy with my choice. Android has been the dominant phone operating system worldwide for a couple of years now, and in the US, iOS still has a very strong and dedicated user base. So why with all the great Android phones and the amazing, incredible, revolutionary (puke) iPhone 6 would anyone choose Windows Phone?
I am a very tech savvy person who knows the ins and outs of Windows, Windows Phone, Mac, Android, and iOS, and this means that I get a lot of questions from friends and family about what tech they should get. My response is always the same, what do you want to do? This is an important step, which if skipped, can lead anyone to be disappointed with their new tech gadgets. Understanding what you want to do with your devices is important because while Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are all trying to do everything, they can’t possibly make the best product for every person.
The second point I try to convey is that devices are different, but the best device changes from person to person. Apps may be critical to some and meaningless to others, so the important thing to know is what you personally expect your device to do. Frequently, people want a device which can text, call, check Facebook, check Instagram, check email, and maybe have the apps their friends use. For the most part all modern smartphones can do these things.
So why have I chosen Windows Phone after all that? I think Microsoft has done something wonderful with the Metro design language. My phone has become my fingerprint where everything is organized just how I like it with the important things up front and random nonsense tucked away. When I unlock my phone to my Start screen, I see information about my day, my messages, and my social media in a snap, so I can check several sources of information in a second or two after unlocking my phone. I frequently don’t even have to unlock my phone because Lumia Glance gives me the weather and notifications.
My phone is used for communication, light web browsing, music listening, and light phone gaming. For these activities, Windows Phone does a great job of offering a consistent and reliable experience. Games like Words With Friends, Terreria, and recently Minecraft PE have made their way to Windows Phone making long waits a blast. Pandora, Podcasts, and Xbox Music more than satisfy my music needs for specific artist, Windows Weekly, or just a good playlist to throw on when guest come over. Internet Explorer on Windows Phone is fast and simple giving me a perfectly acceptable browsing experience on almost every website I visit. Tab syncing and HTML5 video playback are enough to keep me from seeking a 3rd party browser.
Communication is the major use of my phone as it may be for most people. Calling, texting, Skype, email, Facebook, and Twitter consume the vast majority of my time on my phone. This means the keyboard for Windows Phone needs to be great, and it is phenomenal. The Word-Flow keyboard hits the three major input methods: standard typing, next word prediction, and shape writing almost perfectly. Emoji suggestions are a simple and silly way to keep conversations light without swiping through pages to find that specific Emoji.
“lackluster Windows Phone apps may be annoying, but ultimately it’s a small issue I encounter rarely”
My tablet is a Surface 2, and I have Windows 10 on my desktop at home, but being in the Microsoft device ecosystem isn’t a reason to buy a Windows Phone. Microsoft hasn’t done very much when it comes to making their devices work better together other than a few features like tab syncing in IE. Ironically a heavy user of Microsoft products and services would be better served with more native apps on iPad and iPhone than a Surface and Lumia 1020, but for me the place I really use Office, for example, is on the desktop. So lackluster Windows Phone apps may be annoying, but ultimately it’s a small issue I encounter rarely.
Finally, another big reason I use Microsoft devices is because I like how Microsoft as a company operates. To me, Google is too shady by having their users pay with their data instead of their money. Apple is too tightly controlled and dictates too much of how their users are allowed to use their own devices. Amazon is too motivated to sell you something to make good products. Microsoft seems to strike a healthy balance between good design, ethical profit sources, useful tools, decent ecosystem, and now concerns of their customers’ opinions.
“I don’t feel like I make any compromises when it comes to my workflow across devices”
Technology in my opinion is first a tool then a hobby. Microsoft makes great tools like Office and Windows which I use every day at home and work to get stuff done. I don’t feel like I make any compromises when it comes to my workflow across devices. I frequently plug a physical keyboard into my Surface when I am doing data entry at work in Excel. The file syncs over OneDrive for Business to my work PC where I can open the file instantly. OneNote is my personal organizational tool for everything. I can use Office Lens to digitize documents for work to keep them safe and searchable. Today, Microsoft’s tools keep technology from being a barrier and let me get to the things which matter to me and the near future of Microsoft’s products looks to be continuing this trend.
The way Microsoft has been handling Windows 10’s development with an open beta and lots of information sharing makes me excited for the future of Microsoft and the future of my devices. I am excited to be a Windows user in this time with Universal Apps, Cortana, and a unifying platform. Windows Phone 10 has a lot of high expectations from current Windows Phone users, but ultimately feedback seems to be such a big part of this next wave of Windows. In fact, I believe change is possible. It’s an exciting time to be a user of Microsoft’s products, and until Windows Phone 10 hits, I’ll have my trusty 1020 by my side.Further reading: Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8.1