Saturday, March 05, 2011

Windows Phone 7 Pros and Cons


As promised in my previous review of the HTC HD7 and Windows Phone 7, here’s a shorter list of the good and bad about Windows Phone 7. Note, some things appear on both lists for different reasons.

Haven’t seen WP7 in action ? Check out this short commercial on YouTube.

Pros

  • Simple, elegant, beautiful main screen.
  • Overall, easy to use.
  • Responsive touch based input.
  • Best touch keyboard (at least in my opinion), with good auto-correct.
  • Good keyboard layouts for email and URL’s.
  • Live tiles update to show useful information (number of missed calls/unread messages/weather)
  • Quick access to camera by holding down hardware button.
  • Voice commands (hold down Windows button to activate)
  • Pin almost anything (web pages, applications, map locations, contacts) to the start screen.
  • Easy access to voice mail.
  • Easy access to call history, return missed calls etc.
  • Easy and fast integration to Windows Live (and Hotmail), Facebook and Gmail.
  • Share options from browser, camera applications.
  • No copy and paste.
  • Easy and quick access to in call phone options (hold, speaker, conference call etc.)
  • Wireless (Zune) Sync for media and podcasts
  • Text messaging based on conversations.
  • Easily attach images to text messages (MMS).
  • Easily forward text messages.
  • Easily add contacts from text messages or missed calls.
  • Link profiles from multiple services/locations into a single contact.
  • Excellent Zune based interface for playing music, media, podcasts etc. (and this will run in the background while you do other things).
  • Easily access last (and previously) taken photos from within camera.
  • Simple but functional email application with clear, easy to read text, pinch to zoom etc.
  • Tab browsing in browser (sort of, not actually tabs, but certainly multiple open pages with the ability to switch between them).
  • Develop applications using Silverlight (for WP7) and Visual Studio .Net.
  • Auto upload photos to SkyDrive.
  • Auto-strip GPS coordinates from uploaded images.
  • Find my phone feature.
  • Excellent applications for Flickr/Twitter.
  • Easy to update OS via Zune software (unless you’ve got a Samsung device, apparently).
  • Easy to update applications installed from Marketplace.

Cons

  • No custom ring tones (nor any downloaded ones in market place).
  • No direct Outlook integration (Outlook –> Hotmail –> Phone can be done with an Outlook plugin).
  • Exchange support overly difficult (I still can’t make it work) and not supported by all Exchange servers.
  • No voice guidance in maps application.
  • Navigation option in maps application only appears if ‘Browser and Search’ regional setting is set to US.
  • Quick access to the camera still needs to be quicker.
  • Camera settings not persisted between invocations of the application.
  • Live tiles concept not taken far enough – better/more information could be displayed, more tiles should be ‘live’.
  • Only about eight live tiles fit on main screen without scrolling.
  • ‘Application List’ (alternative to the main screen) provides a poor user experience.
  • Battery and signal status not always visible.
  • .com button on keyboard doesn’t provide options for common domain extensions based on regional settings.
  • Search, Windows and Back buttons are too easy to activate during games if they are capacitive buttons. Games should disable Search/Windows during play time to correct this, but usually don’t.
  • Search from within maps application is flaky.
  • Primarily touch based input – not great for txting without looking at the screen, not as fast as a hardware keyboard.
  • No multi-tasking for third party applications (rumoured to appear one day, possibly by the end of the year).
  • No favourite/frequently used contacts (only recent contacts, and only about eight of those in total with four visible at a time).
  • No direct twitter integration.
  • Share option from browser doesn’t integration with other applications (Twitter/Facebook etc.), limited to SMS and email.
  • No copy and paste.
  • No tethering.
  • Very limited Bluetooth options.
  • Cannot access/use phone as a removable drive when connected to PC.
  • Wireless Sync – limited to one wireless network, only starts sync after ten minutes of AC charging, pops-up Zune application on PC, may not cope with multiple windows profile on PC.
  • No hardware mute button (or single tap mute button on lock screen).
  • Text messaging based on conversations. Not brilliant if you prefer an inbox/outbox style arrangement, or want to easily delete messages after reading.
  • Problems with profile images disappearing from contacts (usually when contacts updated in Windows Live).
  • ‘One time’ alarms don’t get deleted when dismissed, rather they get turned off and left in the application list.
  • Problems syncing pictures from phone to PC (for many but not all users, especially those with HTC devices). Other media or in other directions work fine.
  • No Flash (at all, rumoured to be coming), no Silverlight within browser.
  • Must pay Microsoft to deploy your own software to a physical device, even if not published via the Marketplace, or just testing/trialling it. Tools and emulator are free.
  • Lack of ability to customise phone. Pretty much restricted to wall paper, selection of white or black background, and one of 11 colours for the theme. No custom rings tones, no additional colours, wall paper only shown on lock screen, can’t alter live tile sizes.
  • Moving live tiles around on main screen is sub-optimal for user experience, but not totally awful.
  • Keyboard layouts discourage strong passwords.
  • Best experience requires a data plan.
  • No ability to discover MAC address on device (for adding device to MAC address filtered wireless networks).
  • Wireless networking disabled when phone ‘locked’ to save battery – so data plan gets used instead.
  • Find my phone off by default.
  • No ability to restrict cellular connections/location service by application. System settings are all or nothing.
  • No unified inbox for email.
  • Only sync media via Zune, no support for Windows Media Player or other systems.

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