As I wrote earlier, I decided to have another go with Windows Phone. This is the second part, roughly a week after switching to a Nokia Lumia 820. Well … there are things I really like about Windows Phone 8, like how much better the mail app is for example or Xbox Music Pass. However, there are a few things that I just don’t get and that will ultimately drive me back to the iPhone for the time being. I had originally planned on selling the losing device, but for now I’ll keep the Lumia and maybe give it (and Windows Phone) a third and last chance when some things will have changed.
The main reasons for going back to the iPhone are apps and to a smaller degree the operating system.
Windows Phone 8
- No VPN. Sorry, massive fail, this is just not going to fly, except of course if MS drops all pretense of Windows Phone being for businesses.
- No screen rotation block. Kidding, right???
- Battery hog. Not even a day on the Lumia 820 using mainly WiFi at home and at the customer with some Edge/3G/4G in between. I was teaching all day, so not much fiddling going on on the phone. Bluetooth was active and used while in the car, push mail enabled for a single Exchange mailbox. NFC and “more sensitivity on the screen” disabled. I’ve had a similarly bad experience before on the Lumia 800 – is it possible that Windows Phone is just not made for prolonged WiFi connections? I noticed a huge drain on the weekend when I was at home the whole day, so it would have been 100% WiFi. In the evening I was down to around 12%.
- It’s way too easy to accidentally turn off the phone.
- No 3rd party editing of the calendar. I’m sure there’s a reason for this …?
- Not possible to reassign the “search” button to something that will work outside of the US. Say for example Google. Even Yahoo gives better results than Bing.
- Call quality sucks.
I’ve said it before – the success of a mobile platform comes to a very large degree from the availability of apps and their quality. That being said, I recognize that Microsoft might not be 100% responsible for the quality of the apps published for their devices. Oh wait…. Apps are published/sold through the App store, there’s a process where you submit your app and it’s tested, supposedly also for stuff like usability? So here’s a list of apps that are lacking or not even existing, in no particular order:
- Facebook. The official app sucks big time. There’s a beta in the US app store. If you’re in the wrong region then for once you’re not out of luck – just install it directly by opening this link on the phone. This “beta” is also from Microsoft and while it’s a HUGE improvement, it still falls very short of the iPhone app. What’s more, some of the controls don’t react, or you have to hit them very precisely in the center (for example the notifications icon).
- No RDP client. RDP, as in “Remote Desktop Protocol”, as in “this is how you connect to a MICROSOFT Windows server to remotely manage it”. Has been the way to do it for ages, and while there are new and sometimes better ways to do it, for now that’s how you do it.
- No WorkLog app. Ok, it doesn’t have to be precisely this app, but something that lets me register the time I work at customers so I can bill them? And something that works reasonably well, lets me do an export at the end of the week/month/whatever (csv sent as an email is ok)?
- No usable Dropbox app. Something that lets me connect to my dropbox and for example open an excel file. I know it can be done on Skydrive, which I also have and which works great, but sometimes, stuff is on Dropbox and can’t or won’t be moved off elsewhere. Oh, and it would be really nice if I didn’t have to go through the autzorization for Dropbox every time I launch the app.
- Kindle – ok, they have an app. I can open my books, start reading, WhisperSync works. When it comes to having an overview of the books I have on the device, which books I have already started reading and so on: Nothing.
- No week calendar, as in seeing a whole 7 day week at a glance. It’s not like the screen isn’t big enough. And while there may be apps that cover this missing feature, none really measure up to Week Calendar – which is available for iOS and Android of course, but not for Windows Phone. Not that I blame them, since Microsoft won’t let 3rd parties add to or edit entries in the calendar!!
- No Control4 app. Not good – this means I can’t control the lights and audio/video at home.
- WhatsApp doesn’t push updates to the tile most of the time. Kind of essentials functionality for such an app, in my opinion.
And don’t get me wrong – I’m perfectly willing to pay for apps. But if the app simply doesn’t exist, and there is not even an alternative then it becomes difficult to justify staying on this platform.
Maybe in a few months if things have changed I’ll give it another try. For now I’ll turn the Windows phone off, remove the SIM and start up the iPhone once again. Just to show, here are the …
Things I’ll miss on the iPhone
- People hub
- Slightly bigger/wider screen
- Removable memory
- Xbox Music Pass (coming to the iPhone perhaps?)
So this is it, see you on the other side in a few months maybe.