I've been struggling to decide whether to stick with my 1 year old Windows Phone 7 smartphone (Samsung Omnia 7) or get myself a bran-new iPhone 4S. One is the emerging force (in potential at least) in mobility, the other is becoming the mature one in the group.
Since I'm not a huge fan of the iPhone 4/4S hardware design, and find my Omnia hardware design to be boring and even annoying (mainly due to the old looking back cover), I decided that the hardware design will not be a parameter in my decision.
That leaves me with some hardware related features such as camera, and buttons, but mainly leaves the battle in the operating system field.
So as time moves by and I still can't make a decision – I decided to create the mother of all comparisons: iOS 5 VS. Windows Phone 7 (Mango).
Since there are practically endless areas to compare, I will split this MOAC into several, relatively short, blog posts, aiming to cover all aspects in the OS side.
So without further ado - let's begin!
The Mother Of All Comparisons: iOS 5 VS. Windows Phone 7 (Mango)
Lock screen is one of the most important productivity features in a smartphone. A good lock-screen will give you enough information in a single snapshot. Apple's iOS used to really suck in this area, inviting jailbreak apps like LockInfo and others to complete the job. Without those hacks, you would end up having an empty lock-screen with nothing but a background image and possibly some nasty popups from the 90's.
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 was refreshing and even stunning: the upper area is reserved for ongoing alerts and notifications, the lower area shows the current time, the next meeting (even if it's tomorrow morning – which is great), iconic indication of missed calls, new emails, SMS, etc. A glimpse at it will hint if you need to unlock the phone or not. You could also change the volume and trigger the camera without unlocking the phone – those are great features.
Half a year ago, WP7 would have easily won the lock-screen category.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, Apple released iOS5, which was clearly focused on closing last remaining gaps with the competitors (see related article: iOS5 – A Lame Catch-Up Or A Final Blow To Competition?). The new iOS5 lock-screen not only give you a better indication of what's going on – it's active, you can unlock your phone to go directly to the active area (emails, calendar, missed calls, SMS (which, by the way, is another copy Apple did in iOS5, this time copying Windows Mobile's 6.5 lock-screen). Mango, by the way, did not add anything special to the Windows Phone 7 lock-screen, which is a shame, because I would be happy to see my what'sApp messages count or other custom icons.
I still prefer the look and feel of Windows Phone 7 when it comes to the lock screen, the next meeting is still great and is not included in iOS5. I even prefer unlocking my phone going upward than sliding my finger to the right, but the truth is that iPhone now kills WP7 in the lock-screen functionality due to the fact it is active, you can read stuff, scroll, or jump straight into the relevant app.
Lock-Screen category: iPhone wins.
Apple invented the virtual keyboard: optimal layout, unbelievable accuracy, long press, brilliant auto-correct, genius magnifying glass, and much more. I used to think a physical keyboard is an advantage when it comes to productivity needs, but it's not. switching back and forth from different BlackBerry devices to iPhones, Android smartphones and Windows Phones I promise you: once you get used to it, you will type much faster with your virtual keyboard, and it's all thanks Apple.
Unfortunately, looking at the progress made in the keyboard area since iOS 2 you will notice very little has changed. The magnifying glass is still somewhat inaccurate, you still get some nasty auto-correct proposals that can sometimes change the entire meaning of the sentence (Happy Barfday???), and you don't have an option to pick the right word out of a list.
Apple's iOS is getting old. The keyboard is a perfect example, but there are plenty of others.
The Windows Phone keyboard, on the other hand, is a master piece. It's probably the best virtual keyboard implementation ever made for mobile.
- The layout is perfect. It includes a period and a comma – both critical for heavy typing.
- The accuracy is amazing, although I suspect iPhone is a bit better in this category. There are some fluffs here and there, and you feel it best when auto-correction is turned off (when entering user names, passwords, looking for contacts, etc.).
- The auto correct functionality is perfect: you get the main proposal in bold, the rest are presented in the same line and can be easily be scrolled or selected. You can easily add new words while typing – perfect.
- The sound of the keys is one of the most addictive things I've encountered in a smartphone. It makes both iOS and Android seems like a lame typewriters from the 70's. No seriously, you probably ask yourself: "Sound? for a keyboard? how important is that?". Well, it is. Try Windows Phone and you will understand.
- The text focus and selection features are an obvious copy of Apple's original design, but they work better. It's another example how Windows Phone 7 was designed: taking the best out of both iOS and Android.
- Copy/paste is not the fanciest feature, but it's easier to use than in the iPhone
- Speed. To me, comparing my typing speed between an iPhone and a Windows Phone leads to a conclusion that Windows Phone enables faster typing. It's probably subjective, but still.
So now that I've mentioned at least 5 clear keyboard advantages WP7, it's obvious that Windows Phone 7 wins in a knock out in the category of typing and keyboard experience.
Keyboard & Typing Experience: Windows Phone 7 wins in a knock out.
So there you have it. The first part of the mother of all comparisons: Apple iOS 5 vs. Windows Phone 7. Here are the results so far:
|Windows Phone (Mango)||Comments|
iOS Lock-screen gives you full indication plus allows quick jumping straight to where the action is.
Keyboard & Typing Experience
WP7 keyboard has better layout, impressive auto-correction, addictive sound, and better typing experience