Windows Phone Review: Confessions of an iPhone addict

Mount Rundle, Banff

Mount Rundle, Banff, AB

You can imagine my initial discomfort when I was asked by Microsoft Canada to trade in my trusty sidekick (aka my iPhone) for a new Windows Phone last December for their #HolidaySwap campaign. I’ll admit I was excited to try the phone but also so scared to step away from my iPhone. Anyone who knows me knows I’m attached to my iPhone. Madly. Switching to the Windows Phone over the busiest time of the year was a touch nerve-wracking. But I’m so glad I did it! Learning how to use the Windows Phone was an interesting experience and it drove home how important the user experience is in any technology adoption. Overall, I really loved the phone. There is a ton of potential here, dear readers.

Windows Phone home screen

Home screen shot

I had heard the Windows Phone described as “slick”. This is not an understatement. The Windows phone is very attractive. The hardware, courtesy of Nokia, is nothing short of stunning. From the larger screen, HD 1080p video and 8-megapixel PureView camera, and super smooth curves and screen, it’s a looker.

Windows 8 Phone and Minding My Business

As a business owner with a boutique social media marketing firm SPARKER Strategy Group, I run a *lot* of my business from my superphone. It is my lifeline. It is like another child. I’m always checking where it is. I never leave home without it.

Switching over to the Windows Phone from my trusty iPhone made me very nervous. How was it going to handle my business? Email interface and user experience was simple. I was able to integrate my personal and work emails with no issues. Sorting and deleting messages was easy especially because the option to group emails by conversation was available.

Manage social profiles from one screen.

Manage social profiles from one screen.

At SPARKER Strategy, we manage multiple social media accounts for a variety of clients. I wondered if I’d be able to manage these as seamlessly as I do on the iPhone. Also, would the phone have the basic business capabilities I require on a daily basis? The short answer here is that the interface was so easy to use. Any apps or utilities used regularly could be “pinned” to the home screen. This means no time-wasting surfing. Instead everything I needed to be visible on one screen where I could scroll down and find whatever I was looking for.

Working in MS Office on-the-go with Windows Phone

One of the major benefits of the Windows Phone is the integration of MS Office. Users have the ability to create Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, even Excel spreadsheets right within the phone. This was terrific and handy as I used them a few times to create documents on -the-go for clients. To email them to clients was also very intuitive and easy. The Windows Phone made creating, viewing, sharing, and editing MS Office docs easy and simple—a major bonus for this busy mama and businessperson.

Apps

The one downfall with the Windows Phone is the current shortage of Windows-based apps. There are native Facebook and Twitter apps available for download. There are also a variety of developer-generated apps, many of which are great for social networking, photo sharing, etc. In my opinion, it was disappointing there is no native Hootsuite app or Instagram app. The Twitter app I did end up downloading–Rowi–was really good. There were also a few apps I hadn’t used before that I found on the Windows 8 Phone and they very useful –the Flashlight X and NORAD Santa Tracker apps were great. As the popularity of the phone grows, the apps will come, but it’s tough when you want them right away.

Windows 8 Phone and the Busy Mama

As a participant in the Microsoft Canada’s #HolidaySwap I was nervous to try the phone for my business. My fears were soon washed away by how much I actually loved this phone. But how would this phone handle the other, larger part of my life. The part as a busy mama of three, wife, chauffeur, errand girl, note taker, personal secretary to four (or more), party planner, extra-curricular activity planner, courier, etc. Could this Windows Phone handle all of these demands on my time and energies?

The short answer is “Hell yes.” There is really nothing this phone can’t do. I was truly impressed with the ease of use and ability to customize the look and feel of the phone. The phone speaker and sound quality are fantastic. The screen colour is vibrant and rich. The camera quality and video is nothing short of amazing. In all of these areas, it is a strong contender against the others.

One of my favourite things about the Windows 8 Phone is Kids Corner. This feature means you can give your child the phone and not be afraid your favourite apps will be deleted or that bizarre emails will get sent to your boss or in-laws. 😮  Here’s how it works: In the convenient Live Tiles, you can choose from a list of apps, games and photos that you want to grant access to. Set up a password, return to the lock screen and swipe to the left. You’ll then see a new lock screen, and all you have to do at this point is swipe up and you’re in. Kid’s Corner still has a Start screen that’s just as customizable as your own, but your kids won’t have an app list to take advantage of.

Windows Phone Kids' Corner

Windows Phone Kids’ Corner

This is probably the coolest thing about the phone. No other phone (unless jail broken) has this feature and EVERY parent I know nervously hands over their phones to the wee ones just hoping for the best. Kids Corner solves an issue and I think it’s FABU. The fact this phone also syncs and works with your XBOX is way cool. Many families will love this feature!

Our family took the Windows Phone with us on a road trip to Banff. Two adults, three kids, and a partridge in a pear tree road-tripping to Banff while a snowstorm was approaching. Good times. The built-in Nokia Drive with turn-by-turn navigation was amazing. I’ve used Google Maps before and Nokia Drive was so much better. We had a flat tire on the way home, and Nokia Drive was able to tell me our position to better direct the CAA truck coming to our aid. Loved this feature. A must-have for road-trippers and travelers.

Nokia Drive

Nokia Drive, built-in GPS with turn-by-turn navigation

Summary

Bottom line is the Windows Phone is a great phone for anyone who wants to experience a superphone with some freedoms. This superphone experience is much more like a computer and phone wrapped up in one glossy, great looking package. Apple and Android are still winning the app battle but this gap will soon close with Windows versions popping up faster and faster. If you want slick, functional, easy to use, and kid-friendly–this phone is the one for you.

This will be a keeper in our house for sure!

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