Once upon a time, I was a windows mobile user. I loved my Samsung Black Jack, among other windows mobile phones.
Fast forward to today, past Nokia (S60) use, Blackberry use, iPhone use, Android use…. Finally Windows Phone 7 has arrived.
I picked up Windows Phone 7 today in the form of the HTC HD7 from T-Mobile. I still have my Sprint EVO – I need to be sure T-Mobile’s network works well for me where I live & work before considering porting my number.
I’ve only just picked up the HD7 today, so these are very early impressions.
Hardware: The HD7 hardware is attractive and easy to handle. It has an EVO-esque look but seems even thinner. It has a kickstand, which comes in handy when viewing Netflix.
Navigation: Coming from Android, the Home, Back and Search capacitive buttons were intuitive and I found it easy to move between apps and screens.
App availability: While I think apps are interesting, I am more interested in the basic functions of a smartphone: Call voice/audio quality, data speed / availability, GPS, maps, mail, browser. Based on what I saw in the Windows Phone 7 marketplace, the basic apps I’d install on a new phone are all available (and free):
- Twitter (basic app; wasn’t able to determine how to set notifications for @ mentions & DMs)
- Weather (The Weather Channel)
Of course, these are in addition to software already loaded on the HTC HD7 by HTC & T-Mobile:
- The basics (Alarms, Calendar, Calculator, Camera, Contacts, Email, SMS, Browser)
- Netflix (not yet available for Android)
- HTC Hub (HTC-specific market)
- Music & Videos (Zune. I’d love to see podcast and channel subscriptions sync to the cloud, to remove need to connect to computer via USB)
- TeleNav GPS Nav
- T-Mobile TV
Most interesting app: Netflix, which enables subscriber to not only view their queue but also watch movies. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to require WIFI (appears to be available via 3G).
Most disappointing apps:
- Camera: I’m finding it difficult to get well-focused photos. I realize I need to press down the shutter button half-way, but find I’m struggling to apply enough pressure to trigger the shutter to go off.
- Maps and TeleNav GPS Nav. Not sure if it’s something about my specific phone but GPS wasn’t always accurate and the maps sometimes indicated one street name while the TeleNav voice prompt stated a different street name. (In all fairness, I’ve noticed some disparities in my street name on different maps. However, I’ve found Google Maps to be consistently accurate.) EDITED TO ADD: I just read that Phonescoop.com also experienced GPS accuracy problems with the HD7. Interesting.
More first impressions, in no particular order:
- Call quality: Okay, but not stellar; I noticed some audio breakup during calls. This may be due in large part to my location (weak TMobile network coverage area) rather than the phone itself.
- Messaging (SMS): App UI is attractive. The layout makes it easy to follow conversations and fun to use.
- Calendar, Contacts, Mail: While I have a Windows Live account, I turned off sync and will sync Mail Calendar & Contacts with my Google account instead. I appreciate that Microsoft provided robust support for Google accounts since most of my personal data (calendar, mail, etc) leverages my Gmail account.
- Mail: Loads quickly & is easy to use. I like how the sender name & received time are displayed along with a brief preview provided in smaller font.
- Marketplace: There seem to be quite a few apps available already, although I wouldn’t expect to see more specialized apps to become available until Windows Phone 7 has been out a while. There is a “free” section, although it did take me a few minutes to find it.
- Hubs: I like how recent activity in a similar app is displayed in the related Hub. Example: I streamed music via the iheartradio app for a few minutes. Later, when I opened the Music & Video tile, I found a reference to the radio station I’d played in the iheartradio app.
Will I keep the HD7 and kick the EVO to the curb? Not at this point. While I like Windows Phone 7 and the promise it shows, I am reliant upon my mobile for accurate gps/navigation and point & shoot camera capabilities. Could I work around these shortcomings? Sure, but why when my EVO already supports these needs?
However, I’ll be keeping an eye on Windows Phone 7. I like what I see – Windows Phones will only become more refined / improved in coming months. Kudos to Microsoft for breaking the old mold and offering an OS/UI that’s fresh and innovative.