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Windows Phone Challenge Results - Dilbert Blog

Windows Phone Challenge Results

Background: In a recent post I complained about both my old iPhone 3GS and my new Android phone. Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Windows Phone Apps challenged me to test a Windows phone. If I didn’t like it better than the iPhone and the Android, he would donate $1,000 to the charity of my choice. I agreed. My evaluation follows.

Keep in mind that I’m just a casual user, not a phone tester. I didn’t test every feature of every phone, and I didn’t measure anything. I simply used the new phone and kept track of my reactions compared to my Android and iPhone experiences.

As it turned out, the Android phone I originally complained about was a lemon. I exchanged the phone at the Sprint store for the same model, and the new hardware doesn’t crash. Apparently the crashing wasn’t an Android problem.

I’m not always able to discern which problems are caused by the hardware versus the operating system versus the carrier. That warning is most relevant for the iPhone because my understanding is that AT&T doesn’t work well with the iPhone 3GS in my corner of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here are the three phone configurations I compared:

    iPhone 3GS/AT&T network

    HTC EVO 3D/Android/Sprint network

    Samsung Focus/Windows 7.5 (Mango)/AT&T network

CALL QUALITY

    Samsung/Windows/AT&T: GOOD

    iPhone/AT&T: FAIL (dropped almost every call over a minute)

    HTC EVO 3D/Android/Sprint: FAIL (no dropped calls, but always garbled)

USER INTERFACE

    Samsung/Windows: GREAT

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: POOR

ONSCREEN KEYBOARD

    Samsung/Windows: FAIL

     iPhone: FAIL

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: FAIL

(I found all three phones frustrating. If you plan to do much typing, get a phone with a real keyboard.)

BATTERY LIFE

    Samsung/Windows: GOOD

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: FAIL

APPS

    Samsung/Windows: OKAY-ISH

    iPhone: GREAT

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: GOOD

(I don’t use many apps, but I’m assuming the Windows phone has most of the popular games and utilities but lacks some vendor-specific offerings one might like.)

INTANGIBLE COOLNESS FACTOR

    Samsung/Windows: NONE

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: GOOD

Summary: I hated my call-dropping iPhone. I’m told that the call-dropping had a lot to do with the AT&T network where I live. But I rarely had an acceptable voice call when I travelled either. Maybe it’s just me.

My Android phone is nearly useless unless I’m near a power outlet. The battery drains so quickly that I avoid using it if I’m out of the house for more than a few hours. And I don’t use it for voice calls unless I have to. I also find the user interface to be a think-about-it-every-time experience, which is a fail. I can’t seem to commit the most basic functions to reflex no matter how many times I use the thing.

The Windows phone has the best user interface experience, although the onscreen keyboard is problematic just as it is with the other phones I used. The Windows interface is intuitive, simple, and has a liveliness that I find appealing. Voice call quality was good, and battery life seemed good too. I declare it the winner compared to my iPhone 3GS with AT&T and my HTC EVO 3D with Android on the Sprint network.

However, the intangible coolness factor is impossible to ignore. Even the names Microsoft and Windows feel dated. And the home screen of the Windows phone is great from a usability standpoint, but lacks sizzle. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t matter to me.

So what phone is right for you?

If you’re an image-conscious hipster/rebel/brand-monkey, and you don’t use the AT&T network in the SF Bay Area, the iPhone is a great choice, especially if you need obscure apps.

An Android phone is great if you enjoy its gadgety nature, which I confess has some appeal. And the larger screen on the HTC EVO 3D is a huge plus compared to the iPhone 3GS. I assume Windows can match screen size on some phone models. The downside for Android is a frustrating interface and, in my situation, with my particular phone, an inexcusably bad battery life. Other Android users I have spoken to don’t complain about the battery issue although they do notice it seems short. My suspicion is that I live in a weak signal area and the phone is using extra power to compensate. Or perhaps my particular phone is a power hog; I can’t tell.

If you want a smartphone that is easy to use, performs well, has a good battery life, and doesn’t frustrate you, the Windows phone is the best choice of the three options I tested. All you give up is some hipster credibility and access to lesser-used apps.

For legal reasons, allow me to state that my opinions on any of the software, hardware, or networks mentioned are purely subjective and potentially misleading. My situation is not typical. Your experience with any of the software, hardware or networks mentioned will differ.

I don’t have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned except for their inclusion in diversified stock ETFs.