I mentioned a while back that I disliked my phone. Man, oh man, did I dislike that phone. I won’t rehash here what all I disliked about it, but rest assured I disliked it with a passion. I was counting the days until I could get a new phone, and when the day hit, I went to the AT&T store.
(Side note: I hear a lot of griping about AT&T, but I’ve always had good luck with them. I’m sorry if your experience hasn’t been the same.)
I had some experience with Android phones by that point and I knew it could be a good option for me, but Microsoft had just released their newest phone operating system, the bulkily-named Windows Phone 7, and I was very interested in it, too. I figured a trip to a physical store would give me the chance to have some hands-on time with both. After playing with them both I honestly had no strong feelings either way. It was weird – I usually have immediate inclinations one way or the other when I’m presented with two choices, but with these phones, I knew I’d be happy either way. What finally pushed me to the Windows Phone 7 was the idea of having something new, something very few people had.
I bought the Samsung Focus (pictured). Really, when you get right down to it, smartphones all pretty much do the same things: messaging, email, web browsing, apps, and the occasional phone call. It really gets down to how you want your phone to do those things that determines what would be the best choice for you. You can see right away it’s a little different than other smartphones – Microsoft made some interesting choices that have turned out to be pretty nifty.
I’ve had the phone for almost a year now, and it’s the best cell phone I’ve owned so far. There was a pretty big update a couple of weeks ago that added some features that should have been on it from the outset, but I’ve been so happy with the phone that waiting for the updates wasn’t really a big deal for me.
Here’s some stuff I’ve really come to like about the phone:
- Those boxes you see are called Live Tiles, named that because they show changing information. The numbers show how many missed calls, texts, and emails you have, and other tiles for other apps show things like online presence, current weather, and sports scores.
- Xbox Live integration is built-in. I can see my Friends List, compare gamerscores, change my avatar, and reply to messages all from my phone. There are also games for the phone that offer gamerpoints.
- Linked contacts. I have three different email accounts on my phone and can choose to have all the contacts from all accounts synced to my phone. If I have “Bruce W.” as a Hotmail contact and “Bruce W. – Work” in my Gmail account, I can link the two together so that all of Bruce’s information shows on one contact card.
- Facebook integration is seamless. Not only can I import my Facebook contacts to my phone, I can also link them to existing contacts. Their Facebook profile picture becomes their contact picture on my phone. When someone changes their profile pic, it changes on their contact card on my phone, too.
- Voice control. Out of the box I could use voice control to open apps or dial contacts. With the latest update, I can now speak-to-text, which is especially handy since you shouldn’t text while driving – not just because it’s illegal, but also because it’s way unsafe.
- Bing. I use Google for searches when I’m sitting at a computer. It’s not that I don’t like Bing, I’m just used to doing things the way I do them, you know? But Bing is all over this phone, as you might suspect it would be, since it is a Microsoft phone and Bing is Microsoft’s search engine. I wasn’t sure how I’d like Bing all over my phone, but I have to say it works really well. Search results show up as “web” or “local,” and searching for businesses give results nearby, with the option to call right from the search page. Certainly not revolutionary, but it works really well. The update brought visual search (show Bing a UPC symbol or a QR code or a book cover via the camera and it finds info on the web for you) and music search (like Shazam, have Bing listen to some music and it’ll tell you what the music is and who it’s by).
- Office. Files from Word and Excel open beautifully on the phone, and OneNote syncs to webspace for backup and access elsewhere.
- Wireless sync. When I’m at home and connected to my wireless router, after 10 minutes of being plugged in to power, my phone will automatically sync with my computer over the network.
- Overall feel. Sure, the physical phone itself has a nice weight and feel to it, but I’m more specifically talking about using the phone. It makes sense (for the most part) and feels really neat to use – swiping left for more options, holding down on an icon to get a list of actions, tapping a letter to quickly get through a list – simple things, but implemented nicely.