So you didn’t have time to read the multi-page reviews from ZDNet, CNet, Gizmodo, Engadget, Mobile Crunch BGR and Windows Super Site? [Sorry but I couldn’t get to the others beyond those myself;)] Well here’s an aggregate of what they had to say about various aspects of their Windows Phone 7 experience. All you get is quotes from the sites themselves – their words, not mine.  Multiple sites had the same comments and I’m just randomly picking the ones that work best as snippets. Some sites really focused on certain areas and some omitted some areas entirely so this attempts to bring them all together for you – the good and the bad. But I’m not going to discuss hardware since the hardware they are testing on is not going to be released to the public. We’re getting better stuff;) Similarly, I’m not going to go into details about the UI itself. By now I think our readers know about the UI and I’ll just briefly address it in the Conclusions section. Anyway, here it is, broken down by category:

Contacts

Pros:

  • Windows Phone 7 is able to merge contact information from different e-mail accounts and social networking sites (CNet)
  • It’ll pull in your contacts, Hotmail/Windows Live mail, Office Live, Zune, Xbox Live avatar, Pictures, SkyDrive—pretty much all of Microsoft’s online services are tied in, one way or another, through the Live ID. The iPhone feels archaic in this regard. (Giz)
  • I signed in to Google and Facebook, and magically, the People hub was populated with all of my contacts from both services, neatly linked with profile pictures from Facebook (Giz)
  • overall, the People hub concept works. It feels natural and seamless in the way it aggregates info from multiple services (Giz)
  • it’s pretty dang slick (Mobile Crunch)
  • if you have a properly configured Windows Live ID–one that is connected with various third party services like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, whatever–and get a Windows Phone, you’re in for a treat. All you do is logon with that Windows Live ID and then watch as the phone populates with an astonishing amount of content. It’s an experience you just can’t get on the iPhone or Android, and it’s the first of many things about Windows Phone that has made me just start grinning spontaneously. (SuperSite)

Cons:

  • if you have a Facebook account with hundreds of friends, you’re going to have a pretty hairy contact list (CNet) it doesn’t really seek to make any sort of differentiation between people you talk to / text / email, those you just casually observe, and those with whom you’re "friends" in name only (Engadget)
  • lack of Twitter integration (CNet)
  • It’d also be nice to have a Favorite category in the People hub (CNet)

Quick note from me. I’d expect Twitter integration shortly after launch but in the meanwhile you can obviously use one of the free tools that integrates Twitter into Outlook then just sync the folder to your phone. That also lets you post to Twitter by sending an email to an account that has a pin you that identifies you. You’ll also get a separate Twitter account to help buy some time until they push integration to WP7.

Pictures

Pros:

  • On the iPhone, functionality that Windows Phone seamlessly binds together is siloed off in different applications and services. Let’s take the most obvious example, photos. All you want to do is look at photos. On the iPhone, local (device-based) photos can be found in the Photos app. Facebook-based photos are in the Facebook app. Flickr? There’s an app for that. MySpace photos? Guess where. And heck, you’re an Apple guy, so your Mobile Me photos can be found in the Mobile Me Gallery apps. The photos you care about–yours and other people’s–are all over the place. It kind of makes Apple’s biggest supposed strength–that App Store–seem like more of a problem than a solution. In Windows Phone, all of the photos you care about are in the Pictures hub. This panoramic experience can display your local, device-based photos. Your (and others’) Facebook photos. Flickr photos. MySpace. Windows Live. All in one place (Super Site)
  • Keep in mind though that Windows Live integrates several photo services such as SmugMug, Flickr, PhotoBucket, and more. (ZDNet)
  • it was fast with very little shutter lag (CNet)
  • Once you’ve taken your shots, the phone can be configured to automatically upload them to your Windows Live SkyDrive account in the background with your choice of privacy level (private, friends only, or public). (Engadget)
  • [The dedicated camera] button is particularly genius, because it connects to a new software feature in Windows Phone that Microsoft calls "pocket to picture." So even if you’ve locked your phone, you can tap this button and take a picture, almost instantaneously (Super Site)
  • The camera app offers a healthy set of options and editing features, including white balance, auto focus, effects, ISO controls, exposure compensation, and saturation levels, just to name a few. Once again, the interface is simple yet elegant, and we love that once you take a photo, it’s shown to the left of the camera screen so you can quickly swipe over and view the image without having to launch the photo gallery. (CNet)

Cons

  • (Regarding cloud pics) I don’t see anyway to save the photo to your device locally or share it out with others. (ZDNet)
  • right now you can’t upload or share any videos directly from the phone (CNet)
  • You can also zip pictures over to your Facebook account using a menu item in the Pictures app, but interestingly, you have to choose between "upload to SkyDrive" and "upload to Facebook" menu items in the app’s settings — you can’t have both. Menus can scroll, so why not? (Engadget)
  • We’d love a way to be able to select an inner circle of contacts from whom we wanted to see a photo stream here. (Engadget)

Keyboard

Pros:

  • Who the hell did Microsoft hire to make this keyboard? Because whatever they’re being paid, they deserve a raise. (Mobile Crunch)
  • it’s second to the iPhone. It’s a wonderful keyboard: fast, smooth, intuitive and totally natural, even this phone’s narrowish screen. Text selection is weird, but workable—pressing and holding over editable text brings up a fat green text cursor that you can slide between the letters, sticking it wherever you need it. (Giz)
  • the keyboard in Windows Phone 7 is really, really good. We’re talking nearly as good as the iPhone keyboard, and definitely better than the stock Android option. It’s one of the best and most accurate virtual keyboards we’ve used on any platform — and that’s saying a lot. (Engadget)
  • the keyboard provides a .com shortcut and when composing a message, the keyboard surfaces a shortcut to a list of emoticons(CNet)

Cons:

  • there is no copy and paste. That sucks, a lot. There’s a fully functional highlighting feature, but it seems to only work in the Office application. (Mobile Crunch)

Web Browser

Pros:

  • Pages loaded up quite fast, even on the EDGE connection that I had (ZDNet)
  • The Internet Explorer browser offers support for up to six windows and thumbnail views of all open pages, so you can easily toggle back and forth (CNet)
  • Internet Explorer is surprisingly competent, and quick, given that it’s built mostly off of the desktop version of IE7 (Giz)
  • The tabs all continue to load independently regardless of whether they’re active or not, which is nice, and doesn’t seem to have much of a negative impact on overall browser performance. (Engadget)

Cons:

  • pinching and zooming does NOT reflow the text to fit the page(ZDNet)
  • there’s no support for Flash, Silverlight, or HTML5 (CNet)
  • A few sites rendered poorly, the browser’s IE7 DNA showing through, but for most things, it’s pretty good—just behind iPhone and Android’s WebKit browsers. (Giz)
  • My major problem with the app is that the address bar never disappeared in portrait mode, so the view of the page always felt scrunched. (In landscape, it fades away, as you’d expect.) (Giz)
  • Across about two dozen speed tests, both the iPhone’s Safari browser and the default Android browser beat IE Mobile 7 consistently (Mobile Crunch)
  • One other thing that did concern us was that a number of sites that detect our iPhone and Android devices to show mobile sites don’t detect Windows Phone 7 properly (Engadget)

Music and Video

Pros:

  • In addition to songs you can buy (just like on iTunes), you can also listen to an unlimited number of full songs and keep 10 per month for only $15 with the Zune Pass. You can also listen to the FM radio and add songs you hear on the radio to your Zune Pass collection. Lastly, you can also stream music from the Zune Marketplace over the wireless network. (ZDNet)
  • Microsoft also supports wireless syncing to your PC via WiFi with your Windows Phone 7 device. I am a huge podcast fan and the one thing I want to see supported is the ability to discover and subscribe to podcasts from your device.(ZDNet)
  • Videos look great on WP7 and playback is flawless. (ZDNet)

Cons:

  • it’d be nice to have better player control when multitasking. When working in another app while listening to music, nowhere on the screen do you see your current track or any type of controls for advancing or rewinding tracks. It was only when we pressed the volume rocker by accident that a small toolbar dropped down from the top of the screen to expose the media buttons. (CNet)
  • the line between previewing and listening is very fine here. In fact, you can listen to a preview clip while doing other things on the phone (one of the places you see Microsoft’s first-party only multitasking). It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to us — previews should likely quit when you leave app. (Engadget)

Phone

Pros:

  • Windows Phone is markedly average as a phone.(Mobile Crunch)

Cons:

  • the dial tone sounds played when you punch in phone numbers on Windows Phone 7 are ridiculously loud.(Mobile Crunch)
  • We’re not going to lie, we really have no idea how people actually let the phone app get this far. When you first launch the application, you’d except to be at the keypad, so you can actually make a call, right? No. You’re presented with the recent call history list…So to make a phone call, you have to go into the phone and hit one of the poorly-sized action buttons below to bring up the keypad to make a phone call.(BGR)
  • Another annoyance? Let’s say you do for some reason want to actually call someone on your recently called list, so you don’t have to bring up the keypad this time. Just tap the phone number in the list, and off you go. Not quite. Microsoft links the recent calls to “profiles” not numbers. It’s the most insane thing we’ve ever seen. If you tap on the caller in the list, you don’t dial the phone number, a profile view slides in and you then have to determine which number to call from there. Ok fine, but if you got a call from just a phone number, and not someone in contacts, it won’t bring up the profile, it will just dial the phone number. Again, not quite. It will still bring up a profile view, but this time offer default options of calling or texting that number. A simple long press gesture could have solved these problems in our book.  (BGR)

Outlook

Pros:

  • The Outlook app might be the best mail app on any phone. Giant black text on a white background, it’s actually kind of gorgeous, and makes most mail apps feel dated. Swiping to the right left or right takes you through all mail, unread (handy!), flagged and urgent. (Giz)
  • multiple message management is executed here better than most mobile email apps we’ve used, requiring only that you tap to the far left of a message to engage your checkboxes. It definitely sped up the process of killing or moving mail. (Engadget)
  • in a standard message view, when you delete an email you’re kicked back to your inbox — not to the next message. (Engadget)
  • Tapping the search button while in mail gets you to a pretty powerful search which parses subjects, message content, senders, and receivers all at once. It made it astoundingly easy to find what we were looking for with almost no hesitation. (Engadget)

Cons:

  • The major problem with mail each email account creates a tile, almost like a separate app, and there’s no unified inbox, so you have to go back to the start screen every time you want to switch accounts. (Giz)
  • What wasn’t helpful, however was the lack of threaded messaging. (Engadget)
  • it only searches messages downloaded onto the device, so if you’re looking for that long lost password, you’re out of luck here. Additionally, you can tell the app to sync individual folders, but it doesn’t seem to peer into those during searches anyhow. (Engadget)
  • Archiving? Nope. Labels? Nope — just folders. Starring? Sort of; there’s flagging, but that’s local to the handset. (Mobile Crunch)

Bing Maps

Pros:

  • As you get to a certain zoom level the software automatically switches into satellite view of the surrounding area. Traffic views are also shown and Bing Search is powered by Bing Maps.(Mobile Crunch)
  • The Bing search engine was quick to return with results, which were mostly relevant to our searches. (CNet)
  • Bing showed both a smaller map view and text-based instructions on the same page so you don’t have to switch back and forth (CNet)
  • you can search either by text or voice (Engadget)
  • tapping a pin brings up the name of the result; a second tap calls up a page of information where you can find a phone number, URL, average rating, and even hours if they’re available — this is extremely handy for restaurants since it can save you an awkward trip to the business’ inevitably non-mobile-friendly website. Swiping around calls up a screen with nearby points of interest, and another screen with individual reviews; Microsoft is aggregating several sites for these, and we regularly found entries from both Citysearch and JudysBook. (Engadget)

Cons:

  • There is no voice guided navigation. (Mobile Crunch)
  • there’s no option for mass transit or bicycle modes (CNet)
  • It’s not as straightforwardly easy to use as Google Maps—the icons are confusing (Giz)

Bing Search

Pros:

  • Microsoft has done a neat job translating Bing’s well-known home page layout to the small screen, complete with gorgeous rotating imagery and hotspots that reveal factoids when you tap them. (Engadget)
  • There’s a mic to the right side of the text box that lets you conduct a voice search, and while we wouldn’t bother trying to find anything with an odd name this way, common mobile searches (think "burritos") worked really well. (Engadget)
  • Bing Search is thoroughly excellent here. Tapping the search button on the main page launches you into a search hub that includes general web results, local listings—complete with a live map—and news. (Giz)

Cons:

  • accessing it is somewhat arbitrary — you can get to it by pressing the phone’s hardware search button, but not always. Apps can override that key’s functionality (People, Maps, and Marketplace all do this, just to name a few), but if they don’t, you fall through to Bing — so there are times when you really have no idea what’s going to happen when you press that button. (Engadget)
  • The Bing app isn’t a universal search, and that’s a huge misstep in an age when smartphone users can easily have fifty or more apps and thousands contacts and tracks of music installed(Engadget)

Office

Pros:

  • you can seamlessly sync OneNote notes with SkyDrive, and any Office documents with SharePoint (Super Site)
  • Extant Office files from Word, Excel and PowerPoint render with fidelity to the original, with a table of contents so you can skip around easily. (Giz)
  • OneNote, which lets you create and sync notes over-the-air—they’ll show up automatically in Windows Live, or if you’re running the OneNote desktop software, it’ll poof into there, too. (Giz)
  • Excel Mobile has these same functions with additional function options and cell control options. Excel actually looks to be the more powerful application here and as an engineer this is definitely something I would use quite a bit. (ZDNet)

Cons:

  • You cannot, however, sync Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, or Excel workbooks with SkyDrive, which seems like an odd miss(Super Site)
  • editing options are pretty much limited to formatting, highlighting and changing font color (CNet)
  • the editing capabilities are weak at best — you can’t change fonts, for example, and you can only choose from four font colors: orange, green, red, and black. Though there’s a spell-checker (you’ll recognize the familiar red squiggly lines), there’s no copy / paste capability — and in an app like this, it’s hard to imagine being too productive without any sort of clipboard whatsoever. (Mobile Crunch)
  • No landscape support for Office documents (ZDNet)

Marketplace

Pros:

  • you’ve got music as an available category (Engadget)
  • You can also search by pressing the phone’s hardware search button; on the plus side, it searches across all of Microsoft’s marketplaces so you get apps, games, and music in your results, and that’s kind of cool (Engadget)
  • By allowing users to drill down into sub-categories, they’re giving more applications the opportunity to get their time in a spotlight, even if said spotlight is slightly smaller than that of a main category. More exposure = more sales. (Mobile Crunch)
  • The apps in the Marketplace include a Shopping List, Stocks, Unit Converter, Translator, Level, and Weather. I downloaded the Translator, Level and Weather to try out and have to say the Translator is extremely impressive with the ability to enter text and have it translated into a foreign language with the option to have it spoken aloud too. (ZDNet)

Cons:

  • It’s not quite as integrated as you think, though — tapping on music just bounces you out to the Zune Marketplace, which is fine since you wouldn’t want two disjoint places to purchase tracks anyway. Likewise, hitting the games category sends you over to the Xbox Marketplace, which sadly isn’t live yet and wasn’t available to test. (Engadget)
  • The screen shots you see on this page are hilariously small, so you need to tap ’em to get an idea of what’s going on (Engadget)

Conclusion

Pros:

  • I have been using the Samsung developer phone for 5 days and am much more impressed with the phone and Windows Phone 7 operating system than I thought I would be at this stage of development. The phone NEVER crashed or locked up on me and I did not experience any bugs or other anomalies to report to Microsoft so far. I LOVE the Zune integration and enjoyed watching some video content, listening to music synced over from PC, and streaming music wirelessly. (ZDNet)
  • The Zune integration is killer, and the core apps are much improved. (CNet)
  • Making Windows Phone something that people want to buy is going to require the most herculean effort the company’s made in a long, long time. Windows Vista and 7 style onslaughts for mindshare. It has to snag developers and users, by the screaming bucketful. Microsoft has to want it bad enough. Fortunately, Windows Phone 7 might just be good enough (Giz)
  • we’re still really excited by the prospect of Metro as a viable, clean-slate approach to the mobile user experience, and there are lots of smart moves being made that could lead to greatness. (Engadget)
  • Put simply, the big picture stuff is rock solid, and undeniably exciting. The panoramic hubs and digital media experiences, in particular, are wonderful and put Windows Phone over the top, in my opinion. Consumers are going to see this stuff and fall in love. (Super Site)

Cons:

  • it’s got a lot more work and fine-tuning to do between now and the holidays (CNet)
  • it’s behind [Android and iPhone] functionally, too, missing things that are now table stakes, like copy and paste and multitasking for third-party applications. People might not know what ‘multitasking’ is, they’ll just wonder why they can’t play Pandora in the background. (Giz)
  • What we’ve been presented with here doesn’t exactly feel like a complete mobile operating system in many ways. (Engadget)

Ok so there it is. And now it’s your turn. You can see what’s great and what’s not so great. There are still a few months to go but based on what you’ve seen and where it’s going, where are you planning on going? Waiting in line or sidelined for Windows Phone 8?

7 COMMENTS

  1. Gotta hand it to you, that was a top notch review review to help us all digest mobility. When getting your hands on an actual device like the big boy blogs is not an option, or maybe regardless, this is still pretty good stuff, what you delivered (tl;dr notwithstanding).

    One complaint though, not quite enough options in the multiple choice question you pose: “Waiting in line or sidelined for Windows Phone 8?”

    Hack.

  2. i seen a bunch of reviews and most of the cons are small things that can be fixed.. Microsoft should feel real good about that.. There are some things that can be fixed like copy/paste and multi-tasking. But that don’t make a real big deal breaker for me. The one big big deal i need is…. A way to grab files on and off the phone. Plugging up your phone to the computer and you can grab files right off of the device. I really need that. I like how if my brother need a file from me. When i go to his house i plug up my phone with the usb and use the mass storage and just put the file on his computer. If they dont add that. Then u will have to keep a usb card on you at all time. And that sucks when u have to have more devices rather than using one for both. But if they can have the option to grab files off the device when u plug it up. That will be great.. :)

  3. The reviews all seemed fair and objective. Yes WP7 has some negatives that potentially may be deal breakers for some but it also has some differentiators that will get people on board.

    In the end it will come down to the OEMs delivering attractive devices, marketing and developer support. Microsoft for its part is doing all they can to make the platform incredibly engaging while leaving room for 3rd part developers to have a place to be recognized.

  4. good pool of “snippets”, i read the engadget and gizmo write-ups and couldnt bring myself to grind through another article stating basically the same stuff, thanks for saving me the 10 other pages of reviews.

    i do think MS has a chance here, as already stated alot of the stuff people complained about is fix-able, and noone having reports of crashing and “anomalies” bodes extremely well for MS, i think there biggest problem with 6.x was the instability and crashing problems, if that goes away i think MS will knock it out the park

  5. BGR’s second comment about the lack of an easy way to call someone back in the phone app is inaccurate (they didn’t do a thorough job of trying to evaluate the device, and showed evidence of some severe bias in their reporting). If they had tapped the actual phone icon sitting right next to a number/name in the call list, they would have seen that it dials the number directly. Pressing the person’s name does indeed bring up their profile.

  6. I know that this is not the hardware that we can expect, but there better be a 4.3 screen at launch!

    They can’t make me go back to a 3.x Screen! NOOOOO!

Comments are closed.