For several years the Apple iPhone has dominated and redefined what a SmartPhone should look like and how it should do things. Microsoft was one of the first with a SmartPhone but it never grabbed the attention that the iPhone did. This is probably because the iPhone was designed for the iPod generation of domestic users and in time it became useful for ‘business’ functions.
With the Windows Phone 7 (WP7), Microsoft appear to have gone back to the drawing-board and looked at how they can capture the social networking generation but incorporate the easy to access ideas that the iPhone brought us.
Unlike the iPhone, the WP7 based phones are made by several manufacturers including Samsung, LG and HTC. This means a few more options although Microsoft insists that all WP7 devices must have a 5 MegaPixel camera, 3 standard buttons at the bottom of the screen and a standard resolution screen along with a few other requirements.
The phone I have been using for the last couple of months is the Samsung Omnia 7 which replaces an aging iPhone 3G. The phone is slightly wider and about ½” taller but after using it for a while the iPhone screen looks too small and the Samsung is much faster at starting apps, moving through pages, etc – but then it does have a faster processor than the iPhone 3G – the iPhone 4 may be a similar speed.
Everything is easy to setup and use. The design of front page of the WP7 means that you can quickly see missed calls, waiting text messages, email and social networking apps like facebook and twitter.
Many of the features that made the iPhone appealing were actually downloaded apps. Obviously these can’t be transferred across but thankfully many of the apps authors have developed apps for the WP7 too.
Anyone wanting to link the WP7 to a corporate MS exchange system will be pleased to know that this is simple so all your emails, contacts and appointments are safely held on the company server. It also comes with Word, Excel and OneNote so you can read and edit MS Office files too. It can also open files directly from sharepoint servers although I haven’t spent enough time trying to make that work.
Like the iPhone it doesn’t currently support Flash video and like the original iPhone it doesn’t do copy and paste yet. An update is planned for jan/feb this year which promises copy and paste and, apparently, speed improvements to various apps start times.
The screen on the Samsung Omnia 7 is large, very clear and bright. Video is smooth and audio is clear. The camera takes excellent photos and impressive 720P HD quality video clips.
First impressions : Good first attempt at WP7. As with the iPhone I expect it to improve as the features get added through firmware updates in the next few months and beyond. Hopefully it will also allow custom ringtones and several volume controls and possibly features to allow access to office networks like the older Windows Mobiles did.
iPhone – what iPhone?