Windows Phone has endured mixed fortunes to date. It hasn’t been the runaway success Microsoft obviously hoped it would be, but it also hasn’t disappeared without a trace. In fact, in several countries around the world Windows Phone is the second most popular mobile operating system, with market shares well into double figures.
Still, it feels like Windows Phone has reached an important fork in the road. One road leads to an increased market share and Microsoft competing with Apple and Google for dominance, while the other leads to a shrinking market share and Microsoft being forced to abandon the whole project.
I, for one, want Windows Phone to succeed. Because competition is good. The problem is persuading you Apple fanboys and Google droids (and even BlackBerry blowhards) to give Windows Phone a chance. There are several legitimate reasons to do so, which are, as you may have already guessed, outlined below.
Most of you reading this will have owned a Nokia handset at one time or another, especially if you’re over a certain age. Back when feature phones were just phones, and smartphones were but a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, Nokia ruled the roost, and the devices this Finnish company put out were solid, dependable, and stylish. Contrary to popular belief, nothing has changed.
Nokia still knows how to build a good mobile phone. Apple and Samsung may now have the higher market shares, but Nokia hardware is still right up with the best in class. Except it comes with a cheaper price tag.
With Microsoft having acquired Nokia’s devices business, Nokia hardware is synonymous with Windows Phone, which means anyone wanting to own Nokia hardware needs to consider switching operating systems.
TL;DR: Nokia hardware is unbeatable for the price.
A specific hardware element Nokia excels at is its smartphone cameras. The high-end Nokia devices have exceptional cameras which rival the cameras on the newest iOS and Android devices. The PureView technology gifts Windows Phone users high-resolution sensors, incredible digital zoom, and Carl Zeiss lenses guaranteed to impress even the most cynical smartphone users.
Windows Phone does its part too, with the Microsoft Camera app offering a simple yet stylish UI with a host of features and options. There is also the Nokia Camera app and other third-party options.
A lot of Android handsets have decidedly dodgy cameras, while the camera on the latest iPhones hasn’t really moved on since the iPhone 4. Which means those seeking a solid smartphone camera at a reasonable price should at least consider Windows Phone.
TL;DR: The PureView camera technology has to be seen to be believed.
The User Interface
In many ways, the user interface is the most important thing to consider when choosing a mobile operating system. All three major platforms boast more apps than you could ever hope to install in one lifetime, and the hardware is dependent on the manufacturer rather than the operating system itself. But the user interface differs between iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, so you need to choose wisely.
To be fair, all three are good enough. You may prefer one over the others, but you would get used to the others were they to be forced upon you. Unfortunately, too many people are blindly sticking with what they know, so they never get to experience what the other operating systems have to offer.
The Windows Phone UI is brilliant; smooth, simple, and beautifully understated. In some ways it is better than iOS and Android, in other ways is isn’t. But it’s more than deserving of consideration. Try Windows Phone and you may just love the UI so much you’ll resent going back to iOS or Android.
TL;DR: The Windows Phone 8.1 UI is better than you think.
All three major mobile operating systems have their own personal assistants built in to them. Android has Google Now, iOS has Siri, and Windows Phone has Cortana. It may surprise you to learn that Cortana is actually rather good.
It’s certainly better than Google Now, and arguably better than Siri too. Why? Because Cortana isn’t just functional, she has a personality too. In fact, she has such a sparkling personality that our own Christian Cawley fell in love with her. Just a little.
Cortana is witty, geeky, entertaining, and informative. She can even predict the results of the World Cup with unnerving accuracy. Perhaps all virtual personal assistants will prove to be nothing more than novelties. But in the meantime, Cortana is the best one available.
TL;DR: Cortana is better than Siri and Google Now.
All mobile operating systems have their issues. None, contrary to what the fanboys and fangirls will tell you, is perfect. Windows Phone itself is far from perfect, but then neither are Android or iOS.
The thing is, Android and iOS have been around for so many years you’re probably heavily invested in the underlying ecosystem of one or the other. Which means you put up with the flaws, determined to ignore them in order to stick with what you know.
Don’t. Actually take a stand and switch operating systems if you’re not happy with the one you’re using at the moment. It may be that you’ll switch and find just as much to bitch about with your new choice of operating system. But don’t you owe it to yourself to at least try?
TL;DR: You have had enough of Google or Apple.
And finally, we need to look to the future. It’s coming, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. However, we can change it, and change it for the better.
In terms of mobile operating systems, that means giving the little guy a chance. Which, in this scenario, just happens to be Windows Phone. I know it’s hard to imagine Microsoft as the little guy, but Redmond’s OS is trailing to both Android and iOS by quite a margin in terms of worldwide market share, and that is setting up a problem for the future.
We need Windows Phone to succeed to keep Google and Apple on their toes. If we lose a viable third option, then Apple will control the high-end of the market, while Google will dominate the low-end. And a lack of competition means a lessening of innovation, and a rising tide of consumer-unfriendly practices.
I know, that’s not your problem. But it will be in the years to come if we all let Windows Phone die from a lack of interest.
TL;DR: We need a strong third platform to battle iOS and Android.
It should go without saying that I don’t expect everyone to rush out and immediately switch from iPhone or Android to Windows Phone upon reading this article. That won’t happen, and that’s fine. This is just my opinion, after all; it even says so in the headline.
However, Microsoft’s mobile OS deserves a chance, so please, do at least consider Windows Phone as a viable option the next time you’re shopping around for a new smartphone. You may try it, and fall in love with it. And wonder why you wasted so much time on the competition.
Since this piece was written, Microsoft has announced Windows 10, which will work across all devices, including smartphones. This essentially means Windows Phone will be disappearing in its current form, but Windows will still be an option as a mobile operating system. Therefore, these points remain valid, and iOS and Android users should still give Microsoft a chance to succeed.