Microsoft has set a fairly stringent set of hardware requirements for all the companies making devices running Windows Phone 7. They have to have at least a 1 GHz processor and plenty of RAM, so the performance for all the models should be quite similar.
I found that overall performance on my test unit is very fast. I didn’t have to do a lot of waiting around because I really didn’t have to launch many apps, unless I wanted to play a game. Everything updates in the background, so my inbox is up to date when I’m ready to read my mail, for example. I can tell at a glance what the weather is like or when my next appointment will be or how many updates are available for the software on my phone.
I wasn’t able to overload or crash the operating system on my loaner device, the Samsung Focus, even though I did my best. I remember how often I had problems with my old Palm OS devices and even my Dell Axim X51v, which was a Windows Mobile device, but that wasn’t the case here.
I never had to turn off my loaner phone to reset it, and I never saw an hourglass or any other type of loading screen when I wasn’t expecting it. The only apps that took much time to load were the games I downloaded from Xbox Live, which was expected. Web pages also took a while to load at times, which I suspect has much more to do with network coverage than with the operating system on the phone. Everything else happened almost instantaneously, which was a pleasant surprise.
EASE OF USE
I have found Windows Phone 7 to be extremely easy to use. Most of my recent experience has been with Android OS and iOS devices, with a few feature phones thrown in for good measure. I found the live tile system to be fresh and intuitive, and it took me only a few seconds to realize that the small arrow at the top right corner of the screen is what I tap to get to the list of applications on the device.
Downloading apps and updates is simple and trouble free. Gone are the dark days of Windows Mobile, when trying to install an app almost required a degree in computer science. If you happen to run across something that needs to be updated, a single tap is all it takes to go ahead with downloading and installing the update.
I have only a few frustrations at this point. My first is with calendar sync. For some strange reason, when you first sign in to your Google account in order to download your contacts and email, calendar sync is off by default and you must turn it on manually. I would prefer that it would be turned on automatically, or that the user would be prompted to turn it on if desired.
The second relates to the fact that there is no good way to get Microsoft Office documents onto a Windows Phone 7 device if you don’t have access to a corporate Sharepoint server. That leaves emailing the document to yourself, which is woefully behind the times.
In addition, this operating system does not support cut, copy, and paste at this time, a rather glaring omission. However, Microsoft is going to add this feature in an update coming soon.
Aside from those small complaints, I believe that Windows Phone 7 is as easy to use, or perhaps even easier than any of the other mobile phone operating systems currently available. Instead of scrolling through page after page of apps, all of the information you care about is front and center. When you want the apps, a single tap takes you to an alphabetical list when you can find what you want quickly.
If you’re already devoted to another mobile operating system such as Google Android OS or Apple’s iOS, then Windows Phone 7 may not change your mind… but it does deserve a closer look.
For a first release, it is well polished and stable, and the live tile concept does save a lot of time. I can see the appeal of having everything at your fingertips at all times instead of having to open up individual apps to get your mail, to check your text messages, and to get local weather information and news. I was skeptical at first, but the live tile concept is simple, and it works extremely well.
If you’re looking for a smartphone and have never used one before, Windows Phone 7 would be an excellent choice. Of course it’s missing some key features, such as Twitter support and copy and paste, but this is the first release and the platform will only get better as more features are added and the entire operating system matures. Even at this point, it’s worth your attention and serious consideration.