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Background: In a recent post I complained about both my old iPhone 3GS and my new Android phone. Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Windows Phone Apps challenged me to test a Windows phone. If I didn't like it better than the iPhone and the Android, he would donate $1,000 to the charity of my choice. I agreed. My evaluation follows.

Keep in mind that I'm just a casual user, not a phone tester. I didn't test every feature of every phone, and I didn't measure anything. I simply used the new phone and kept track of my reactions compared to my Android and iPhone experiences.

As it turned out, the Android phone I originally complained about was a lemon. I exchanged the phone at the Sprint store for the same model, and the new hardware doesn't crash. Apparently the crashing wasn't an Android problem.

I'm not always able to discern which problems are caused by the hardware versus the operating system versus the carrier. That warning is most relevant for the iPhone because my understanding is that AT&T doesn't work well with the iPhone 3GS in my corner of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here are the three phone configurations I compared:

    iPhone 3GS/AT&T network

    HTC EVO 3D/Android/Sprint network

    Samsung Focus/Windows 7.5 (Mango)/AT&T network

CALL QUALITY


    Samsung/Windows/AT&T: GOOD

    iPhone/AT&T: FAIL (dropped almost every call over a minute)

    HTC EVO 3D/Android/Sprint: FAIL (no dropped calls, but always garbled)

USER INTERFACE

    Samsung/Windows: GREAT

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: POOR

ONSCREEN KEYBOARD


    Samsung/Windows: FAIL

     iPhone: FAIL

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: FAIL

(I found all three phones frustrating. If you plan to do much typing, get a phone with a real keyboard.)

BATTERY LIFE


    Samsung/Windows: GOOD

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: FAIL

APPS


    Samsung/Windows: OKAY-ISH

    iPhone: GREAT

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: GOOD

(I don't use many apps, but I'm assuming the Windows phone has most of the popular games and utilities but lacks some vendor-specific offerings one might like.)

INTANGIBLE COOLNESS FACTOR


    Samsung/Windows: NONE

    iPhone: GOOD

    HTC EVO 3D/Android: GOOD

Summary:
I hated my call-dropping iPhone. I'm told that the call-dropping had a lot to do with the AT&T network where I live. But I rarely had an acceptable voice call when I travelled either. Maybe it's just me.

My Android phone is nearly useless unless I'm near a power outlet. The battery drains so quickly that I avoid using it if I'm out of the house for more than a few hours. And I don't use it for voice calls unless I have to. I also find the user interface to be a think-about-it-every-time experience, which is a fail. I can't seem to commit the most basic functions to reflex no matter how many times I use the thing.

The Windows phone has the best user interface experience, although the onscreen keyboard is problematic just as it is with the other phones I used. The Windows interface is intuitive, simple, and has a liveliness that I find appealing. Voice call quality was good, and battery life seemed good too. I declare it the winner compared to my iPhone 3GS with AT&T and my HTC EVO 3D with Android on the Sprint network.

However, the intangible coolness factor is impossible to ignore. Even the names Microsoft and Windows feel dated. And the home screen of the Windows phone is great from a usability standpoint, but lacks sizzle. I'd be lying if I said that didn't matter to me.

So what phone is right for you?

If you're an image-conscious hipster/rebel/brand-monkey, and you don't use the AT&T network in the SF Bay Area, the iPhone is a great choice, especially if you need obscure apps.

An Android phone is great if you enjoy its gadgety nature, which I confess has some appeal. And the larger screen on the HTC EVO 3D is a huge plus compared to the iPhone 3GS. I assume Windows can match screen size on some phone models. The downside for Android is a frustrating interface and, in my situation, with my particular phone, an inexcusably bad battery life. Other Android users I have spoken to don't complain about the battery issue although they do notice it seems short. My suspicion is that I live in a weak signal area and the phone is using extra power to compensate. Or perhaps my particular phone is a power hog; I can't tell.

If you want a smartphone that is easy to use, performs well, has a good battery life, and doesn't frustrate you, the Windows phone is the best choice of the three options I tested. All you give up is some hipster credibility and access to lesser-used apps.

For legal reasons, allow me to state that my opinions on any of the software, hardware, or networks mentioned are purely subjective and potentially misleading. My situation is not typical. Your experience with any of the software, hardware or networks mentioned will differ.

I don't have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned except for their inclusion in diversified stock ETFs.
 
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-10 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 29, 2011
I am too lazy to read the other comments, but I will just say this: Verizon with a Motorola-brand Droid will solve all of your problems, at least in a Droid sense . . .
 
 
-29 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 26, 2011
I can not imagine any possible way that anybody associated with microsoft would be able to create a phone that would function in a manner that I would find convenient. This is based on having to use ms products fro a whole lot of years and realizing that the thought processes that they have are fundamentally different than the way that I think. It would appear that they are all programmers and not an engineer in the lot! So I would definitely go with an Android phone, mostly because IT IS NOT an ms phone. HAH!
 
 
-28 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 26, 2011
I can not imagine any possible way that anybody associated with microsoft would be able to create a phone that would function in a manner that I would find convenient. This is based on having to use ms products fro a whole lot of years and realizing that the thought processes that they have are fundamentally different than the way that I think. It would appear that they are all programmers and not an engineer in the lot! So I would definitely go with an Android phone, mostly because IT IS NOT an ms phone. HAH!
 
 
Aug 22, 2011
I was just thinking about a past dilbert blog about determing stock value of a product based on the input of engineers. The consensus was that the imput of the engineer didn't mater due to the fact that people only seem to determine value based on marketing.

So i was doing this WEIRD thing called thinking..... And I thought ....

How bout if microsoft took their time developing this product and thus put out a true quality product and market it as quality.....

logically quality takes time....
Good wine takes time , good cheese takes time, good anything takes time.

And also how bout they do something CRAZY Like manufacture the whole product in the united states.

I know thats CRAZY sounding .... But Einsteins theory's where crazy too...

Microsoft could say something like ... Hey we make our product with well paid labour in the united states, wheres our competition produces their phone in china with virtual slave labour....

Microsofts new slogan would be "MICROSOFT WE MAKE JOBS"

I know producing things in the united states is cost prohibitive but bill gates is a billionare and he can take a hit...

Everyone needs to grow some balls and stop relying on retarded politicians to create jobs...

What i'm about to say is unorthodox but the hell with it...


MICROSOFT QUIT BEING !$%*!$ AND DO SOMTHING.....



 
 
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 22, 2011
I just hope the lack of recent posts doesn't mean that in addition to new phones, Scott also got a pair of brand new cement shoes to evaluate. As far as we know, a multitude of fish are currently wondering what that little apple icon is, and whether they can eat it.
 
 
Aug 22, 2011
I find it interesting that a supposed advantage of the iPhone is that it has "obscure" apps. I think this is kind of a negative way of saying there are a LOT of apps that cater to a LOT of different interests. Most everyone has a hobby or profession that taken by itself could be called obscure but it is nice if there is an "app for that". I don't have a smartphone but if and when I ever buy one, the number of apps that cater to my obscure interests like flying, diving, photography, biking, carpentry, etc. will be a big factor in my decision making.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 22, 2011
My Daughter has an iphone and thinks it sucks. I agree which is why I have a Samsung Galaxy running Android. I far prefer the Android operating system over Apples closed environment.

Haven't tried a Windows phone yet, I'll see what's happening next time I want to upgrade.
 
 
Aug 22, 2011
Hey, Scott:

What ever happened to using your Blog to get ideas for your strip? I can't see much ink in this exchange.

Here is funny yet sad true tale of incompetence & corruption. March 11, 2011 at the Jinsha elementary school in Fuzhou, China a brand new podium & brick wall mounted with a blackboard collapsed killing the top 5 students of the school, who were posting essays promoting the spirit of Lei Feng. Lei Feng is a semi-legendary model worker who was considered to be incorruptible. The reason for the collapse was corruption: the contractor colluded with education dept officials to use defective scrap material. Surely you can works something of a similar spirit into a cartoon.
 
 
-29 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 22, 2011
WTF - ridiculous numbers of thumbs up and down? Makes me discount all viewpoints- way to go having opposite effect to intended. Losers.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 21, 2011
Err, should, that's 'should', bloody Android keyboard autocorrect ;-)
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 21, 2011
It should be worth noting that HTC don't run in batteries on their phones straight after manufacture. This means that for the first couple of weeks after their initial power on, you will probably get a poor battery life, but it djouod improve considerably given extended use.
 
 
Aug 20, 2011
sad times we live in when you have to clarify that your opinions are purely subjective...
 
 
Aug 20, 2011
I have an AT&T iPhone 4 and recently moved so this might be relative. When I bought it and lived in Philadelphia, it worked great [except that keyboard thing, which I agree with Scott] wit no dropped calls and great reception with ling battery life. I recently moved to Long Island [Job Transfer] and I noticed a marked decrease in call quality with an increase in dropped calls [0 in Philly], and it seemed to just work slower for all other network issues. So, same phone in 2 different markets, markedly different experience.
 
 
+46 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2011
I have to say, the comments on this post do rather back up what Scott says.

Microsoft's public image is such that the assumption is that anyone who says they like their Windows Phone is assumed to be astroturfing, even though there are plenty of other comments from people who like their iPhones and Androids. Luckily, for those who are willing to give it the benefit of the doubt (such as Scott), Windows Phone is actually a very good choice, particularly if you're a non-power user who simply wants a phone that works well straight out of the box. Hopefully once enough people actually get a chance to see and use them, the kneejerk sneering will stop.
 
 
+15 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 19, 2011
I have an Android phone, and the battery life is great -- but only because I have a custom version of the software. Many of the Android manufacturers load up the devices with crap that sucks the battery dry. As soon as I got the crap removed and some tweaks made to the power settings, everything worked great. If only it came that way out of the box, so that non-nerds would be able to have good battery life too....
 
 
Aug 19, 2011
You need to go get an iPhone 4, or wait a couple months and see what they have for the iPhone5, or whatever the next one is going to be.

They are better than the 3GS by a long shot, in many different ways. I do not live in the bay area, but am there from time to time, and have not noticed the AT&T service issues. Service started cutting out for me in napa valley about 10-12 !$%*! past Calistoga going west.

I am not an Apple fanboy - people should use whatever they like best. I just have never had any issues with the iPhone 4.
 
 
Aug 19, 2011
This solidifies my belief that the phone people should buy depends on their location and their personality. I am a computer guy who lives near Sprint's headquarters so the HTC EVO is a dream for me. The calls are clear and never dropped, the technology is way cool, the screen is huge, and I can navigate it without even looking at it. Would I give it to my mom? No. Her personality and needs are different.

Likewise, if Windows had given me their phone to test, I would almost certainly have a different reaction. Your post is good because smart people will realize that their phone is location and personality specific.
 
 
-154 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2011
@lemmein

Don't know about the phone, but there is no doubt as you say that Windows 7 positively s u c k s.

My advice to anybody using an earlier version of Windows is "Do not consider upgrading to Windows 7. You will regret it. Umpteen small things that you've taken from granted so far, will simply become impossible or difficult to do.

Amongst other problems, it takes about a thousand times more time to copy files from a hard disk to a pen drive than any earlier version of windows - which makes working with large files almost impossible. This problem has been intensely documented and discussed on the net, but Microsoft either does not have a solution for it or simply doesn't care.

Hope somebody from the acclaimed Microsoft PR department is listening. If an engineer at Microsoft is listening, so much the better.

Thanks for reading this rant, but I'm really pissed off.

 
 
Aug 18, 2011
SWYPE Keyboards - took me forever. And Lord did I get frustrated. I finally mastered it, and now wish all keyboards worked that way!
 
 
Aug 18, 2011
@lemmein You're doing it wrong. If the Evo interface is the same as the Desire (it should be HTC Sense), then you should do:
- Click Phone
- Type the number
- Click Save to People, New Contact
- Click the name and fill it.
- Either click Save on the bottom of the page, or Menu > Save.
- You're done. Five clicks. Using the time-honored path of entering a new contact that Nokia used on their best phones (S40, since then the interface has gone downhill).

If you want to add a note, right after filling in the name:
- Click Add in "Other". No scroll needed, it's in the screen
- Click "Other" then "Note".
- The field opens up, focused. Fill it then click save

Note that Android implements an extremely complete version of the vCard standard. You can get every contact detail in there. It's just not feasible to have all fields visible (one contact may have a slew of emails and another bunch of phone numbers, IM contacts, Postal address, birthday and other events, organization and position). The notes example highlights more a limitation of the Palm than anything else. Try adding a photo to a contact on Android vs Palm.
 
 
 
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