Yes, I did it. And it seems to be a pretty popular thing nowadays, switching OSes. You've seen these posts pop up everywhere. 'Why I got an iPhone' or 'Why I switched from Android to an iPhone'. I guess we see it as groundbreaking when a person decides that Android or iOS just isn't right for them. 'You don't like Android? But you can customize it so much!' I hear that a lot when I complain that I've grown tired of the OS. The truth is, I needed to try something new, so I got a Windows Phone 7 device. What made me make the switch after using Android for a year? Well, let me explain myself before you go and slaughter me in the comments. (As a note, I reserve the right to be biased in this article. After all, this was a choice I made based on my personal preferences.)
Put simply, I just got tired of the Android UI. I've used stock Android, Sense, Blur, TouchWiz and several other random UI's and launchers in between. (I do cell phone reviews, after all.) With Android, you can go from simple to colorful to crazy and animated. The problem is, it all looks the same. At the end of the day, it's a grid of icons with a few widgets thrown in for good measure.
I understand that with Android, the customization options are endless. I realized, though, that the only reason I spend hours customizing the look of my device and trying out different launchers is because I don't like the way it looks. It's a simple concept, I know, but I missed the point for a while. If I don't like the way Android looks, why am I still using it?
Some people point out the widget options. That's great, it really is. And I'm sure that it's a useful feature for a lot of people, but not for me. I used a clock widget, a weather widget, and a Slacker Radio widget that I didn't actually use, I simply used it as a shortcut to open the app. The idea always captivated me, but when I really thought about it, I realized that I just don't use them very much.
It seemed like no matter what I did to customize my device, it still looked ugly, cluttered, and like a beta OS. Yes, beta. Windows Phone on the other hand is simple, elegant, and minimalistic - my three favorite design qualities. I know the tile thing is incredibly simple. I love that. And they're live tiles. So you know that whole thing with widgets? Windows Phone has its own version. I have live tiles for Twitter, e-mail, messaging, a direct contact, and my calendar. Not only that, but it's clean, neat, and organized; not a jumbled mess of widgets designed by different people in different sizes and colors.
Also, I love the Metro font. I always have. Honestly, the font alone is probably 40% of why I bought the phone. That sounds ridiculous, but I'm a designer at heart. My first job was as a graphics designer and as unreasonable as it sounds, the font is deeply important to me. That's one reason I could never get a Nokia device. The font is terrible. Not only is the Metro font beautiful, but the transitions are as well. Again, remember I'm a designer at heart so transitions are a big deal for me. The whole swooping thing that happens with every page is amazing and smooth. Android has transitions, I know. But you don't know when they're going to happen or how it will look. (Part of the reason performance is so great with Windows Phone is because it doesn't yet have multi-tasking. We'll see if the upcoming Mango update affects the performance.)
Uniformity is a big feature in Windows Phone. The UI carries all the way into the apps. Not just the Microsoft apps, but every app designed for Windows Phone follows the Metro UI. This didn't actually play a part in making the switch, but it's definitely an aspect of the OS that I like. The uniformity of Windows Phone even affects the hardware. Because of Microsoft's stringent requirements, I can be sure that there are no underperforming Windows Phone devices out there. True, some have a few extra features, but at least none of them ship with a 600 MHz processor and a 3-megapixel camera.
There's also a few things about Windows Phone that are not as bad as Android loyalists say. For example, notifications. All core apps have push notifications and the notification system is similar to the one for Android. Along with the notification bar at the top of the screen, each live tile will also notify me of alerts. Now, this system is not quite as refined as the one on Android. The notification bar doesn't actually pull down so the notification goes away after a few seconds. However, it remains on the live tile if you have one for that app pinned to your Start screen. Also, not all third-party apps have push notifications. I went through three Twitter apps before I found one that did. That being said, I can live with the current system, trust that it will get better, and appreciate that it's not as bad as I thought it would be.
The Marketplace selection is not that bad either. Granted, I never really used that many apps. That was one reason why Android lost its hold on me. I realize that the Android Market has literally hundreds of thousands more apps that the Windows Marketplace, but I'm not a big app person. Every app that I used on Android is available on Windows Phone. The exact same app too, not a second-rate replacement made by some lesser-known developer. So, the Marketplace is smaller than the Android Market, yes, but it's not as bad as they say.
Lastly, the keyboard is impressive. I am extremely picky when it comes to keyboards so when I decided to make the switch, the keyboard played a big role. So far, it's actually pretty good. I've used better, but I've used worse. The autocorrect function isn't the best, but I'm satisfied with it. And that's saying something.
In several ways, at least in my opinion, Windows Phone is better than Android. In some ways, it's just as good. In a few ways, Android is better. I do miss multi-tasking, but that's no big problem because it's coming to Windows Phone this fall. All in all, I'm happy with my Windows Phone device. I have 14 days to decide if I want to keep it or not so you may come back in a few weeks and see an article entitled "Why I switched back to Android". Honestly, I really hope I like Windows Phone because I just don't want to go back to Android and my only other option is BlackBerry at the moment. (The carrier I chose does not yet have the iPhone or a webOS device.) We'll see.