The longer I stay with this iPhone 4S that I’ve recently switched (back) to while I wait for this year’s fall lineup, the more time I seem to spend looking at other smartphones already on the market - and by “other” smartphones, I mean “all” smartphones. While the iPhone 4S served its purpose (and well) back in 2011-2012, after experiencing other phones since then the phone has really lost its luster for me. It still fares well for day-to-day functions, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was already ready to move on.
When I do browse these other smartphones, I seem to spend the longest time considering the Windows Phone lineup. I had a brief stint with a Nokia Lumia 928 earlier in the year, and while I positively gushed over the designated camera button (a lost art in this day and age, much like the stylus) and of course the Lumia’s famous camera with Carl Zeiss lens, there was something that was lacking from the phone that kept me from really loving it past the honeymoon phase. I just wasn’t quite sure what it was then.
When I decided to make the switch, I didn’t think too much about applications that I used that would possibly be missing or wouldn’t function as well. I figured it would be a good experience for me. I still stand by the fact that it was a good experience in the sense that I learned a lot more about Windows Phone, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite smartphone to date. I suppose when I really think about why I didn’t like the platform that much (the device itself was very nice) it boils down to being unsatisfied with both the applications and the application selection.
I know, I know; blah, blah, blah, that’s what everybody says and people are tired of hearing it. But I’m serious. Even if I didn’t use a particular application, if it was mainstream enough and I found out it wasn’t offered for Windows Phone I would find myself slightly, somehow, offended by that. Not only that, but occasionally the applications I did find and use didn’t work as well as it did on Android or iOS. The example that I can think of right off the top of my head is Spotify, an application that I use on a daily basis. Facebook is another one that sticks out. I found Windows Phone overall minimalistic design to be charming and very well made; the only missing component was that the dedication to mainstream and well-developed applications were so rare that you can’t help but feel a little left out when you buy a Windows Phone - especially after owning an Android and an iOS device. Even when Microsoft manages to weed out some of the less desirable applications, you’re still left with a lackluster selection.
It’s a pity, I think. I find sometimes that I really long for a Windows Phone. When I think about it, the services that I primarily use (Google) aren’t available; the last time I checked, Facebook and Spotify still had a lot of issues that needed to be worked on, and the app catalog is still missing a ton of popular apps (and has a pitiful game selection); if you’re interested in using your phone as a futuristic payment method, like Android and iOS have been working towards, you’re SOL. At the end of the day, even if the Nokia phones have great cameras and the Windows Phone variant of the HTC M8 does have a great build, you’re still getting a second-class smartphone experience.
I really hope that Windows Phone manages to pull an Android one of these days and make a complete 180. At first, a lot of people wanted nothing to do with Android because it wasn’t nearly as polished as iOS. Today, you have a completely different story. Could Microsoft’s Windows Phone ever manage to pull that stunt off again in this industry, or will that only ever be a dream?