The comparisons are inevitable, so let's cut to the chase and dive right in. A new mobile platform hits the scene and the first thing everyone wants to know is how it measures up to the current operating systems of choice? Here comes Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, and here's how it stacks up against Google's Android. Details after the jump.
1. It's Prettier
Without question, Windows Phone 7 is straight up good-lookin'. And perhaps even more importantly, it’s distinctive. One man's junk is another man's treasure, we know, but Microsoft has achieved a greatness with the typographic-centric look of its Metro UI (originally crafted for Zune) and extending it across all facets of their new OS. WP7 looks fresh, bold, and polished where Android 2.2 still looks like it was visually "designed" by a bunch of engineers.
2. It’s Locked Down
We love open source, but there’s an argument to be made for a locked-down personal electronics experience controlled top-to-bottom by the manufacturer. Microsoft didn’t go the Apple/Palm/RIM route with WP7, as the hardware is still sourced out to OEMs like HTC, LG, and Samsung. But the company is keeping much tighter control over the platform itself than Google has with Android. Holding tight reins over its mobile vision could be a big competitive advantage for WP7 over Android, as it should give MSFT more control over everything from Xbox Live integration to marketing campaigns to a smooth Marketplace (app store) experience for users.
3. It Comes in One, and Only One, Version
Android fragmentation still ticks me off, even if it’s slowly becoming less of an issue. Windows Phone 7 comes in one version. Period. Buy a WP7 phone and you know what OS will be on it. And your phone will get the same upgrades as everyone else. Hurrah! (Yes, eventually these first WP7 phones will suffer the same “not fully upgradable” fate as the first-gen iPhone has).
4. It Comes With Hardware Requirements Right Out of the Gate
You have to be fairly tech savvy to understand your new Android phone’s upgrade path, and even then there’s still guesswork involved. Microsoft wisely laid out specific minimum hardware requirements for all WP7 devices from the get-to. This should alleviate consumer confusion and anxiety over upgrade paths. Bonus: Hardware camera buttons for all!
5. It Supports Zune Pass
EVERY Windows Phone 7 phone is the Zune Phone. That’s a pretty sweet deal. We’ve always thought Zune to be the perfect music service for people who love downloading new music. It’s all-you-can eat subscription mentality is a welcome counterpoint to Apple’s pay-per-download model.
6. It has a Sync client
Zune for Windows and the new (Beta-only) Windows Phone Connector for Mac may not be the best phone-to-PC app out there, but at least WP7 has an official, supported solution for managing smartphone media from your PC.
7. It's Different
Microsoft is not about to be sued by Apple for infringing any iOS design patents with WP7. Of course, you can't patent "a grid of icons" (can you?) Different isn't always better, but in a smartphone world dominated by iPhones and Android devices, WP7's novel approach is appreciated and sure to catch a few eyes. Above and beyond the look and feel, we like the way apps are segmented by activity (photo, music, etc), and we love the instant integration with Microsoft Office, even if we’re a little disappointed that there’s no built-in connectivity to SkyDrive.
5 Ways Windows Phone 7 Isn't Better Than Android
1. It Can't…
With Windows Phone 7, you can’t cut and paste, play Flash, HTML 5, or Silverlight videos. You also can’t unify your Inbox or show threaded email. This is a pretty significant laundry list of “can nots” for a late-2010 smartphone platform. Any one of these could be a dealbreaker for a given user type; combine them and you’ve got a lot of would-be buyers shaking their heads and moving on to (or sticking with) Android.
2. It's Not as Customizable
No home screen widgets, no custom ringtones, no Live Wallpaper, no Home Replacement apps, no sign of extending share options by installing new services (i.e. Installing the “Touietur” app adds a Touiteur option to the Gallery->Share menu). Android rocks when it comes to totally customizing your personal smartphone experience, and WP7 doesn’t appear to offer nearly as many options.
3. It Won’t Have Many Apps
Android’s Marketplace is closing in on 100,000 apps and some people still complain that even this is lacking compared to Apple’s App Store, which is more than double that. Microsoft claimed a few weeks back to be readying “thousands of apps” for WP7’s launch, though tech journalists expected something more on the order of 100. We're seeing more than 100 but less than 1,000 on our demo unit. It's a great start, and some of the apps are sweet (Netflix, Twitter, I'm looking at you), but the Marketplace still has some bare shelves to fill.
4. This is Version 1.0
Get ready for bugs. Get ready to wait for features your friends already have. Get ready to wait for v2.0.
5. It's GSM-Only
Sprint? Verizon? No WP7 for you. At least not until next year.