I’ve been using Windows Phone ever since the release of WP 7.5. My first Windows Phone was a Nokia Lumia 710. It was very small, looked very mundane and had middling specs. However, I didn’t buy the phone for its looks or its technical brawn, I bought it for its OS. I’m a very big Microsoft fanboy and so is my father. So, when we heard of the release of a Windows Phone in India, we jumped at it. Before that I was using an old, yet sturdy Nokia 5233 which didn’t really pass for a “smartphone” any more. Thus, when I had the phone in my hands, its drawbacks (of which there were plenty) went unnoticed by me because of how novel, not just the phone, but the concept of a smartphone was to me.
Soon, my father had a Windows Phone too and was engrossed by it. Windows Phone was definitely behind its competition, but we didn’t care because we really didn’t use the phone for much other than calls, messages, WhatsApp and the occasional web browsing. Before long we had upgraded to the newer models as soon as they released. I was loving Windows Phone, but it soon became apparent that maybe Microsoft didn’t love it as much as me. Windows Phone 8 brought very few improvements – a few cosmetic changes and of course, some added functionality, but not nearly as much as it needed. It was still far behind Android and iOS and the relative sparseness of its app store was severely hurting it. However, Microsoft had bigger concerns at the time – Windows 8 had flopped and they were pooling all their resources into damage control. Yet again, Windows Phone users were left unattended and disappointed.
Windows Phone 8.1 was a step in the right direction, but WP still had a ways to go. As I started relying more and more on my phone for my work, I started facing increasing amounts of difficulty with Windows Phone – MS Office was a mess, WhatsApp was slow and buggy and the browser was terrible. In a nutshell, doing any actual work on the phone was a nightmare.
When Windows 10 Mobile was released in its beta stage to “Windows Insiders” or beta testers, I immediately jumped on board. The changes to WP such as a better app drawer, a new and faster browser called Spartan (changed to Edge now), tighter Cortana integration and a completely new marketplace were like manna from heaven. The software was laggy and there were obviously plenty of bugs, but otherwise, the OS was great.
Fast-forward a year and Windows 10 Mobile had still not been released officially – my phone was still running what Microsoft termed a “Preview version” of Windows 10 mobile. Every other month there was an update. Nonetheless, the OS was still terribly slow and riddled with bugs – Groove Music would crash at the worst times, Edge would take what seemed like forever to load a page and tabs would appear and disappear at the phone’s whim.
I was at my wit’s end and I started cursing my phone more and more as time passed. At Microsoft’s latest keynote address, Satya Nadella didn’t even mention Windows 10 mobile and another top executive said that the company was going to put Windows 10 Mobile on the back-burner for now. Additionally, in a few months HERE Drive and HERE Maps would stop support for Windows Phones. This may not sound like a big deal, but my father and I depend solely on these apps for navigation during holidays. Without them, we’d be like blind men trying to hit the bulls-eye on a target a hundred meters away.
I finally realized that it was now time to jump ship. As much as I hated the thought of it, it had to be done. I first thought of turning to Apple, but the iPhone 6 and the 6s were priced at almost forty thousand and sixty thousand rupees respectively – they’d better be made of gold for that price. I decided not to opt for the 5s because it was almost three years old which is ancient by today’s standards. The only alternative was Android. The question was “which phone? ” Fortunately, that decision was made a lot easier by a salesman at the nearby mobile store who completely sold me on the new Samsung Galaxy A7. The phone looked great, performed great and had an excellent camera for when I have the sudden need to capture the moment. It also had a neat fingerprint sensor.
Before long, I had bid goodbye to Windows Phone and had embraced Android. Right off the bat, I noticed that Windows Phone was a lot prettier compared to the stock interface on the A7. However, a new theme and wallpaper took care of that. Chrome is miles ahead of Edge and is a breeze to use, the PlayStore has an eclectic selection of apps and games and the amount of customization possible on Android is staggering. It was all very confusing initially, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. I was and still am fiddling with my phone when I have a spare moment, learning more and more and also, moulding the phone to look and perform the way I like.
I’ve used the phone for three days now and I’ve come to a conclusion – Android truly is better than Windows Phone for a power user like me. Despite that, I still miss some features of my old Lumia 540 such as Cortana who I find superior to Google Now because she feels like an actual assistant; the Data Sense application on my 540 was really good at managing my mobile data usage and so was Battery Saver; the push notifications were a very useful feature that haven’t been done as well on Android. But most of all, I miss the look of Windows Phone; no OS looks as good as WP with its vibrant and colorful tiles. Android in comparison looks cold and impersonal no matter what customizations I make to it. This may just be the nostalgia speaking, but no one can deny the aesthetic appeal of WP.
After almost 5 years of using Windows Phone, I felt like a traitor for abandoning it. However, the switch was truly necessary. I wish Microsoft would do something about its mobile platform because I would jump back onboard in a heartbeat. But for now, it’s lost one of its most loyal customers.