Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Windows Phone vs. Android

Android is the market share leader in the mobile space in US as of January 2012 with around 50% market share (according to NPD via Engadget). They are doing this by flooding the market with tons of phones, ranging from free, cheap phones, prepaids, and mid-range, and top of the line phones. People have plenty of options when getting an Android phone.

The Nexus line/series is the bar that Google put out to showcase the new OS releases. Nexus One was release to showcase Froyo (version 2.2), Nexus S for Gingerbread (2.3.x), and Galaxy Nexus for Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.x).

I was an Android user, starting with the G1 (the original Android phone - back in 2008). When my wife's old Windows Mobile 6.1 phone died, I got her a G2 (also an Android phone). I recommended Android phones to many of my friends - and many of them did switched to Android (from Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, etc). But late 2010, my love for Android grew weary and when Windows Phone came out, I jumped ship and I am happily recommend Windows Phone to anyone instead of Android. Why?

This post is a part of a series titled "Should I Get a Windows Phone?":

  1. Windows Phone vs. BlackBerry
  2. Windows Phone vs. Android
  3. Windows Phone vs. iPhone
  4. Windows Phone vs. "the rest" (WinMo, Bada, Symbian, etc)
Why go with Windows Phone (vs. Android)?
  1. Windows Phone major releases are on time and you will get it within reasonable manner (usually within 1 month) after its release - for all devices. This means 1 year old Windows Phone will get update approximately the same time as a new Windows Phone that your friend just got last week. This also means that you are very likely to be running the latest, greatest features available in the Windows Phone OS at all times (instead of always a generation or two behind). With Android, your device may never get updated to the newest Android features. Unless you are always getting the Nexus series (which is around $299 with 2 year contract), the updates are really slow to get to your phone. This is caused by the fragmentation of the Android operating system itself by carriers and manufacturers in making it work with their devices and services. Although a this article by Michael Degusta is about iOS and Android, it illustrates well about the fragmentation and lateness of Android updates, so if you get your Android phone now, most likely it will be a version behind in OS and will remain that way or worse (unless you are getting the Nexus series).

  2. Streamlined & consistent user interface. Windows Phones is consistent regardless of carriers or manufacturers. From using a Nokia, an HTC, a Samsung, etc they are all look similar and everything is where it's suppose to be. With Android, not only devices are in different OS versions (which introduce new things, changes, and adjustments), manufacturers also put a lot of stuff (HTC with "Sense", Motorola with "MotoBlur" etc). So your experience in using can be different (and sometimes radically). This is a big turn off for me. Although I consider myself as an informed Android user, but sometimes using my friend's HTC MyTouch 3G is quite a difficult adjustment.

  3. Much more user-friendly interface. Android is much more well-known as a "power-user" phone. It provides a lot of opportunities for customizations, mods, etc. Compared to this, Windows Phone tiles & hub is just so much friendlier. It is also a fresh new look away from the "list of icons". I remember once teaching a friend to use her first Android device - where she basically told me to set it up for her. Months later, her setup was still the same, including the wallpaper, widgets, and shortcuts. I asked her about it and she said she was afraid to change anything and not sure how to get things back if something go wrong. In Windows Phone, to put a tile in the start screen is so easy: find the app you want, long-press it and select "pin to start". In Android (2.3.x or older): long-press empty space in home, select "shortcuts", select "applications", and select your app.

  4. Windows Phone interface is fast & fluid (even without the dual-core). Although none of the current Windows Phone are running dual-core processor, but all of them are still running buttery smooth and fast. My HTC HD7 is a first generation Windows Phone device - and it's still running like a champ. Yes, it is slower compared to the second generation devices, but there is still no lag, or jerky movement, freezing, etc. Compared to my friends Android devices (most of them are newer than my Windows Phone), not only they are running 1 or 2 versions behind on OS, but they need to be rebooted regularly (once every 2 weeks, once a month, once a week, etc), or getting a lot of "force close" on basic apps (GMail, YouTube, etc), interface is getting jerky/lag, and other miscellaneous problems (speaker phone not working consistently, cannot answer phone sometimes, late notifications, etc).

  5. In Windows Phone, you can uninstall "bloatwares". When you buy a phone from a carrier, usually they will include their apps in the phone. With Windows Phone, you can uninstall them easily: find it, long press & hit "Uninstall". With Android, 99% of the time you are stuck with it and cannot be uninstalled. One option is that you can "root" your phone (that is getting an administrative access to your phone) and then flash the ROM (that is installing the Android flavor of your choice). Although I am a pretty savvy user, but it seems unnecessary if I go with Windows Phone.

  6. Live Tiles that just work vs Android clunky widgets. Widgets in Android are cool and I love them for like weather, calendar, email, etc. But they are clunky - sometimes they won't update, do a "force close" or just simply disappear. Some widgets are small, some are big, and some are bigger still. So my home screen ends up looking cluttered and messy. When the widget is running, it means the app is running (and draining battery). With Live Tiles, things are organized, neat, and they just work, plus the app itself is NOT running. I can get the information that I want in a flash and often without launching the app at all.

  7. Windows Phone is cheaper. The top of the line Windows Phone is $199. The top of the line Android is $299 (both with 2 year contract). I would rather use my $100 saving toward something else. Plus, combined with the fragmentation, it is very likely that if I go with Android, my new $299 phone will be outdated (as far as OS goes) within several months and not getting updated for a year plus.

  8. Much better battery life. I use my phone a lot: reading news, checking weather, replying to emails, playing games, as well as syncing 4 email address, Twitter, 2 calendars, and Foursquare.The only constant thing that I see my friends who carry Android device is chargers - even though they have more capacity in their battery (G2 - 1300 mAH, GS1 - 1500 mAH, GS2 - 1650 mAH, EVO 4G - 1750 mAH, etc) than mine. When they are at my house, they borrow my charger, charging in the car, charging while at a computer, at the coffee shop, etc. This especially true for phones running dual-core and with "4G". On the other hand, my HD7 (1230 mAH) only needs charging at over night. I unplugged my phone from the charger around 7am and plug it back before going to bed, around 11pm. I don't have any charger at the office nor in my car.

  9. Better media/music player. Zune is an awesome music player. It's a native client, has millions of songs in the Marketplace, movies, etc. It is also gorgeous and non-intrusive. Zune's subscription based (like Spotify) gives you a lot of freedom instead of pay-per-download based fee. Google Music is a bit of pain-in-the-butt, while Zune just works. To get subscription based music, you will need to download Spotify (or others) in Android.

  10. XBOX Live integration. Windows Phone has Windows Live account integration just as Android has Google account integration. But, XBOX Live integration is a part of the Live service that is unique to Windows Phone. Gamer's score, points, avatar, etc are synced and customization in the console and the phone. Some games even allow game integration between the phone and the console.

  11. Nokia hardware option. Although Nokia used to make outdated OS (Symbian), but their hardware is still sets the bar. Having the option of getting Nokia hardware running Windows Phone is just awesome. Nokia with its volume is also able to drive the price down in the market. The Nokia Lumia 710, which is a entry level Windows Phone device is being sold in US at $49 with 2 year contract, and the Lumia 800 is selling in Europe often for free. The rumor is that Nokia Lumia 900 (coming out March 2012) will be sold for $99 with 2 year contract. Wow!

  12. Better cloud integration with SkyDrive. With Windows Phone, you can have free 25 GB of storage. All your OneNotes will sync (no more need for EverNote), auto-upload options for photos, sharing folders and documents, etc. With MS Office, you can view, edit, and create documents on your phone and put them in SkyDrive. I don't know how many times I have used this feature to review documents or Power Point presentations and taking notes - certainly a very beneficial feature for me. 

  13. Better voice control. MS TellMe is much better and easier to use than Google Voice Action. TellMe understands the non-western names in my contact list. It also works better in understanding me and some of my friends. Plus, it is a lot easier to access TellMe (long press on Start) vs Voice Action (launch an app). Granted that Siri (iOS 5) is still better than both.

  14. Email reading, which I do lot of, is a lot better in Windows Phone - with the big clean text and previews. Combined with the panorama display in hubs, this makes categorizing, reading, and managing emails to be a lot easier in Windows Phone. 

  15. Twitter & Facebook integration. If you are into the social networking scene, this is a must. Instead of opening and closing apps, Windows Phone integrates Facebook & Twitter - so you can do all your social networking stuff without the hassle of opening and closing apps. I am an avid Twitter user (not so much on Facebook), so this is a big deal for me.

  16. Much better Exchange integration. If you are an MS Exchange user, Windows Phone do this much much better than Android. Touchdown in Android helps, but it is costly ($19.99). I manage all my contacts and calendar in Exchange, so being able to sync (push) them into my phone is just a must.

  17. Better touch-screen keyboard - across any device. With Android, you get hit and miss.

  18. Windows Phone has the best Foursquare app, called "4th and Mayor". Much better than the official one, in any platform. 

Why go with Android?
  1. Excellent turn-by-turn navigation. I still envy the GPS feature that Android has - until now. This is simply awesome. With Windows Phone, we need 3rd party apps - or continue hoping that Nokia & Bing will one day provide this for all devices. Currently only Nokia devices get the Nokia Drive.

  2. More variety in the market. The cell-phone market is saturated with Android phones. There are probably around 30+ Android phones released every year. In comparison, Apple release 1 version of hardware every year or so and about 10 Windows Phone per year. So more choices for you if you go with Android.

  3. More apps. Android Market has more than 300,000 apps. Windows Phone Marketplace only has around 60,000 apps. Windows Phone still has a lot of catching up to do - but I find all the major apps that I need are already in Marketplace. Yes, there are the missing "tricorder" app that I "need", or the "battery saver" app etc. But with Windows Phone, there is already a native battery-saver feature under "settings" and for the "tricorder", I use the G2 for that, so I can use the tricorder while on the phone.

  4. Most Android phones has dual-core processor. Although this translate very little improvement in daily use (in fact MS did a contest called "Smoked by Windows Phone" during CES, go here for results & detail), but this still becomes a prevalent marketing strategy. 

  5. If you use "WhatsApp" app, the Android version is still better than the Windows Phone one.

  6. No Skype, yet. Nothing much to say here ...

If there is no Windows Phone, I would probably stick with Android - and I used to be an Android lover. But time has changed and Windows Phone (especially Mango) just won me over.

No comments: