I have used every generation of iPhone since the iPhone 3. This comes after being an "early adopter" of various PDA platforms/devices (starting with the Casio devices in the late 1990s). I've used Blackberrys, Windows CE devices, Palms, Sony and other devices that began blending phone/PDA capabilities. And with all this, the iPhone was a revelation. The UI, the intuitiveness, the versatility and the apps - oh the apps! But due to a recent short- to mid-term job assignment that has me traveling to areas where my reliable AT&T service is, truly, non-existent, I opted to pick up a second device on Verizon. Rather than duplicating my AT&T iPhone 5, I chose to use this as an opportunity to explore another smartphone platform. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was a bit too expensive and far away for my purposes - and the Samsung Galaxy S3 seems a bit too dated - so I bypassed Android. I would have liked to try the new Blackberry Z10, but, like the S4, I couldn't wait for it. And as I was an early user (and fan in many ways) of Microsoft's early ventures into mobile device ecosystems, I ended up choosing the HTC Windows Phone 8X. After a few weeks of use, below are my summary thoughts on the distinctives of the iPhone 5 and the WP 8X.
iPhone 5 wins
- Siri and voice recognition integration is a huge feature that iOS does extremely well. While windows has voice recognition the functionality is much poorer than iOS and the integration much more limited.
- Keyboard function on the windows phone is noticeably poorer than that of the iPhone - thus may be the biggest reason I would be reluctant to make a full conversion to a windows phone as my primary, sole device. That said, some of this may be a slight orientation difference between the iPhone and WP8X that I just haven't adjusted to yet. For example, when I type on the iPhone, I tend to "aim" my taps at the upper right corner of the keys for a more reliable selection. It seems the WP8X is almost the opposite - favoring instead an "aim" toward the lower left to middle of the key. If this mental shift works, my frustrating with WP8X typing might abate some. But the predictive text features are another shortfall for WP8X that I don't think is operator dependent.
- Cut-and-paste, text selection and cursor movement/placement (for in-line editing) on the WP8X is less intuitive and clumsier than the iPhone.
- Apps - Good for corporate email and Toodledo for task management are critical absences on the windows platform. The absence of Instagram and Vine are crucial in social media. And the poor functionality of Yelp! app is unacceptable.
- Camera - the iPhone 5 camera is better hardware, better UI and better integration with other apps. The difference really is minor and I think too much has been made of this particular distinction compared to some of the ones listed above.
Windows Phone wins
- Hardware - the hardware design of the HTC Windows Phone 8X is a marvel - the screen, the size, the "heft" in the hand, the speed & smoothness of the operation - superior to the iPhone 5
- Look and feel - this phone is a pleasure to hold - it feels slimmer in the hand than the iPhone 5, but stronger at the same time - I don't feel the need to "baby" it as I do the iPhone 5; the "feel" of it is superior as well
- Interface and menuing - the Live Tile technology and the "pin to start" options are a great time savor and easier to navigate than the now-dated iOS iconography
The lack of a small number of critical apps combined with the Siri superiority makes me believe I'll stick with the iPhone 5 as my primary device. But the choice is not an easy one. As I write this, I am in the "Verizon zone" and as such have been using the WP8X for several days. I'm already a little depressed about returning to AT&T land with the iPhone UI - it feels bleak and confined and limiting. I will be glad to get Siri and Instagram and ToodleDo back - along with the ability to check in on Yelp! But while my capabilities will expand somewhat, I won't enjoy using them quite as much as if they were in the WP ecosystem.