Some shared thoughts.
The hardware is a HTC Trophy. I don't know much about HTC phones even though I have probably owned one and not realised it. Can't fault the hardware: sturdy, great screen (very bright) and if the battery runs down I can change it. There is an advantage in being able to pick the hardware that suits you rather than having to make do with something that perhaps doesn't meet your needs (probably a geek perspective). The camera is okay but nothing to get really excited about. It's a 5MP shooter with a flash; the pictures are a little grainy, but they're okay for Facebook, Twitter etc. I'm still of the opinion that if you want to take decent pictures or videos then you should really buy a camera.
I really like the haptic feedback on the buttons. Some folk don't, but I didn't have a problem with them,
Now, on to the operating system.
Well, it's different and from a UI perspective, I think it's brilliant. It's clean, minimalist and the font (what is that font?) is the best I've seen on any device. The 'window on a really wide screen' paradigm works very well: I scroll across and I can tell what's coming next, or what screen I was in before. I remember a lot of sniggering over the Zune interface because folk reckoned that MS was cutting off words because they wouldn't fit on the screen. Well, that was very much deliberate and it works just as well on the phone. And icons? Who needs 'em?
Is it better than the iPhone/Android interface? It's horses for courses really. For me, yes.
Speaking of the Zune interface, in my humble opinion it beats the music player on the iPhone/iPod Touch in terms of usability. Nice big controls and it just looks so good when it's on screen. Well done. Incidentally, the sound quality of my HTC Trophy is far superior to that of my iPod Touch. Go figure.
The whole Hub thing works for me. Having all your people in one place really does save a lot of time…or does it? The thing is that I didn't really do a lot of twitter or Facebook until I got this bloody phone! Now I go into the People Hub and I can see who's doing what and who's saying what, and who's just had a kid… All of a sudden, I'm a social network freak! Can't blame MS for that though. Anyway, the Hub thing works, and I can just glance at the phone and see straight away if I need to drill down any further. Yes, live tiles are the future.
Okay, so what don't I like: plenty.
I don't have a problem with the unused black strip that runs down the right side of the main screen. The tiles are large so it's nice to have an area you can scroll across without launching into your email…but what you scroll into is an epic epic EPIC fail.
Yes, it's the application list.
To whom it may concern:
Mate, as history should have beaten into you time and time again, the desktop app menu does not work on a phone. It doesn't matter how you animate it or how you bend it – it doesn't work. Read it again:
So let's stop being childish and put it in a grid (a square grid, not a honeycomb just to be hip and different). And while you're at it, let's have folders so you can categorise your applications. Seriously, 'desktop squeezed on to a phone' is dead and starting to smell a bit funny; it's time to let it go.
The rest of the problems I have with the phone seem to be rather bizarre omissions which should not have been left out of the first cut. To start with, there is no way to find the MAC address of the phone. Oddly, MS reckons that there is nothing wrong with leaving this out on a phone that has to support WIFI. The only way to do it is open up your router so it can tell you what the address of your phone is! How weird is that?
Still in the WIFI arena, there is no quick way to turn the WIFI receiver on and off: you have to drill down through the setting to do it which is annoying given how much the WIFI drains the phone on this model. What is needed is a one-touch menu to turn the WIFI (and Bluetooth) on and off. Better yet, how about something that uses the location function to switch on the WIFI as soon as you enter the house?
Gripe Number Three: I like to lock the phone when I'm not using it, but if I switch it on again after twenty seconds, then I don't think I should have to put the passcode in again. How about an extra option on the security screen that says, 'Lock the phone after X minutes'?
Applications are still very thin on the ground (if you call 4,000 apps 'thin') and the quality is still pretty ropey as far as I can tell. I'm not sure how much this is going to improve to be honest: Microsoft is coming in at the ground without the windows hegemony to draw developers (how many Silverlight applications have you seen?). Google went with Java (of sorts) and Apple has the numbers to raise the demand for ObjectiveC expertise. The other problem is that MS has been beaten back from supporting consumers which will also affect the popularity of Windows Phone 7. The Mac has more personal finance apps now, and more iOS apps to connect to them. There are a few simple personal finance apps for Windows Phone, but nothing to connect them to.
I don't think MS will catch up with Android and iOS in terms of application numbers, but then I don't really think I'll ever need half a million apps loaded onto my phone either.
The connection to the Cloud is adequate. The phone links seamlessly to Windows Live, which unfortunately has a crappy user interface when compared to Google and Apple's offerings. Windows Live Contacts has a placeholder for a contact's picture, but no way to actually add it. WTF?? Still, it is usable, and I haven't come across any of the reliability problems so far: everything seems to get synced within about ten minutes.
So would I recommend the phone?
It does lack polish, and I wouldn't recommend the phone based on what may and may not be fixed in the future, so if this is a problem then it would be best to stick with Android or the iPhone.
If you're a social network animal who doesn't need a whole load of apps and can live with the quirks then it is definitely worth a look. The UK networks have some good deals for WP7 phones so trying it out as a 'smartphone starter' is pretty cheap.
Overal mark: 7/10