Should I Get Android or Windows Phone 8?
by rmintzes - 8/16/12 10:01 AM
I suppose this can qualify as general discussion as well, but it's been nagging at me for a while and I figured I'd air it out here in the technosphere. Forgive the length of this, but I have a lot of thoughts that factor into this question.
I currently have an iPhone 4, which by all accounts has served me well over the last year and a half. I will soon be coming due for an upgrade, and I feel the iOS interface has become a little stale for my tastes (full disclosure: I also have an iPad 2, but I don't plan on replacing that anytime soon).
With this in mind, I've reached a dilemma: for my next phone, should I go with something running Android, or should I go to Windows Phone 8?
My history with technology is mixed. I'm not a developer, but I guess one could categorize me as an "advanced consumer." I can move back and forth pretty seamlessly between Mac OS X and Windows (I was a Mac devotee until I entered the architecture profession, which has a much stronger Windows base), and I know how to manipulate each of the big 3 mobile operating systems. Learning curve has no bearing on this decision, as I will hunker down and learn what I have to, provided I know I made the right choice for myself.
I like the fact that Android is open source, and think the Holo interface of ICS is gorgeous (I'm not really one for the UI skins made by some of the manufacturers), but I know of many people complaining about the fact that the operating system updates don't roll out on a unified schedule. My dad and brother had the LG Ally and spent a long time wondering if they were ever going to get Android FroYo (they eventually got iPhones). At least I know that Windows Phone would have a coordinated update, since it's not open source. As someone in a design field, I'm pretty much in love with the Windows Phone/Windows 8 interface (I'm not saying that all designers automatically love it, but I personally do because of my own background). It's simple, crisp, and clean. I love the emphasis on typography and icons, and the live tiles look very useful. I've grown tired of glossy and faux-3D effects.
My concern has more to do with general apps and how I organize my life. I have pretty much everything on Google: G-Mail, Google Drive/Docs, Calendar, Google Play Music. It's my go-to for search and for maps, and I haven't ventured too far beyond it except for using Bing on occasion. I feel that as Microsoft builds in more support, I'd be able to natively sync my Google data with the WP system (or can that be done already?). WP has the fewest apps out there designed by Google, but that could change in the next 6 months and the necessary apps could be available. WP has Facebook (and I've heard very good things about social integration), and I can read my Kindle books on it, look on Yelp, and that's mainly it. Save for a few other apps, I think I use about 10-15% of the apps that I currently have on my iPhone, so having a smaller app base isn't necessarily a problem. The only game I ever really play anymore is Tetris, and if I feel the need to play any other game, I do so on my iPad. Furthermore, I also like the fact that WP8 and Windows 8 will be sharing the Windows NT core, considering that the next laptop I get will most likely be running Windows 8 (currently using a Windows 7 ThinkPad that I heavily used and abused in architecture school). I imagine the phone and computer would be able to sync together nicely (one can hope).
So, forgive all the rambling, but as you can see I'm trying to ponder this more heavily than just the look of the operating system and social integration (thumbs up Windows) or just Google integration (thumbs up Android). Hardware specs don't mean as much to me for this decision (don't get me wrong...I like a powerful piece of hardware as much as the next person, but since I'm not in this for tons of video and games, and I don't take phone pictures besides the impromptu snapshot, it's not the guiding light here).