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iPhone vs Windows Phone – Steel cage death match

December 19, 2010

I keep getting asked about whether someone should be an iPhone or a Windows Phone now that Microsoft has shipped a decent phone. Rather than repeat the same info every time I’m going to try and summarize my thoughts here. Bear in mind that these are MY thoughts… your mileage may vary, dealer may sell for less, slightly higher in Canada. I have an iPhone 3GS running iOS 4.1, and my wife has a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7. So I am speaking purely from personal experience.  And I know

First off, they’re both great phones. You can pick either one and be, in turn, elated and frustrated. But how frustrated and how elated you are will depend on what specifically you’re looking for. So here are the bulleted advantages & disadvantages of each platform.  I tried to focus on the positive of each, so where one phone wins I list that as an advantage for one, not as a disadvantage for the other.

Also, there are a lot of things that are great about BOTH platforms.  That list is at the end.



  • Lots of productivity apps – from ToodleDo to Evernote to CamCard you’ll have your pick.
  • Multiple mailboxes of different types (ActiveSync, IMAP, POP) all aggregated so if you want to you can see all your mail in one list.
  • Contacts sync with GMail and Hotmail and Exchange… can aggregate contacts from several sources.
  • Kindle app and iBook app so you can take your pick of e-reader bookstores.
  • If you use iTunes you will feel right at home.  iTunes integration, AAC and MP3 support.
  • Lots of games.  Your kids will love to borrow this phone.
  • Lots of accessories – cases, speaker docks, alarm clocks — so you can personalize your device.
  • Several turn-by-turn GPS options (I prefer Motion-X) as well as Bing Maps and Google Maps… if you get lost it’s your own fault!
  • Multitasking with an app picker and cut&paste — it’s easy to move data between apps if they’ve been modified for iOS4.


  • Voice calls drop frequently.  And while Apple blames this on AT&T, I have a lot of AT&T phones.  This is an iPhone problem.
  • If you use a lot of multitasking apps, you’ll be rebooting your phone frequently.
  • No expandable storage.
  • Requires AAC & iTunes for DRM music…  doesn’t play well with Xbox media extenders.
  • Voice Control is hit-or-miss.
  • Uses the painful 30-pin iPod connector.  You’ll need a bunch of these cables.  Haven’t these people heard of Micro USB?

Windows Phone 7


  • Better battery life… you can get through a whole day without a charge if you don’t use GPS.
  • Tiles let you quickly jump to people or apps you need quickly, and show you things like # of unread messages or texts quickly.
  • Easier to dial and use one-handed.
  • Voice dial works great.  Speaker-independant voice recognition.  “Call Beth Newfeld at Home” works.
  • Facebook integration and Skydrive integration allow you to stay on top of your family events while at work (and vice versa)
  • Xbox Live integration… Xbox Live Arcade games are making their way to Windows Phone
  • Zune Pass – if you have one ($15/month) you can download or stream unlimited music.
  • Facebook integration means when you take a picture you can immediately post it without jumping between apps.
  • People tiles let you get quick updates on the important people in your life.  These work very well.  One-touch and you can call, text, email or check their Facebook status.
  • Several form factors – thin touchscreen, landscape slider.
  • Great soft keyboard with multiple suggestions.  This can really speed your typing and in my opinion is a better approach than iPhone’s Auto-correct.
  • Wireless sync via wi-fi for backing up the phone and synching playlists and photos.  No cables needed.
  • Photos can be auto-uploaded to Facebook, Skydrive or both.  No more “take a picture, start an app, upload a picture” cycles.


  • No twitter integration.  So it’s not really a “social” phone, it’s a Facebook phone.
  • Apps save context rather than multitask – this is good for 90% of use cases (and is easier on the processor) but apps still have to be written properly to do this.
  • No cut & paste although rumor is that this is coming in Q1 of 2011.
  • The only turn-by-turn guidance is a pay service from AT&T :(
  • Many, many fewer apps.  While more are coming, the app store is less than 1% of the iPhone or Android stores.
  • After the Home screen for a few favorite apps, there’s no app organization.  Apps are displayed alphabetically.  I don’t know if search works for apps… hopefully it does.

Things that I love about BOTH phones

  • Netflix app.  You can stream movies over 3G or Wifi.  Wow.  I love being able to watch an episode of Babylon 5 while I am working out!
  • A lot of great productivity apps exist that synchronize with the cloud, so you’re data isn’t just trapped on your phone.  I don’t like anything to be “just on my phone” and so all of my critical apps synch with other places.  Evernote is one of my favorite things.
  • Calendar integration with Windows Live Mail and GMail.  I have 9 separate calendars for different parts of my life and I can view one or all of them.



From → Mobile phones

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