Mobile Talk: Windows Phone 8 is no substitute for Android or iOS

Blogs Richard Goodwin 16:00, 23 Nov 2012

Windows Phone 8 is definitely not for me, says Richard Goodwin

Excited about the prospect of Windows Phone 8? I was too – but after a week of using the platform, I’m now convinced that Windows Phone still has a long way to go before it can be considered a viable alternative to iOS and Android

Android and iOS have many advantages over Windows Phone 8, but perhaps the biggest is the length of time they’ve been available. The first Android-powered handset – the T-Mobile G1 – came out in 2008 and Apple’s first 2G iPhone landed in 2007. Since then both platforms have evolved significantly. 

Windows Phone, by comparison, is a newbie and is still very much finding its feet within the space. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s always good to have new ways of doing things. But it does pose problems for certain types of users invested in other platforms. 

Coming from Android 4.2 to Windows Phone 8 was an odd experience, almost like stepping back in time. On the surface Windows Phone 8 looks ultra-modern and fresh. The UI is snappy and navigating around the phone is simple. I also really liked having the ability to re-size live tiles. 

Microsoft’s vision for how you interact with a mobile device is also very bold, it dares to try something new – and that’s highly commendable. But in a world where most people are used to Android or iOS’s way of doing things, switching to Windows Phone presents quite a few problems. 

My main gripe with Windows Phone is the lack of applications. It’s way behind iOS and Android. And it’s not just big name games and mobile specific apps I’m talking about here, it’s things like Dropbox, Google Drive, Chrome, Google Reader – stuff you take for granted on iOS, Android and even desktops. 

Apps like these, particularly Dropbox, Drive, Chrome and Reader, are integral to my day-to-day working life. Windows Phone 8 supports none, which causes all sorts of problems for a user like me. I need these things. And if they’re not available, I'll go elsewhere. 

Microsoft’s SkyDrive is thoroughly excellent, offering all the functionality of Dropbox and top-notch syncing between mobile, desktop, and tablet, which is great. Thing is – I don’t use SkyDrive because I'm committed to Google and Dropbox’s way of doing things years ago, and I’m not switching allegiance now. 

I do get why people like Windows Phone 8, though. It looks pretty, has lots of cool things like the People hub, which aggregates all your social feeds into one place, and it powers some of the best hardware currently on market like Nokia’s Lumia 920Lumia 820 and the HTC 8X, for instance. 

I also love Xbox Music, which is by far the best music service available on any platform, absolutely wiping the floor with iTunes and Google Music in my opinion. I’d like to say it’s a big USP for Windows Phone, but it isn’t because it will soon be available on iOS and Android, as will Office Mobile. 

This is great news for Android and iOS users, potentially bad news for Apple and Google’s business models, and a stupid move by Microsoft as it’s effectively offering over its platform’s USPs to its two biggest competitors. God knows who signed off on that one. 

I also struggled getting basic things done with Windows Phone. During the week I had the Lumia 920 I tweeted less, hardly went on Facebook, and barely browsed the web. 

The reason? I don’t like using aggregated services for things like Twitter and Facebook. Dedicated apps work better for me, despite the inventive nature of Windows Phone’s People Hub. I’ve also lovingly maintained an extensive collection of bookmarks in Chrome, which, of course, isn't available for Windows Phone and the bookmarks aren’t supported in IE10. 

But the thing that really annoys me about Windows Phone is the waiting. It just goes on and on and on. Open an application, it doesn't matter if it’s native or third party, and you have to wait a few seconds too long for it to do anything. This irked me when using Windows Phone 7 and I’m disappointed that Microsoft hasn’t sorted it out in Windows Phone 8. 

By the end of the week I’d grown so tired of staring at Microsoft’s loading-beads that I switched back to my Note 2 a day early. I’d like to say a lot of the above can be put down to the learning curve associated with Windows Phone, but it can’t – I used Windows Phone 7 for months, I know Windows Phone quite well. 

And I think the fact that Microsoft is launching a lot of its services – SmartGlass, Xbox Music, Xbox Live – cross-platform shows that it doesn't have total faith in its operating system either.

In fact, I’d argue that Microsoft doesn’t even need a mobile phone operating system. Just do Windows 8/RT-powered hybrid devices instead, focus on further developing services like SmartGlass and Xbox Music, and leave the phone space to Google and Apple. 

I wanted to like Windows Phone 8, and I do love certain aspects of it, like the way it looks and the built in Xbox services. But in practice, as an every day phone, it lacks so much of what’s now taken for granted inside Android and iOS, So much so that anyone switching from an iPhone or, say, a Galaxy S3 will be horribly disappointed.  

Perhaps Windows Phone is best viewed by someone who's never used iOS or Android? At least that way you wouldn’t miss either platform. It’ll be interesting to see how Windows Phone stacks up against RIM’s BlackBerry 10 platform, which is scheduled to launch on January 30. 

2013 will be an interesting year for both companies. At present, though, my money is on BlackBerry 10 stealing the third spot. Sorry, Microsoft. 


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How much did you get paid to write this article!

can not agree more than what you said. I wonder why the apps open take so long. all the rest of the operation is smooth but opening up apps takes long time. Also, the wifi is turned off everytime i switched screen off, and switch application. i waited for my email attachment long time just to find out it has been suspended on the background (WTH??). Volume management also is a joke and the fact that it does not sync with gmail is complete joke. One last grievance is that the notification is so confusing. why do even need to put the phone live tile just to be able to know someone has missed called me 5 minutes ago. Home screen supposed to be for most used apps and not must used function like message, email and phone. My home screen now only has the must used apps just to be able to see if there is notification coming. and there is no way to check / do setting change once you are in apps which are frustrating (esp screen brightness/gps toggle etc). WP is complete joke.

$6 billion.

Agreed! I do get why people like it though - there's a lot of potential there. I just expected to see more from WP8, perhaps too much. With WIndows it's Microsoft's way or the highway. And, yes, I know that's also the case with Android and Apple, too - it always will be. The only difference here is that two of the three aforementioned companies already have established mobile platforms, which many people have been using for years.

If you're new to the game, you need to be open. Failing that, ensure you've got the top 100 iOS/Android apps available on your platform at launch. Microsoft has done neither, and that's why, as of Q1 2013, Windows Phone 8 is still very much no substitute for iOS or Android.


Any way, I remember something similar was said too many years ago about Sony Play Station. especially the (no apps) part; they were talking about (no games). Believe it or not, WP8 is going to rule them all.

There is a lot of potential, I agree. But it's been two years and the apps situation - for me personally - is still pretty appalling.

Securing apps is a catch 22 situation – you need market traction to inspire big name developers to create content for your platform – and i remember when Android wasn't quite there also. But that was then; 2013's market is a lot different. Smartphones are ubiquitous and consumers shouldn't have to wait for MS and BlackBerry to pull their proverbial fingers out.

Maybe this will change by 2016, as you say. Maybe not. Either way, I won't be losing any sleep over it. I just go with the best platforms, and at the moment that's iOS and Android. Simples.

/* Apps like these, particularly Dropbox, Drive, Chrome and Reader, are
integral to my day-to-day working life. Windows Phone 8 supports none,
which causes all sorts of problems for a user like me. I need these
things. And if they’re not available, I'll go elsewhere */

Reader will be gone by July 1, Where are you going?

maybe have a little cry, then perhaps a cup of tea?

I still rather use Windows phone and iOS phone than Android.

its just a preferences matter, i have used android long time and switched to windows phone 7 last year, I cannot complain, im pretty happy; last week i was planning to buy a new phone, i tested a bunch of them, sgs3, htconex and xperia z, sure those are pretty good machines but i realized how outdated, ugly and less performance i got from any of them despite its top notch hardware; Im staying with wp, im on my way for an 8x!!!

that is tha dumist

Yes, WP8 is much simpler than Android 4.x or even iOS6. But WP8's major dissapointment is the lack of popular apps. Perhaps need to wait one or two more year(s) before buying a WP8 phone. As for now, iOS is best for beginners and Android is best for pros (like me)

Biased Article. Though I am having a Experia zL ,I liked my brother's 920 much more than mine .It's simply ultimate. And don't say about apps as whatever app i install in my phone,my bro finds and installs it also if he likes it.Windows phone app store may lag behind android app store but it is not like when windows phone was launched. The gap is closing.

And what u like or don't like shouldn't be a part of review just like u said that u don't like sky drive over dropbox. Both are the same things. They are not bike or car that u can say..this one goes faster than the other.

I am a windows phone developer and android phone user and used androids like samsung galaxy-Ace,POP,S2,Htc 1V and Xperia ZL. My brother is windows phone crazy and bought 5windows phone since Sony Ericsson Aspen. And we're crazy about new mobiles:-)


I have to agree on this article. I live in the UK and Im using Android and Windows Phone 8. Nexus 4 and Lumia 920. I do love Windows phone but it gets tiring waiting for some apps. Sure, most people would say "Oh why always complain about the lack of apps" I'll tell you why, I rely on my mobile device more than my home. As i travel for business I need to access my banks to do banking... NO APPS! I need to check my monthly allowance to make sure I am not near or I must pay my bill early. NO APPS! Unfortunately contrary to what people say, Apps and an ecosystem is fundamental to a platform and a device or why should I be using it? Because it serves me with gorgeous live tiles and colours? Errrm no. For me and many other people, its counter-productive and creates just another thorn in the ass... Love WP8 and I'm not exactly a lover of Google and their spy in the sky attitude or business practices, but it's not ready to compete or make me switch from Android just yet! No way!

I´ve seen all Microsoft efforts to try doing a well working OS and I still haven´t seen a good OS. My windows 7 chrashes and 8 is a joke. The reason why apps take so long is that the OS makes a lot of other things that you haven´t got the faintest idéa of while trying to execute your command, its full of shit. For every version the put in more shit so that you have to upgrade the hardware to be able to use the latest software. Windows is history or is soon going to be.....

I would have to say, Dropbox & Google Drive are inferior to SkyDrive. I had a Dropbox account that somehow was completely wiped out and have heard other users say the same thing. Gmail is cluttered and cumbersome compared to as well.

And for the record, I traded in my Galaxy S 3 for the HTC Windows Phone 8. I was won over initially by the Windows 8 operating system.

Calm down Richard!

Ha Ha down buddy:) He couldn't diff between opinion and review. forget about him making decisions on phones!(OS' infact).

Don't worry guys, Rich has since been restrained, sedated and put on a plane to the US. He's now enjoying the calming oasis that is BlackBerry Live.

Excellent review! learned a lot

You have used windows phone (7) for months.. and you still did not knew that your special(google) apps were n't there in Windows 8 phone too?
By the way, Microsoft doesn't have to develop google apps. Its Google who has to do it. Why do you blame Microsoft for that?

I think you are way wrong. The amazing deals being offered on Lumia 620 and 520 (£7.50 per month for a free phone, 200 minutes, unlimited texts etc) will draw in a great many people and being app.centric does not please everyone. There are good third party solutions to the google problem now. I think and hope that WP8 is about to take off!

Windows 8 is great. I used to use dropbox but i have to say i now prefer to use the skydrive on windows 8 mobile instead.

best os i have used on mobile phone. Office 365 works great!

I feel the author of the article is quite biased.
I have used all 3 platforms in past few years and feel except for the small third party apps, most are available and comparatively better performing in WP.
As a business user we cant underestimate power of Office apps. With IE10, best browser experience on a mobile device, Skydrive with its integration with Win 8 and Win 7 PCs and Nokia Drive with its off-line map support are way better than the application mentioned by Author.

u want integrated apps for twitter ? its right there in the store... aadn add ur fav sites to favorites -_-..

seriously ? wifi turns off ? :/ i use wifi.. never happened to my 520.. theres a setting for tht u jerk

u cant blame microsoft for lack of apps.. developers shud develop apps nt microsoft.. geez!!!

Nice logic there, Rainar. Made me laugh out loud on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. Poor old, Microsoft! If only those pesky devs would create apps for their almost-three year old platform. Maybe you should email Steve Ballmer, fill him on on what he's doing wrong?

windows 8 much more stable than android but ios most stable

"anyone switching from an iPhone or, say, a Galaxy S3 will be horribly disappointed" - as an Android-cum-Windows phone-cum-Android user, I can confirm that this is nonesense. As someone who is used to Android and refuses to do things differently, obviously you will not enjoy changing your OS. However, anyone willing to try something different will love WP7-8, as proven by the many, many people that I recommended it to who love it. I always say that, unless people are willing to spend a lot of time working on their device, Android isn't really worth getting. WP8 gives great results with zero effort. Android can provide better results but won't until you've been tweaking and customizing it for weeks.

My dear friend, Windows phones were in the market from 2005. The good old I-mate and Q-tek.

have you used nokia's own mapping software?

i use wp and have no issues with my google stuff sync'n. when I update something on my windows phone, it updates on my android device too.

as for cloud storage, everything is on skydrive.

I personally from using both, buying a windows phone first, and android device after.. simply because the app market didn't make me happy on windows phone.

I hate android, it is full of bugs, randomly crashes. wifi/data connection issues! and i know its a common android thing reading forums.

i like WP because its fast, smooth and reliable.. over anything else. Yeah lack of apps suck, but everything is there when i need it, and no need for tiresome 3rdparty apps for things like the people hub for example with it all being built in. :)

android started long bck compared to windows mobile so gve e newcomer a chance

WP rules...way ahead of bb. u cant live without google reader right and finally what itself removed it...ha ha....a time will come shortly where u will praise WP.

ugh...still counting the days for igoogle. :(

Richard, I agree with you. I'm a big Nokia fan. All but one of my phones were Nokia. I take the offline Nokia Maps for granted and this is probably the only thing that keeps me using Symbian. I do like lots of aspects of Nokia's latest WP8 phones, especially the Lumia 720. It has great design and hardware, great camera, great battery life at a great price. And I find most of the Nokia specific software on the phones really fascinating. Also, as an enthusiast photographer I appreciate the effort Nokia puts in developing its imaging hardware. That said I love technology and I want it all. I'm used to be able to choose my own browser, proper file manager and customize the UI to my liking. Symbian partially meets these requirements. WP doesn't at the moment. The live tiles are nice and work, but are only one way of doing things and you don't have options. Also from the time spent on friends' WP phones I found that visual simplicity doesn't mean simple usability. Most things require you to dig deep. Toggling wi-fi, bluetooth and so on is not so simple. Also, I use a lot of Google services - chrome, Maps, Gmail, Drive, Google+ to name a few and I don't see them coming to WP any time soon. So for the time being I will keep my trusty old 5800XM and wait for WP to improve or Android to get proper offline maps that don't cost an arm and a leg.

i read this article two time, i found the author say more good things (half heartedly) then bad about W8. things like it is bold new way which might not be liked by new user is same as could have been said about ios and android when it was launched. the matter of fact is android has done nothing significant to top the ios experiance (as steve said they just ctrl+V it). I give 100/100 mark to W8 for at least putting some ingenuity in UI. Well some may not like it, they are free to choose what is best for them but just because they dont like it, to say that W8 is no substitute to android/ios i think will be naive.
one of the advantage told about ios and android was that they are in the business long ago compared to Win8.. this is such a crass argument, symbion was before ios and android.. we dont say the same about that, for that matter window mobile (although crappy mobile os) was really one of the first mobile os for smartphones..

Finally coming to the issue of availability of Apps.. you gave example like dropbox.. gdrive, chrome.. i mean chrome i can understand, but dropbox, comman man they are happy with angry birds you see.. and do you think the app market will not change in future at all well that is surely a weakness but it is not the weakness about W-8, it is just that it is still less attractive as business model for developer, but i am sure it will change.

but i firmly believe W-8 is definitely an enhancement to UI compared to IOS. i will choose not to mark android which has done only one thing is to make a copy paste mobile os free to use..

Wrong. wrong and wrong. What else is there to say, and I am an Apple fanboy.

I have used Android for about 2 years and moved across iCS to JB and now i moved to Windows 8. Why ? Purely because the Android system sucked my battery juices dry. I went to the shop and asked him for a phone with a better battery and for whatever it is worth, i got me a Nokia 720

So what do i use my phone for ? Business user - to make calls, messages, emails, calendar and then to see whats up facebook. Oh by the way, i use it for my daily jogs, music during travel and some GPS. No games in both OS versions for now. Somehow i am old fashioned, i still like my football sessions and if i feel the urge to kill someone, then paintball it is

With W8, what Microsoft is so well done is the user interface, simplistic in design with not too many interfaces. And what they have done is to integrate the desktop user experience to the phone. With organizations going BYOD and the fact that most run MS on their servers and desktops, it becomes easier for them to support a W8 rather than Android or iOS. Also, W8 apps seem to have been created and tested for malwares before being introduced into the store which has a better acceptability amongst people

At the end of it all, i ended up with a device which remains with a 47% charge left are 2 days of usage - calls (3 hrs), wifi, GPS (1 hour), music (6 hrs) and a few hrs of messaging and browsing. And i am happy that i switched. Android was confusing for me after all

Windows mobile is older than android, windows mobile was one of the first os on a mobile device wayyyyy b4 android came along.. Windows mobile dates back to like 03 android didn't get started till like 5 years later

Good news is as apps being developed for later versions of windows(not sure will there be any in this decade) they won't support WP 8 eg:- Windows RTM will not support previous versions. this deduction is entirely based on past decade records of microsoft in mobile development so don't anticipate anything big to come still you want to invest in windows phone you are welcome ;)

Anyway i am still using WM 5 so is it going to change anything to others?
Its personal preference but if u want that extra juice from your smartphone buy something decent in same range range like Android.

go for cloud instead if u want office and a 3G or 4G network.

have you ever used google drive completely then what do you know about sync,share,shared attachment,https links,file size and type flexibility? SkyDrive just provide better office apps and thats obvious.

that depends upon OEM sir not just the OS.

Not a biased but fair comparision i have used windows,ios and android best is android big reason it allows you to work directly on its filesystem(though it requires rooting and which is not illegal) i.e more freedom but never know what future accounts for Android.

How old are you ? I like your first reason ! "Android and iOS have many advantages over Windows Phone 8, but perhaps the biggest is the length of time they’ve been available." The best !

Not a good review. It basically says, "I don't like Windows Phone 8 because I'm used to other things." Has no bearing on the quality of the product whatsoever.

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