Windows Phone

10 reasons I want a Windows Phone 8 device

If you've been reluctant to embrace a Windows Phone because of its shortcomings, this list of Windows Phone 8 improvements might sway you.

Even the staunchest Microsoft fan can't deny that Windows Phone hasn't been a big seller. Despite some rave reviews for both the original iteration introduced in February 2010 and for the "Mango" 7.5 update, sales have remained slow.

As attractive as I found some of the Windows Phone 7.x devices, I've stuck with Android. It just serves my needs better. But as I wrote in the Smartphones blog the day Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 8, I just might finally make the move this time. Here are my top 10 reasons why Windows Phone 8 looks as if it just might lure me away from my beloved Galaxy Nexus when it's time for my next upgrade.

1: Additional storage -- on steroids

I almost opted for the HTC Rezound instead of the Nexus, for one big reason: The Nexus doesn't have the microSD card slot that I had come to expect from my previous Android devices. I like being able to add extra storage if/when I need it. I was happy to see that Samsung reversed that decision with the Galaxy S III.

One of my dislikes regarding Windows Phone 7.x is the lack of support for user-removable microSD cards, as well. Microsoft apparently heard my (and others') complaint, as the Windows Phone 8 devices support not just microSD, but microSDXC, so you can add as much as 64 GB of additional storage. One of my reasons to pass on Windows Phone no longer exists.

2: Multiple cores

At a time when multiprocessing is the rule on the desktop and increasingly, on the laptop, high end smartphones have followed the trend with dual-core processors. And industry experts expect the competition among quad core phones to heat up in the second half of this year, with the Galaxy S III leading the pack with its 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 quad-core CPU. Meanwhile, Windows Phones have tagged along behind, with single-core processors.

Never mind whether the Windows phones were plenty fast running on those single-core CPUs. Specs matter not just for what the phone can do when you take it out of the box, but also in regard to how it performs after you've loaded it down with apps -- including resource-hungry apps that might not have existed at the time the phone was designed.

When Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 will support multiple processors (finally), I breathed a sigh of relief. Now we're hearing that the Windows Phone 8 platform is scalable enough to theoretically support processors with as many as 64 cores. Not that we'll be seeing those anytime soon, but it's nice to know that the OS is capable of that.

3: Big, beautiful screens

Sometimes bigger really is better -- especially when you're trying to watch a movie or navigate a Web page. When the Droid X came out, with its massive (at the time) 4-inch display, I was wowed. I've been lusting after the Galaxy Note and its 5.3 incher, and I got all tingly when I read that the Galaxy Note 2 might top it at 5.5 inches.

With the exception of the HTC Titan at 4.7 inches, most of the Windows Phone 7 devices had comparatively small screens. And even the Titan had a low resolution 480 x 800 display, whereas the 4.65 inch display on the Galaxy Nexus is 720 x 1280, the same resolution as the HTC Rezound's 4.3 inch screen. Even the little 3.5 inch screen on the iPhone 4/4S is higher resolution at 640 x 960.

This was yet another reason I just couldn't bring myself to commit to a Windows Phone. Now that Windows Phone 8 is expected to support 720 x 1280 or 768 x 1280, I don't have to worry about that anymore.

4: Better apps

The current Windows Phone Marketplace has more than 100,000 apps, but that's still low compared to iOS and Android. Now that Microsoft seems to have "settled" on a phone OS strategy (finally!), I'm hoping we can expect more and better apps for the platform. According to a recent survey from R.W. Baird, 71% of the top 200 app developers are interested in the Windows Phone platform now, with two-thirds expressing excitement about the common code base across Windows Phone and Windows 8.

Since it will be much easier for developers to create apps for both platforms, we should eventually be able to have many of the same apps on our phones that we have on our desktops and laptops. That kind of consistency is good for users as well as programmers, as it means little or no learning curve for the phone apps.

5: Lock screen notifications

When I'm out and about, I check my phone often for email messages, missed calls if I'm in meetings and have the ringer turned off, and so forth. To do that now on my Android phone, I have to first unlock the screen, then go to the appropriate app or pull down the notification bar.

With Windows Phone 7.5, you get some information right there on the lock screen. According to reports, Windows Phone 8 will improve on that, enabling developers to display notifications for third-party apps, as well.

6: One wallet to rule them all (I hope)

In its preview of the Windows Phone 8 platform on June 20, Microsoft focused a lot of attention on its Wallet software, NFC hardware, and the potential to use them to make mobile payments. Done correctly, this could be huge.

Windows Phone 8's wallet functionality will compete with Google Wallet, Isis, and Apple's Passbook. You'll be able to use your phone to store your credit card information and make purchases at NFC-equipped retail establishments and store loyalty cards and digital coupons. It also supports in-app purchasing.

7: More devices to choose from?

One of the problems with Windows Phone 7.x has been the limited choice of devices in comparison to Android phones. (Of course, you do have more choices than iPhone fans.) Apple's philosophy aside, one size does not fit all. Depending on your carrier, if you're in the U.S. you might have one (Verizon) to six (AT&T, although three of those are variations on the Focus) Windows Phone 7.x models to choose from. Last time I checked, Verizon had 17 Android models available.

To be fair, it's easy to understand why vendors couldn't get too excited about building phones that didn't support 4G or high resolution screens when those were two of the hottest features wanted by buyers. I'm hoping that Microsoft's new direction with Windows Phone 8 will inspire hardware vendors to give us more models to showcase the new capabilities of the OS.

Details about Windows Phone 8 models are being kept under wraps at the moment, but news of some of them have already started leaking.

8: Finally -- 4G

One of the reasons Verizon hasn't embraced Windows Phone 7.x, according to some rumors, was the lack of support for its fast 4G LTE network. Verizon is all about the network, and phones that can't take advantage of the latest network technology in which it has invested so much effort and money (including advertising money) just don't interest it much.

Makes sense to me. I, as a user, had little interest in a phone that would limit me to the old 3G network when LTE was available. Now that Windows Phone 8 will support 4G, Verizon seems to be warming up to Microsoft, with its chief financial officer saying in an interview back in April that it is looking for Windows Phone 8 to be a strong third player in the smartphone market.

9: Nokia maps

One of big reasons I haven't been able to tear myself away from Android is Google Maps and Google Navigation. A smartphone without turn-by-turn GPS navigation doesn't seem all that smart once you get used to having that functionality built into your phone. Now Microsoft has decided to integrate Nokia's 3D mapping service into all Windows Phone 8 devices. Sounds as if one more of the things on my must-have list has been taken care of.

10: Playtime

Okay, this isn't a big priority for me. I'm not really a gamer. But now and then, such as when I'm stuck in an airport with a delayed flight on a rare occasion when I have no work to do, I'll play a game or two. And who knows? Maybe I'll play more often when game developers can create better games for Windows Phone 8, thanks to the native DirectX-based development platform.

And although it might not be a big deal for me and many business-oriented users, it will be important to many consumers and could push them toward buying Windows phones. The more successful the platform, the more likely that more new features and apps I do like will come along.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

14 comments
namiit
namiit

We switched from iPhones and Android handsets to the Nokia Lumia 925 (32Gb version from Vodafone) at our company and must say that both the handset and the OS (Microsoft Windows Phone 8) have really turned things around with standing their ground and filling in the space of where they were left neglected to date with regards to features and apps. Impressed is the least we can say. After three months of thorough testing of Windows Phone 8 and partially using Nokia Lumia 620 we made the decision to upgrade to whatever the latest Nokia Lumia flagship is which was the 925. With Years of user experience and associates who are Android and iOS fans with good backend history we mostly agreed that Nokia and Microsoft have really worked well together and from this point on things will get much more exciting as we are actually comparing it to the two of the top mobile OS therefore it must have done something correctly for us to do this. As much as I never thought I’ll say this; credit to both Nokia and Microsoft for not giving up and doing what they believed in which is now starting to shine through.

clarkho
clarkho

I bought an HTC window mobile device a while back, i am still using it, but i will never buy another one of them. this is going to be 2013, and window mobile can not even simple block a call, can not simply use an MP3 as a ringtone, you have to have a less than 3mb song which plug into the computer then transfer thru their program, it was 20 times simplier when my phone wasnt a smart phone. All it has is a black background, and apps that everyone has, pretty much you wont have it. It is basically a Nokia 3210 that has a big touch screen.... with a flash light stuck on.... hurray, i am switching to android

lhallett51
lhallett51

I presently am using Android and like it, previously, Symbian with an E90 (one of the best mobile devises ever built) and will move to Windows when 8 is available and the feature which sold me the most on this new OS, Nokia Maps. It is without a dough hands down the best mapping, positioning system on the market at present. I use Google maps presently but it is no where near the capability of Nokia Maps...

myangeldust
myangeldust

I keep paper checks and an ATM card to separate my accounts from The World. No debit cards. I guess I could open a second credit card account and limit it to $300 per month just in case this Wallet thingie isn't as secure as I believe it to be. Perhaps it's one too many episodes of "Person of Interest".

myangeldust
myangeldust

This is kinda off topic but what's up with the phone names. How many Galaxies are there? (billions and billions) I mean in Samsung's product inventory. I thought Focus and Focus Flash was bad enough. I wonder if it's a Japanese marketing thing. They're so afraid customers might ignore a product that they simply give the new product the same name as another product it shares no resemblance to. Check it: Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Stratosphere, Galaxy Proclaim, Galaxy S Blaze, Galaxy S Epic, Galaxy S Aviator, uh. Focus 2, Focus S, Focus Flash... Does anyone know if there's a regular "non-S" Galaxy? Is there a "S" version of the Stratosphere? Is the Focus 2 better or worse than the Focus S? Could they have separated more Galaxies (Galaxys?) for use with WP7?

myangeldust
myangeldust

Am I the only one who wants a smaller screen? I can't fit [ahem] 4.3" or 5.5" in my pocket. I don't want to wear Batman's utility belt to carry a phone. I know some folks use their baby-tablets so much it never gets put away. If I hadn't heard of WP8 I would have bought that pocketsized Samsung Focus Flash. So high resolution is great but smaller screen or narrower screen would be useful. PS: Maybe a flip-phone with two screens is the answer. I can fit some of those in my jeans' loose change pocket.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Is this a random number or is it written in the stars? Everyone wants more than 100,000 apps on their smartphone. I've gone through Apple's gallery o' apps, sometimes I find 20 apps for one thing and zero apps for another. We'd all be lucky if we can get 50,000 apps that actually DO something for us. I've been waiting on WP8 so I can switch from iOS. Every OS is different, yadda yadda yadda, but the primary reason for a smartphone is to have a mini computer in your pocket. My current phone doesn't believe that's its job. PS: Yes, I know of the dark world of jailbreaking. I guess if I mess with my Rumba's wiring I can get it to protect the house from burglars.

AudeKhatru
AudeKhatru

"Apple's philosophy aside, one size does not fit all." That is the Apple Fallacy in a nutshell. I see too many writers in the Tech Media who seem to feel that Apple is the right choice for everyone. They think they are the best devices, which is debatable, but beyond that debate, one size never fits all. I usually state it as.... One size fits none. One size fits all sizes never fit me. That is mostly clothing, but it works for phones too.

josep2
josep2

I am a long time Android faithful but I'm making the platform jump as well. The Wallet feature, the cloud integration, the integration across devices, and the fact that developers are on board I think will make it a great platform. I think the devices will also be better designed than Android ones. If you look at the Lumia 900, while it isn't very impress spec wise, the design is only second to the iPhone 4S (Close) IMO. Everything I hate about iOS was solved with Android, but it came with it's own problems. I think Windows will work well for me, I'm excited to make the jump.

Regulus
Regulus

I see no reason here to go for Win Phone other than, perhaps, Blind MS Loyalty or possibly heavy stock investments. I see Apple / Android / Other systems matching or better than Win Phone within a year in any and all cited areas.

seth
seth

Yes, I think it's time to jump back from Blackberry to MS. (But then, I never use a computer named after a fruit anyway.) My dream phone would be a newer Motorola Q9H with a larger screen (touch) so I still have a keyboard.

myangeldust
myangeldust

How about to have a different kind of phone? Folks can pick the OS they like the most, installed on hardware they can live with. Variety, spice of life, any of this ringing a bell?

roaspiras
roaspiras

Blind loyalty? So that goes for you too because you are also blind with loyalty to iOS or Android. This is where I have a problem... these companies flood the market with 2-core 4-core HD phones that we really don't need. It's fucking capitalism at work. A Phone is simple it takes call and makes call period to cram it up with unnecessary things and say to consumers this is what you need is really fucked. Windows Phone 7.5 proved that it don't have to go along with the flow to be useful or relevant. I think what Microsoft is doing is to be that better alternative.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What's wrong with capitalism? None of the companies involved in the smart phone business are charities. They're all in it to make money, including Microsoft. There are plenty of simple phones for sale that do little more than make phone calls. I own one myself. I selected it because it best fit my needs. If other consumers feel more technologically advanced devices fit their needs, who are you or I to say they're wrong, or to say companies are wrong for offering what customers want? I can't figure out where you're coming from. First you say a phone is to make calls, then you praise MS for offering an OS that does everything you criticize the other companies for doing.