Tag Archives: mobile

Windows Phone 8.1 vs. iOS 7: a personal dilemma

Update 11.08: thanks to Michael, Ivan, Simon and everyone else that’s offered workarounds for my various cons. The Pros list is expanding and I am increasingly sold!! My apologies to Amanda for boring you endlessly with phone chat…

I have been a (reluctantly) loyal iOS devotee since the 3GS came out, and have struggled to even look at rival OS – I was burned by the gradual deterioration of Windows Mobile in the mid 2000s, never convinced by the sluggish responsiveness of even the fastest Android phones (and the updates flowing to my Nexus 7 tablet – a gift – haven’t convinced me it will improve). However, of late, the flagging battery life of my ageing iPhone 5 (needs 2-3 charges a day depending on usage), and the phenomenal lack of joy you get from a new handset (oh… it looks and acts exactly like the old one), as well as the inevitable obsolescence caused by ageing handsets and upgraded operating systems, AND the crippling cost of an upgrade…. well, you get the picture.

TL, DR – I bought an older Lumia 925 handset and am trying it out. If I hate it and go back to the iOS fold, it can go back on eBay and I should make most of my money back (it’s already lost most of its year one resale depreciation value).

So, making a list of the things I like and dislike about it, with a view to weighing them up and thinking about a more permanent ecosystem shift. Let me know if I’ve missed anything to test, or you know a workaround to one of my cons, or you think I’ve missed a ‘pro’ on anything in particular. I’ll update this list ‘live’ over the next few weeks as I test it properly.

Updated list (11.08.14):


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing, swype is remarkable
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life is better – not ridiculously so but noticeably. Even running 10k using GPS (1h10 mins of GPS usage) the battery lasts through to the evening. And as you can imagine, with the new OS I am playing with it a LOT and unnecessarily so
  • Here maps is amazing! Local storage limits need to draw on data transfer for a variety of mapping services, e.g. Caledo (run keeper integrated running app)
  • Lock screen / photo rotation feature is lovely – love that it can draw on Facebook albums
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that) – blisteringly fast
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems pretty fast
  • App multitasking in most regards seems superior – apps genuinely ‘suspend’ unlike the iPhone which seems to have suffered greatly with the introduction of background app refresh. Lovely feature with the voice/music apps that they pause when voice notifications come in (e.g. running app telling you your splits pauses audible whilst playing, or music, or whatever) rather than speaking over it (as iPhone does)
  • I actually already prefer email handling in Windows phone – the left tap / multi-select option is actually quicker to use than repeatedly swipe/deleting emails in iPhone (and I know iPhone has an equivalent, but who uses it?)
  • I also like unlinked mailbox options – didn’t think I would but separating the personal from the professional is good for my work/life balance
  • DLNA projection via Nokia play-to doesn’t require an Apple TV or changing channels – just works. Not for all apps, but to be fair – we mainly use it to share pics and videos
  • 1 year old hardware feels new with new software (unlike Apple, most of the time) although see note re: camera responsiveness
  • Whilst I initially disliked Kindle’s nerfed capabilities (can’t open docs) I’ve discovered Tucan reader – a lovely independent ebook reader that uses the phone’s (amazing) text to speech capabilities to read stuff to you if you need it to. Much better for reading personal docs.
  • Dead heat
  • Cortana seems exactly as useful as Siri, i.e. a little but not ridiculously so. Absence of a ‘timer’ function is a fairly major omission but reminders/alarms work much to the same effect without a real-time countdown.
  • Camera picture quality seems superior but response time is worse than the iPhone so it comes out even – photos blur if you are expecting iPhone style responsiveness and don’t get it. May improve with newer hardware.

Still to be tested: 

  1. Skype video call quality
  2. High contrast mode in bright sunlight.
  3. What else? You tell me!


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly,  Todoist & some random lesser apps) – suspect I just need to ‘re-buy’ the premium versions of some of these. Lots of lesser apps don’t have a decent implementation at all… all in due course, no doubt. I heard that the Windows Phone app store doubled in scope in 12 months and Windows Phone’s market share is up to 10% – pretty remarkable given the trajectory it was on. I hear good things about Universal Apps too.
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I have in the past been a devotee (though obviously not of Android)
  • Camera lag – probably a consequence of the dated hardware the phone is running on, or the image stabilization which I haven’t turned off.

Original list: posted 6th August 2014


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life seems better
  • Lock screen / photo rotation is lovely
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that)
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems blisteringly fast

As yet untested

  • Battery life – sim card adapter hasn’t arrived yet so can’t give it a proper run-in
  • Photos/camera
  • Cortana vs Siri


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly, Runkeeper doesn’t seem to work, Todoist & some random lesser apps)
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Kindle app doesn’t display documents
  • Haven’t figured out how to get Kindle to read to me yet / accessibility features
  • Email isn’t as intuitive (no ‘swipe to delete’, not clear if I’m archiving, deleting an email doesn’t take you to the next one in your inbox to review)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • No DLNA projection / Apple TV equivalent in the 925 – and I have Apple TV and iPad
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I am a devotee



My 13-year mobile phone history

I’ve been described by some as an Apple fanboy of late, which is amusing for me given that for many years I avoided anything emblazoned with their iconic logo. It’s had me think back through my 13 year mobile phone history.

Of the 9 generations of phones I’ve used, and six generations of smartphones – only two come from the Apple estate (out of a total possible of four). At least one more probably will – but I’m hoping that Android will catch up by the next time I’m due for an upgrade. Anyway, for those curious, here’s a quick run-down.

The picture spin quiz!

nokia 5110220px-Nokia_7110_openert29mpx200big_spv_e200  3gs   iphone4t-mobile-mda-vario-ii-2T-Mobile-G1orange-SPV-C600

  • 1999 – Nokia 5110 – free with my first mobile contract, with Orange. Basic candy bar phone. Introduced me to the joys of Snake.
  • 2000 – Ericsson T29 – I’d really wanted a flip phone, and this was a free upgrade at a point when cash was sparse.
  • 2001 – Nokia 7110 – after the Matrix, the click-flip action of the 7110 was an exciting thing indeed. I took great pleasure in answering calls and making them, and this remains one of my favourite phone form factors.
  • 2002 – Orange SPV – the first Windows smartphone. Slow and unresponsive indubitably, amazingly poor battery life perhaps, but I discovered and grew to love pre-emptive dialling, Windows synchronisation, internet on the move and experimented with using the very first apps available for phones.
  • 2003 – Motorola MPX200 (2 months) – A desire to have a clamshell phone and a newfound love for the Windows Mobile OS (as well as a budget requirement to not pay any money for an upgrade) sent me here, and I did quite like it – but it proved fragile and when it died, Orange offered me a higher spec E200 in its stead.
  • 2003 – Orange SPV E200 – spiritual sibling to the original SPV but with a faster processor and significantly better performance. Bulky as ever but much improved.
  • 2005 – Orange C600 – my last loved Windows Mobile device. Everything from the SPV in a smaller and more elegant form factor. My last phone on Orange for a while.
  • 2007 – T-Mobile MDA Vario 2 – this broke me. Resistive touchscreen that was slow and unresponsive, massive phone… it nearly despoiled me of the touchscreen experience in its entirety. But then I tried the…
  • 2008 – T-Mobile G1 (2 weeks trial)… and I knew touch screens would be OK. But there were a number of niggles; HTC phone construction still wasn’t quite there, feeling slightly non-responsive and clunky, and Android didn’t feel as ready as I’d like after years of struggling with the not-quite-there Windows Mobile. So I finally decided to cough up the cash, move to O2 and buy the…
  • 2009 – Apple iPhone 3GS… and I finally understood the fuss. As software upgrades made the phone more unwieldy, I eBayed it and put the proceeds towards a shiny new…
  • 2010 – Apple iPhone 4… which is still doing well but will probably be replaced with an iPhone 5 when that launches – my excuse is that Amanda is now in need of a smartphone (largely for my benefit, so she can share moments with Em with me more easily).

(I may have missed one, but it clearly wasn’t that memorable!)

Breaking it down:

I’m on my 9th generation of mobile phone in 13 years, and I’ve been using ‘smartphones’ for six of those generations.

  • 5/11 phones – Windows Mobile
  • 1/11 phones – Google Android (1.5)
  • 2/11 phones – iOS
  • 2/11 phones – Nokia/Symbian
  • 1/11 phones – SE proprietary / Symbian


  • 2/11 -Nokia
  • 1/11 – Ericcson
  • 5/11 – HTC
  • 1/11 – Motorola
  • 2/11 – Apple

It may be slightly dubious to count the G1 trial, but it was my phone for two weeks and the MPX 200 only lasted marginally longer in the grand scheme of things (before it died and Orange replaced it with the SPV E200).

Where to next? Who can say. What’s your record? Are you a phone a year person? Any obvious biases/trends come up when you look at your mobile history?

Another point against RIM

iphone 4 & BlackBerry TorchI do go on about smartphones a bit, I know, but this story just hammered home to me quite how dire the straits are for Research in Motion, makers of Blackberry, saying as it does that…

iPhones require less support than Androids and BlackBerrys.

Enterprise IT departments seem to find the iPhone the easiest platform to manage – who’d have thought it after years of people singing the benefits of BES.

I know that many enterprises, for reasons of security and performance, will shun the non-encrypted, Active-synced iPhone, but most small businesses – where the money lies in volume – may well end up going down this path. The iPhone is just so much better from a usability perspective than any Blackberry I’ve used in some time its unreal.

Apple still needs to fix offline email, though. C’mon, guys!

Blackberry continues to do well in business because it is a terrible phone

BlackBerry vs iPhoneRIM/Blackberry’s days are numbered, IMHO. As a mobile platform, it is lagging painfully behind its rivals and increasingly only die-hard fans, luddites and bankers remain loyal – and the latter generally have little choice.

There are a few reasons it succeeds in the enterprise; its excellent push-email platform and its high level of security. However, one reason why it does well is because it’s a terrible, terrible phone.

Say what?

Well, as anyone that’s ever looked into it will know, managing a business contract with a mobile operator comes with its moments of extreme tedium. One of these is dealing with the monthly billing – where people with disproportionately high monthly bills need to account for their calling patterns, going through a gargantuan itemised list of calls, expensing some and paying for others. Few of the mobile operators are doing such fantastic deals on inclusive minutes at an enterprise level that businesses can afford to ignore high levels of usage by even a small proportion of the user base.

This is one of the reasons why some businesses will hesitate on the iPhone. People will be more likely to use it as a primary device, giving up their personal mobile, and this will drive billing and administration costs up. There’s already a higher initial cost and this would be compounded. Blackberries are so hopelessly clumsy for anything but email they tend to be used as a back-up phone if at all, so this problem is far less significant.

And businesses can’t just subsidise individual mobile tariffs. For my employer to contribute to a mobile tariff I pay personally would constitute a “benefit in kind”, they would have to give it to me gross of tax – so probably a 30-40% premium on the mobile tariff. Which doesn’t make any sense at all.

So – mobile operators, if you want to make the premium on iPhones by selling them to business (as Apple seems to want you to), then launch some more affordable ‘all you can eat’ or flexi tariffs that will cope with rogue users. And RIM? I have no advice for you. I’ve no idea who will acquire you when your fortunes flounder for the last time, but can’t help but think that’s where things are headed…

A week with the Blackberry Torch


I’d previously mentioned that my brother-in-law was trialling a Blackberry Torch after the best part of two years on an iPhone 3GS.

How did it go? Well, after a week with the Blackberry – he took it back to the shop. There were a multitude of reasons from BIL, but first and foremost amongst them was the multiple-clicks-to-do-anything nature of the BB platform, something that was unsurprisingly frustrating to an erstwhile iPhone user. Three clicks to check the weather, too much use of the Blackberry buttons, etc.

Whilst he liked the email, industrial design and feel of the phone etc., the performance and interface marked its demise out. After using an iPhone, it seemed that little about the BB interface was intuitive.

Which makes sense I guess – indicative excerpt from the Gizmodo review captures it:

The distillation of this grand mishmash of observations and scenarios is this: BlackBerry isn’t good enough anymore if you’re comparing it to other smartphones. What does it do better than the rest? That’s the fundamental question. And the answer is that for most people, in most situations, compared to Android and iPhone, not a whole lot.

It also brings to mind what is possibly one of the most sensational pieces of review-contempt I’ve ever read, courtesy of Infoworld, on Blackberry’s new tablet – which, I gather, like the Groslch adverts, is ‘not ready yet’:

After spending a couple days with the final product, it’s clear that the PlayBook is a useless device whose development is unfinished.

And that’s just the opening paragraph – they don’t really cut loose until they start talking about the idea of tethering the Playbook to a Blackberry for data usage!

Next up – BIL’s trying the HTC Sensation – a beautiful piece of Android hardware with an interface I’m sure he’ll find far more familiar and usable. We’ll see what happens!

Google Android maturing fast

If you read my earlier post on the Android vs IOS debate you’ll understand many of the reasons why I feel that Google’s platform isn’t quite ready for the mass market yet, despite its increasing sales success and technical brilliance. However, at Google I/O some news dropped that will make a difference to this.

In brief: Google is unifying the platform – which will mean fewer different versions in the wild, simpler and more regular updates for all phone (and tablet) users, and a marginally more tightly controlled user experience!

The conflict between open and closed, open ideals and ‘being evil’, tends to get polarised to extremes. In my view, complete choice is just too confusing for the average Joe, so am massively pleased to read that Google seems to have understood this (to some extent) – albeit from the perspective of the developers. Hopefully it’ll bring Android into contention for me the next time I review my handset choice… Which might give Google a little time to thrash it all out if the rumours of supply chain disruption to Apple’s iPhone5 production line bear true!

In unrelated news, my brother-in-law is trialling a Blackberry Torch for a week, having used an iPhone 3GS for the last 18 months. May well get his thoughts for another blog post, whichever way it goes…

That Nokia/Microsoft story

Yeah, this one. Feels like Schadenfreude in Google’s direction. Given Nokia’s persistence in developing a thousand different mobile form factors, why would you choose an OS that restricted you?

My guess? Nokia’s bitter that Android topped them out for market share last quarter. Two Turkeys make an Eagle. Heh.

Curious to hear what people think of WP7, and whether the addition of Nokia hardware is the thing that’s holding that platform back – I was scarred too badly by previous generations of Windows Phone / Windows Mobile / whatever it was called to go back there, am not sure Android is quite refined enough for me, and so sticking with the Faustian iPhone option for now.

Goodbye Windows Mobile…

So I’ve been a faithful user of Windows Mobile since 2002 or so and the SPV 100 first launched, an underpowered but otherwise apparently well specced and capable phone. For me its ease of use, the instant familiarity of the OS and the fact it synched with my desktop were all strong motivating factors, and I was especially fond of the pre-emptive dialling feature, where you typed a contact’s name in numbers and it found it for you and let you dial them from the homescreen… Making it useful as a phone as well as a primitive Internet device – astonishing at the time.

Today, despite having used a succession of ever better designed devices, I bid it farewell. Despite the fact that the HTC Touch Dual, my last phone, was the first phone i haven’t immediately retired on becoming eligible for upgrade, it was no longer up to the job. It wasn’t really geared up for touch, had lagged behind with its Internet capabilities and the newest incarnations have shown little improvement (WM 6.5… Really?) so I’ve had to jump ship. The fact with hundreds of different Windows Mobile devices and millions of handsets, both the iPhone and Android are ahead in mobile Internet access kind of underlines the point, as does the fact that most of this post was drafted on the bus on the way to work using the new handset, the iPhone 3GS, with a WordPress app. Outstanding.

I’m not an Apple fanboy (seriously, I resisted this purchase like you wouldn’t believe), but for now, this fits my purpose. If Microsoft start innovating again (and not just relying on their hardware vendors to fix the problems in the underlying platform with innovative ‘skins’) then I will look at them again (Zunephone, please). But I suspect that both Android and Apple have stolen a lead that MS will never recover from…


They launched the T-Mobile G1 today (they being T-Mobile, Google, HTC and everyone else, but also the T-Mobile team across the office from me).

It looks pretty awesome, the screen is really responsive, the long touch thing is cool, the UI is lovely, the browser is nice, the screen is pretty.. it’s generally cool. Register your interest here.

I want:
– one handed texting
– pre-emptive dialling
– video messaging

…and I think it needs Exchange support (much as I think Google Apps is awesome — and yes, they’re a client too) for those business users. But maybe someone can write an ‘app’ for the phone to provide this functionality…

On Shy iPhones, Flo’ Windows Mobiles, and World-eating Androids

Right, so much as I enjoyed Stephen Fry’s epic opus on the iPhone*, my general love for fully specced** devices and general contempt for Apple’s hype machine (how can a company with such a good rep have such an arrogant approach to PR?) means I don’t really give two hoots about the launch last Friday. No idea how many iPhones they’ve sold and unbothered that it doesn’t sound like too many

More interesting to me is the Android launch from Google. No idea, really, what the devices will look like but there are lots of elements of the software that look awesome. In particular, the 3Dness of it all, the full technical spec (and I love that HTC is behind the platform because I love their phones)… Check out this video, via Kat at Tech Digest:

Annoying as the American marketing speak and repeated references to the “power of the platform” are, it does look like it has some good stuff in there.

As to Windows Mobile? Well, I’ve been on that platform since 2002 and would love it to do well — but ‘TouchFlo’ probably won’t cut it in the long term. They need to do some proper innovating on the UI there. That said, I’m up for contract renewal in February, and given that I have no intention of buying an iPhone in the near future and that the first Android handsets will miss my upgrade window by about 6 months, I will probably be trying to pick up an HTC Touch Dual in February…

* His ‘dork talk’ column on the subject is actually less enjoyable, IMHO…

** Rory Reid on Cnet.co.uk, speaking wittily on the rumoured Apple tablet PC:

So, can Apple turn the Tablet PC into a success when previous attempts have failed? The short answer is ‘yes’. Any company that can make a mobile phone with no buttons, no picture messaging, slow Web access and no video capture into the most desirable phone on the planet can easily make tablets popular.