Matt Gemmell

Windows Phone

A guide for iPhone users

Tech 31 min read

Closing thoughts

If you’re interested in reading more about using Windows Phone, I can recommend Microsoft’s Windows Phone How-To. If you decide to try a Windows Phone device yourself, you might also want to look at Microsoft’s guide on moving from iPhone to Windows Phone.

There’s no question that it’s easier to use a mobile device from the same maker as your computer; you benefit from integration features, and first-class support. But you’re also limited by what’s on offer.

These days, most of us keep our data in the cloud as well as locally, and the kind of data that makes our devices truly ours is the sort of stuff that can be kept in places that are platform-agnostic: contacts, calendar info, email accounts, photo libraries, bookmarks, and so on. There’s always another app to do what you want, too.

As a long-time iPhone user, I was surprised to find that the only thing I really missed from my iPhone was a feature I’d barely thought about: iMessage. Everyone I know is a blue-bubble friend - though admittedly my social circle is artificially tech-savvy and Mac-centric.

There are other options for that, certainly: WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger being the primary ones. I was just amused that a text-messaging app was almost a deal-breaker for me, given everything else that these devices do.

Windows Phone is a compelling and surprisingly mature mobile platform. Its aesthetics are bold and information-focused, and it has all the functionality that a truly modern mobile OS needs. I’m very comfortable when taking a Windows Phone device out with me instead of an iPhone.

There are little differences that require some mental adjustment, and there are some rough edges. There are idiosyncrasies, as with anything - but on the whole, I really could switch full-time. I didn’t expect to be able to say that.

Maybe I’m just used to iOS, rather than bored with it. Maybe I don’t need the customisation and personalisation of my Live Tiles. Maybe Apple will finally do something with the stale, static Home screen in iOS 9. I’ll certainly be watching, and I’m not throwing my iPhone away.

What I’ve learned, though, is that there are absolutely other viable options - including one from Microsoft. It’s not corporate, or jargon-filled, or business-centric. It’s not cluelessly enterprise-focused, to the exclusion of regular users.

What it is, though, is a boldly different yet mature and capable mobile platform, with an aesthetic that I find exciting, and an obsessive dedication to presenting information cleanly to the user.

If you find yourself feeling restless with the safe choice, perhaps you should consider doing the unthinkable, and trying what Microsoft has to offer. I think you might be as surprised as I was.