I’ve had it for less than 24 hours and there is no doubt I am converted. I never owned an iPhone, but I' have “had a go” on a few. I’d be the first to agree there is a difference between trying something out for a few minutes and actually getting to know it over a period of time. I don’t aim to make comparisons with the iPhone in this post – merely to explain my reaction.
I came from an HTC TYTN II.
Physically, it was a brick of a phone, quite bulky – rather spoiled the line of my trousers (or are they pants?) :-)
My Windows Phone – an HTC Mozart is slightly wider, slightly longer but probably half as thick (or, put another way – twice as thin).
They truly have thought about how a person uses their smartphone. It’s so much more than a huge pack of features. I’d go so far as to say it is a thing of beauty. It is something I feel I want to use.
It’s highly responsive. I know a great deal of this is to do with the high quality capacitive touch screen. The better able a screen is to detect a finger and pass the x and y co-ordinates to the OS, the more “snappy” the whole set up feels. The resistive screen on my old HTC was poor at detecting a finger and very poor at passing the correct co-ordinates. Combine that with the most common application I used on it – the phone and it was a frustrating experience. I was always dialling the wrong number. Because I’d sometimes “click” something and it wouldn’t respond, I was never really sure if I’d successfully clicked or if it had been a misfire. So the whole approach to using the old phone (and pretty much anything with a resistive touch screen) was a rather stuttery, staccato sort of caper. Not so with the Mozart. The combination of hardware that works well and a responsive OS gives a crisp, positive, “I know exactly what’s going on” feel to the experience.
It seems wherever there are buttons to be clicked, they are as big as they need to be, given the confines of the screen. The buttons for entering the pin are big, taking up the entire width of the screen with no margin. Looking at my old phone, I’d say 45% of the screen width is taken up not with button space, but with white space (have a look at the photo above). It’s the same with the phone app On Windows Phone 7. No margins: the buttons are hard up against each other and the height of the dial interface takes about 60% of the screen height.
The three hardware buttons at the bottom of the screen have this wonderful usability feature: when clicked they cause the phone to make the tiniest, short little pulse of vibration. It gives a definite feel of completeness, that something definitely just happened.
When the phone is locked, there are 2 apps I can still interact with in a meaningful way. The camera and the “MP3 Player”. The apparent advantage of having a camera on my phone is that I always have a camera with me and I can therefore capture those rare moments that occur spontaneously. However, with most phones the moment has passed by the time I’ve got it out of my pocket, activated the screen, typed in my PIN on the resistive screen which on too many occasions has mis-read my finger punches and locked the screen in to a mode where I have to enter “a1b2c3”, only I have to use the tiny, on-screen keyboard. The backlight doesn’t work unless logged in, so on a bright sunny day, at the barbeque where one of my children is entertaining us all with some youthful shennanigans, I now have to take the stylus out and try to guess where these characters might be. A couple of minutes later I am successfully logged in and get the phone app to fire up, but it’s locked on to “video” from the last time I used it and I have to stab at the screen again to get it to “photo” mode. The responsiveness of the screen doesn’t help. I’m about to take the shot but the zoom is wrong, but there’s no point any more. Another photo opportunity has passed.
Not so with my Windows Phone – I hit the power button and then hit the shutter button and the phone app fires up – without me being logged in to the phone. It’s set up to automatically post any photos I take to my SkyDrive and right within the camera itself I can share the photo with Facebook. I just click the “…” button, add a comment and the photo is in my Facebook account!
When I’m listening to music, if the phone is locked, I can adjust the volume, pause, play and move forwards and backwards through the playlist without having to log in to the phone. You wouldn’t believe how useful this is in the gym, on say a treadmill or a cross-trainer. Sweating, breathing heavily and suddenly having to listen to that French woman singing the Titanic theme tune (and how did that song get on to my phone anyway?) is definitely a deadly combination. The last thing I want to do is start having to log in to the phone to skip the song while I’m not in no state for precision, on an exercise machine. With the help of Mozart, HTC and Windows Phone 7 – I can do exactly that. Treat the device in much the same way I’d treat an MP3 player.
The headphone/mic socket is separate to the USB sync/power socket. Seems like a small thing – apart from when I want both power and headphones – many phones, with their single socket, force me to choose. Charge my phone or use the headphones.
Being able to pin my favourite apps or other elements to the home page is a bigger boon that I first thought. I realise there are about 4 people I interact with much more than other people. I’ve pinned their contact details on to my home page. Whether I want to text, call mobile, call home or email – it’s all right there on the home page. As they say, “makes it easy to keep in touch with the people who matter most” – and it’s absolutely true. This whole phone can be used to reduce the friction of getting things done, whether it’s sending an
email, reading a text, taking a photo, sharing it, listening to music, whatever it is – it’s all done with such low friction and in such a beautiful way, it’s captivating.
I think this phone is utterly, utterly fantastic.