Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 didn’t see a lot of momentum last year. Though sales definitely rose when compared to last year, the platform and the devices that it powers didn’t have many high profile moments that smartphone buyers could latch onto as a sign that it was improving. As such, many users are wondering whether 2014 is the right time to buy a Windows Phone.
I’d say it 2014 is a great time to buy a Windows Phone.
Everyone Will Get Windows Phone 8.1 Update
Understandably, potential Windows Phone buyers in 2014 are worried about Windows Phone 8, the often rumored update that it is believed will deliver some much-needed polish to the operating system as a whole.
Thankfully, Microsoft has already confirmed that Windows Phone 8 users are entitled to software upgrades for two-years. That means that the new notification center and separate toggles for ringer and music volume will come to all Windows Phone 8 devices at some point in the future.
Windows Phone Hardware Finally Competes With Android
Microsoft’s release of the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update last year didn’t necessarily get users riled up. That makes sense because users who received the update only picked up the option to specify new notification sounds on their devices. Behind the scenes there was a bit more going on.
With Windows Phone 8 GDR3 smartphone makers are finally free to create devices running Microsoft’s operating that compete head to head with the hardware included in high-end Android smartphones. In fact, the same Snapdragon 800 processor that powers the LG G2 is used in Nokia’s Lumia 1520 phablet. This is the first time that’s ever happened and definitely makes buying Windows Phone hardware in 2014 much less of a gamble.
Of course, Windows Phone has always been optimized for the hardware it ships on. As such, users won’t notice a dip in performance regardless of what processor they have. However, I’d imagine that knowing you have the power to play the latest games even a year or two from now is a good thing.
It Fits Into the Windows Ecosystem
Windows Phones haven’t changed much in the year since Microsoft first announced Windows Phone 8. On the other hand, the services and products that surround Windows Phone have all grown and matured in a number of ways. There’s SkyDrive, which is now available anywhere and integrates seamlessly with apps running on user’s Windows 8.1-equipped laptop, desktop or 2-in-1. Every Windows Phone comes with a free version of Microsoft Office. These too are backed up by and expanding and ever-changing array of apps for desktops, tablets and the web. Windows Phone users can even access these documents for free online through Office Web Apps.
The point I’m getting at is that there’s never been a better time for users to invest in the Microsoft ecosystem and thus Windows Phone.
They’re Cheaper Than Ever
Not all users are comfortable with two-year service agreements. After all, taking the risk on a new mobile platform and signing a two-year service agreement could be dangerous. What if they turn out to not like the platform? What if there aren’t enough apps to tide them over in the Windows Phone Store.
Luckily, buying a Windows Phone device without a two-year service agreement has never been cheaper. The low-end Lumia 520 and Lumia 521 now hover at about $60 to $40 at most retail stores. Pricing for the now-midrange Windows Phone 8X b HTC is even lower. Buyers can pick up that device on Amazon for as little as $199 without a two-year service agreement. As we move forward into 2014 prices for once high-end Windows Phone devices without a two-year service agreement are only going to get lower.
Whether this list of reasons to buy a Windows Phone 8 devices in 2014 grows and contracts is largely in the hands of Microsoft itself. Over the next year, Microsoft plans to finalize its purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services division and break into the hardware business in the same way that Apple now produces its own iPhones. The company is also expected to announce the features that users can expect in the Windows Phone 8.1 update.