Home Editorials 6 Ways Windows 10 Mobile Beats iPhone

6 Ways Windows 10 Mobile Beats iPhone

Admittedly, when you take a broad look at the Windows Phone landscape there isn’t a lot to admire these days. Another platform reset has forced device makers to hold off on releasing new iPhone rivals until Microsoft can get the software right.

Gone is the Windows Phone that was dominated by black backgrounds and contrasting text.

In its place we have Windows 10 Mobile. There aren’t nearly as many devices running Windows 10 Mobile. Further more, Windows 10 Mobile isn’t as bug free and cleverly designed as its direct predecessor. The operating system carefully mimics a lot of the features found on the iPhone.

Lumia 950 Impressions (4)

There’s a but, as there always is with these things. Windows 10 Mobile also offers up some clever innovation of its, like Continuum and an integrated Store across devices.

What we’re left with is a mobile operating system that’s just as good as the iOS operating system that the iPhone runs. Really, it’s even better in some ways.

App Badges vs. Windows 10 Mobile Live Tiles

The first smartphone that I ever owned was a HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7, but the first smart device I ever used regularly was the original iPod Touch. Naturally, I should have upgraded from that iPod Touch to an iPhone when the time was right. I decided to go Windows Phone instead. Live Tiles were the main reason.

Today, Live Tiles are available on notebooks desktops and tablets, but the general idea around them hasn’t changed. The ever-morphing, ever-flipping tiles let you get a general look at what’s going on within your apps. Groove Music shows you what artist you’re listening to. Outlook Calendar and Outlook Mail provide a look at your new emails and your next appointment. You’re peaking into each app, without diving in and without staring at the absolutely hideous and nerve-wracking red badges that exist on the iPhone.

Lumia 950 Impressions (2)

More than acting as better alerts, Live Tiles let you set priorities. iOS is filled with similar app icons that can stretch for pages. If you’re smart, you move the apps most relevant to your life closer to the front page. Windows 10 Mobile lets you resize apps so that the more important ones dominate the interface and are easier to spot. Most apps let you pin individual items directly to the Start Screen too. No diving into the package tracker, the current status is available the moment you start your phone.

The last time Apple rethought the home screen was when it added backgrounds.

The Power Button vs Windows 10 Mobile Tap to Wake & Tap to Sleep

Until it decided to supersize its line-up with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple placed all power buttons in the top-left corner. With newer devices it’s on the upper-right edge. The switch is better for one-handed use.

I’m fond of Microsoft’s Tap to Wake and Tap to Sleep options. Lumia Windows 10 Mobile phones allow you to double tap the screen when they’re off, no button press required. The operating system lets users double tap on the navigation bar at the bottom of their screen to turn their device off too. This is perfect for one-handed use, and easily beats having to feel around for a power button on iPhone, no matter how satisfying the button mechanism is.

Windows 10 Mobile Navigation Bar vs Home Button

Lumia 950 Impressions (1)

That brings me to a major pain point for iPhone. Trying to keep things as simple as possible, Apple has married the future of the iPhone to the Home button. In doing so, it made interacting with iOS easy. That is, until it started layering things on top of it. First came Siri, which requires a long press. Then came Apple Pay, which requires two button presses. Press three times and you get the multitasking menu. As apps became more complicated, Apple added a small link to let users go back to their previous screen in the top-left corner of iOS.

Windows 10 Mobile (4)

There have always been three ways to navigate Windows Phone besides touching an in-app element. Back, Start and Search. These days, they are software buttons instead of hardware buttons, but not much else about them has changed.

Windows 10 Mobile People vs Contacts

The People app in Windows 10 Mobile isn’t as integrated directly into social networks as it once was. Microsoft has offloaded most of that functionality to individual apps. It’s still miles better than the stagnant list of contacts you get with iOS though.

Windows 10 Mobile (1)

The first area in People in Windows 10 Mobile is a list of all your contacts. The What’s New and Groups area provide the sizzle. The app reaches out to Facebook and other social networks, letting you see what’s going on without diving into the individual app if you want. Groups let you create a selection of friends to email or text directly at once. They also integrate directly with GroupMe.

Individual contacts can be pinned directly to the Windows 10 Mobile Start Screen, where you can see the latest messages from that contact and status updates. You can link local contacts and Facebook accounts too, which keep picture and contact information in sync always.

Windows 10 Mobile Messaging & Skype vs iMessage & Facetime

I can’t take anything away from Apple when it comes to Facetime. The idea to give folks a free and easy way to place video calls, audio calls and messaging was smart. Facetime works very well if you have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook.

Windows 10 Mobile (3)

Anything outside of that and you need to keep your phone by you. Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 have Skype built-in. You get messaging, plus you’re able to place calls to any device with a Skype app. If you miss a phone call and have Windows 10 installed on your PC, you get an alert there. You can reply via text message, even if your phone is halfway across the room.

Xbox vs Game Center

Windows 10 Mobile (2)

I feel like Game Center is almost the ultimate example of an app on the iPhone that you should be allowed to uninstall. No one cares about how many challenges you’ve earned in Game Center. A lot of people don’t even have Friends in GameCenter.

By comparison, Xbox on Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile is pretty great. You can earn Achievements through the games you download for the store, or treat the app as a companion for your living room experience. You can send messages, look at your Achievements, browse the Xbox Store or check the status updates of your friends. The iPhone offers no legitimate contest to this besides Microsoft’s own SmartGlass, and SmartGlass feels woefully outdated.

One Device vs Two Devices

Truly, I think it’s a difference in vision that separates Windows 10 Mobile and iPhone. Apple is counting on you buying devices. It’s also counting on device convergence not being a thing. Truthfully, I think that failure to acknowledge device convergence will be Apple’s undoing.

Microsoft Display Dock (2)

The smartphone and tablet are today’s must-have gadgets. That’s great but they’re not meant for everything. No one except writers and iPad Pro owners are doing work at their desk with anything but a notebook or desktop.

Windows 10 Mobile marries the smartphone with the notebook and desktop in lots of ways that’ll become important overtime. Continuum allows some Windows phones to connect to a monitor and other USB devices. The phone becomes a touchpad and forms the heart of a desktop PC.

Microsoft Display Dock

In some specific scenarios Continuum can already replace a basic PC. The latest apps in the Windows Store can be installed on traditional Windows PCs or a Windows Phone. Information syncs between these apps automatically. There is some missing pieces to this functionality, mainly that desktop apps can’t be installed. It’s more than what Apple is doing in the space.

Read: Microsoft Lumia 950 Review: The Phone That Can Be a PC

Look, I’m not exactly saying that you should buy a Windows Phone running Windows 10 Mobile. The Windows device market doesn’t much in the way of devices. Officially, only T-Mobile and AT&T offer devices in the United States. We need to see some more devices before anyone considers making blanket declarations like, “You should buy a Windows phone.” There are also many reasons to buy an iPhone, the biggest of those being Apple Pay and the iTunes App Store.

That being said, the notion that Windows 10 Mobile is somehow bad or lacks unique features is a bit absurd. It could definitely stand to improve, you’ll get no arguments from me there. The people who are still using the operating system do so because Windows phones do offer some compelling features. The amount of compelling features to switch for should go up as Microsoft continues to unify Windows 10 Mobile and Windows for notebooks, desktops and tablets.

Buy the iPhone, but don’t count Windows phones out just yet.

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9 Comments

  1. JamesReb

    02/22/2016 at 7:13 am

    Apple does have continuity. I can get my calls, voicemails and texts via FaceTime and iMessage on my Mac. Also can reply or initiate them too.

    Reply

    • ch is

      02/22/2016 at 8:42 am

      As long as it’s an message not a standard sms

      Reply

  2. SuicideNinja

    02/22/2016 at 9:44 am

    I wish businesses would give up on the iPhone. My employer keeps going with iPhone then whines about cost. Our Universal apps is a far better case for businesses that write in-house apps. The cheapest phone will work for that purpose. Continuum would be available via more expensive phones for those who want or need it.

    Reply

  3. Andy

    02/22/2016 at 10:19 am

    How refreshing to read a review that informs you about the good points of Windows phone and there are many but it seems most online magazine reviews are obsessed with everything Apple and to a lesser degree Android and look for all the bad points.
    Windows 10 and Windows mobile 10 is new and will undoubtedly suffer hiccups but just like the OS’s before it will eventfully become very stable, it is still evolving and suspect will take awhile.
    If you take the hundreds if not thousands of different pieces of hardware it will eventually end up on and to a similar extent Android that neither have total control of, can understand why they are continually updating at the moment to iron out the bugs.
    Now if you look at Apple they about 5 different pieces of hardware and they have screwed up the last 3 updates and the last one on my works IPhone 6 had to be swapped out and that was 1 of the 87 out of the 150 that my works have but strangely when I got home and browsed the web looking for some headline stories about the issue, not a jot but I did find a little 2 line paragraph in a remote link at the bottom of a page, that says it all.
    What really puzzles me is why iPhone and Android phone user would be bothered to read and then post bigotry comments about Windows Phone if they are happy with the phone they have seems they must have a sad life perhaps someone from the IPhone/Android community can enlighten me.
    By the way I have a Lumia 930 and a 635 my wife as a Lumia 735 and my grandson Lumia 630 with the latest Windows mobile 10 insider preview and so far they are working fine and are happy.

    Reply

  4. Tim

    02/25/2016 at 3:47 am

    Now I just need Microsoft to deliver Windows 10 mobile!
    So tired of waiting!
    And devices

    Reply

  5. david shumate

    02/26/2016 at 2:26 pm

    I wouldn’t buy a crapple product ever; no matter what. They were key players in the suit against Microsoft in 2000 which after the government found in favor of crapple, caused the dot bomb… literally, the next day the dot bomb happened. No thanks, I’ll stick with technology providers that don’t cause massive havoc in the market they exist… crapple can F’ off!

    Reply

    • oceanscrashing

      03/15/2016 at 11:53 pm

      I hope you don’t think Microsoft doesn’t cause a massive amount of havoc in their own market. Please tell me you’re a Linux user. Microsoft has been stuck in the mud for ages, trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m not an Apple fanboy by any means, but the OS is based on UNIX, which lets you run a massive amount of top-notch software written by the open source community. Standing on the shoulders of giants gives your perspective. Microsoft decided they’d become their own giant. Apple too, sure, in a lot of ways. But they’ve had quality hardware (that you pay for,) and a solid UNIX-based OS, so they’ve had my business for a while now.

      All that being said, I’m hoping that web-based and universal apps continue to become the norm, so we’re no longer locked into a brand, and decide with less hesitation which path to take. It’s better if the operating system gets out of your way, and lets you work, using third-party and widely available tools like Dropbox to stay in sync.

      Currently, if I develop an app in Linux, it’s typically a small amount of work to get it to run on Apple’s OS. To get that same app ported to Microsoft, I’d have to do a rain dance and perform some sort of intricate ritual that I don’t care to invest the time or money learning.

      From a developer’s standpoint, Microsoft has historically been a tough box to break into, or worse yet, out of, if you were unfortunate enough to start your development career using microsoft’s development environments. That difficulty has been, and may continue to be a problem that leaves their App Store a bit more bare than Andriod’s, and Apple’s.

      They are making huge amounts of progress, and I hope Windows keeps getting better. It’s been a long and checkered relationship between me and MS though, and I can’t help but look at the “powershell,” the Windows registry, and feel that they’ve put a whole lot of work into being an island for no good reason. The new “package manager” on the command line (or, power shell, whatever they want to call it,) seemed to be a glimmer of rational thinking, but it’s been fairly stagnant since its inception.

      Reply

  6. Tristan Vaillancourt

    03/01/2016 at 7:06 pm

    AMEN Mr. Pope. Thank you. Windows Phone 8 and now 10 (preview) have been a joy to work with. One thing I only recently discovered was the single hand mode, where you tap the start button while already staring at the start screen. Very handy. Probably old news for you all. Thanks for offering up a bit of praise for Windows Phone. It’s come a long way, and the user experience on this platform outshines the experiences I have had with my previous Android phones. It also outshines the experience that a few of my associates seem to have with their iphones. Seems to be lots of swearing and battery drainage issues, big updates, slowdowns and a lack of sd card support. I don’t even think they can change the battery! (Could be wrong) I looked at the interface a few months ago, and was underwhelmed at how retro it looks. I’m sure it works fine however, just, ultra simplistic and boring. Windows offers a dynamic UI that feels more refined. Of course, despite acknowledging to apple fans that the phones seem quite ‘functional’ (that’s about how excited i am about them) , that all they can muster is some ill conceived comment about how there is a lack of apps on windows, or just the old “windows phone sucks” blathering. Same old story. Unbelievable. Thanks again!! Just wanted to say that the HP Elite X3 looks like an excellent phone for money makers, movers and shakers, especially since it’s not a Microsoft offering. I’ll hold out for a Surface Phone myself since my 830 is going strong and the camera is fantastic (for me). Lots of manufacturers are jumping on board, probably after a bit of convincing from Microsoft. It’s for the better. The UI is superior (IMHO), and there’s no denying Microsoft of all companies should be able to pull it off.

    Reply

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