Review: iOS 5.1 vs WP 7.5

For one week, I purchased an iPhone 4S and used it as my primary device, in order to see how Windows Phone compares to its main competitor. Some things were far better on Windows Phone, and some things were far better on iOS. Here is what I found:


Interface – Winner: Windows Phone
Windows Phone hands down has a far more intuitive and easy to use interface. I actually expected the iPhone to be ahead of the game here, since Apple is always known for making things simple and dumbed down, but most of the iPhone’s features are incredibly hidden and impossible to discover without reading instructions.

I was convinced that the iPhone had NO background media controls for current playing music, since the controls are hidden in places where a common user would never look. To skip a song from the lock screen, you have to press the home key twice. To skip a song while using the phone, you have to double-tap the home key and then swipe left on the multitasking pane. If it took me forever to find out about these, I can imagine average users truly struggling.

Also, the iPhone’s stolen version of swiping left to view pictures from the camera is completely unintuitive, since NOTHING tells you that it is possible. Windows Phone, on the other hand, gives you visual clues everywhere. The interface of Windows Phone is unmatched in terms of ease of use and being intuitive.


Apps – Winner: iPhone
There are simply more apps on iOS than there are Windows Phone, and most of the popular ones (PayPal, Photosynth, Wells Fargo, Draw Something) are on iOS and not on Windows Phone. Also, the multitasking in iOS is far faster and better controlled. Apps will almost always open instantly from the home screen since they simply resume the version stored in RAM instead of restarting like in Windows Phone.

Also, the quality of apps on the iPhone are a notch above Windows Phone. The Facebook app in particular is a great example… it’s actually usable compared to the Windows Phone version!

Nevertheless, it can be tough to find free apps on iOS compared to Windows Phone, and I discovered that Windows Phone does have some better smaller apps for specific nitches (there’s no XDA-Developers app on iPhone for example). And I became extremely frustrated by Apple’s App Store asking me to enter my password every single time to install FREE apps!


Email – Winner: Windows Phone
With Windows Phone, you can actually search for emails. With the iPhone, you can only search for who emails are from, who they are to, and the subject line. What a joke! Also, with Windows Phone it’s possible to attach multiple photos to an email. Yeah, that’s right, the iPhone can’t send multiple pictures in an email. And to attach a photo, you have to do something completely unintuitive: Leave your email, go to the Photos app, and select a photo, and then click Send! Windows Phone wins hands down.


SMS – Winner: TIE
On the iPhone, there is a nifty little SMS progress bar when you send messages, that shows when your message is actually sent, so you know it got out. Also, if you turn your screen off before the message is sent, it’ll make a subtle “Whooop” sound when the message is sent, so you know it went through. Also, you can search through contents of your SMS threads, which is cool!

However, the iPhone completely lacks a character counter. Since messages are broken up every 160 characters (unless you’re texting someone on the same carrier), I like being able to know if my last two characters are going to send as a separate message. Windows Phone gives you a character counter once you reach about 135 characters, which is how it should be.


Notifications – Winner: iPhone
A notification manager is simply better than no notification manager. I have missed notifications from Pageonce countless times on Windows Phone, since notifications simply vanish after 10 or so seconds.


Information at a Glance – Winner: Windows Phone
Being able to see what my next homework assignments are while also seeing my next calendar appointment is crucial to me. With the iPhone, I would have to open a homework planner app and then open the calendar app. With Windows Phone, there’s a great thing called Live Tiles (just like Widgets on Android). Just like a notification manager, every smartphone should have something like Live Tiles too.


Media – Winner: iPhone
With the iPhone, you can quickly select where you would like to play your music (through the device’s speakers or external Bluetooth speakers for example). Also, the media and ringtone volume controls are separate, so you can turn your music down low but then you’ll still be able to hear a phone call in the morning.

However, the iPhone wouldn’t automatically reconnect to my Bluetooth speakers for some reason, and setting the iPhone to vibrate instead of ringer is slightly confusing. Nevertheless, the separate volume controls and full control over music playback destination pushed the iPhone ahead here.


Keyboard – Winner: Windows Phone
Typing is simply better on Windows Phone. On WP7, you have a dedicated comma and period button, which cuts out extra screen taps (I use commas a lot). Also, being able to see and select word suggestions as you type is far better than them being ultimate mysteries like they are on the iPhone. For example, it’s a pain to correct the word “well” to “we’ll” on the iPhone, whereas it’s dead simple on Windows Phone.


Voice Commands – Winner: iPhone
Siri is simply better than Windows Phone’s current voice controls. There are more available commands, and you can also use voice dictation anywhere (instead of just text messages on Windows Phone). Also, Siri supports multiple sentences! I hardly ever use voice dictation on Windows Phone, since I hardly ever write text messages as simple as “I’ll see you there”. With Siri, I can dictate out piles of sentences and actually be able to say what I want to say.


Maps – Winner: TIE
With Windows Phone, Bing Maps will show you restaurant reviews and store hours right on the search results. On Google Maps for iPhone, even store hours are strangely missing.

However, Google Maps is almost always more accurate, especially in other countries.


Hardware Design – Winner: Windows Phone
The iPhone’s design may be beautiful, but it’s completely terrible functionality-wise. Wrapping a phone (which people often drop) in glass is the worst idea ever! Also, the phone’s design acts as a miniature oven… if you live in a hot climate, you could cook eggs on the phone during the summer. I appreciate utilitarian objects over superficial objects, and the iPhone is extremely superficial.


Universal Search – Winner: iPhone
It’s nice being able to search everything on your phone from one location. The iPhone lets you do that, while on Windows Phone you would have to jump into each specific app to do so.


Battery Life – Winner: Windows Phone
At the end of the day (or the end of the article), Windows Phone gives you a longer-lasting battery in my experience. The iPhone was down to less than 20% each night, and that’s with only being connected to T-Mobile’s EDGE network! I can’t imagine what 3G would be like.


Overall, both phones are great and both phones have flaws. Deciding which phone is best overall is truly up to each individual person, since everyone has different needs.

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