An iPhone is a better Windows Phone replacement than you think

Windows phone and iPhone
Windows phone and iPhone (Image credit: Windows Central)

Over the past year, Microsoft has heavily withdrawn its mobile efforts, leaving Android and iOS as sole alternatives for converts. Many regard Android as the best platform for those making the switch, with a strong offering of Android devices serving as worthy replacements. However, don't be so quick to dismiss iOS as your Windows Phone replacement.

While we previously crowned the OnePlus 5T as the ideal device for those tied invested in Microsoft's ecosystem, I recently switched to Apple's rival iOS operating system (OS) as my daily driver. Android may pack a feature set welcomed by Windows Phone users but that's not to say the iPhone doesn't do the same. Here's what I've come to love since making the jump.

Polish where it matters

Easily one of the most evident disparities after a shift to iOS was the overall consistency of the OS itself. Apple is a company built on premium experiences, with tight control over every pixel of its products. This means that standards for design, functionality and the general user experience are all tailored to company standards, without input of third-party teams. It simply feels great to use.

This is a stark contrast to the current state of Android, where manufacturers offer their own "flavor" over the underlying operating system. While this sometimes allows for tighter integration of external services, these different versions are often weighed down as a result. Especially in comparison to my most recent Android experience with Samsung, a company known for bloating phones with surplus features, this is a welcome change to see.

Apple's tighter control over iOS has its benefits, but you'll lose flexibility in the exchange. In terms of raw functionality though, the gap between the two platforms has narrowed significantly in recent years. Once-missing features and quality of life improvements are now baked in, making iOS a much more compelling platform, even for mobile enthusiasts. You might be jumping through odd hoops for complex tasks, but for the essentials (and even a little more), Apple has you covered.

Top-tier app experiences

This was something I suspected before making the move and has only been reinforced in my time since – on average, apps are significantly better on iOS. For many developers, the iPhone is treated as the primary development mobile platform and this quickly shows through app quality.

In comparison to Android equivalents, even the most popular services frequently offer more refined and feature-packed apps. While sometimes it's simply the case of more intuitive navigation, for others it can mean entirely exclusive features. Even my bank embraces Apple Pay but failed to offer support for Android services.

Microsoft may not have many iOS-exclusive apps, though the standard for quality is still set much higher. General polish leaves the Office suite, Microsoft Edge, and other Microsoft services naturally tied into iOS, with few shortcomings tied to the platform itself. There are anomalies, but on average iOS is unbeaten for consistency and functionality.

An unmatched hardware ecosystem

One of the underrated strengths of iOS today is its ecosystem of wireless accessories – an area Apple has gradually scaled in recent years. After ditching the headphone jack and adopting wireless charging, its recent products only double down on its commitment to premium wireless hardware.

I've previously praised AirPods for their simplicity (even for Android users), though they shine best when paired with iOS. The two earpieces come with their own dedicated charging case, with a seamless hand-off once removed. And by hooking into iOS, you'll get some welcome benefits, including customizable touch gestures, on-screen battery data, easy Siri access, and more.

The same also goes for the company's in-house smartwatch, the Apple Watch. Although an independent device with its own cellular capabilities, an iPhone still pushes the most out of the device. The duo once again offers an unmatched level of consistency.

This ecosystem is only expected to expand going forward, with the upcoming "HomePod" speaker. Other devices will still connect to this, though its almost certain Apple's own devices will see tighter integration.

Timely updates for all

After setting up a new iPhone, you'll soon be prompted to download the latest update, with new features, bug fixes, and other various tweaks. Apple's tightly controlled platform means only one version of iOS is released, with a simultaneous rollout on supported devices. On Android, this just isn't the case.

Android has gained a reputation for its slow-to-nonexistent updates, with the release of new Android versions often delayed between devices. With countless variants of Android served by manufacturers, updates are managed by third parties, leaving a majority of Android users with delayed rollouts (if ever) to their devices.

The latest case of these delays affects the release of Android 8.0 Oreo, and many manufacturers have still yet to adopt this version after its August 2017 debut, even in newly announced devices. Although limiting your options to Google-made hardware can avoid this, Apple ensures all devices remain relevant for years to come.

Your thoughts on iOS

Both Android and iOS have their benefits, though for many, the choice comes down the personal preference. While Android offers raw functionality, there's a thriving charm and polish to iOS that's unbeaten by competition. Make sure to hop into the comments below with your thoughts on the iPhone for those invested in Microsoft services.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • I would rather switch to iOS than to Android but otherwise even used iPhones are way too expensive. And I like the Microsoft Launcher on my test Android. I just hope my 950 will last long enough.
  • I switched from Windows phone to iPhone and it was a mistake. iPhone 7+, at that. Six months later i switched to Android on an LG G6, and you couldn't pay me to go to an iPhone again. Junk.
  • You know what goes great with an iPhone? A MacBook. This is a slippery slope for Microsoft.
  • You know what iPhone and MacBooks are good for? They make wonderful door stops and that is all i would have either for.
  • You think your view of Apple is the norm for consumers? Does Microsoft want to make that bet?
  • Actually I do.  Most people aren't willing to pay the premium for a macbook.  It's one thing to spend $800-1000 on a phone.  People justify it because they use it everyday all day long.  Most personal computers are not used nearly as much, so it really gets to be tough to swallow that premium price.  There are 10 iPhone users in my extended family, and only two of them own a Mac for that very reason.  The two that own one also happen to be the most financially well off as well.
  • Exactly. People aren't using Windows as much. Microsoft cannot afford to give them yet another path off Windows.
  • Where did you get that?  I never said that or even implied it.  In my own personal experience, that's 80% Windows and 20% Mac.  As long as Apple continues to charge a 30% premium for the same hardware, I think Microsoft is fine.
  • I preffer paying more for a mac and receive a stable OS, not a half baked junk tested by insiders, a mature ecosystem with services not being killed off by a mad CEO.
  • @Snapperlicious, once in awhile Bleached makes some coherrent arguments and then falls straight back into their bubble lol, he/she will only see what they want to see.
  • what 30% premium?  have you seen prices of signature series Surfacebooks?  they are the same or MORE expensive than a mac.   30% more than a cheap, plastic, dell with Malware and tons of Junkware preinstalled maybe...  iPhone 8 (same internals as iPhone X) is $699. MS 950XL was right around that price at release as well.  Stop spreading FUD people that dismiss macs as door stops have never owned a mac, never used a mac, or is too stupid to know how to actually USE a mac. MacOS is superior to windows if you know what your are doing. 
  • Mayconvert,  the new resident koolaid drinker.  I am NOT stupid...and MacOS is ***** compared to windows.   Windows is vastly superior in its ease of use and functionality compared to MacOS. 
  • Don't always agree with bleached....You can be a cynic at times buddy :-) But I totally get what you are saying here - The argument that Macbooks are useless is not the opinion of the general market at all, plus the statement is a false one. The other thing to consider is more and more people don't need a full Computer for home use, the iPad and iPad Pro are pretty well priced and most people will be perfectly happy with one over a full PC. It's very possible people will be looking to replace their old laptop and decide they just need an iPad with better battery life, all the apps they are used to on their phone and they can even FaceTime and iMessage just like they can on their phone. I'm not saying everybody is this way, I am not at all - It's unlikely an iPad will ever do what I need because I do development every single day and I need the productivity of a full computer (PC for me) at both work and home - Most people only need that at work these days
  • While macbooks are expensive, The competing surface devices are more so.
  • No, MacBooks have great use. Here is how you use a MacBook: Step 1: Buy a MacBook Step 2: Buy Windows 10 Step 3: Install Windows 10.   You now have a great computer that is useful and can actually get things done. It may not be as pretty as a Surface Laptop, it may not have all the functionality of a Surface Laptop (no touch screen, for example), it may not have all the latest CPUs. But it is a machine that if you like 5 year old tech, then you will feel right at home.
  • You then have a PC you paid too much for and lacks all the modern innovations of post-2013 PC's. Bad advice.
  • All those "modern innovations" that have not increased Windows sales or markets?
  • Are you talking about Microsoft or Apple?  Haven't seen anything innovative from Apple since before Jobs died.
  • Wait what, did you say 😅? Windows 10 is the only tablet OS thats gaining any market share and year over year growth. So there is that😀... And on desktop/laptops Windows has around a 90% percent marketshare. You know that the only way from the top is down right🤓?! But even there Windows 10 shows healthy growth rate😉, by the end of 2018 it will have over taken Windows 7 as most used version of Windows🎉🎊. So, you're completely wrong in your assessment. The only thing where you might have kinda a point? That's on the smartphone side of things, but everyone knows Microsoft isn't even trying that anymore🤔.
    They are with great succes, I might add, focusing on Windows strong points: Desktops, laptops, 2in1's and tablets. And that's where they should be focusing on, it's what pays the bills., you know 😜 Now maybe the mythical Surface Phone/Microsoft Courier device might carve out a nice niche for them in the ultra mobile space🤔... But everyone realizes and accepts that Microsoft lost the smartphone war and is rightly so looking a head searching for the next bent in the curve😎! Get over your self, deal with it and move the heck on😒!!
  • Your stats are way out of date.  Desktop Windows is closer to 82% these days, and dropping.  It has not been in the 90s for about 4 years now.   The reason it is dropping is because Mac OS X is now at 13%.   When Windows was at 90%, OS X was around 5%.  Do the math. Also, Windows on tablets is not growing, in fact it peaked in 2015 and has been dropping since.   Since Windows 10 is a terrible tablet OS, this is not surprising.  8.1 was better on tablets, which explains the peak BEFORE Windows 10 was released. iOS still owns the tablet market with 65%.   Android is second with 34%.   Windows is a distant third, with about .3% and going nowhere.  
  • Microsoft is not going for the table t market. they just created a new two in ones which people are loving and enjoying.. tablet is just old school
  • Whereas desktops and laptops are “new school”, right?
  • I guess you're using data that's from the United States? Because you're figure is globally Windows holds 88. 87% of the desktop market as of December 2017.
  • Nope, these are global stats.   Broken down by country, if you want it.  Net market share does not do that, so I question their results.   
  • Would be nice if you'd share some sources of you're claims? Last I checked sales figures of the tablet markt showed Windows 10, as the only platform, growth year over year in a otherwise shrinking market (a special feat on its own, especially as the first under dog) And again, US only data is irrelevant in the grander scheme of things...
  • Statcounter is based on 10 billion page views each month, spread over 2 million web sites.   Net market share is based on 100 million views each month, spread across “thousands of websites”.   Which do you think is more accurate?
  • Tablet OS :))))) LOL, when was the last time you've checked the Tablet Touch UI on Windows 10? Tablet mode is a complete joke. Windows, in its form right now, is the worst UI for a tablet. For a tablet you need a touch optrimized UI and APPS which Win10 does not have.
  • Then why is Windows 10 doing so much better in tablet hardware sales then Windows 8 ever did?! You're personal preferences are not perse the opinion of the majority of people!
  • Windows tablets peaked in 2015, during Windows 8.1.
  • Since having my iPhone I've definitely taken less of an interesting in Windows 10 Mobile, but I'm still keeping myself up to date with Windows 10 news. I think Mac OS is as capable as Windows is, so it'd be hard sell to get me to switch, even though I'd get better integration. I've put processes in place that mean that having cross-device communication is something I can live without.
  • Nah bleached.. Macbooks SUCK.   If you buy a dell computer, use ms services and dell mobile have the same interconnected services.  Works great.   Thats' what I am doing and I love it  
  • You don't even have to do that as long as your on Android.  Plenty of apps exist to seamlessly integrate your Android experience with Windows such as OneDrive, Pulse SMS, Pushbullet, etc.
  • Why use third party when it's all from great first party applicaitons.  Then,  again,  there's support.  Meaning your lucky to get one OS update on android devices,  where with IOS you get 5 years support.  Plus apps being more polished on IOS.  
  • Because 3rd party apps offer me flexibility.  BTW, you may want to rethink your statement, because Dell's app is also 3rd party, unless you are using Dell's OS on your phone and PC.  If that's the case, then you may want to share the details of that new OS, that no one else seems to know about, with the rest of us. The fact that you think iOS apps are more polished is cute.  Unfortunately it's not true, some apps work better on Android, some work better on iOS.  Such is life.
  • I am on a dell computer,  they (dell) offer the software.  1st party.  Simple.  I know that IOS apps are more polished.   I own android, IOS, windows, linux etc.   I know what apps are polished and what are not.
  • Just because it's a Dell computer doesn't make it a first party app. The app is running on an OS that wasn't written by them. Hardware has nothing to do with it.
  • Since you don't like 3rd party software, good luck running your "1st party" app on that Dell computer running a 3rd party OS. 😁
  • Google offers your at least 5 years of Google Play support. Google still directly updates devices newer than Gingerbread! Apps remain compatible and even new features and APIs are added to ancient phones. Android updates don't really matter, especially if you have a skinned device.
  • google only directly updates google devices. Which make up a small fraction of android sales.   Your samsung and LG and HTC are at the mercy of their respective manufacturers for updates.
  • No, Google directly updates every Android phone newer than Gingerbread through Play Services. This adds new features and APIs so apps stay compatible even with devices that are several years old. Google has been making every new Android version less reliant on Android version updates so they hardly even matter anymore. You hardly see a difference especially with skinned devices.