I love Windows phone, and I don't want to leave the platform. To be honest, if I do venture to Android it will only be with one of my phone lines. My second phone is my trusty Lumia 1020, which I carry as my business line. So, I carry two Windows phones and it is my primary phone, my precious 1520, that is perishing.
So if I do join team Android, my 1020 will keep me securely anchored on the Windows phone side of the smartphone landscape as well. So it's really only a consideration of a step into Android than jumping in with both feet. Still, you might be whispering, "No Jason, don't do it."
So why would I, long-time advocate and prognosticator of Microsoft's mobile strategy, be looking at Android? Sadly it's a story an increasing number of Windows phone fans have already told.
First things first
My desire for an Android phone isn't an indication that I believe Microsoft has forsaken mobile.
I'm unshaken in my confidence that Microsoft has a mobile strategy (whether it will succeed is another question). Regardless of how often we've been burned by Redmond, many of us still prefer the Windows phone UI and the unfulfilled potential of Live Tiles, OnceCore and UWP. There's nothing wrong with rooting for your love. Even the most jaded among us must admit that if Microsoft really gets mobile and its ecosystem right, then Windows on mobile would be a cool place to hang our hats.
I'm convinced Microsoft's banking on leveraging technologies like edge computing, 5G, IoT and the synergy of Windows 10 features for a future device. Those investments combined with full Windows 10 on ARM on potentially foldable hardware and CShell could bring a unique telephony-enabled PC experience to the mobile space. But it's not here yet and could be canceled even if it's in the pipeline. The canceled Surface Mini and MacLaren are proof of that.
Whether ultramobile PCs make it to market or not, I'll need a new phone soon. As a techie, I'm not adverse to using "the competition." Last year I wrote that my wife, who uses a Lumia 640, wanted to switch to Android. What I didn't tell you is that I was eyeing the Galaxy Note 7 at the same time. Dodged a bullet there, eh?
The only reason I haven't had the latest iPhones and several Android phones over the years is money. Buying all of the new gadgets that catch my eye isn't a cheap endeavor, so my exclusivity to Windows phone has been both by choice and necessity, not blind commitment to Microsoft. Each platform has its strengths. Given my limited resources I've invested in my preferred platform: Windows and Windows phone. But given the dearth of new hardware, the predicted demise of Windows 10 Mobile and the uncertainty of when (or if) what's next is coming; I need to explore my available options.
Oh where, oh where have the Windows phones gone?
There are few remaining options for the Windows phone fan who wants a Windows phone.
The last Lumia was released in 2016. Thus, my chances of getting a brand-spanking new Lumia in 2017 are pretty slim. I could probably find a Lumia 950 XL for a reasonable price. But, I'd be taking a chance on something refurbished or potentially damaged in some way. Virtually any Lumia I could find online comes with similar concerns. I like the reasonably-priced Alcatel Idol 4 S as well, but it falls in the same boat.
The HP Elite x3 for $599 represents the epitome of available Windows phones. As smartphones go, $599 isn't a bad price compared to the $1000 price tags of a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Apple iPhone X. But what happens in a little over a year after I've invested $600 in a mobile OS that is no longer supported?
Even if Microsoft debuts a Windows on ARM ultramobile PC in late 2018 or early 2019, I wouldn't be ready to invest the approximate $1000 it would surely cost so soon after dropping $600 on an Elite x3. If I passed on that, then I'd be stuck with a relatively "new," but unsupported x3 with no upgrade path. Thus if I wanted to stay with Windows and maintain support I'd have to go with the potential new and expensive offering. That would be a $1600 investment in mobile in about a year's time. No thanks, I have a family.
At least if I choose a Note 8, I could count on Android being supported beyond 2018 and wouldn't be compelled to get something new just for support.
'Phabulous' Phablet and stylish stylus
I like big phones. When I picked up the 5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL for the first time, it felt small compared to my 6-inch Lumia 1520. Large screens are conducive to how I use smartphones. Web-surfing, messaging, social media and more rank above putting a phone to our ears and yapping away. The more real estate I have, the happier I am.
The 6.3-inch display of the Note 8 is right up my alley. That's plenty room to edit articles, use Twitter, write notes, watch videos, read and more. I've never wanted to replace my 1520 with a smaller device, Windows phone or otherwise. The Note 8 fits my smartphone size requirements nicely.
I'm also pretty excited about using a pen for digital inking. Sure. Samsung's implementation of their S Pen is different than Microsoft's Windows Ink, but there's no Windows phone that supports such a pen, and Microsoft has yet to build support for it into Windows 10 Mobile. So that's that.
I'm not much of an app user. Like most people I've downloaded far more apps than I use. OneNote, Twitter, Slack, Windows Central, Facebook, Cortana, a selection of Bible apps, and Groove are probably my most used apps. But that's both a reflection of my mobile usage and the state of Windows' ecosystem.
There are times (infrequent I admit) that a business or service advertises an app I'd like to use, but there is no Windows phone app. That's frustrating. I'm guilty of sometimes getting on my Windows phone user soap box, and complaining to an audience of one (my wife who shares my frustration) about how these entities are ignoring our platform. I've even reached out to some of these companies to express a need for a Windows version of their app. I won't have to do that if my daily driver is a Note 8.
Additionally, my wife has had to defer to her Samsung tablet to utilize apps that help with our small business. Office and OneDrive on our Windows phones is great. It's sad that we have to use another platform to gain access to other tools we need. Having everything in one place would be ideal. Microsoft's cross-platform efforts have ensured that we can have that.
Honestly, $1000 for a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is an investment I can't make right now. I have a two-year old daughter and another on the way. So though I would love a Note 8, if I can spare anything before my 1520 dies it will likely be invested in an affordable Windows phone. "Why not a cheap Android phone," you ask?
Well, if I'm going to quasi-jump ship to Android I'd like to get what I really want, and that's a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Until then I'll stay right where I am.
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Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!