Staff Choices: Windows Phone 7 Devices

One nice thing about not being an Apple Fanboy is that I actually get some options when it comes to new phones. With Microsoft’s official announcement of Windows Phone 7 and the associated hardware announcements out of the way, I can get down to the business of choosing my hardware.

First of all, as we’ve said many times here, which carrier you will use is the priority decision here. Because of my work location, my choices are really limited to AT&T and Verizon. The fact that I have been an AT&T customer for some time, combined with the news that Verizon is going to be late to the party, make that an easy choice. My real complaint here is that my two favorite form factors, the HTC 7 Pro and the Dell Venue Pro, are not available on AT&T.

Since I’m sticking with AT&T, my choices are limited to the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum, and HTC Surround. Some of the things on my wishlist for a new device would be a hardware keyboard (I currently use an HTC Tilt 2), a large screen, and a front facing camera. Something like the Sprint Epic 4G with Windows Phone 7 would be perfect. Unfortunately, I appear to have set my sights too high.

Since the Quantum is the only device with a hardware keyboard that would seem to be the best choice, but I’m not entirely sold on LG as a Smartphone manufacturer just yet, and I’m not entirely sure I like the keyboard layout or even the way that the three buttons on the front are arranged. I’m also a big fan of what HTC does with their hardware, and the innovative design of the Surround is definitely tempting, but I would like a little more screen real-estate. I’m also a heavy Bluetooth Headphones user, so I don’t know how much use I’d get out of those speakers.

At this point I’m fairly certain that I will be picking up a Samsung Focus on November 9. The things that sold me on the Focus are the 4 inch Super AMOLED screen, the sleek and slim form factor, and the Samsung brand in general. I’m a former Samsung BlackJack user, and just knowing how solid that device was makes me very comfortable with the Focus. The other thing that has me excited about the Focus is the potential for expanding the storage capacity. Even though it is limited to 8gb of internal storage (compared to 16gb for the other two AT&T phones), the ability to add a microSD card to the mix makes the Focus a very attractive option.  I’m a little nervous about giving up my hardware keyboard, but I’m hoping that I won’t even notice.

  • I have the tilt 2 as well I replaced my pure with I like the tilt2 but only use the onscreen keyboard to type. I would have like the tilt2 to be an on screen kb only like the hd2 or would have bought an HD2 if ATT had offered it. So I am looking as the focus as basically a WP7 version of the captivate which I have played with at an ATT store. The only problem is that unless ATT gives me a really early incentive on upgrading it wont happen for a while.
  • Tim (or someone else) - could you go into more detail about your thoughts on LG and/or Samsung as manufacturers? I have a Samsung Jack and it works great, but I had a LOT of trouble with the BlackJack 2, and was thinking of switching to something else like the Quantum.
  • I can't speak for the LG hardware as I haven't used anything carrying an LG logo since my dumb phone days. As far as Samsung goes, I couldn't have been happier with my BlackJack back in the day. In some ways I think that the BlackJack hardware is some of the best phone hardware I've ever used. I accidentally launched (and I do mean launched) my BlackJack across the room one night, smacking it against the wall 20 feet away. It really didn't care. It was that solid and lightweight. I personally wouldn't recommend doing this with any device, much less one with a 4 inch screen, but still. My one complaint about the BlackJack was the proprietary connector, but it looks like the Focus will support a more standard USB port.
  • Tim - thanks for the reply. I never tried the original BlackJack, but I would agree on Samsung's quality with the Samsung Jack. The BlackJack 2, however, just seemed way too slow, which I had thought was a software problem until I switched to the Samsung Jack. AT&T Navigator actually WORKS on the Jack! Perhaps it was a memory thing with the BJ2? I think I'll be going with the Quantum for now, though like you I was hoping the Pro 7 would come out for AT&T. Oh well...
    Thanks again!