What it's like to keep clinging onto Windows Mobile's sunken ship
I've been using Windows phones since 2006, and they still work for me… for the most part.
Microsoft's Windows phones are the pariah of the tech industry. It wasn't always this way. Pre Windows Phone Windows Mobile once occupied a dominant position in the smartphone industry as a platform for professionals and techies. Then the iPhone pushed "smartphones" into the mainstream, and everything changed. Microsoft would never again approach the 40 percent mobile market share it once achieved.
The iPhone's 2007 launch initiated Windows Mobile's precipitous fall which Microsoft sought to stall with the touch- and consumer-friendly Windows Phone's 7, 8, 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile. Conceding Windows-on-phones market defeat, Windows 10 Mobile was infamously realigned with the enterprise sealing its fate. With each OS "advancement" Microsoft's smartphone market share continued to fall. Many fans held on hoping for a turnaround that never came, and a deeper commitment from Microsoft that never materialized.
Most diehard fans have since left the platform for greener iPhone and Android phone pastures. A few of us remain more or less content with the vestiges of a platform that honestly began to disappoint, around Windows Phone 8.1, even before the bottom fell out. Still, I've been using Windows phones since 2006, and my Lumia 950 XL with Windows 10 Mobile is still my daily driver.
- Related: Hey Windows phone fans, here's why you may want to pass on Android
- Related: Hey Windows phone refugees – here's why you should pass on iPhone
What drew me to Windows phones?
The idea of "Windows in my pocket" drew me to my first smartphone (which was my second cell phone), the Cingular 2125. It was a candy bar shaped Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphone with a physical keyboard and a "big" (for the time) 2-inch screen that I bought in 2006 for $299. It allowed me to surf the web, watch saved movies from the SD Card, download apps from the web and much more. My Cingular 2125 Windows phone was superior to the flip and feature phones my peers and others were using at the time.
My Tilt and Tilt II, followed my 2125 with Window Mobile 6.0 sporting slide-out keyboards and larger displays. Their design combined with Windows 6.0/6.5 made me feel like I was carrying a min-laptop in my pocket. Modifying the UI of this open operating system (OS) was one of my favorite parts of Windows Mobile. So after Apple launched the iPhone with its closed OS and locked-down UI, I was disappointed with the overly simplistic, closed Windows Phone 7 OS and UI Microsoft launched in response.
It wasn't until Windows Phone 7.5 and the "massive" HTC Titan that Live Tiles, Hubs, the OS level integration of social media platforms, the UI fluidity and more won me over to Windows Phone. I loved interacting with Facebook friends directly from the People Hub as if FB and Twitter we part of the OS. I enjoyed posting to social media from the Me Tile and the aesthetic and social network integration of the Photos Hub. The person-focused Messaging Hub which provided a continuous conversation stream centered around a person even when I switched from a text messaging to Facebook Messenger was a joy. When Windows Phone 8.1 brought welcome additions like Cortana to the mix, while ditching the power of the Me Tile and more, the "progress" was bittersweet.
Windows 10 Mobile with the addition of hamburger menus and eradication of the large fonts and the carousel aesthetics all but killed the beauty of the OS that drew me in. I'm still here, however, because I still prefer Live Tiles (I know there are Android skins), the platform still works for me, for now, and the cost of getting what I want, a Galaxy Note 9 at $1000, is more than I can justify paying right now.
Do we really need top of the line smartphones?
Windows Phone 8.1 improved upon and took away from the Windows Phone 8 experience.
I'm a techie so of course, I want the latest and greatest tech. But as a Windows phone user who is using a three-year-old device what I, and perhaps most of us, need and want are very different things. I'm not a heavy app user. And statistically, most people only use six top apps 90-percent of the time. So statistically most people are not heavy app users. And those apps that are most used, like Facebook, Instagram, and others, are found on Windows phones (for now).
Now I am painfully aware that many apps many people use, like my banking app, is no longer available on Windows Mobile. Apps that my wife and I need for our small business are also missing. And many apps like my favorite News program and other advertised apps are missing. But for what most of what most people do most of the time: surf the web, watch videos, interact on Facebook and Twitter, email, message and more, even in its declining state, Windows phone still does the job. Would an iPhone or Android phone do things better? I'm convinced that yes, they would, but they're not Windows phone. I'm also aware that the lack of some apps on Windows Mobile is a barrier to certain jobs. I'm not trying to convince anyone to switch to or hold onto a sinking ship. I'm sharing my experience.
I know that the tech industry and many of our own internal motivations convince us that we need the latest and smartest devices to participate in the modern age of mobile computing. I believe that that urge in most cases is driven by want rather than actual need, however. As someone in tune with the tech industry and immersed in this world I contend we could get along just fine without catering to the annual ritual of spending hundreds of dollars for an incremental step in device evolution at the behest of tech companies in their quest for more profits. Especially when the device we spend $1000 for this year will be used to surf the web, listen to music, watch videos, message friends and take pictures just like the device we spent $1000 for last year.
Let's be honest, no one really needs a $1000 smartphone
What lies ahead?
I'll eventually move on from my three-year-old Lumia 950 XL. It will likely be to a $200 Android phone or perhaps a $1000 Galaxy Note. That's if I don't hang on long enough to reap the possible Surface Andromeda fruits of Microsoft's Windows-on-mobile strategy of which Windows-on-phone has always only been a part.
My switch to Android or Microsoft's Pocket PC (if it makes it to market) is inevitable folks. When the time comes I'll be sure to let you know.
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1. The camera on the 950 blows my $1000 Note9 out of the water.
2. The Windows Phone start screen is more beautiful, and dynamic.
3. WP is still more fluent with scrolling, and movements.
4. The synergistic, all in one place, approach to the UI is much more organized than Android... Those are some huge trade offs, but Android has 1000 times more to offer that makes up for it. The most disappointing thing is the camera though. A $1k phone with a sub par camera. Smdh. Still, the N9 is awesome, and I rarely miss my 950....... Only when I'm taking a picture, or wishing Android had system wide dark mode. 🙄🙄🙄
Sadly, I had to go from Windows phones about a year ago. What made me go was poor battery life on my 950 as well missing some apps that are important for me to work. Of course, my bank never had WP app bit that doesn't metter to me. Bought myself P10 first and now I have P20. I have to say that I'm impressed how much Google did since my pre-WP era. 😊 Phone runs smooth, battery life is incredible and everything just works.
Of course, I really miss my Lumia. No skin or launcher can replace live tiles and unique look it had. But, that's all over and time to move on was long time ago.
It's a shame. WP was a great platform, with a lot of the best ways of doing things, and polish Android could only dream of,, just managed by the wrong people. What a waste.
I stick with it largely because I don't like the other options out there. Given that Google's business model is selling your information, I'm not about to get their OS on a device that's as personal as a phone. iOS just feels, no pun intended, phoned in. There hasn't been anything revolutionary there for ages and the OS itself feels like it's behind Windows 10 Mobile. I jumped from Band to Fitbit pretty quickly because Fitbit makes a good product. It's taken me a while but I'm starting to transition from Groove to Prime Music because it's a decent product. I haven't jumped from Windows 10 Mobile because nobody makes a product I like.
I'll keep using Windows 10 Mobile as long as I can. I can only hope Andromeda makes an appearance sooner rather than later.
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about 6 years ago with LG C900, which I thought died out 3 years later.
Bought another $40 same replacement from amazon, and dropped it 2 years
later, but it still worked as a media player. Bought another $20 same replacement,
which I'm currently using now through T-mobile. I love the hardware keyboard,
and replaceable battery. Yes, I have a lumia 650, but its only a last ditch
replacement, since it's touchscreen only. Well my cracked media player died, and I put a new battery in the original LG from
6 years ago, and it works again. All my games are there, better browser, media, etc. So, as long as there are dirt cheap [Under $50 windows phone], I will never need to
switch unless the 3G and edge bands stop working. I still use Zune and windows
7.8 is much better than windows phone 8, and 10. later
Yeah, that's a lot of apps and I guess I have everything I need on Microsoft Store, at least for now. Andromeda, I'm waiting for you though! <3
(I actually had payments working for a while on Windows)
I still would prefer Windows, but its not an option if you want to be a part of the modern world.
If only those Nutjobs would either give us hope or closure on that topic... Purgatory is kinda tiring...
I don't need the latest/fastest/trendiest app/phone. Have no need mobile banking/payment on a phone.. I can get those peaky once in a blue moon things done on my laptop.
The 950XL camera still holds up.
I still use continuum a lot
And as for widgets... what sort of 1990's HTML are they; where 'resizing' them results in elements overlapping!
Just wow. And don't get me started about missing Cortana and the inability of Android to announce text messages over bluetooth. Google assistant is woeful.
The problems for me on my 950 XL are: I can't listen to my music, because Spotify won't open anymore, it's stuck at 'loading' or 'resuming', I can't talk with my work and friend groups using Whatsapp because it doesn't work anymore; I can't 'surf the web' and use Edge to connect with the Starbuck's Canada website because it's not like the US site that has a PWA...my sports score apps don't work anymore. The list goes on and on...this is just too sad to even talk about....
Over all I'm sick and tired of hearing and reading about that Windows Phone is dead when i use mine every day for all my smartphone 📱 needs, people see my Microsoft Phone and ask me about it and ask where can I buy that phone, even today you can buy a new Windows Phone, And Microsoft still gives me security patches And occasionally those little updates that come in sometimes. I'm extremely happy with my phone and will continue to use it until Microsoft does not update the phone anymore or if they have a paid update service? I would do that as well. This is the best phone platform, I have ever found to use.