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Why Samsung Galaxy phones are a great fit for former Windows Phone fans

The Samsung Galaxy range includes some of the best and most popular Android hardware, and it has for a long time. However, competition is heating up. From OnePlus's "affordable" flagship phones to advancing tech from Huawei and Google's Pixel (opens in new tab) line, Samsung's Galaxy phones are far from your only option nowadays. However, as a Windows Phone refugee, Samsung's Galaxy phones fall quite easily closest to home.

I was in love with my BlackBerry KEY2 (opens in new tab) for quite a while, with its supreme battery life and QWERTY keyboard, but the camera on that thing barely competes with even some of the cheapest Windows Phone 8 devices from back in the day. I tried out a Huawei P20 Pro (opens in new tab) for its Lumia 1020-like 40 megapixel camera but found the software experience to be as ugly as it was rigid. I also really enjoyed my OnePlus 5T (opens in new tab), but it's just so... boring, doing nothing exceptional. Phones should be fun.

I'd always resisted getting a new Samsung Galaxy. Some of my experiences with the older phones weren't exactly great, owing to a bloated OS and prices that didn't feel worth paying, at least when Lumia was still a thing. With the landscape now (sadly) Lumia-free, and Samsung sporting the only credible phone with inking, my sorrow that the inking-oriented Surface Andromeda may never come out kind of pushed me into getting a Galaxy Note 9 (opens in new tab). My early impressions were positive, but my long term impressions have been stellar. Here's why I think Samsung Galaxy will be my home for the foreseeable future.

Interesting hardware ecosystem

The Galaxy hardware is great. Though there are things I'm not a particularly huge fan of, like the curved "edge" displays on some of the models, the build quality, performance, and importantly, the range of innovation keeps the Galaxy line interesting. I also love the S-Pen for note taking on the Galaxy Note 9, and it functions as a camera shutter, too, which is something I use frequently.

Samsung has stepped up with its own foldable, too, alongside Huawei. I doubt either firm will truly "nail" the foldable experience in their first couple of iterations, but at the very least, Samsung is at least trying to innovate in a recent hardware world where the most noteworthy "advancement" has been the dreaded notch. I'm excited to see where they'll push the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Fold

Beyond the phones themselves, Samsung is exploring wearables, with what is quite arguably one of the best smart watches on the market, in the Galaxy Watch (opens in new tab) . I found the Fitbit watches and even the now-very-dead Microsoft Band 2 never really maintained reliable syncing with any of my Android phones, but my Galaxy Watch is rock-solid, with reliable notifications and interesting features, like the ability to take calls directly from your wrist, Star Trek-style.

The point is that there's an intersecting hardware ecosystem to explore, which to me, is reminiscent of what many of us were yearning for Microsoft to nail with its Surface, Lumia, and Microsoft Band triptych.

Actual customization

I can already hear some of you screaming, All Android phones have customization! and sure, you can slap a launcher on Android and tailor your home screen experience, but the Samsung phones go that little bit further than most.

Galaxy phones offer a level of customization that's unique in the Android world.

Using the Samsung themes app, not only can you tailor the home screen experience, fonts, and iconography, but you can also change the system level visual components to match. What's the point of having a red accent color on the Microsoft Launcher if my Blackberry KEY2 is forcing an off-green accent color in the notification menu, and settings menus? It creates a maddeningly inconsistent software experience.

Mixing and matching themes from the Samsung store with the accents from the Microsoft Launcher, and the huge range of icon packs available in the Google Play Store, allows you to make something that at least approaches the visual consistency of Windows phone. And while we're on the topic, you can strip out practically every Google service, and every Samsung service and replace them with Microsoft's own. Bixby? Replace with Cortana and a Bixby button remapping app. Chrome? Replace with Edge. And so on.

The software is actually good

One of the chief complaints I hear from techies about Samsung's phones is that the software is bad, or bloated. Personally, I haven't found that to be the case. There are a lot of extraneous software experiences, such as Bixby, and I'm not a fan of Samsung's own launcher or its "edge" menu feature. Thankfully, you can disable the vast majority of this stuff, and still, plenty of the software it offers is useful.

The camera app for Samsung phones offers similar amounts of control as the famous Lumia camera did back in the day (although, so do most Android phones nowadays), with a range of additional benefits that extend some of the work Microsoft had attempted with its Lumia phones. Additional features like Bixby Vision, which identifies contextual information from your images and offers search, translation, and other A.I.-assisted solutions, work really well.

The Google-powered Bixby AR translation service blows Bing Translate out of the water. There is a range of other Bixby Vision apps that complement the camera app, such as Amazon Assistant, which helps you find price comparisons simply by photographing a product. I'm also a big fan of how easy it is to crop, ink, and annotate screenshots on a Samsung Galaxy device, very closely mimicking what you can do on a Surface with the new Snip & Sketch features in Windows 10.

Many things I came to love in Windows phones, such as the Kid's Corner feature, motion photographs, and early attempts at visual search with Cortana, really came to fruition in Samsung's phones. Many of its competitors offer similar functionality, but Samsung's software is easier to use, while also providing a consistent design experience. Samsung even offers a Continuum-like experience in Samsung DeX, which frankly blows Microsoft's own efforts in that space out of the water, especially now that you don't even need a dock as per the most recent Galaxy update.

A consistent, fun experience

After Samsung's big OS refresh recently, I went from simply liking my phone to loving it. Friendlier, gesture-based navigation, new features like screen recording, and a consistent experience throughout the OS really conjured the best memories of Windows 10 Mobile, while leaving the nightmares like the app-gap and the crash-tastic software behind.

Samsung's continued support of inking, wearables, and its foray into folding devices offer a glimpse at Microsoft efforts that should have been. And all of the best Microsoft services are available on Galaxy phones, too, including Office, OneDrive, OneNote, Edge, Cortana, with Windows features like timeline and tasks baked right into the Microsoft Launcher itself.

I'm by no means suggesting Samsung's Galaxy line is perfect, but it's the closest I've come to actually, well, caring about mobile tech in a long time.

What phone are you using nowadays? Hit the comments, let's talk.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • lol hows the battery life? my lumia still lasts me a good a day and a half.
  • Mine lasts me around a day with heavy usage.
  • I don't know how you guys have such good battery still. My Idol 4s is so insane these days. I literally barely use this thing except a few dozen texts a day, and for TFA app. I can get a day out of it but then half the time I'll be in a situation where it says 37% battery and then all of a sudden shuts down because battery ran out... and then if I plug it in for juice, for a hot minute, once it boots back up, battery is high again. If I actually do have heavy usage with web browsing and mytube or ztwitch then I only get a couple hours. And ever since owning it, I've tried not to let it go below 20% and above 80/90% on charge.
  • Then replace your battery
  • I could never get more than 18h out of my Lumia 950 XL. On Huawei Mate P20 Pro I've gotten 43h @ 20%
  • Lumia 820 ... Unplugged it Friday at end of work, and it lasts until Sunday evening. With lots of texting (WA & Skype), some browsing and running my own smarthome-controlling app. Lumia 950 ... same Honor 9: Barely could get me 24h. Xiaomi Mi Mix: Sometimes i get till Sunday evening, but i cannot rely on it, because Android sometimes just decides it does not need to kill unused apps and they continue eating the battery up to 5% per hour without using it.
  • i like that they suggested blackberry key2 before and that was a better choice bec ause of battery life.
  • Bl on the N9 is terrific!
  • My Galaxy battery life is about the same 1 and a half days. I really enjoy the galaxy only issue i have is the Microsoft apps are slow and Cortana is a sad app compared to my old windows phone. And i miss texting by calling Cortana in the car via Bluetooth.
  • I'd actually contend that the best home for Windows Phone fans is the OnePlus 6 or 6T. Unlike Samsung's devices, these are a nearly pure, stock Android experience that's ready to customize right out of the box. You said it yourself: on the Samsung, you need to disable or remove a bunch of features, or download an app to remap this or that button. On the OnePlus devices, there's no need to disable or strip away anything, because it's clean right out of the box. Whereas Sammy's devices (and yes, the hardware is beautiful, I agree) are chock full of things you may never use and cannot remove, that's just not true on a OnePlus. Inside of 15 minutes on a OnePlus device, you can be fully configured with Microsoft's apps. Launcher, Cortana (which is actually integrated into the launcher at this point, saving you an app download), Edge, Outlook, Office mobile apps, OneDrive--it's all there, and it's all easy to get to your baseline. For heavy users, a 6 or 6t will last you all day on battery. For light users, a day and a half or two days is entirely possible. Oxygen OS (OnePlus's Android implementation) is always updated rapidly--faster than anything but the Pixel. While Samsung phones will wait months or longer for the next iteration of Android, OnePlus users will get it almost as fast as Pixel users. For the budget conscious, you'll also save by going OnePlus: a 6t with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is just $579, unlocked. For $50 more you can double that storage to 256GB. For any additional features you might want, it's all available via app, and if you don't want it, you don't have to install it. It's the ultimate Win/Win. The only real downsides for a Windows Phone fan apply to all Android and iPhone devices: no live tiles, no way to pin functions from within apps, no way to pin folders from outlook to the desktop, and of course, nobody's ever built a UI as consistent and fluid as Windows Phone 8.1 was. Still, that's no longer an option, thanks to Satya Nadella's utter failure to support the platform.
  • Hmmm, 3 big strikes against the OnePlus 6t for me:
    No headphone jack.
    No Wireless charging.
    No Waterproofing (this is a BIG DEAL to me)
    Lower res screen.
    No remappable buttons (I LIKE that feature to remap the Bixby button.)
    Slow in-screen fingerprint reader.
    All in all, most of those are perfectly acceptable for the price, except for the lack of IP68 waterproofing.
  • I considered the OnePlus 6T but this past weekend ended up going with the Sony Xperia XZ2. I know it's a littler older at this point but in this comparison it's equal to the 6T. Pros:
    Was only a tiny bit larger then my Lumia 950
    Qi Wireless charging
    IP68 waterproofing (bonus compared to Lumia 950)
    Dedicated camera button
    Dual SIM (not that I am using that)
    (all the usual other stuff) Cons:
    No headphone jack (but I rarely use wired headphones with my phone)
    Heavier then Lumia 950
    Glass front/back makes it slippery and probably damage prone (will need some sort of case)
    No removable battery
    Unremovable apps (Facebook, FB Messenger, and some others. This seems to be a trend with most Android phones now :( ) All in all after spending like 5 hours customizing everything I am pretty happy with it.
  • Where are you seeing a dedicated camera button? Mine doesn't have one :(. However, you can use the volume keys, so it's kind of a wash. I don't mind it being heavier than the 950. We're talking about a difference of 1.24 ounces :P. I agree about glass backs and fronts, but it is another area where the industry seems to be hell bent on going that way. I am perfectly fine without a removable battery, though. For years I demanded that on my phones, and I can count the number of times I swapped my battery on one hand. There are no unremovable apps on the OnePlus 6t, though, I'm not sure where you got that from. You definitely would've spent a lot less time than 5 hours customizing the OnePlus :p
  • Glass back is needed with wireless charging...
  • No it isn't. There were a number of Nokia Lumias back in the day which had wireless charging and a polycarbonate back. The real reason many makers have gone to glass backs is for improved wireless signal. Metal backs are awful for signal in most cases. Still, I'd prefer a polycarbonate back to a glass one.
  • You can get the XZ2 at a good price right now too. I was going to get one but the screen size is just a little small for me. But it is a sexy phone. The XZ3 is still over priced and DXOMark gave it a terrible camera score. I ordered the Pixel 3 XL, because, that camera though...
  • I could see headphone jack and waterproofing for sure, though I don't think that's an issue for most people, especially in the era of wireless headphones. Wireless charging, though, is pointless, IMHO. I've had many phones with wireless charging, and I used to ***** about phones without it, too, but honestly, it's so easy to plug in a USB-C or lightning port that you're not losing anything worthwhile. The screen resolution is fantastic, however. Lower =/= worse. You're still getting 402ppi pixel density, which is well above where the average human eye can detect pixels anyway. 6.4" screen vs 6.1" means you also get more screen real estate, and the lower resolution may also contribute to longer battery life. I've heard several people say the fingerprint reader is "slow", and while I agree it's not as lightning fast as some of the non-embedded options, I wouldn't call it 'slow'. You're talking fractions of seconds. I do agree on the remappable buttons, though what I'd really like is a phone similar to what Windows Phone 7 and 8 devices initially demanded: a dedicated camera button. Still, you can actually map app functions onto the existing buttons. I routinely use the volume buttons as a shutter release, and the power button can be set to launch an AI assistant with a half second press. I think it all comes down to value for dollar. Your caveats appear to all be hardware issues, but aside from waterproofing they can all be worked around (and the headphone jack, honestly, is something that just about everyone is abandoning. I don't agree with their choice, but like it or not, it's an industry trend). But isn't it awesome that we have so many good choices today? Even a budget phone in 2019 kicks the crap out of a flagship from 3 years ago :)
  • With the recent Android Pie update, I have now remapped the Bixby Button (a native function now, no 3rd party software needed) on my S8 to be a camera button (you can do this on any Samsung S8 or later.)
    With a long-press it is STILL the Bixby Button, but, I set it to "Listen" and it's actually kind of useful now. At least I get the dedicated camera button I have been missing for YEARS now, and the new Camera App is pretty good on Android Pie, and the whole phone seems faster now, and I like the OS changes quite a bit in Pie.
    Along with SquareHome2 Launcher, it's about as close to my old 950 as I am ever going to get, and I have been really happy with the build quality on my S8.
  • No expandable storage on OnePlus devices... No headphone jack. You can install and use any launcher you want on Android, which includes Samsung phones. Sorry my friend the power user that I am chooses Samsung.
  • When you can get 256GB of integrated storage for $629, the expandable storage concern falls flat. The headphone jack is a legit gripe, but that's where the industry is heading, and you could always just get the regular OnePlus 6. But power users demand their android be as close to vanilla as possible, and Samsung just isn't. :D
  • I did mention you can use any launcher. Nova for example. Also, I did not mention the camera. I am Prosumer... Being an IT Professional I am a Note user. You may only be a consumer. Hate to burst your bubble, but the OnePlus 7 will still not have a headphone jack or wireless charging...nor a s-pen for that matter. The Galaxy s10e is even better than OnePlus right now.
  • Nope, systems engineer, 20+ years. I'm every bit as real a power user as anyone you'll find posting here. Nova is okay. Good if you like to fiddle with every dial. I'm sure the OnePlus 7 won't have a headphone jack. Neither will any future iPhone, and as time goes on, more and more OEM's are also dropping it. And for most people, who are now migrating to Bluetooth headphones, it really doesn't matter. There are some good use case scenarios for the jack, including any number of other accessories, but they don't apply to the broad market. This is a good example of democracy by buying "vote": the consumers have bought into wireless headphones for the most part. Those of us who still want the option are, sadly, in the minority. Wireless charging is irrelevant. It's a marketing gimmick. You save nothing useful by having it, and I know that because I had wireless charging phones for years, absolutely insisted on it. But in the era of fast charge technology, wireless no longer makes sense. You save half a second vs plugging it in, but you spend hours longer charging. It's a bad trade, any way you slice it. The Galaxy S series is fine, if you like bloated OS's where you can't remove features you don't use, and you don't mind it swallowing your RAM supply for breakfast :P.
  • Have you used ONE UI. You cant make that comparison if you've not used it, also the theory behind stockandroid if false. All OEMs including google have a version of Android on there phones. Quote from Dieter Bohn of the verge: Nowadays, “pure” Android does much less than it used to. The basic Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version of it is not something you’d really want to use on its own anymore — too many important pieces have been pulled out of open source and are now distributed by either Google or the manufacturer instead.
    No phone ships with “pure” Android anymore
    So to talk about “pure” Android and “skins” is sort of to miss the point. Most phones built on Android have custom software that goes way deeper than the skin, whether they’re made by Samsung, by Xiaomi or — yes — even by Google.
  • It is a phone, there is no such thing as a power user for a phone.
  • Cortana no where close to Google assistant or even Bixby
  • But Cortana is still years ahead of Siri. My wife has been an iPhone user for years. We occasionally test each others phones out and some of the most fun we've had is battling Cortana on my Lumia with Siri on her iPhone. We'll ask both the same questions and prompt the same commands and 9 times out of 10, Cortana just responds more intelligibly. I'm no AI expert, but we both agree that Cortana responds more naturally as though she is actually engaging in conversation. Her humor is also much appreciated. Siri sounds a lot more like a robot and her humor is very flat. Sometimes to the point where Siri sounds like she has an attitude with the user.
  • I did the same with my son. He has a iPhone while I had a Lumia. This was really fun. We also agreed that Siri was near retarded. Some of the toughest questions we came up with involved some deduction (e.g. "What is the closest planet to the sun?").
  • Cortana blows Bixby and Siri out of the water, and has for YEARS. Google Assistant is good, but honestly, even Alexa is better.
  • I got rid of the Galaxy S8 after putting up with Samsung's odd Android tweaks and that annoying Bixby button. The hack that I found to allow it to be programmed to Cortana instead had to be reapplied periodically for some reason. I've moved on the Nokia 7.1 with Microsoft Launcher and the other Microsoft software for Android. A much better experience with stock Android and a good camera at a far better price. I was tempted by the new Nokia 9 Pureview but I think I'll wait to see what HMD comes up with next.
  • I've heard great things about that. IMHO, the only Android phones worth considering are those with a vanilla or damn near vanilla version with no excess crap preinstalled.
  • I tried the Nokia 9 but it broke after two days use. It just kept rebooting on me at random times. I tried a factory reset but no change. Ended up returning it and didn't want to wait for another one to ship from best buy. So I bought the s10 instead. As a new android user, I can't say I notice much difference between the android experience in Nokia and on Samsung.
  • I'm loving my Nokia 9 Pureview. Fantastic camera. I wouldn't even consider overpriced Samsung.
  • I'm happy with my Pixel 3 XL. I miss the days of Lumia, but I'd argue that the Pixel with Microsoft Launcher is a better replacement. The Pixel line champions things that Oneplus and Samsung do not. 1.) Stellar camera software, just like Lumia.
    2.) Bloat free software - Oneplus is close, Samsung isn't, Pixel is the best
    3.) Constant security updates - Microsoft was churning out the OTA updates with Windows 10 Mobile, only Google's Pixel updates rival that.
    4.) Generational updates - The Pixel 1 is still going to get Android Q. Only Microsoft was that reliable with their generational updates.
    5.) Qi charging - Samsung has this, but OnePlus does not.
  • Some of us don't want to spend any money that would go directly into Scroogle's pockets, so pixels are out for many Win phone fans.
  • So you don't use the internet?
  • You can completely avoid Google services by using Firefox/Safari + Duckduckgo + a good tracker & adblocker. Naturally a bit harder to completely avoid Google's trackers on Android than on e.g. iOS etc.
  • 1. Agreed, though I also have no problems with the OnePlus camera, and it's easy to install the Pixel camera app on OnePlus.
    2. Oneplus is absolutely bloat free.
    3. Same with OnePlus: constant updates, second only to google.
    4. This one's tougher to call, but it appears that OnePlus has been great about updates so far. Samsung, LG and most other big OEM's tend to fail hard in these areas. Not that they never get updates, they do--but they take forever to get them.
    5. Don't care about wireless charging. It's a marketing gimmick. For years I demanded only phones with wireless charging, and the truth is, it is no more convenient than a cable is. And with modern FastCharge phones and chargers, wireless has no hope of being as fast as a cable. That half second it takes to plug in will save you HOURS of charging time.
  • Wireless charging is a huge benefit when your USB-C port is busy replacing the headphone port, because you're on a 10 hour flight from LA to Manchester ;-) For me the must haves are expandable storage - I do have a full 256GB card plus the internal storage on my S8+ and long battery life (I get considerably more out of my Galaxy, than my 950XL ever managed). Wireless charging is optional, if I have a headphone port, otherwise I need it or vice versa. I'm not in the slightest interested in vanilla android vs slightly augmented, granted few manufacturers do a better job compared to vanilla, but at the end of the day, it's usually no harder to deal with than the jump from windows phone to android.
  • Just get a splitter. Cheap and easy, so you can have your wired sound AND fast charging, which you just can't get with wireless :P. Samsung Android isn't "slightly augmented", though. It's bloated and stuffed with junk many people will never use, and yet it can't be removed without hacking the phone, which is well beyond most people's tech savvy. Incidentally, just use wireless headphones. That's what the rest of the world is doing :P
  • Wireless charging is a gimmick? It's indispensable!
  • It's garbage. You save half a second vs plugging in, and lose hours longer waiting for a full charge. I guarantee you, any phone with fast charge on USB C will be done charging LONG before any phone using wireless charging. It's not even a contest.
  • But that's also not the scenario. Charging times do not matter if you charge over night. Charging times do not matter if you use your phone as navigation in your car. And espeically in the last case, i fiddling arround with cables is bad. With my wireless car charger i just have one clean and easy layed down cable (fixed with some clips) and just put the phone into the charger.
  • Maybe for you, wireless charging isn't helpful. I agree that I've found it indispensable. Believe it or not, I haven't plugged in a phone in 5 years. And I love it. I don't need rapid charging, I just put my phone down when I go to bed, and that's it. I also like having a wireless charging stand at my desk, and in my car. They just sit there, and I set my phone on them whenever I'd like. I don't even have to think about my phones battery, all i'm doing is setting my phone down when i'm not using it. I personally wouldn't buy a phone without wireless charging. But I'm glad that you've found something that works for you.
  • I like wireless charging though just in case the usb port breaks or such (had it once).
  • I disagree! Don't go to Galaxy phones, too much preinstalled and customized features and required add-on apps you cannot get rid of. For example my Galaxy S8+ has the "Edge" screen so that the screen curves around the edge of the phone. It looks great and sleek, but you get incidental touches, so swipe with one finger becomes a zoom change because it detects a touch from the hand holding the phone along its edge. Also, if you like to have a digital assistant, you cannot change the assistant from the Samsung Bixby required assistant without using a special app that will only work if you root your phone (meaning you no longer get security updates for one thing). You also get apps that you cannot uninstall that are installed from the Samsung store, so now you have 2 stores that are always updating your apps. Do you really want price shop between to app stores if you are going to buy an app? Not likely a different price either. So, why deal with it! I purchases my wife and kids Nokia 7 midrange phones and they work great with AndroidOne, have good cameras, great battery life (compared to mine), cost less than half, and come with great features like HDR and fingerprint reader.
  • Me I have switched from Lumia 950 to Nokia 8 and now Nokia 9. I use the Windows launcher and Edge as default browser.
    Advantages :
    - good price for a good device.
    - Android update every month.
    - no custom layer.
    - very good Camera like the Lumia 950 (with the Nokia 9).
    - If you are a developer, no need to have another OS to develop, just use your Windows Pc. But the most important one is to choose the OS you prefer. I have a company iPhone 8 too but I prefer my Nokia.
  • In Europe we still have choices of Xiaomi and Huawei as alternatives. They do a great job for this former WinPhone faithful. Of course I switched to the Pixel 1 three years ago.
    The Mate 20 Pro battery life is phenomenal though for my use and the performance is very good.
  • Huawai is barely an alternative. They managed, like Samsung, to make Android even worse (and that is very hard to accomplish). I love my Mi Mix 2 since one year now, replacing only 3 month used Honor 9. Before i had a Lumia 950 for one year (tragic accident) and a Lumia 820 for almost 4 years, following a Galaxy Ace. From all the phones, i give the ranking
    Lumia 820 (Best)
    Lumia 950 (to big)
    Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (Android, to big, really bad camera)
    Galaxy Ace (Android, phone app constantly crashing)
    Honor 9 (well, it looks good until day 3 the first scratches in the glas back, besides that, Android, constant app crashes, Settings search totally messed up ...)
  • So because this is my own opinion, I can feel free to disagree with you. I have no intentions of ever owning an Android phone. I will hold on to my Lumia 950 until it crashes and burns or December 10, which ever comes first. I will be moving to iOS. I have no confidence in android personal data security. Even Daniel Rubino stated that Google tracks you in a askdanwindows post. I have very strong feelings against the way they do it. I know others are tracking me, but it is how they are doing it that bothers me. My wife has an android and I cringe every time she uses the map or downloads an app. But that is her comfortable and not mine. If that is yours then I accept it. My son said that I should stop being this way but it is my feelings. I also know that eventually we will lose the privacy issue.
  • I moved to iOS after Windows Phone, and it was a disaster. That said, I agree that most Android phones are, too. That's why you go with one of the Android One models, without the bloat. Customize it however you want. Microsoft launcher is fantastic, iOS launcher is ass. As for privacy, I'll put it this way: neither you nor I are interesting enough for google or anybody else to bother surveilling us on the daily, on a personal basis. Our device and usage data is primarily used in aggregate to identify trends, and where it's not, it's used to tailor software experiences to our own preferences.
  • Everyone is (potentially) interesting enough to track if only purely to let Google Ads more effectively target you so you will buy more stuff etc.
  • You can have a google free Android. I do, with Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.
    It's still bad android, BUT the price of iphones is really bad.
  • Only if you uninstall or block all google trackers / services on your android phone. In practice this means that you cannot make use of make completely use of a lot of apps (since they partly rely on Google's services or API's to function properly).
  • Does Samsung still load their bloatware apps on their phones? Until they offer a Galaxy with Android One, I will pass.
  • They obviously bundle their apps with their phones. But you can now uninstall 90% of them. Releasing a Galaxy with Android One would be like buying a Mercedes and having it being pushed by a mule.
  • Nonsense. Android One is fantastic, and the only way I'd ever buy an Android phone again. A Galaxy S10 with Android one would be akin to buying a Mercedes and allowing the customer to choose their own options. Nothing more or less than that.
  • Exactly! I tried a Galaxy S8 last year and it was not a great experience for me. Just felt like a lot of eye candy and unnecessary preloaded bloatware. I sold that phone after a month and went back to my Lumia 950. I know support will be ending late this year for Windows Mobile 10, but I am looking right now at the Nokia Android One phones. Was able to test a 7.1 recently and despite it's lackluster camera, it was almost what I was looking for in an Android phone. Hoping that by 4th quarter there will be an update to the recent Nokia 9.
  • I use Huawei Mate 20 pro as an app device and hp Elite X3 as daily driver. I get there are software quirks of EMUI esp lockscreen notifications but so far it is fine with MS launcher and cortana, Swiftkey kb, one drive etc. I pick and choose which services to use, like bing for search, gmaps, outlook for email , skype for video chat, edge for browser. Eventually i will wean myself off WM, but I still use it for whatsapp and I am too lazy to get it transfered to android since the process is tedious. The hardware of the Huawei is amazing, and since I got a new one for about $200 through various discounts in Canada, there is no reason not to use it or spend more money on a Samsung.
  • Samsung ?!?!?! Hell no! Just bought the wife the Nokia 6.1 and i might do in a week the 7.1 would love the 9 but too expensive
    Samsung ?? C'mon enjoy your free Samsung for writing this piece of dribble . I bet you love amazon Alexa too instead of Cortana
  • Butt hurt much?
  • I'm happy with my Galaxy S8+ with Microsoft Launcher. I hope it survives one or two more years. Then I will likely switch to another brand, because Samsung's prices got out of hand. Btw: It's "ihr fahrt" and not "ihr fährt". ;)
  • I can agree. The built in customization is nice.
  • With the Apple event today...I am seriously considering Apple. I cant believe I just typed this but if MS has no presence in mobile, then Apple hardware and software and services offers an all in one ecosystem. Everything in one place, integrated to just work. Once I go there is no turning back, I don't care if they launch Andromeda after I will be to little too late as always.
  • I have to support my Father's Apple devices, one ecosystem != pain free existence, I still have to occasionally get him to boot his old Asus laptop to do things that are just too painful in a fully Apple world.
  • Exactly why I would not touch Apple - one locked in ecosystem. After which they sting you. It is a very expensive walled garden. I use one unlocked ecosystem on both Android and iOS - Microsoft's. I subscribe to Office 365 which is a fantastic deal. Especially with the 1TB of storage per user. I use the MSFT apps. I can switch at will. In so far as is possible neither Apple nor Google have my data.
  • I hated my S8. It was great hardware, but Samsung's intrusive software was just to much to hear. Much happier with my Nokia 9 Pureview.
  • What intrusive software? I have not noticed anything.
  • This morning, my LG told me that it was running out of space. So I performed the process of moving what few apps will run from the SD Card onto the SD Card for the millionth time. This is something that was not only so much easier on my Windows/Mobile phone but something I only had to do once. Once the app was on the SD card, I never had to move it again because of an app update. I'm on my fourth or fifth Android since joining the dark side and I cannot believe how consistently bad the phones are and how awful the operating system is. And yes, I've had at least two Samsungs. I admit that none of them have been high end phones, but I never had to buy a high-end Windows Phone to get nice consistent performance. I really am not sure why you think Samsung is great for the former Windows Mobile user, but I do like my Samsung washer and dryer!
  • My first Android after I left my Lumia 930 for a younger more likely to be successful model, was the Sony Xperia XZ, it had very similar shape and design that I loved in the Lumia's and I wanted something that still had ties to gaming in some way, as the Xbox part of Windows Phones was a huge draw for me, even though I ended up falling in love with just about everything else about them. I never quite felt at home though and struggled to just enjoy playing around with it as much I used to on all my WPs from the past. Just recently I upgraded to the Galaxy S10+ and couldn't be happier, it doesn't really feel all that much like WP but something about it gives me the joy of owning a phone back in my life. It's simple, incredibly customisable, stunningly beautiful, lightning fast and just feels made with love. I'll rest here for a while I think. RIP Windows Phone, we never quite did want to say goodbye.
  • Extended the contract last year with new phone Huawei p10 lite . Use it for one day , and sell it ! I buy the new battery for Lumia 640 xl and still use it ! Next year new contract ,and still don't know what buy !
  • I want Microsoft to make their OWN Android smart phone with a combination of regular Android
    Apps icons and Windows smart tiles so it looks similar to but not a Windows 10 smart phone screen. Microsoft needs to have their Own Android smart phone with Google playstore & all but have windows phone like look & feel to it
  • They are going with the Microsoft Launcher. If you want tiles, you can install Squarehome. It's closest you can get to a usable UI on Android.
  • To be honest. I loved my Lumia Icon and was sad when Microsoft decided to not release the 950 with CDMA (I'm a Verizon customer). I saw the writing on the wall and got myself an HTC One M9 and that was a real s@#$show. I then joined the Dark Side and got an iPhone 6s Plus. It's a nice phone and it was reliable, but I found it limiting, especially when it came to things like the camera (no built in RAW support) and screen mirroring to my Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. I jumped back onto the Samsung bandwagon with the S8+ and now with the Note 8. It's been a LOT better now that Microsoft has been updating its Android apps. They work really well and integrate with my Surface Pro (2017) and my Dell desktop.
  • Thanks for the great article! I've just recently came to the same conclusion for the same reasons as you and thus ordered a Samsung Galaxy S10e. It looks great, runs great, feels great and thanks to Microsoft Launcher and Microsoft apps feels like a true Microsoft phone. I have to admit though that Samsung did a great job with One UI this time, too.
  • Long time lover of WinMobile... my experience was pretty amusing. Started with a transition from 950XL to S9+ about a year ago.
    As everyone says, amazing hardware, performance and high quality apps (compared to WinMobile), but Android (especially on Samsungs) is just a UI mess. It's customize-able and in some ways beautiful, but like the early years of Win10 there are tons of inconsistencies in the experience. Plus the duplicate set of all the main apps is hella confusing, the sheer number of bizarre inexplicable notifications is tiring. Takes days to tame the OS to the point where it was usable. Settings and configuration is a pet peeve of mine and the Android system is a disaster. Half the time I couldn't find the setting I was looking for, and many changes requires multiple settings spread across different sections. Also got a Galaxy S3 Gear at the same time - nice, but not exactly life changing. It's best feature was the ability to keep my phone from getting locked when I was nearby LOL. I stupidly lost my S9+ a few months ago so I had to revert back to my 950XL. Honestly did not notice a huge loss of functionality and productivity - 95% of what I did before still worked. Had to do some workarounds (use PWA for Instagram, Uber, etc) but overall the experience still pretty good. Wasn't in a rush to get a new phone at all. Fast forward and a new job meant a new company supplied phone; iPhone XR. Nice hardware, cleaner OS but overall I'm really not that impressed. Also has tons of UI inconsistencies and SO much settings bloat (worse than Android, didn't think that was possible) and the same issue with tons of useless notifications. Gestures are a poor replacement for buttons, and the lack of universal "back" function is terrible. Every app/dialog can have a different way to go back - it's pure UI stupidity, surprising for Apple. Apps are the highest quality but the OS is lacking some basic functionality: No Glance screen, FaceID is useless while sitting on a table or desk (have to enter my PIN 10x more than I did on Android) and the SMS reply while driving is terrible. Integration with my Gear S3 isn't actually that bad. All this has me musing about lost opportunities. It's too late now but it really is too bad that MS threw in the towel. The OS is still competitive, and comparably so, so clean. I think if MS could have doubled-down on continuum (basically Win10 on ARM with full desktop functionality) and had a foldable mobile device it could have been a game changer for them. We'll never know.
  • Blackberry Key2 is all the phone I'll ever need... The physical keyboard and BlackBerry Hub are great for productivity and the icing on the cake? Two day battery life...
  • I am enjoying my work-provided Galaxy S9, where I get almost 2 days of battery, but on my personal Galaxy S7, (which I got as a replacement when my poor Lumia 950 fell and broke the screen) barely gets one day of battery and is constantly sluggish. I will probably get an S10 of some variant for personal use in the next few months, but I fear that Android will somewhat lock me in to a 2 year upgrade due to software bloat causing battery drain and poor performance on older phones.
  • I just moved from the Lumia 950 to the s10+. Happy with the hardware but still trying to figure out how to make the phone as Microsoft as possible. I wish would write a guide for turning your Samsung galaxy into a Microsoft device.
  • Install Microsoft Launcher and all the Microsoft apps. It is straight forward. Soon you will realize the Microsoft ecosystem isn't that great outside work. There are much better options out there for most everything.
  • But since most of us have to use them the MS apps for work, who seriously wants to be bothered with running two separate word processors, mail systems or any of the other 'better' apps, which for the majority of people they wouldn't notice the difference.
  • I love my Note 9, I'm using the Square Home 3 Launcher and the phones in a metal case, when people see it they ask what kinda phone is that, I love how they can't tell what phone it iso no one will even think about stealing it since the Note 9 is a very popular phone. I miss my Lumia 950.
  • One of reasons for my move from Android to Windows Phone was security. And this is even worse than before. So there is no way to go for any kind of Android till security will be still issue. Sure, I can be aware but I want use same eco system over all family phones and not all will be carefull enough. Installing poisoned apps throught GGL store was last drop. Unfortunatelly I crashed my 950 few months ago so I have to move somewhere. iP XR in Red is winner for me and with lot of MS goodies like Edge/Outlook and Swift, I am really happy. Yes, launcher sucks but security and privacy matter for me much more than better looking launch screen
  • Still on 950XL, no intention to move-on the next 5-7 years (yep 2 new batteries purchased).
  • After using the Idol 4s I had no choice after hearing that Microsoft is about to withdraw from windows 10 mobile. Sad to see it go so my best alternative went with the blackberry key2. It's handy, good battery life although the software which is android crashes from time to time. I am making great use of the keyboard shortcuts and the PKB is the real deal. In a nutshell I took the chance with the key2 and so far so good.
  • I’m using an iPhone 6S. I know there’s not much customization, but one of the things I really loved about windows phone, at least the 8.1 days...when I left, was how stable and smooth the os was. This has, for the most part been my experience with my iPhone. Although, I have considered both a Samsung and a Pixel. The Pixel, mostly because of the reviews stating how smooth it is. Samsung, was of course what I had during my Windows Phone days, and my experience was solid. But watching all those YouTube videos made me realize what’s important to me is my phone does what it’s suppose to when I ask it to. There’s a small lag/stuttering on Android phones when texting/opening camera/using voice assistant, etc.
  • If you found something you're happy with, than that's great. Enjoy it. I have a Huawei as a test device, and I can tell you that it's IMPOSSIBLE to make the Android experience in any way acceptable. I have tried every trick I can find to make using Android something other than horrible. Can't be done. And I don't need a phone to be "fun". Also, I have my Surface Pro for inking. It's a useless feature on a smartphone, as far as I'm concerned--not to mention the fact that most of the devices are simply way too large to be handy. I never experience a bunch of crashes with Windows Phone or Windows Mobile--and still don't, since I still rely on my Lumia 1020 and 950, both of which still work fine--and never experience the "app gap". Also, until it doesn't exist anymore, I will continue to rely on Cortana on all our devices. Bixby is not welcome.
  • I'm switching back. After spending a month with an S8, the grass was not greener on the other side. Apps still take as much time to load, and while I have more app choices, I can still get by with mobile websites fine on W10M. My biggest complaint is trying to achieve the same level of hands-free while driving. My steering wheel voice button only works if google is the default assistant, Hey Cortana is very inconsistent, haven't gotten texts to read over Bluetooth. So, back to the 950 I go. Well, at least until December.
  • Even hands-free talking to your smartphone whilst driving is distracting and proven unsafe, so that loss of functionality I can live with :-)
  • You are not correct but hey, I guess doing anything talking related is distracting then, right?
  • Factually yes it is and there is even scientific proof for that. The human brain is NOT good at multi-tasking.. From the article:
    ""You are 0.98 of a second slower to respond to hazards if you're on a hands-free mobile phone than if you're not. "That doesn't sound like much, but at 30mph you're travelling at 13 metres per second. You require a stopping distance equal to three-and-a-quarter Ford Fiestas."
  • Then drivers cannot drive because it requires situational awareness and that requires doing more than one thing at a time. That said, people tailgate most of the time so that so called extra time is not going to matter anyways. Sorry dude but, pressing a button on the steering wheel, telling the car to call someone and then talking with them, all while paying attention to my driving, is not going to cause a longer response time on what I am doing in my driving.
  • Have you actually read the article?
    or this one and here is some scientific evidence:
  • once Bixby button can be configured to be a camera button that will be worth it. also, would love for email and text apps to work the way Windows Phone does with multiple instances open at the same time.
  • Perhaps I will buy one when they are under $500 and I actually, really need a new phone. (Essential Phone FTW!) This is a phone and I will not buy one unless I have an actual, real need for one, unlike when I upgrade my Desktop Computers. :D
  • Well, I got rid of my Essential Phone and moved onto an Samsung Galaxy S8.
  • Samsung phones, over priced, over hyped and bloated and then this article is saying to put more bloat on with Microsoft Launcher. i will stick with my Huawei p10 lite, it is fast, the UI is almost Android standard and for the price works really well
  • overpriced-over produced..its becoming like the would be better if it was stated as sponsored by Samsung
  • I am sure that you are right and the Samsung phones are excellent. I can personally vouch for the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Watch has much to commend it. However, it is odd to find the following in a Microsoft centric review: - "Beyond the phones themselves, Samsung is exploring wearables, with what is quite arguably one of the best smart watches on the market, in the Galaxy Watch . I found the Fitbit watches and even the now-very-dead Microsoft Band 2 never really maintained reliable syncing with any of my Android phones, but my Galaxy Watch is rock-solid, with reliable notifications and interesting features, like the ability to take calls directly from your wrist, Star Trek-style." Why odd? You simply cannot be living in a Microsoft world using O365 and such as Outlook on an Android mobile and make that comment. There are no email notifications from Outlook or the other MS apps. I can say the above with some certainty as I wrote to the Outlook for Android support team. There is no support. BTW, whilst 0/10 for lack of support 10/10 for speed of response. Whether it be a Samsung or other Android phone MSFT have a distance to go in supporting those who are paying for their services.
  • Odd but, I receive email notifications from Outlook on Android all the time. (Garmin Smartwatch, Vivoactive 3.)
  • And I still do, even though I have moved the an S8.
  • I just recently moved off my Lumia 950. I went through a deep analysis as to what to do. The first choice was iOS or Android. At that point, I wasn't trying to pick an particular Android phone, but pick the OS based on merits of the OS alone. I ended up going with iOS based on two main reasons: a) can expect updates to phone for many years (right now iPhones from 5 years ago are still getting updates), b) can control background processing of apps. Regarding b), as far as I can tell, Android does not provide at a per app resolution control of whether the app can run in the background. I consider this to be a basic OS capability that needs to be granted to the user. The user needs to be in control of the battery resources, not the app developer. It is your phone and running out of battery power makes the phone useless. Windows 10 Mobile provide a) and b) and those feature of Windows 10 Mobile were important to me. Many people complained about battery life of Lumia 950, but first you need to compare to a same age battery. When I replaced my Lumia 950 battery, and went through battery performance analysis and shutting off background app activity, I was able to use my Lumia for 3 or 4 days. This is very basic. Windows 10 also provides this for battery powered devices. Regarding updates, Pixel is the best example and maybe AndroidOne. These do not guarantee updates beyond two years of initial sale of the phone. That is really lame. Android out.
  • Currenly using my Elite x3, and recently upgraded my 950xl to WOA. It's been my dream since I got my first "smart" device back in 2003 to have the utility of full Windows on the go. It definitely makes Win10Mo suck by comparison! I recently saw WOA running on a new Pixel! It seems to me the community that once existed around the OG WinMo is coming back around and that WOA is the new WinMo. Now here's to hoping that it finds it's way to something like the Note 10!
  • Does WOA allow you to connect your phone to your call, make calls and doing texts like before? I would mess with that and pick a 950XL up just to screw around with it if those things work.
  • The modem does work from what I've seen, but the cellular functionality for even data hasn't been enabled. Windows 10 does have this since there are lte devices, so its just a matter of time before the hackers work it out. As far as native call and sms? No, that stuff isn't in the OS yet, but it is supposed to plucked from win10mo at some point. I can however make/receive calls and sms because 3 years ago I ported my long time mobile number to Google voice. I have all calls forwarded to Skype and sms are forwarded to my outlook email. From there i have a rule setup to send the sms to their own folder. On Winmo i could assign a dedicated notification tone (I used the built in sms tone) so it retained a somewhat native feel. I was able to replicate this setup on Woa very quickly, but the only issue is that i can't set a separate notification tone for the sms folder. As soon as cellular data works, and the battery draining gets wrangled in I will be switching to this after winmo is out of support.
  • Ooh, I so want to do this. How do I go about it?
  • I agree! My first Windows phone was a Samsung ATIV S; then I moved up to the SE. Loved these Samsung Windows phones. Best cameras and screens. I've made my S8+ look very similar to my 950 XL by doing these 3 things:
    1. Install a Samsung 'Dark Theme'. There a plenty of free dark/grey themes that look awesome. I use mostly Samsung apps - not Google (Calendar, Clock, Messages, Calculator, Health, Pay, Phone Dialer etc) so most of these are nice and dark (like on my 950 XL)
    2. Install NEXT. This will give you the daily Bing Wallpapers on your lock screen, as well as display the notifications that you want on your lock screen
    3. Install Launcher 10; I like this better than the Square Home launchers. You can make your tiles look any way you like, and most actually work like 'real' live tiles. Done! My phone looks great, almost as great as my old 950 XL. The only thing I really miss is not having a dedicated camera button. Hopefully, someone can create an app that can do this:)
  • Really folks? Turn an android into a windows phone? That is just sad. Once you move to something new you simply need to adapt to the new and cut the adoption strings of the old. You'll save yourself a heap of heartburn. This is something that my favourite dill, Nadella, has just never grasped. When folks move to Android they also move to other Google apps and save the heartache of pushing a round peg into a square hole, no matter how MS tries to modify their software.
  • Samsung Galaxy may look good for the first 6 months. Then the experience goes a downward spiral, or like flushing toilet. Hard reset is always needed close to a year of use just to get everything back to speed. Totally unacceptable when my L950 has lasted 3,5 years without any hard reset. Not to mention the bloatware. Xiaomi Mi A series for me is the mid-ranger of choice. It runs Android One so I'll get pure Android experience, and it is priced competitively. But if have to replace my flagship L950, I'll probably go with Daniel's choice of hardware range, Huawei's. Although, I'd go for the smaller screen than the Mate 20 X (Mate 20 Pro or the recently released P30 Pro). But, I'm still fine on my L950 although the battery is getting close to replacement date (on heavy use I can only squeeze a little over 8 hours). If I can't find an original battery for its replacement, then I'd probably switch my L950 with any of the above.
  • Now... I would not call them a great fit if one is used to the Lumia 950 XL. I like my Samsung S8 but it will not beat the screen or camera on the Lumia 950 XL.
  • Still going strong with my HP Elite X3 until I broke the screen a week ago. Screen replacement does not appear to be an option, so I am searching for a secondhand replacement. Secondhand HP Elite X3 phones are like hen's teeth as users don't seem to want to part with them! Worst case, I might have to settle for a Lumia 950XL with a better camera.
  • In the meantime, I have gone back to my Lumia 930 as my phone with my docked HP Elite X3 for Continuum. Before the year is out, I will be using Hololens 2 at home to replace continuum. I will push it to its limits but expect some limitations in the number of applications that I can run simultaneously. Looking forward to being more productive while exercising on my WattBike.
  • I am sure that you are right and that the Samsung phones are excellent. However, when you write "Beyond the phones themselves, Samsung is exploring wearables, with what is quite arguably one of the best smart watches on the market, in the Galaxy Watch … my Galaxy Watch is rock-solid, with reliable notifications..." I am sure that you are in part wrong. I eventually managed to get email notifications from Outlook for Android to show on my otherwise excellent Galaxy Watch. However, the calendar does not show at all. It would seem that there are some lacunae in the integration with Outlook. Whether that is the fault of Samsung or Microsoft I do not know. If anyone has a solution please post it.
  • The best replacement for a Windows Phone would be another Windows Phone.
    I'm not impressed with Launcher & MS apps on Android.
    My Idol 4S is the best small mobile solution that I can find for MS products.
    It seems that Microsoft has lost a lot of steam in the mobile world....the one where they should have dominated the really smart devices.
    It's a doggone shame.
  • I am not a techie by any stretch. However, I loved my Microsoft 950XL. I started looking at different devices around January and agonized over replacing my phone. One of the things that I loved about my 950XL was the camera. So I was on a search for a good camera- really wanted the Carl Zeiss camera. I settled on a Nokia 8. I love the Carl Zeiss Camera, it wasn't overloaded with a bunch of useless apps that I couldn't remove or use. I also liked that I was able to add Cortana and Windows Launcher so that I could have my scrolling tiles. I still miss my Windows Phone but am really getting used to and liking my Nokia phone. I have a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone for work that I like but am not enamored with it.
  • I would recommend everyone with a S or Note device that's running Android 8 or higher to install "Good Lock" from Galaxy Store. It allows you so much more customisation than any other device. If Good Lock isn't available you can use "Nice Lock" to launch the plugins.
  • I second this. To add onto his statement, 'Nice Lock' can be downloaded from google play and makes the whole process super simple.
  • If you still remember who the bearer of WP concept was so perhaps you should point Nokia smartphones out. And now there is a new beginning with HMD Global, and a new hope for Nokia coming back from the dead.
  • Jez, in this article you said that Bixby couple be replaced by Cortana for the Bixby button. But that requires some app to do this. What app?
  • I've found a link that will help: I've gone through it. I do have Cortana installed on my Samsung S10, but going through that tutorial it doesn't show Cortana as an app that I can use to assign a single click of the Bixby button.