Rooting for the Underdog: Why I still use Windows Phone
Ya know? It’s not easy to explain what drives me to pick up my yellow phone every day. It doesn’t make sense. I mean….a yellow phone? What am I thinking? Why do I still use Windows Phone?
This isn’t iOS. This isn’t Android. My phone does not fit with 85% of the smartphone wielding world out there. It’s in third place, and it’s so distant a third place, it’s barely even a place. It’s like those episodes of the Amazing Race, where the last place team is trying and trying and trying to complete a task, and the other teams have already checked in and are getting ready to leave again, and there’s these two poor schleps still unrolling hay bales, and Phil finally shows up and says, “Guys it’s been a slice, but I gotta get to Indonesia now.”
I’m not alone of course. Our own Taylor Martin opined about the Lumia 1020 and his Windows Phone usage just a couple of weeks ago. There’s comfort in that, but there are detractors. They don’t come daily any more, but maybe weekly. There’s the snide comments and the sideways glances. They’ve been coming at me since 2009. Ah yes, the webOS days of snubbing. Twas a rollicking good time of superiority and derision.
I could use Android. I don’t have the vast collections of phones and phones that some of my collegues have, but I do have a Samsung Galaxy SIII sitting on my bookshelf right now, just waiting for me to slip in the SIM card. Even in a world of Note III’s and GS4’s and Ones, the GSIII is a great phone. I would be in good company because they’re everywhere.
But, at the end of the day, I return back to my Lumia 920 which doesn’t even have the Amber update yet – thank you very much AT&T. I just enjoy using it. And I look forward to new wonders on the horizon. And I sound exactly like I sounded when I was all in on webOS. It’s a sickness really.
Truth be told though, as much as I’ve tried, I can’t really find anything that Windows Phone doesn’t do that Android does. And before you ask, iOS really isn’t an option for me, but that’s more the subject of another editorial. But realistically, there is more that Android can do – more apps, more flexibility, more…everything. But for what I do on a phone, Windows Phone is just fine.
The Google Conundrum
This is the part where you raise your hand and say, “Um, excuse me, but um, Google?” and of course you are correct. Gmail, Youtube, Hangouts, Drive – they all fall very short on Windows Phone. There’s also a set of cloud services that I use that don’t play nice with Windows Phone, but I’ve learned to work around those well enough. I know, a “work around” is not a “solution” but it gets me by for the time bein.
Other than that though, Windows Phone just really meshes with my work flow. Home screen tiles, while there is room for improvement, really work well for me. The glanceable information is top notch, and the impermanence really suits me. I can pin and unpin tiles as I need them. Of course, you can do that with Android too, but it’s more cumbersome in my opinion.
In the middle
I find Windows Phone to be the happy medium between iOS’s simplicity and Android’s complexity. With iOS, you get icons…and that’s it. You can get active icons showing you any notifications that might be pending, and that’s all fine and good. But it’s just too simplistic for me. One choice of icon size, and a rather plain grid system.
Android, as I mentioned earlier is just a bit too complex for my taste. The widgets you can use are especially cumbersome. Some apps have widgets, some don’t. Some widgets are customizable by size, some aren’t. The ones that don’t have widgets can still have launcher icons on the home pages. I mean, it’s not quantum physics or anything, but there’s a lot to wrap your head around and a lot of adaptation that might be necessary when dealing with Android.
Which is what makes Windows Phone almost refreshing. I’ve often said, “I don’t want to have to micromanage my phone” and that’s still true. Android’s sheer avalanche of choice is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Windows Phone strikes a balance between the two with quick access to the tiles you need and alphabetical access to those you don’t need all the time. It’s easy, but not simple. It’s a subtle distinction.
It really has nothing to do with the fact that Windows Phone is an underdog. I’d still use it if it were the most popular platform on the planet. It’s what works for me and it’s how I roll. But the fact that it is an underdog gives me a sympathetic position. It allows me to take on a “Well, I guess that’s just Windows Phone being Windows Phone” kind of attitude. Some people like fighting uphill battles. It’s a sickness really.