Windows Phone, I'll miss you...

After switching off my iPhone, my first few days of Windows Phone 8 were bliss. They were a honeymoon.

Sadly, the honeymoon is over, and I’m considering an annulment. I love Windows Phone 8 as an OS, but this generation has a few tragic flaws.

This is all in the context of the HTC Windows Phone 8x - I would have preferred the Lumia 920, but I’m with Verizon. I wish I understood why Nokia decided to launch the 920 as an AT&T exclusive, preventing a majority of US customers from having access.

  1. The biggest drawback to these phones is the usability of their hardware. Especially the 8x. I can't hand it to a friend without them pressing volume/camera accidentally. I now hold it in a delicate, awkward grip, the way I'd hold a piece of sharp glass with rough edges, to avoid pressing the invisible buttons on its sides. If the 8x is glass, the 920 is a brick. To me, Nokia's phone is uncomfortably squat and heavy, but some people like the way it feels.
  2. A second complaint is that, side-by-side, the iPhone 5 takes better pictures. In all cases for the HTC, and in all situations that aren't extreme low-light for the 920. Since Nokia uses the 920's camera as an excuse for being a brick, I consider this a failure of design.
  3. Not having WebKit cripples these phones' capabilities as mobile browsers. iOS, Android, and Blackberry all run on WebKit (99% of mobile web traffic), so of course the mobile web is designed and optimized for that rendering engine. With IE10, you get a lot of broken and/or 'shitty browser version' sites. Microsoft says this is the fault of web developers, and a quick fix. As a web developer, I can tell you this is simply not the case. Certain CSS-only fixes are easy, but IE10 lags behind every other major browser in HTML5 support. Mobile IE10 also has no debugger, making it effectively impossible to debug JavaScript errors. I hope this changes with time (eg, Chrome releasing for WP8).
  4. It quickly becomes clear that you're getting budget apps. Twitter, Facebook, etc, are all very cheap, flaky clones of their iOS counterparts. I also hope this changes with time and market share.

By themselves, none of these are deal-breakers to me… but together, it means that my phone would be a constant annoyance with this generation’s Windows Phone 8 offering. Microsoft has released a genuinely innovative product that they’re throwing their full weight behind. Unfortunately, their hardware partners lack the refinement of Apple’s industrial design team, and their software partners are just dipping their toes in the water.

Since I can’t install Windows Phone 8 on iPhone hardware, I’ll be exchanging my HTC for the more bland (but less annoying) iPhone 5.