Windows Phone 7

It’s a few months now since a call to Orange to inquire whether they were ever going to stock a handset I actually wanted resulting in me suddenly ending up on a new contract with a shiny HTC Mozart in my hands. An HTC Mozart that I didn’t actually want, but it was free, so … new toy time.

When I made the call, I was after something that had a slideout keyboard to replace an old TyTnII; a Desire Z or Galaxy S Pro would have been fine, but weren’t on the menu.

Having been using the Mozart for some time now, I have to say that in general I like it. The touch UI feels (IMHO) nicer than the iPhone; it’s slim and reasonably light; the screen’s more than good enough for me needs; the soft keyboard is actually pretty good; and it does most of what I actually need/want from a phone, as well as a whole bunch of stuff I don’t really care about.

However, there are a few things that range from annoying to just plain insane (particularly if you’re using it in a work rather than personal context):

  • no integration with Outlook Tasks or Notes.
    Email, Calendar, Contacts – all present and correct.  Tasks? Notes? Go whistle. Deeply annoying to me, possibly not to everyone
  • the new Calendar display is superficially nice, but nowhere near as useful as the 6.5 one
  • no way to backup the phone. Something of a fundamental flaw, really. Particularly as the functionality is in there somewhere – MS manage to do a full backup before an OS update, but the humble user is stuffed. In the event of a reset/loss/breakage, you have to re-do all settings and app installations (and lose any app data) manually. There’s a minor saving grace in that OneNote and other bits can sync to the free SkyDrive account, but it’s not nearly enough and leaves too much at risk
  • it really needs more “desktops”. The slide functionality is great, but with just the Home screen full of live tiles and then the full listing on the other screen, you quickly get ticked off scrolling up and down. The ability to group live tiles up into separate screens and then swipe across them would make life easier
  • battery life sucks.  With light use you can get a couple of days out of it (a few calls, minimal data, switching to WiFi and turning off 3G when possible), but if you use it in anger (lots of calls, play a few games or do a lot on the Web) you’ll be doing a nightly charge. Which is par for the course for a smartphone, but still a little disappointing. A generic USB car adapter is probably the best few quid I’ve spent!
  • Zune. Just no. I mean really, just, no. If I wanted an iPhone + iTunes, I’d get an iPhone + iTunes. What I want is a phone that integrates easily with my desktop, lets me shove what I want on it when and where I want to, and doesn’t insist on going through some bloated, obscure, obfuscated pile of crud. If you’re going to try to compete with Apple by emulating them, producing something that actually makes iTunes look good isn’t really the way to do it
  • no ability to hook into the GAL if you’re running Exchange (if you don’t know what that means, it won’t be a problem for you!)

The above aside, I’m actually considerably more impressed with it than I thought I would be.  The half-hearted Outlook/Exchange integration and the lack of a user-manageable whole-phone backup are the only absolute biggies (for me). The rest are really just background irritations. It will be interesting to see if the next major release dumbs it down further to a consumer/social networking tool, or actually adds back in/extends the functionality to allow it to be that, but to also properly support business use.