All things modern.
Welcome to yet another Windows Phone 7 Mango review. There are many reviews of mango on the internet now, but because everyone uses their phone differently, different reviews emphasise different features of the OS. This review therefore applies to the things I find important in a phone. I have shared it in case there is any one like-minded who would be interested to know how the new Mango stacks up against my current iPhone 4. So here goes:
Does it have a task switcher?
I go on and on about task switching on mobile operating systems because I find that it the single most important feature. Quick and simple task switching is the only way that a smartphone can make use of running different applications.
Thankfuly Mango integrates a Task switcher and quite a good one too. The task switcher that is activated by holding down the back arrow, in much the same way as the stock Android task switcher is activated by holding down the home button. The task manager gives you a very handy WebOS/QNX-like card view. However like android, it only holds the last 6 active applications. Also, if the application wasn’t written specifically for this task switching, selecting the card for that application simply restarts the application instead of returning to where it left off. It works well enough with the different W7P screens so you can now switch between a settings page, notifications and the camera, say quite smoothly. Hopefully third party applications will be written to be compatible with this form of multi tasking.
Does the camera retain its settings?
One annoying problem with NODO was that the camera application did not remember the last settings used. For the still camera this is not too bad but when the video camera defaults to VGA resolution every single time….it starts to be bother.
This has been resolved, but when the settings are changed, the user needs to go to the top of the menu and click ‘save settings’. I didn’t realise this at first. Why doesn’t it automatically save? This is not intuitive and is in contrast with the rest of the user interface where changing the setting and pressing the back arrow is sufficient to permanently save the setting.
Do applications remember their state?
No, they do not. Well at least Facebook and Ebay don’t. This is still a big drawback for this phone but probably has as much to do with how the application is written as well.
Does it have threaded email?
Yes! What an improvement! This is probably the last device I use to support this feature that is pretty much expected these days.
Does it support tethering?
No it does not. Well at least I cannot find the setting for it anywhere. Some say this is carrier dependant, but it works fine for me on my iPhone using the same sim card. This could be because of the phone (which is t-mobile branded), the version of mango I’m using or any other factor because there are other people on the internet who have this working.
Has the battery life improved?
Yes it has! This is quite important as when using NODO the battery needed to be topped up mid day to stop it running out. Now I can go through a whole day of moderate to heavy use and still have some charge at the end.
Is Facebook integrated?
Facebook is sooo integrated that the question should have been ‘is an OS integrated in this Facebook?’. It is so integrated that the Facebook application is rather redundant. It works like this; anything that you would normally go looking for in Facebook is now as part of the phone:
Go to contacts (people), and not only are all your phone contacts there, but so are your Facebook friends. If you like you can see what everyone on Facebook is up to just there as well as there is a panel for ‘what’s new’.
Go to the ‘Me’ hub and there you will find all your notifications from your phone, as well as all from faecebook, you can update your status, check in, chat, and ‘what’s new’ again.
Go to the messaging hub and you will find all your sms messages, as well as all your messages from faceboook.
Go to your pictures and you not only see pictures you have taken with the camera, but all your facebook pictures…and the facebook pictures of all your friends.
Now, I have to be honest and say I scoffed at this integration. I regarded it as just a marketing gimmick. Now that I have used it however, I realise that the way that MS has integrated social networking in to a mobile device is nothing short of revolutionary. They have made it so that you can seamlessly interact with your contacts regardless of where they are in the world or what device they are using at the time. This thus keeps you connected to the people in your life like never before. I like it a lot!
Can I video chat?
Well I am using a Samsung Omnia 7 which does not have a front facing camera. However on android phones you can still video chat with skype using the back camera….and a mirror. Perhaps as MS has only recently acquired skype, this will be integrated into the phone in the final Mango release. If they do as good as job as they did for facebook then I cant wait!
Verdict against my iPhone 4?
This is though. A few days ago I was about to pack this phone into its box, return my sim to my iPhone 4 and wait for the official release of Mango. But now that I am running a Mango beta, the choice is much harder. The level of integration with Facebook means that I can communicate like never before with friends across the globe but at the same time the lack of skype, lack of tethering and the sparse application catalogue weights against it.
If i had neither phone, the answer would be undeniably the WP7 win based on the price difference and the amazingly saturated AMOLED screen on the Omnia 7. But as I already own both phones, it is very difficult to choose. I think I will go on using both, and have another comparison when both Mango and iOS 5 are fully released.