Considering the Move from an iPhone 4S to Windows Phone Titan


Judie: I recently reviewed the Nokia Lumia 710; even though the lower-end phone’s hardware wasn’t the greatest, I came away with a new respect for the Windows Phone operating system. About a week later, Dan and I were at a Microsoft-sponsored CES dinner where we were both given an HTC Titan to try. Maybe it’s because at 4.7″ the Titan’s screen was so amazingly large when I laid it to my iPhone with its 4S 3.5″ screen, maybe it’s because I was at CES and had been looking at new phones for days, or maybe it’s because I was looking for an excuse to use something different from the iPhone OS which has basically become as comfortable — and dare I say unexciting — as an old shoe; I don’t know.

For whatever the reason, I was ready for a change.

That evening I came back to the hotel, and I slipped my iPhone 4S’s micro SIM into an adaptor tray that I just happened to have in my wallet. A couple of adjustments later, and the SIM was firmly seated, inserted, and the Titan was powered on.

My iPhone has not been used since.

Dan: I was perfectly happy, albeit a tad bored, with my iPhone. The arrival of Siri and iCloud made living in Apple’s walled garden a seamless experience and one I was happy to be part of. Then hell froze over. Carly got an iPhone and abandoned Android. Suddenly there were a few too many iPhone users here on the site. So I thought to myself, “Self, is there some other phone that might offer a similarly positive experience as the iPhone that would let me have the fun of exploring a new OS AND add some diversity to our dialogue?” I KNEW that Android would not be the answer to that. Been there. Done that. Not a fan.

But I had enjoyed my brief stint with Windows Phone (more on that in a bit) and, combined with awesome hardware it just might be the ticket.

Judie: Windows Phone is nothing like Windows CE, Pocket PC 2000, Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC Phone, Windows Mobile (in all of its many version numbers), or any of the other names and iterations that Microsoft’s mobile devices have been known by; Windows Phone is a completely new animal. And yes, Microsoft messed up a bit when they originally released it as Windows Phone 7, but they seem to have figured out that simpler can sometimes be better and they have since dropped the 7.

So let me get to the point: if you are hanging on to bitterness at the Windows Mobile OS’s fragmented and ugly ecosystem, if you are allowing your aggravation for the money that you spent on the overpriced apps which ran on it from letting you try something new, if you are a developer who got sick of the way nothing wound up working together, or whatever the reason might be … try for a moment to just let it go.

Dan: I entered this with a huge bias against Microsoft’s mobile operating system and was dead wrong. Yeah, I needed to “let it go” and when I did… well my iPhone hasn’t been used since, either.

This Is a New Beginning

Judie: Windows Phone was built from the ground up to be intuitive, clean, and — even though offered on various hardware manufacturer’s devices — uniform. This would mean shutting down the openness and hackability that so many “power users” had previously enjoyed with the creation of a closed ecosystem and Microsoft-run marketplace employing a level of control only previously seen on iOS devices. This also meant demanding a uniform set of specifications from every Windows Phone manufacturer so that on even the least expensive phone the “experience” would be the same. Not to put too fine a point on it, this pissed a lot of power users off, and I think many of them have since moved to Android.

In late 2010, a collection of nine HTC, LG, Dell and Samsung Windows Phone 7 devices were offered for worldwide sale to a largely unimpressed and uncaring public. Bear in mind that many of these people were now firmly entrenched in the iPhone or Android camp.  By many who tried it, including me, Windows Phone 7 was considered to be a better than average operating system, even if it wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Although I would typically play devil’s advocate and defend Windows Phone by saying things like, “well, when the iPhone was first released, it didn’t have cut & paste or any apps, either,” I was fairly disgusted with Microsoft for thinking they could get away with releasing what seemed like a half-finished (even if “pretty”) operating system. I bought a T-Mobile HTC HD7, used it, and then sent it to Dan after deciding there was no way that device or operating system could replace my iPhone.

When the Windows Phone 7.5, or  “Mango”, update came out late last year, there were more improvements immediately evident than just the shortened name. Cut & paste had finally been added, and great strides had been made to make the phone more social and people-centric. Best of all, there were now many more apps in the Marketplace; developers seemed to finally be coming around. Windows Phones are offered by the original manufacturers  who are all still adhering to a strict set of standards, and now Nokia has been added to the mix. The result of all of these experienced handset manufacturers creating their own handsets is that as a Windows Phone user you can experience an intuitive, fast, visually stunning, and nearly uncrashable use in a device that suits your needs and lifestyle.

This has resulted in a user-experience that is on par with, and possibly surpasses that of using an iPhone; it is an experience that leaves Android in the dust. And don’t worry; I have on my fire-retardent suit, so those of you who have tried Windows Phone and decided that you like another OS better may feel free to flame away in the comments … but I do ask that unless you have actually used a Windows Phone, you’ll hold your tongue until you can actually offer something to the conversation.

To give you a taste of the UI, I found this Mango overview video that gives a good representation of what you can expect to see …


DanAlthough this series of posts is really about the experience of two iOS users moving to a Windows Phone, at the same time, it would be impossible to speak about Windows Phone and NOT speak specifically about the hardware on the HTC Titan that both Judie and I are using. The reason for this is simple, and it is one of the ways in which Microsoft has set the stage to blow Android away. And as Judie wrote in the intro, those of you who disagree are welcome flame away! But that was not written lightly and I/we stand behind it!

In redesigning their mobile operating system from the ground up, Microsoft took the same route as Apple. They locked down the specs with regard to what hardware can run the OS. For Apple it was actually an easier move since they own and manufacture both the OS and the hardware. Despite the challenges and all the people who would get bent out of shape about it, Microsoft went this route even through they were not and are not a hardware manufacturer. The result is hardware that works seamlessly with the platform. This stands in direct opposition to Android, which is the equivalent of the mobile device ‘wild west’ with its multiple versions of hardware and every iteration of the OS from the first version floating around — because the manufacturer’s did not allow upgrade paths that the average consumer could utilize.

The HTC Titan is large in hand, but not *too* large

Judie: In our next installment, Dan and I will talk about the Titan’s Hardware, comparing it to the iPhone 4S that both of us emigrated from …


Categories: Editorials

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40 replies

  1. Does the screen get as smudged as it appeared in that video, or was that just an artifact of the video itself rather than the phone?

    • It is exactly what anyone can expect from a touch screen phone. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      Sent from my Windows Phone

  2. I myself am waiting for the Lumia 900. Then, bye bye iPhone 4S.

  3. When I read through this article, all that ran through my mind was NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

    But honestly, it’s been over 8 months since I last played with a Windows Phone, so I guess I should at least give it a whirl before making a judgement pro or con.

    • If you haven’t used a Mango-upgraded Windows Phone, then you simply must try one. The experience is truly impressive. =)

      • Seconded!!!

        • +1 from me as well.  My WP is a HTC 7 Pro, a ‘1st gen’ device (3.6″ screen) … and the Mango update was a huge improvement in performance as well as usability.  I wrote about it when it came out that it was excellent but wondering if it was enough … but now with the Titan, Titan II, and Nokia stuff things look great for WP.

          • It really is quite nice to have an OS/hardware combination that really has the potential to stand right up there with iOS and the iPhone. Helps keep everyone on their toes. AND, options are nice!!

  4. I just had to laugh out loud at someone else who “just happens” to have a micro-sim adapter in their wallet!  I’m glad you are enjoying Windows Phone so much.  I’ve been enjoying the Android based Samsung Galaxy SII more than I thought I would.  Maybe someday I’ll feel like throwing a third phone into the mix, unless someone has one to donate!  The biggest deal breaker for me on this device would be the 16GB with no memory card – it’s just not quite big enough for what I usually have on my phone for day to day.

    Do you know what video format(s) WP likes?  How about eReader apps?  Are there any that can sideload ePub books, or access them from Dropbox?  Those are the 2 things I couldn’t live without on my phone on a day to day basis?

    • JD-
      And how I wish I was one of them too! Judie pulled out the micro-SIM adapter and was good to go. I sat… and watched. Finally I went over to a local mall and found an adapter for $5. Fussed with it for half an hour but it would not work. Turns out I actually didn’t even need it. Positioned the sim properly and was good to go.

    • “I just had to laugh out loud at someone else who “just happens” to have a micro-sim adapter in their wallet!  ”

      What? Like *everyone* doesn’t do that? 😉

      I know that MPEG-4 works well (what I generally rip my movies as) — as long as there is no DRM protection from iTunes, the files will play. We get into all of that in a future installment, though. =)

      As for eReader apps: it has Kindle, which is the only one I’m using these days, but I know there are others. More on that in the future, too. 

      I’d love to know the cut&paste answer, too. Thankfully it’s in the soup now, though. =)

  5. I have used Windows Phone 7 since launch and am a happy
    customer. Less the lack of cut & paste, the closed OS did disappoint me initially
    but since Mango I have not looked back. I have converted my non-gadget loving
    partner from Android to a Nokia Lumina 800 and she loves it. I show my Lumia
    and Samsung Omnia 7 to everyone who I can in the hope of converting them too.

  6. Hi,
    Great article.  I myself have a Dell Venue Pro.  I like it because of the portrait keyboard.  I hope Nokia releases a handset with a keyboard.  Anyway how did you get the weather forecast on your wallpaper? 

  7. This has been a fascinating read, because I’ve been seriously considering a jump from Android to Windows Phone.  I have to admit I was quite surprised to hear Judie and Dan’s enthusiastic responses in other discussions. I’m due for a phone change, but I think I’m going to wait until late March…I want to compare the Samsung Note to the Titan II and the Nokia offerings.  As stupid as it may sound, it’s going to be a little hard giving up the Windows Mobile HTC Sense UI derivatives that I’ve become used to in Android and started with my HTC Fuze of yore…love my little clock and weather (I’m a weather geek, so I like to keep tabs on that sort of thing).

    What will be interesting to me is to see how well Windows Phone would integrate with my PCs as compared to other ecosystems I’ve been using.  I’m not sure what I think of the Zune-ish interface my wife uses for her Samsung Focus.  It took me a while to get comfortable with iTunes, so perhaps if I get a chance to use Windows Phone more the desktop sync capabilities will make more sense…right now it doesn’t seem overly intuitive to me, but probably a lot of that is very subjective and colored by past usage of other sync apps.  Plus, with the Google-centric Gmail integration of Android it will be a bit of work for some to migrate and adjust to a different usage model (Ha! I knew getting that Windows Live account years ago would finally pay off! 😀 ). It’s pretty nice being able to wipe my android phone, fire up the Gmail app sync and put contacts, passwords and such back on lickety-split.

    For me the $64 question is whether or not a Windows Phone like the Titan II or Lumia 900 will have the right combination of speed, stability, usability and support to encourage migration for me.  Shoot, my Samsung Captivate didn’t get an update to 2.3.5 until last month, and if I remember correctly the last OEM update was from September of 2010. 😛

    @JDTagish:disqus Are you talking about something like this regarding an eReader app?

    I’ve not used it, but I’m doing some of my own research on the Windows Phone Marketplace.

  8. In the interest of full disclosure, are you using phones that you purchased w/ your own money, loaners, gifts from MSFT?  Not really clear in the lead-in.

    • Michael-

      I think the sentence “Dan and I were at a Microsoft-sponsored CES dinner where we were both given an HTC Titan to try.” made pretty clear that the dinner was sponsored by MS and they gave us the phones. But since you ask, there was no expectation we would use them, review them, write about them or like the devices. We were “both given an HTC Titan to try” with no strings attached.

  9. About 18 months ago, my wife and I ditched our old Palm Pre phones and Sprint and went to the AT&T store.  She left with an iPhone 4 and I left with a Samsung Focus running WP7.  We’ve both been incredibly happy with our selections.  Since Mango, I’ve really loved WP and would never go “back” to iOS or Android (and yes, to me it would feel like going backward).  I really like the new Nokia Lumia 900 except for the limited 16GB of storage.  My focus has 8GB built-in to which I’ve added a 16GB SD card (not possible on the Nokia) and I’ve got it nearly full with music and podcasts.  I’m not sure why Nokia and the other phone manufacturers skimp on the memory.  Here’s hoping for a Lumia 910 that fixes that!

    • Thanks for sharing that Perry. It really is great seeing the positive response a lot of people seem to be having to Windows Phone. I have to imagine the deciding to scrap the old OS and build from the ground up was pretty tough- a bold move imo- but it has paid off. And with the Nokia 800/900… :)

  10. “The arrival of Siri and iCloud made living in Apple’s walled garden a seamless experience and one I was happy to be part of. Then hell froze over. Carly got an iPhone and abandoned Android. Suddenly there were a few too many iPhone users here on the site. So I thought to myself, “Self, is there some other phone that might offer a similarly positive experience as the iPhone that would let me have the fun of exploring a new OS AND add some diversity to our dialogue?””
    Seriously?!  Siri and iCloud was great back in its day, but now you’re bored and need to make a change?  Things really move so fast that features that were introduced only 3 1/2 months ago are already old news and leave you bored?  I guess I’m officially old, since the world is now moving too fast for me….

    • With iOS’ interface? Yes, it is a bit boring are this point. It is not bad mind you but with the exception of folders what’s changed since the beginning? The LiveTiles on WindowsPhone are pretty impressive (and the widgets in Android are nice and would be awesome except for… Android) :) I would love to see something similar in iOS 6.0.

    • I didnt read Dan’s comments as being so bored that the iPhone and iOS ecosystem were passé. I read it as “Gee, I’ve used this for years, the opportunity for something new arrived in my lap, and it’s a great opportunity to cover more stuff for Gear Diary”
      It makes sense to me because I am the same way. When I started writing for Gear Diary I used a windows mobile phone. Then I had a Symbian phone, then Windows Mobile Smartphone (non touchscreen), then back to Symbian, back to the original iPhone for a bit, then Android for two years. Now I am back to an iPhone, and while I am very happy, I still keep one eye on the alternative options. Sometimes seeing what else is out there and giving it a shot is what you need to maximize your use of your main phone. Sometimes you discover there’s something better out there. But the great thing about the smartphone market today is that what one person might find boring or simple another person adores. And I love that Windows Phone, Android, and iOS are all on even enough footing that when/if my smartphone ADD kicks in I have options that will let me experience the power of mobile computing in a new way.
      So it’s not that Siri and iCloud are boring, simply that there is always another way to tackle what is effectively computing in your pocket. And the more ways we can cover it here at Gear Diary the better it is for everyone. I am glad Dan and judie are able to do that with windows phone. :)

  11. I am exceited to see where MS has gone with Windows Phone.    I wish they weren’t so focused on “social” integration since I think that social integration is a big “fail” and there will ultimately be a big backlash (one that is already starting to some degree), but it is another way of pushing advertising so everyone is all over it right now.  That said, Windows phone is still lacking in a few appication areas that are critical to me and it is lacking in language support (although there are rumors that “Tango” may address that).  Those thing still prevent it from being a serious candidate for me.  I am happy with the Apple ecosystem, but we “tech” folk always like playing with new stuff!  Android so screwed up in those areas and followed the old Windows MObile model too closely – including inheititing all the “bad” stuff from the old Windows Mobile.  Is has been a complete fail in my books (yeah yeah I derstand how many get sold but McDonalds sells a lot of burgers tooo – doesn’t make the food suddenly become steak!)  In any case, I am closely watching where MS goes with this.

  12. I honestly feel like I don’t know you too anymore! I have a small tear in the corner of my eye!

  13. Dan,
    What did you mean by
    “I love my iPhone but I am a little bored with it

    • As I replied to dleit earlier today, the iOS interface with its static icons goes back to the initial release of the OS and it is a bit boring at this point. And when you use Android’s widgets or Windows Phone’s live tiles you see what is missing… And possible in iOS 6.0.
      Also, as Carly put it so well, it is great to know an OS inside and out but there is something fun and exciting about discovering something brand new.

  14. Great post, and fascinating responses! I just said to my wife yesterday that iOS and my iPhone 4 do everything well, but are kinda boring. The Lumia 900 has caught my attention, though I appreciate the comments about the 16 GB limitation. I have worked that out on my iPhone by pulling videos and photos off every once in a while and archiving them. So that is not that big of a deal.

    For me a significant issue is management of music. I dont buy a lot if new music, and have thus found iTunes’ model very helpful. I just buy this or that song or album once in a while. I find the iTunes pc app clunky and I intuitive, so it is great to buy media directly from the phone.

    How does Mango manage music? What I have heard is that the Zune model is subscription based, so that I might get herded into that mode.

    • With Zune you CAN subscribe to the Zune Pass (which was $14.99 when I tried it for a month with my Windows Phone) or just use the Zune software to manage your music library. You can also buy music through the Zune store. Let’s be real here – Zune is nowhere near the music and media system that you can get through iTunes or Amazon (though better than the abysmal Google one), but it is adequate depending on how you plan to use your device.

      In terms of usability I find the Zune desktop software beyond clunky and unintuitive.

      • Hey there, webbahboy! Long time no see! :)

        “In terms of usability I find the Zune desktop software beyond clunky and unintuitive.”
        See, that’s been exactly my experience when helping my wife navigate her Zune software. I really hope Microsoft puts something together more user-friendly. The layout and doing simple tasks seems inordinately complex to me.

    • Thanks for the comments and questions. We have a whole section on music in one of the next parts in the series. Short version- it is pretty good and the availability of services like rdio slacker and pandora have made it pretty painless for me.

    • You can subscribe to a Zune pass ($9.99/mo for unlimited music downloads) or just buy songs individually like you do with iTunes. Or you can continue to buy music and manage your music in iTunes and just use the Zune software to sync it to your phone. If you use a Mac, you don’t even need Zune; there is a plug-in for Mac iTunes.

  15. I should add that I now use Zune to manage all of my music and podcasts and it is FAR better than iTunes (not like that’s hard to do). I use iTunes only to sync my iPad and even then as seldom as possible.

    • As long as you have no material using DRM.  That is an important distinction because anyone with music, TV shows, or movies with DRM in iTunes won’t find things quite as convenient.

      • True, although Apple hasn’t used DRM (at least for music) in quite awhile and I believe that they still offer a way to “upgrade” your music to non-DRM files, if necessary.

  16. The thing I find interesting here is that most comments indicate that the iPhone interface and iOS in general is doing a really good job, albeit it is a bit pedestrian.  That is certainly a fair assessment.  The MS interface is definitely more interesting, although I think it is too heavily invested in social networking – of which I am NOT a fan.  The thing no one has mentioned, however, is that there have been ongoing filings of Apple looking into 3D interfaces and designs.  I really suspect that we will start to see visual updates to iOS sometime in the next few revisions.  Apple isn’t stupid and definitely hears the rumblings.   By the same token, Toyota Camrys remain very popular even though they aren’t exactly exciting.  So it will be interesting to see if Apple really does respond with interface updates or stays the course in upcoming iOS releases.  I would hate to see them venture too far though because what they have works very well, even if it isn’t terribly exciting anymore.   It’s amazing to me because no one had seen anything quite like it (and NO the Palm interface was NOT the same – not nearly as well organized or functional) back in 2007 and we were all debating the values of Apple having chosen a more expensive glass capacitive screen (most screens were layered plastic resistive screens at the time).  People were debating if the iPhone felt solid or heavy, and things like that.  Now look how far we’ve come!  LOL

  17. Wow.  Judie, I could see switching.  But Dan?  After all his posts about Siri and how productive the voice recognition has made him?  I’m blown away.

    As another person who doesn’t care for Android at all (having tried it multiple times, on the EVO, Cyogenmod on various devices, and the HTC Flyer), maybe I should try WinMo again.

    iOS is getting a little stale.  Still, perhaps jailbreaking it and then skinning it with themes would do it.

    Ultimately for me it comes down to the apps.  There are just apps on iOS that aren’t available elsewhere.  If suddenly Apple deleted a few of my key apps, and they were available (exactly as is, not the inferior Android versions) on Android, I’d switch OSes.  But iOS has the apps.

    • Great points Joe. Thanks for that.

      And you are right, Siri has been a big deal for me. If Siri was on the iPad this would be a DONE DEAL for me. But it isn’t. And I’ve had the luxury of being on sabbatical the last month. I reenter tomorrow and what waits to be seen is if the lack of Siri and voice recognition is such a big productivity hit that I can’t stick.
      Time will tell and I’ll be posting shortly.