Windows 7 phone review roundup

By David Hillier,

The Windows 7 Phone platform has just been released, and reviews across the internet have been published as publications try to give their two penny worth. The replacement for the much maligned and now defunct Windows Mobile, it will be available in the UK with the HTC HDZ and HTC 7 Mozart, Samsung Omnia, and LG Optimus 7.

Ballmer

Understandably first on most agendas of any article covering Windows new baby (which they are rumoured to spending a recession-mocking four hundred million pounds promoting), is its interface, and reactions to it have generally been positive. The Daily Telegraph describes it thus:

Turn on any WP7 device and the home screen slides up to reveal a panel of large icons. These give access to the “hubs” around which the system is built – from “People” to “Pictures” or “Music and Video”. Scroll up and as you come to the bottom of the list the icons above are compressed slightly; it makes knowing where you are in a list intuitive. Menus throughout the phone, too, pirouette onto the screen in a way that is as smooth-looking as it is surely battery-draining.

wmpoweruser.com likes the simplicity of the interface and its intention to keep things as quick and straightforward as possible:

Sometimes, the interface can be a little dull, and perhaps not as flashy as things like the iPhone, or Android, but it puts information, rather than shininess first, and at that, it’s pretty much unparalleled.

As we all know, apps now rule the mobile universe. Windows have recognised this and created the Marketplace, where users can go to pick up apps, games and music videos. They have brought a host of third developers on board, who will be bringing additions every day. About Marketplace, neowin.net said:

Microsoft’s store is a joy to use unless you’re searching for something specific. Hitting the search button allows you to narrow down your search but the final results mix in applications, games and music so it’s often hard to find the application you require.

As Apple as iTunes, so Windows has Zune to buy and play music which you can sync with your Windows PC. Unfortunately the Guardian has compared looking for songs on it to shopping in “a 1950s Soviet supermarket: damn big, and damn empty.”

However, neowin contradicts this by saying:

Overall the Music and Video hub offers everything you’d expect. Windows Phone 7 supports a variety of formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, MPEG and H.264. DivX and MKV formats are not supported natively but we fully expect third parties to offer separate applications for these.

Emails appear to be taken care off and the Phone 7 gets general thumbs up all round, with wmpoweruser saying:

The Email client is pretty much spot on. It supports IMAP, POP, Hotmail/Live and Exchange ActiveSync push email, as well as full HTML support, and the interface is brilliant to boot.

It’ll also easily sync with your Facebook, with neowin gushing that “if ever there was a Facebook phone then this is truly it. Facebook is at the very heart of Windows Phone 7 and it beats throughout the operating system.”

Pictures from Facebook and email are easily retrievable, where “the hub syncs down your photos and albums from Facebook and Windows Live. The Facebook integration is solid in pictures, allowing you to save photos locally and comment on friends Facebook images.”

There’s full Microsoft Office capability, with techradar saying this is where Windows Phone 7 really shines, though it does say,

Being able to jump directly to tables in Excel or sections in Word, using the contents list Mobile Office builds automatically is certainly useful but we’d really like to see the other apps work more like OneNote, enabling you to have notes on your phone that sync to the Web and to the PC version of the app as well.

In general, opinions on the 7 Phone were pretty positive. Techradar (giving it four out of five) says:

Microsoft has delivered what it set out to do: a refreshingly different, truly engaging mobile OS. The user interface delights and there are standout innovations such as linking multiple contacts.

All the reviews do lend a caveat that it isn’t yet the finished article, and that it offers little new for smartphones with Telegraph perhaps summing it up with:

Everything looks genuinely slick and stylish – but WP7 is neither cutting edge under the bonnet nor so effortless to use that it’s a plausible object of aspiration for anybody but a business person whose IT department won’t allow them a better option.