I’ve recently started using the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 (WP7) – the HD7, and I must say I’m mightily impressed.
As a long term Blackberry user, I’ve also suddenly realized how far back Blackberry has fallen compared to modern smartphones. I had resisted the iPhones, and Androids, and others of this ilk in the mistaken belief that nobody does Email better than Blackberry, and that a physical keyboard is the last word in usability.
After just a few days of use on the HD7 however, I find that none of these statements is true.
Outlook integration on the HD7 device works like a dream: contacts, calendar, mails everything updates as smoothly and quickly as you would expect it to. And the interfaces are miles ahead of what Blackberry has on offer. The Email view, for example, is elegant, functional and easy to navigate, and of course the bigger screen size means I don’t have to tradeoff between squinting with a small font and scrolling endlessly with a large font. I can now read my mails much more comfortably.
And then there is the keyboard. I’ve always thought that glass keyboards would simply not work and the QWERTY is the end-all for data input. But here’s the thing: glass keyboards have gotten much much better, accurate, and forgiving, and the fact of the matter is that even with the qwerty I never did send off more than a few lines at a time from the Blackberry – for longer mails I’ve always ended up pulling out the laptop anyway.
And the keyboard is just the beginning. There is something about a touch interface that makes you feel in control, it is much more satisfying to swipe, pinch, and zoom your way through your inbox than to use the physical buttons.
When it comes to the browser of course, there is absolutely no comparison. The HD7 has the browser and the screen size that actually makes it worthwhile to browse on a mobile device without constantly struggling. Finally I can stop pretending that the Blackberry browser is good enough – it’s not.
RIM is a smart company, so I’m sure they’d be hard at work to regain the initiative. But with each new smart phone in the market the bar is set just a little bit higher. It’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.