Anyone who knows me well would probably be stunned by that title alone. I have never been particularly fond of Microsoft, nor their products. I’ve long considered them to be behind everyone else. However, I found out this week that it’s a different story when it comes to Microsoft and phones. Their latest attempt to get a chunk of market share may have come too late, but I must say, it’s absolutely brilliant. Windows Phone 7 is the absolute most beautiful phone OS I’ve ever seen – yes, it even tops iOS. I think this is the first time in years I actually have to applaud Microsoft. Allow me to give you the full story.
On Tuesday, I drove over to the local Verizon Store with my mom as she was due for an upgrade – and in good time too as she cracked the screen on her phone about a month back. Before arriving at Verizon, we had already decided on two things: she wasn’t getting and iPhone and since she was now forced to have a data plan anyway, it was time to get her a smartphone. The reason we decided she didn’t need an iPhone is simple: it’s $200 and she already has an iPod Touch and iPad. Therefore, prior to heading over to Verizon, we spent a good couple of hours on the Verizon site looking for a suitable alternative to the iPhone. We thought we had one with the Xperia Play. However, at the same time, we both knew she would never use the gaming features it came with and was designed for. After trying one out at the Verizon Store, we both agreed it wasn’t the best pick. It was too bulky, had features she didn’t need nor want, and well, let’s face it, the Android UI is pure shit. So, now we had a problem. Verizon now mainly pushes smartphones. We already knew iPhone was out, and neither of us were thrilled by the Android phones. They were way too big and again, the UI was pure shit. While mom went to look at phones herself, I went to look at one next to the Xperia Play that had caught my eye, the HTC Trophy. Never in a million years would I have predicted I’d do what I did after spending a few minutes with it, “Hey mom. I think I found a phone for you.”
My mom isn’t the greatest with technology, but she at least knows the basics behind it. Nonetheless, when I went to look for a phone for her, my first priority was that she would be able to figure out how to use it without needing me. At all. After seeing how easy it was to use, how large the text was (my mom isn’t ancient, but she does have difficulty reading things), and the fact that it actually just worked, I was sold. Sure enough, mom quickly fell in love with the large tiles, text, and fluidity of the animations. I can’t even begin to explain how happy I was to see that Microsoft was now using the Panels UI on phones.
The Panels UI is actually the reason I picked up the phone in the first place. It was one I was familiar with and loved. I was thrilled to see it now updates in realtime with Live Tiles. One of the reasons I love the Panels UI is that it’s big, it’s colorful, and yet it’s incredibly simple. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from Apple, except Microsoft beat them to it. For once. In a word, it truly is beautiful. It also makes a lot of sense. The Panels UI offers all the information you need at a glance, no more, no less. It’s the perfect balance of simple, yet detailed. The HTC Trophy’s design itself is simple too. While it does have a few more buttons than an iOS device, it still has a very reasonable amount. Under the screen are three buttons: Back, Home, and Bing. On the right edge of the phone is the camera button. On the left is the volume rocker and port for the USB sync and charging cable. On the top is the Sleep/Wake/Power button and headphone jack. The bottom has nothing. That said, it’s a really sleek and sexy phone. It’s also remarkably light and thin. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it did beat the iPhone in those two categories.
The last thing about the phone in general that I really love came as a surprise. Neither my mom nor I knew it came with headphones. Except they’re not just headphones, they’re a stereo headset and FM antenna for radio. I must’ve spent a good ten minutes geeking out about that when I first found that out. It’s very clear to me now that both HTC and Microsoft took their time designing the Trophy and Windows Phone, respectively. Bottom line: the HTC Trophy deserves every bit to be called the Trophy. It’s a beautiful phone with a beautiful OS to match. And, if it’s still around when I’m due for an upgrade, it’s my next phone.
Bravo Microsoft. You win this one.