Choosing a new phone26 Feb 2013
Now I’m leaving Microsoft I’ll lose my corporate Windows Phone - and obviously I get to choose what to replace it now I’m paying for it myself.
It’s tough to know what to do, so I thought it might be interesting to look at different options and work through the pros and cons of each to help me decide what to do.
Option 1: Sticking with Windows Phone
I’ve really enjoyed my Windows Phone 7 (I haven’t been upgraded to WP8 yet). It’s a great interface, with the live tiles making it easy to see useful information at a glance. I’ve also enjoyed developing for the platform, with creating my Bedside Clock app being a great learning experience as well as being downloaded a surprising 16,000 times as of February 2013.
I’m just sick of missing out on many of the most interesting apps (Instagram as a prime example) because I’m on the 3rd platform in an ecosystem almost completely dominated by the big two.
I don’t think there has ever been an app that has been released on Windows Phone first - not one I’m interested in anyway - and I just can’t see the platform gaining any traction any time soon. Sadly I think Windows Phone has just lost.
Option 2: Getting an iPhone
Much favored by my soon to be ex-colleagues at Skype, I’ve had a chance see more iPhones recently, and it can’t really be disputed that they are excellent phones.
All the newest and most interesting apps are bound to be available (sometime exclusively) on iOS, so you’re never going to be missing out choosing an iPhone.
Apple also seem to an excellent job of upgrading their older phones where possible, so you’ve good chance of always being on the latest and greatest version.
I see a couple of downsides though.
First, with Apple you definitely pay a premium price for their hardware and once in their ecosystem you don’t have much/any choice other than to stay in it. I don’t really want to pay that premium, or commit myself down that road. I’m not sure I can face using iTunes again.
More importantly, if I want to do any app development I’ve got to fully invest in Apple hardware - which means getting some sort of expensive Mac. This is a non-trivial cost too, and I’m not sure I’d ever feel comfortable again having a phone that I couldn’t easily knock out an app for if I had a need right now.
I’m very happy with my Dell Ultrabook, and may well consider a Macbook for my next development machine - but not right now.
Option 3: Moving to Android
Getting an Android phone sounds like the ideal compromise for me. Some of the latest hardware is very nice, and the ecosystem has a range of apps available very close to that of iOS.
Also, with a copy of Eclipse on my Windows laptop it will be pretty straightforward to develop some apps without a big investment in additional hardware.
So what’s the downside? Well, the Android interface is just a little ugly. I had an Android phone about 3 years ago and it just didn’t have the polish of the other systems. Maybe things are much improved with Android 4.0+ though? And maybe I don’t really care so much about that polish if the functionality is there?
Option 4: Blackberry
And the winner is …
So after all that, I think I’m going to get a Google Nexus 4.
Why that handset? I think from a developer’s point of view, having a phone that has the best chance of being updated - in the totally fragmented Android ecosystem - seems a good idea.