Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving from Droid to WP8 (HTC 8x)

After working with Windows 8 since May or June (release preview, then RTM version) on both my desktop and laptop and enjoying the experience, and then after buying a Surface and seeing the huge benefit of that, I decided last week to upgrade from a Droid device to a WP8 device.  I really wanted to have a consistent environment across the board.  But this was the one choice the choices I had.  I really liked my HTC Droid Incredible device.  I have enjoyed the Android OS.

Best Buy was having their Black Friday sale, which meant I could get the HTC 8x for $99 or the Nokia Lumia 822 for $49, both with a new two-year contract.  I had read plenty more reviews of the Nokia than the HTC, with the reviewers generally stating that the Lumia offers more features while also noting that the HTC device looked and felt better.  I saw both in the store, and the feel of the 8x in my hand was enough to push me toward that over the Lumia 822.  I don't regret my decision, even though I currently don't have access to built-in voice navigation (that is supposedly coming) like the Lumia has.

I immediately appreciated both the WP8 OS and the HTC hardware.  But the first day or two I also was a little nervous that I would be giving up some of the things I enjoyed on the Droid, including Google Maps and Google Drive.  But the more I use WP8, the more I am confident I made the right decision.  (Bing Maps is fine, but Google Maps provides a few more features. I've also been using SkyDrive more and more lately, so a native Google Drive client isn't really a concern anymore.)

Here's a few items I think are noteworthy:
  • Live Tiles (WP8) vs Widgets (Droid): I was concerned at first about the lack of widgets that you get with Droids.  But the Live Tiles make this a non-issue for me.  I can see at a glance what I need on the tile.
  • One screen (WP8) vs 7 screens (Droid): Quicker access to what I need on WP8 and simpler navigation if you lay out your tiles categorically.
  • Office suite (WP8) vs Drive (Droid): Haven't used Office yet enough to make a good comparison, but I will say that OneNote on WP8 is excellent.
  • Single mail app (WP8) vs multiple mail apps (Droid):  On Droid, the Gmail app was nice, but the other generic mail app (for exchange, Hotmail, etc) was totally different.  WP8 provides the same mail app for all accounts, and I think it is easier to use than the Gmail app.
  • Calendar integration:  much better on WP8 than my Droid.  Exchange email, calendar, contacts, etc., simply works.  Not so much on my Droid.
  • Text app:  The conversation view is much easier to view on WP8 than on the Droid, in my opinion.
  • Kid's Corner - ability to provide my kids a safe, restricted area on the phone to use that keeps them from sending texts/emails and making calls accidentally.  They only have those apps I share to their profile.
  • Skype (WP8) vs Google Chat (Droid):  I abandoned Skype a couple years ago due to poor quality and switched to Google Chat.  I still use Google Chat, but Skype on both the Surface and WP8 device is quite nice and works pretty well.
  • Apps in general:  while the Google app store has many more options, I've found just about everything I've needed or wanted on WP8.  Again, the exception is here is Google Maps or Drive.  But the alternatives on WP8 are fine.
To summarize - I have no regrets in switching to WP8, and with each additional day of using the 8x I am more confident I made the right decision.