Tuesday 1 November 2022

Windows Phone In 2022... Could I Use One?

I am having issues with my Android phone, audio in calls keeps cutting out, so I wanted a cheap phone to test if it was a network issue or a phone issue and I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit Windows Phone, which I enjoyed a few years back, but the lack of app support became a bit of an issue.

However I have toyed with the idea of ditching the smartphone, so maybe going with one with a little less app support might be a happy medium. Windows Phone handsets have always been pretty decent and I thought the Metro UI was a unique take on a smartphone OS. 

So I ordered an HTC 8x which I had a few years back (a dual core with 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, 4.3” screen with Windows 8.1, released in 2012) It was a fantastic looking phone. However before it has even arrived I was looking in to what I wouldn't be able to use it for – I felt like I was already setting myself up for a fall.

My Motorola Moto G10 does everything. It really is - like for most people - a mini computer, key to everyday life.

So let's start with how my daily phone usage goes. First up is calls, obviously as it's a phone and a Windows Phone will do that as well as text messaging. 

In terms of social media most apps that did support Windows Phone now don't, with a few exceptions or third party tools, but don't expect a full experience. WhatsApp is definitely a no no and one that I use daily, Facebook and Messenger can be done as well as Telegram, via third party app and I think Instagram and Twitter can have web shortcuts.

Then it comes down to the app you wouldn’t think of straight away but you would miss not having. Not having my banking apps means I can't check my balances or manage my accounts.

There are some apps or services that can be accessed by a web interface, so you could use store cards, bonus cards and food delivery services that way, but it is a pain unless you can pin shortcuts to your home screen.

Although I am not sure how a Windows Phone browser can cope with modern browsing and services.

Gaming is not an issue for me. I don't game on my phone so the lack of mainstream games on Windows Phone isn’t an issue.

Taking pictures and shooting videos will be fine, just like any platform it all depends on the handsets as to the quality of the cameras, but even back in 2012, mobile phone cameras were pretty decent. It’s when you want to do something with those pictures – such as upload them to social media – or those videos – such as upload them to YouTube – that you will have issues, or just not find it as easy as a supported OS.

The lack of built in Google support – which I think was Google's deliberate way of stifling the growth of Windows Phone can be an issue. No native YouTube or Google Maps really was a hindrance for me back then – and having been invested in Android and the Google ecosystem the last few years, it wasn’t going to be easy.

I take a picture currently on my Android phone and it automatically uploads to Google Photos which I can access anywhere. I take a video and I can upload direct to YouTube.

You should be able to sync your Google account which should retrieve your Gmail and your Google contacts but that will be something I have to try.

As far as I can tell - as my phone hasn't arrived yet - the App Store is still up and running, but it's tricky finding items that will install and run on Windows Phone – especially one running Windows Phone 8 instead of Windows 10 Mobile.

I could have listed third party apps for some of the services I mentioned above, but I need to check them out before I recommend them.

There will be a part two to this article, where I have set up the phone and used it for a while. Depending how I get on with not having access to everything like I would on Android will depend how long I use it. Or I could surprise myself and it could be the break I need from having everything at my fingertips.

Watch this space.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal

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