I don’t post much, and after this essay you might see why, but I had to get this off my chest. I can’t believe I’ve done it but after goodness knows how many years I’ve finally bought an Android Phone and I’m devastated. I’ve had a Windows Phone since…well, since the beginning and I’ve had a mobile phone since uni, so for those of you who don’t know me that’s at least 20 years, and for the first 10 of those phones weren’t exactly smart, they just sort of made calls, sent txt messages and played snake (I think some still do). As a student a mobile phone meant I didn’t have to walk to the end of the road to a phone box to call home and I’ve had one ever since.
I’m not the sort of person to always buy the latest gadget. I’m more of the sort of person that when they find something they like; they stick with it. I’m habitual and it takes a lot to get me to change.
I started my journey with Windows Phone for one simple reason, ActiveSync. ActiveSync is the technology that lets you sync your email, contacts and calendar with a device, be it a desktop, laptop or a smart phone. In the beginning only Windows Phones had this technology. My email has always been hosted on an Exchange Server and I’ve always used ActiveSync. ActiveSync did what a Blackberry server did, but without the need for a Blackberry server! Blackberry servers in my eyes were huge monstrous pieces of kit that served one purpose, they connected the device in your pocket to your Exchange Server. ActiveSync did that without needing one. A few years ago there were three options if you wanted a email in your pocket, a blackberry server, ActiveSync, or the ancient option, POP3/IMAP. POP3 imho has always been an awful option. Its doesn’t sync email, it just downloads it and only to one device. IMAP wasn’t much better. I’m pretty sure it was designed back when the internet only had one computer and it was probably also the email server.
So a Windows Phone was the only option for me, I could make calls, send texts and read my emails. No phone had a screen big enough to browse the web but when that came along it was so slow I rarely bothered.
The next big thing for me was Remote Desktop. Now I could make calls, send texts, read emails and remote onto the servers and PC’s I managed. I remember clearly 8 years ago feeling amazingly smug that I was able to remotely fix a client’s server from the pub. I remember because it was the night I met my future wife! Imagine if I’d had to go into the office that night, my whole life would have changed. Anyway back to windows phone.
At some point in the late 00’s Microsoft seemed to lease ActiveSync to everyone else but it was buggy. Blackberry refused to use it, and we know what happed to them, but now any other phone could sync with an exchange server natively.
I think in the past 7 years the major advancements on phones for me a least were internet and driving apps. Finally, screens got bigger and I could browse the web on my phone, and we got satnav! I never had a TomTom, but the satnav on the Nokia Lumia 930 was amazing. My wife had an Android and the satnav was awful in comparison.
So I could make calls, send texts, sync email, browse the web, and find out where I was going. What more could I need??
Turns out I also like listening to music. As a kid I had hundreds of tapes, then hundreds of CD’s, then thousands of MP3’s. How to listen to them? I had a massive Creative Zen thing, which was bulky but great, that died eventually, so did the second one. So I got an ipod. That died too, and the next one. I struggled to afford to keep buying big ones so I bought a few little ones, still have them somewhere. I stopped using them because I could sync iTunes straight with my Nokia Lumia 930! Amazing. Sure I couldn’t sync all of it, there was over a hundred GB, but I could sync a good chunk of my favourite years. Then records came back in fashion and I got a record player, but records were too expensive so I relented and got a Spotify subscription. How did that happen??
Anyway, Spotify on my phone was the best thing since sliced bread, although have to admit I prefer a nice sourdough unsliced loaf.
So I had the perfect phone, a Nokia Lumia 930 running Windows Phone 8.1 that could make calls, send texts, sync email, browse the web, tell me where I was going and play music. It could also pic up Radio 6 Music on the iPlayer and took amazing photos! Bonus!!!
I think this was the golden age for me. I had that phone for ages, maybe even 4 years! An eternity for modern tech. I couldn’t see anything being better than it. Sure the Android had a gazillion apps, but there was nothing I couldn’t do. I had the Microsoft Office Suite, Outlook, Adobe Reader, Spotify, the new BBC iPlayer radio and anything else I could access on the web.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts for ever. Bugs started to appear, web pages wouldn’t open. It still did the basics but I needed more reliability. Windows 10 might hold the answer but I didn’t want to make a big investment, so I got the cheapest model. What a mistake, it was so slow and buggy, locked up all the time. Ah, it’s a windows 1st version. It’ll get better. It didn’t, it’s still slow. Ok, I need the flagship model, the HP Elite X3! A Windows 10 Phone, tons of power, it even had a docking station and can be your PC!! The box it came in was the size of a small bus. The dock didn’t exactly live up to the promise half the apps don’t work on the big screen but was quite cool. Still have the dock next to the TV.
For several months this seemed to live up to expectations. Sure the satnav wasn’t as good, but it did the rest ok.
However, the cracks started to show. The BBC iPlayer app died a death. Just use Edge they said. Trouble is Edge stops playing when the screen locks and you need the screen lock if you use Office 365 so you only get 3 mins of music and then it cuts out. Enough for a song I suppose if you time it right. However, I think it’s the last update that has finally broken me. First it kept crashing and wouldn’t unlock, then Spotify wouldn’t open “the audio could not be started”. At first a reboot fixed that. It was a bit frustrating having to reboot every time I wanted to open Spotify or unlock the phone. But now Spotify won’t even open even after a reboot. Then my SharePoint lists stopped displaying correctly. Didn’t mention that before, but I store tons of info in SharePoint and none of it showed up correctly suddenly. I formatted the phone thinking it just needed a fresh start, too many updates I thought but no, the bugs have returned. The camera isn’t as good as the Nokia and the Sat Nav regularly makes mistakes sending us down deadends and the wrong way down one way streets. No one else has one and I’ve not seen it mentioned in a gadget mag in months even as a negative news story. It feels like Microsoft who are renowned for their R&D have finally given up. They’ve ended support a decade too early. Death by a thousand cuts, it’s a tragedy.
In short I’ve finally broken.
So what to do. I decided to take the plunge and do what the reviews say. Get a Samsung 8 they shouted unanimously. Don’t they catch fire I thought? No, that was the 7. They 8 is the greatest phone ever built. So I’ve bought one.
First impressions are pretty good. It’s shiny, it works, it’s not crashed. On the downside the app store has so many apps I’m filled with anxiety about which to install, I seem to have accepted at least 3 T&C’s that give google and Samsung permission to everything I have, but I don’t have much and what I do have is already on facebook. So that’s ok I suppose. I also seem to need to have two email apps, Gmail and Outlook for full functionality and I’ve yet to find a way to dial my contacts, but again I’ve left the Microsoft ecosystem so I guess I have to accept that.
The best thing is Spotify works again!!! Not tried anything else, it’s early days. But here’s to a beautiful future. Thanks for listening.
Note to the Editor, I still use the Elite x3 to make calls and I’m holding out hope the next update will sort everything out, or they will release a full fat version of windows that runs on it. In the meantime, we’ll see how long I can be bothered to carry two phones around!