Microsoft Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7 review: Microsoft's new mobile phone operating system -- Windows Phone 7 -- is slick, easy to use and well designed.
- Refreshing UI, excellent performance, excellent Office integration, heavy social network integration, great on-screen keyboard
- No copy and paste, no multitasking, limited controls in landscape browser view, no native Twitter support, no Flash support in IE, no DivX/Xvid support, no tethering
Windows Phone 7 is far from perfect and is missing some important functionality, but overall this is a refreshing change for Microsoft. Effectively starting with a fresh canvas, Windows Phone 7 is slick, easy to use and well designed. Time will tell whether Windows Phone 7 devices will make a significant impact on the market, but if you're looking for a new smartphone, a Windows Phone is definitely worthy of consideration.
Microsoft's all-new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, is an entirely different beast to its clunky predecessor, Windows Mobile 6.5. Featuring an attractive, fresh and easy-to-use interface, Facebook integration and a full mobile office suite, Windows Phone 7 isn't perfect but its refreshing look and feel and consistent performance makes it a valid alternative to competing smartphone platforms.
Read our Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone review.
Read our LG Optimus 7Q smartphone review.
Windows Phone 7 user interface
The user interface of Windows Phone 7 is completely different to anything currently on the market. It's made up of large tiles that can be organised any way you wish; tiles can be "pinned" to the home screen, and the default tiles can be removed. You can simply press and hold a tile and drag it to move it around the screen. The tiles offer a refreshing look and feel, with large text and live images. For example, the "People" tile — a centralised hub for multiple forms of communication with contacts — displays live photos of the last few people you've interacted with. There's a theoretical limit of about 150 tiles that you can pin to the home screen, but this is more than you'll ever need.
The Windows Phone 7 homescreen is made up of live "tiles." Up to 150 tiles can be pinned to the homescreen, so you can personalise each device as you wish.
Swiping to the left opens Windows Phone 7's main menu, a scrolling list of applications in alphabetical order. The inability for a user to organise these apps may prove problematic down the track, but considering you can pin anything to the home screen, the main menu will be accessed far less than when using most smartphone platforms. We wish you could pin an individual setting to the home screen — you can pin the settings menu to the home screen, but you can't pin the Wi-Fi setting as a tile, for example. This would have made it quicker and easier to access commonly used settings like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The general concept of Windows Phone 7 is that each application or hub is a panorama — slide up or down to reveal more content, and slide left or right to flick to a new section. For example, the People hub consists of a list of people you've had recent contact with, all of your contacts and a What's New list that integrates real-time Facebook and Windows Live updates. Below each screen are context-dependent circular icons — as an example, when you are in your message inbox, a "+" icon opens a new message, while when you're typing a message a paperclip icon can attach a photo and the mail icons sends your message. There may also be a small "..." icon, which will reveal more options available for the current screen (usually settings).
The best aspect of the Windows Phone 7 interface is its simplicity. The home screen and the main menu are the only major screens you access, aside from opening various hubs and applications. Everything seems to be where it should be and the interface is not crowded or busy. Performance is excellent; screen transitions are smooth, scrolling feels natural and there is minimal lag or delay when opening or closing applications. The entire user experience feels streamlined and refreshing — completely the opposite to previous Windows-powered smartphones. The Windows Phone 7 UI even makes the iPhone and Google Android interfaces feel slightly dated. Microsoft has a strict set of hardware requirements for manufacturers of Windows Phone 7 devices, so the experience is virtually identical regardless of handset.
People hub, messaging and e-mail
The phonebook in Windows Phone 7 has been renamed "People" and comprises phone numbers, social networking accounts and e-mail accounts. The idea is that contacts are tied in with multiple sources, meaning you can read Facebook status updates, view photos and see other information all from one portal. The idea works relatively well and the linking of contacts is reasonably intuitive — for example, Windows Phone 7 will automatically link identical contacts from multiple sources (a contact from Facebook and from Google contacts from example), while photos sourced from Facebook are used as images of contacts. Conveniently, you can pin individual contacts to the home screen. We were annoyed that there is no option to not show Windows Live contacts. For users who previously have used a Windows Live account purely for MSN, this will mean you're left with a list full of e-mail addresses that will need to be individually linked to contacts. There is also no built-in Twitter capabilities, which is a strange omission.
The Windows Phone 7 People hub combines phone numbers, social networking accounts and e-mail accounts.
Setting up a Windows Phone 7 device is a simple process: enter your Facebook, Windows Live ID and other e-mail accounts (naturally, the OS supports Microsoft Exchange e-mail) and the phone automatically grabs your contact list and keeps it updated in real time. You can choose to add all your Facebook contacts to your People hub, or simply add Facebook info for the contacts you already have.
Windows Phone 7 smartphones will come in many shapes and sizes and some will include physical, QWERTY keyboards. Any manufacturer producing a device with a physical keyboard will need to do a sterling job because the on-screen software keyboard is simply excellent. We found it more comfortable and accurate in landscape mode, but it works well in portrait mode too. The keys are well spaced and make a soothing clicking sound when pressed, while the built-in spell check allows you to tap on a word to bring up a list of suggested corrections. Users switching from older phones with numeric keypads and predictive text input will still take a while to get used to any touchscreen keyboard, but those switching from an iPhone or Android smartphone will be very impressed with Windows Phone 7's text entry.
E-mail on Windows Phone 7 is excellent, aside from the lack of an aggregated inbox for multiple e-mail addresses. Microsoft has said that an aggregated inbox would become too cluttered, and that most people would prefer to keep work and personal e-mails separate. We would prefer to be given the choice — the iPhone has both individual and aggregated inboxes, for example.
Unlike the iPhone, Windows Phone 7 allows you to view e-mails by all, unread or flagged messages, again simply by swiping through the panorama screens. Tapping on the left side of the message allows you to mark individual messages to delete, mark as read, mark as unread or flag.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® Portable SSD
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Inkle's space archaeologist adventure won't tell you if your lost language translations are wrong
- Dell's 28-inch 4K monitor is just $300 right now
- Three privacy tools that block your Internet provider from tracking you
- Dell's wild 8K monitor goes on sale with a just-as-stunning price tag
- How to transform your smartphone into a real-world Star Trek tricorder
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TPAutomation TesterQLD
- CCSAP BPC SME/Consultant - BRISBANE BASEDQLD
- CCAutomation TesterQLD
- FTOracle eBusiness Functional Consultant. (Procurement)NSW
- FTAutomation TesterQLD
- CCSystem TesterQLD
- FTSCOM Monitoring and Alerting SpecialistNSW
- FTCyber Security - Technical SpecialistACT
- FTApplication Support Analyst - Mortgage SolutionNSW
- TPBusiness Project Manager - DigitalNSW
- CCMicrostrategy DeveloperVIC
- FTBusiness Analyst - SalesforceNSW
- TPSoftware EngineerWA
- CCSystems EngineerACT
- FTEmail Production SpecialistNSW
- FTSenior Network Engineer - Nexus 9k ACINSW
- FTLinux System AdminstratorQLD
- TPSenior Project ManagerVIC
- FTProject CoordinatorVIC
- CCTechnical Business Analyst - Infrastructure - VirtualizationNSW
- FTMarketing Specialist (B2B Sales)NSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD
- TPNetwork AdministratorWA
- CCSAP FICO Support AnalystWA