My hands-on with the Windows Phone Mango preview went live in June and since then I have had many readers ask if one of my teen daughters could check out Mango and write up some thoughts. Mal has been using my older Windows Mobile devices for a couple years and after spending about 10 days with a Samsung Focus loaded up with an early preview of Mango she can't wait to get her own Mango phone and finds this to be the most exciting device she has checked out yet.
First ImpressionsThe screen is quite soft and smooth. The phone has a durable, sturdy feel to it, not too heavy. It is a little on the bigger side, but not inconveniently large. The camera is small and out of the way. I love the OLED screen too, very bright and clear.
Hardware thoughtsLock Screen: The lock screen allows for personal photos as "wallpaper", or a large selection of 28 default choices. I mostly used pictures that streamed from Facebook as the background. Also, it may be customized with a security password. It displays the date and time, battery life, as well as reception status.
Navigation Buttons: Located on the left is the "back arrow". Center is Microsoft's main symbol, taking you to the home screen. And on the right, is a magnifying glass, that takes you to the Bing search engine. A feature I didn't use at all (I'll have to show Mal how the new Bing functions act as a Shazam-like client and more).
Camera: It's the standard 5 mega-pixel camera, which takes pretty clear shots. I took a lot of photos, and some good clear video. You can access the camera without having to unlock the screen by simply pressing and holding the exterior camera button, located on the right side of the phone. This was a very useful feature. You can look at the camera roll, albums, the date you took the pictures, and pictures shared through Facebook by your friends. Albums from Facebook are automatically uploaded to the phone. Something I liked very much, because it allowed me to use it as background screens and to show friends.
Software thoughtsPeople (Contacts): Within the People square on the home screen is displays random pictures of the people in your contacts list. When you click on it, it goes to a list of all your Facebook friends. When sliding to the right, it show the latest NewsFeeds from Facebook. Upon sliding twice to the right, it shows the most recently contacted or viewed people. I used the People feature many times to look at recent Facebook status's and creep on people's profiles. :)
Mail: You have Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo to choose as a dominent account on the phone. Although it allows to have more then one. All regular emailing features are fully functional, except more server specific ones such as "Starring", "Important", etc.
Messaging: This phone has the conversation set up with different colors and many icons (smiley etc.) I used text messaging very much and loved the keyboard!
"Me" Square (Live tile): This one is where you can go to access all social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, POP and IMAP. I only used the Facebook account, and when I click on it, I can post a message, check-in, or chat. Sliding to the right shows my latest notifications, and sliding again shows my profile and latest posts. I used this feature a ton to check notifications, and post a status update. You can not look at the NewsFeed through this avenue.
XBox LIVE: Shows my personal avatar on the box, seen in the home screen, moving around and appearing frequently. Through this feature you can play games from the MarketPlace, edit your profile, look at achievements, and edit your avatar. Clicking on your avatar causes it to do different poses, dances, and other actions. You can also look at friends and check messages from here. I didn't use it too often because you can only edit your avatar so much, and the MarketPlace had minimum selection of free games.
Now: A very awesome app on the phone. It allows you to check updated weather, news, and stocks! You can personalize this with location, and favorite stocks. I used it daily to check the weather and news.
Settings: Here you can customize ringtones, color theme, access Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, edit lockscreen and accounts, and several other things. I changed the theme a lot, because there was such a a wide choice of vibrant colors.
Other: I didn't use the Zune feature at all, because I use iTunes and don't have a Zune Pass. I didn't use the calendar, due to no need to keep track of a schedule while school is out this summer. I didn't use any "Office" documents, though a cool thing to be able to access on a phone. I only used Maps once, very handy, but as I am not driving yet, I don't quite have a need yet for it. Calculators and alarms were also of no use to me. It has a long battery life with 3G network, and a battery saver allowing for an extra hour of life when close to dying. The device battery status also informs you of battery life remaining. Very useful.
What's missing and final thoughtsThere are no notification, or indicator lights. You must turn the display on to the lock screen to see if you have any notifications and to make sure it's charging which I found to be a bit of a pain. I had to frequently check my phone to see if I had a text, email, etc, and would like to have a better system.
Overall I thought the Samsung Focus with this new Windows Phone Mango update was an amazing phone, I really loved it! I would recommend it to anyone looking for a simple, smart, social phone. Windows Phone 7 is my new favorite operating system and I can't wait until my Dad gets me one of these, hopefully for Christmas (hint, hint).
Matt's closing thoughtsI watched Mal using the Focus and could tell she was very excited about using the device. I spoke to a guy at a recent meeting and he said his T-Mobile family plan has four HD7s on it and I think when Mango is released I may be upgrading a couple of phones on our family plan to Mango phones. I know I am sold and won't give mine up.
I would love to see Microsoft roll out a family plan for the Zune Pass, similar to what they have for the Xbox LIVE family membership. Mal didn't get to try all of the excellent Zune features, but she did get to experience her avatar on the phone.
You may recall that Mal and her sister, Danika, took a look at the Microsoft Kin devices last year and found that device to be unappealing. Given that the Kin was targeted to the teen/youth group this was not a good thing and Microsoft quickly killed that project. As you can tell Mal loves the Mango update in Windows Phone and she confirms what I keep saying to people and that is, "You need to try Windows Phone before dismissing it just because it has the name Microsoft associated with it."