Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is the most stable mobile phone OS
Windows Phone 7 may not be flying off the shelves, but in my extensive experience the platform is the most stable and reliable out there. I recommend that you at least give the platform a try because it is NOTHING like Windows Mobile and the Microsoft name does not kill the experience.
As regular readers know, I have used nearly every mobile phone operating system over the years and bounce around between devices, operating systems, and carriers faster than most people I know. I have been using Windows Phone 7 since July 2010 and can say without a doubt that Windows Phone 7 has been the most stable and reliable mobile phone operating system I have ever used, even counting the early technical preview and current beta development versions of Mango that I have been running on my phones. People may have preconceived notions about Microsoft's mobile platform given that Pocket PC and Windows Mobile had issues, but you can throw all of that out the window and if you give Windows Phone 7 an honest chance I think you will find out the same thing.
My first data-enabled phone was the original T-Mobile Sidekick and then a Nokia Series 60 device. I then moved through various Palm Treos, Windows Mobile phones (smartphone and Pocket PC), a couple BlackBerrys, more Symbian phones, some iPhones, several Android phones, a couple webOS Palm phones, and a few Windows Phone 7 devices. I won't go back to the "old days" when I had Palm OS phones and Windows Mobile phones since they are not applicable now and were quite unstable compared to today's phones, but these are my experiences with each of the current modern platforms.
I will say that some platform instability likely comes from 3rd party software and sometimes even defective hardware. I think you will see in my discussions of each platform that there are some issues even if the 3rd party software is well developed.
Out of the six modern smartphone operating systems, Android is clearly the least stable of them all. I have seen numerous low memory issues, force close warnings, random resets, freezes on apps and connections, and more. With so many different manufacturers, different versions of the OS out and available, and thousands of apps that are clearly not built well enough to prevent issues Android is clearly in last in the stability department.
I was blown away by the sheer speed and fluidity of the first iPhone, especially when compared to my Windows Mobile phones. iOS is a very user friendly platform and for the most part is fairly stable. However, I have experienced complete lockups and failure to launch on every iPhone and even on my iPad 2. The iOS experience is funny because something will get goofed up in the OS and then tapping an app to launch it gives you an impression it is starting up and then you are taken right back to the home screen with no indication or explanation at all. You can keep doing this and always get returned to the home screen. I understand they don't want to confuse the consumer, but some indication of what corrective action needs to be taken would be helpful.
It is also not always clear how to get an iOS device back up and running. There is no battery to remove so you have to generally follow a button press routine and maybe even have to connect to a desktop to restore your device.
There have been some rock solid BlackBerry devices in the past, but over the last couple of years the models I have used have disappointed me at times, in regards to stability. The main issue I have experienced with BlackBerry devices is a lock up/freeze where the device gives you the impression it is doing something in the background, but then that never changes and you have to perform a battery pull to get things started again. I still think this is one reason RIM continues to have removable batteries on their devices.
It's been just about 10 years since I started using Nokia's Symbian and for a long time they were my most stable platform. Then Nokia started messing with the hardware too much and skimping on internal capacities. I think many of the issues I had on Symbian were related to low internal memory. Then again, both of the Nokia N8 devices in my house randomly just lock up and won't let the touch screen be used to activate anything so a reset is required.
Palm's webOS (HP didn't keep it going long enough to count in the name) has been quite stable, but still not perfect and I did experience a few random resets and freezes on my devices in the past. It does take a while for the initial sync when you setup lots of services, but I don't count that as an instability. There have been issues in the past with backup and restore failures though and when you are relying on the cloud for so much, this just cannot happen. I also experience weird double key entry issues, but that may have been due to the crappy webOS hardware, which in and of itself was a failure of the platform.
Palm does have a major community built around hacking webOS and there are many hacks available that address issues with the platform so you can make your device more stable and reliable by following the guidance of the webOS Internals team.
Windows Phone 7
Zero! That is how many times I have seen a reset on ANY Windows Phone 7 device that I have been using in over a year. During that time I have used at least six WP7 devices on all four wireless carriers. This includes running the early tech preview on the first WP7 device all the way through the latest RTM version of Mango I have on my HTC HD7. I even have the Dell Venue Pro, with a 32GB microSD card in it, that has been rock solid stable even though I have read a number of reports of issues with that device. I don't know if I have just been blessed with an uncanny knack for using stable WP7 devices, but from what I read online there are many more customers just as pleased as I am with the stability of Windows Phone 7.
The only issue I have seen on Windows Phone 7 is an occasional temporary freeze as many things are downloading at once, but I have not had to perform a soft reset or a battery pull on the devices yet. This only happened to me a couple times in the earlier version of WP7 prior to the NoDo and Mango updates.
I get comments from readers that Windows Phone 7 is junk and think these people likely have never used WP7 or just have a hatred for anything from Microsoft. I have been getting more comments from readers that have actually tried WP7 and the majority of them agree that it is a very good mobile operating system that continues to get better.
Most of these mobile platforms are getting more stable as we move forward, but then again we still have companies releasing devices as beta for the consumers to test and then get expected updates later to address problems that should have been taken care of during initial development. I am not saying that everyone should get a Windows Phone 7 device since I am a firm believer in choice and that we all have different needs, wants, and desires so there is no one device for everyone. I am just trying to share my experiences with you so that you can make informed choices and not choices based on fear of a name or preconceived notions based on feedback from just a few.
Have you used all the platforms and if so, what has been the most stable for you?