Before I continue let me just say that I haven’t felt the adrenaline of chancing upon a gadget like this since the early 2000’s. Back then when it was a battle between Palm and Windows Mobile, I’d have Elbert Cuenca calling us to hurry over to Microwarehouse to see a then flagship m515 in the flesh, complete with blurry photos. I had been working on getting this scoop for a while and finally, effort paid off.
This is an industry exclusive. I’m apparently the first person outside Microsoft Philippines to be able to hold the new HTC Mozart, the first Windows Phone 7 device launching before the holidays. Thinking of an iPhone for Christmas? Hold your horses first.
Above: The new events calendar is color coded to match different synched accounts (via email including Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange Server) and yeah even Facebook Events … all color coded baby.
Here’s what you need to know:
I finally understand how Windows Phone 7 works. If Android and Apple have apps at the core of their OS, Windows Phone 7 makes use of your Live ID to link profiles from other accounts. And that’s almost everything from Google, Yahoo!, WordPress, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. You can pin everything onto the front page, in the same way that you can pin items to the taskbar or start menu on Windows 7. Also, because Windows Live ID can be linked to other Live ID’s, you can have several accounts! You can move everything around the home screen: the front page is fully customizable, plus it’s animated. if your friends change their profile photos on Facebook, it applies on the phone as well. Never have I seen such brilliant customization for an interface. It. Is. Fun.
The capacitive touch screen is very responsive. No lag. Sending an SMS via the on screen keyboard was also easy. Out of the several sentences I typed, I only misspelled one word.
Battery life: 2 days with minimal use but with data turned on.
Photos look great — 8MP camera with Xenon flash!
Although you can use this phone without a data plan, it is highly suggested that you buy this device with one. Telco availability details will be unveiled soon.
The “People” feature is IMHO the core of the functionality. In the previous paragraph I mentioned how you can link up different ID’s to Windows Live. Windows Phone 7 can link your native address book to your social networking accounts such as Twitter and Facebook (nothing new here as this can also be done with some Android devices). What it does so well compared to other smart phones is how it makes it so much easier to browse other people’s linked accounts, which is why you practically don’t even need to have a separate Facebook or Twitter application. As I previously said, it links accounts to a “wall template” that applies to all your friends. Remember the Zune’s tagline “Welcome to the social!” Well this is it, applied to a phone.
Windows Phone 7 is also a Microsoft Zune. Own a phone, own a Zune. Similar to how an iPhone is also an iPod touch.
In the tradition of blurry photos for product exclusives, I present a blurry video of the UI with Java Lee talking in the backgrond:
You might be wondering — after HTC, we’re going to have Samsung and LG and many other manufacturers launching similar phones running the Windows Phone 7 OS. What’s the difference? Unlike before where WinMo 6.5 had skinned frontline UI’s from HTC and Sony, this time, it’s the same across the board. Meaning, the only differences between brands would be (1) specs, (2) form factor, and (3) performance. Microsoft also allows manufacturers to include up to three additional features into the units. These functions include doodads such as text to speech features and in the case of LG, the ability to control your other LG appliances with their version of Windows Phone 7. WOW. So yeah, now brand really matters. Think about it: I’m actually excited to see what Cherry Mobile will come up with given the fact that the UI experience is supposedly similar across the board.
Microsoft Office runs fine as well. The Office Suite allows you to access your free 25GB file storage c/o SkyDrive (again via Windows Live) as well as work on your Microsoft Office Mobile apps for Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Also comes with One Note!
Full XBOX Live integration. If you own an XBOX and play online, Windows Phone 7 syncs you to your XBOX allowing you to do things like work on your avatar and even play games that sync to and from your phone < --> XBOX.
I played with it for 44 minutes. The reviews online are accurate: Windows Phone 7 may just be the savior of Microsoft. I had a hunch, and that was to delay buying an iPhone 4 till at least after seeing what the Windows Phone 7 devices would look like come holidays. And I was right. Not only are these devices cheaper than the iPhone 4, they’re honestly more fun to use. Windows Phone 7 is its own device. No copycats here. I’m starting to believe the ad campaign: “a phone to save us from our phones.”
The HTC Mozart I played with is a prototype unit with units coming in time for the holidays. One of the bugs I noticed was the send via Bluetooth option which we couldn’t get to work. Also, cut and paste functionality is still not implemented on this version, but will be in the next.
Finally, the local smartphone playing field is now set: iPhone, Android, Nokia’s Symbian^3 and MeeGo, and finally the newcomer that is Windows Phone 7. This is Microsoft’s big comeback as an underdog and so far, with what I’m seeing, they’re going to win a huge share of the local smartphone market. Final pricing to follow.
Many many thanks to Mae, Java and Gian of Microsoft PH for this scoop. Disclosure: I sometimes help out Microsoft Philippines with community related events. I am not a Microsoft employee.