Consider this a late announcement that I switched to Android for a month. It wasn’t quite an official switch since I still kept and used my Windows Phone smartphone as my primary personal device and the “switch” was actually more of a casual experiment I did in my spare time. Still, it was an intentional experiment and I learned a lot. After using Windows Phone for nine months, I started to miss Android a little. Though I carry an Android phone with me simply to keep abreast of the latest apps and software or to test a device for a review, I decided to put forth a concerted effort to use an Android smartphone (an HTC One S, in this case) on a more regular basis to see if I could switch back to Android and if I was missing out on something by using Windows Phone.
First, why did I get the idea to switch to begin with? The one thing I missed the most was customization. Not everyone likes customization. To be honest, I disagree when people use the customization card as their main argument for why Android is better than every other OS. I mean, what if I don’t want to customize my phone? Not everyone does. In fact, that’s one reason why I switched to Windows Phone – I grew tired of trying to customize my device to make it look attractive. I reasoned that if I’m trying to make Android look different than it really is, then does that not mean that I don’t like the way Android looks? So, why am I still using it?
However, after nine months of zero customization, I stumbled across a website called MyColorscreen.com. The site allows people to upload screenshots of their home screens with a list of the apps that were used to create the look. There are tons of awesome designs on the site and I started getting the itch to create my own design. I decided to dive back into the world of customizing. I downloaded a few launchers and widgets and set out on my journey.
In the beginning, it was great. I created a simple but fun design and it was pretty cool. Sure, it took a couple of hours every day for a week to complete it, but it looked good. After a few weeks, though, I grew tired of it. It was my first design so it wasn’t very complex and I felt the need to spruce it up. I tried a couple of new things, then scrapped the design completely and started the tedious task over from scratch. I searched though new widget creation apps, apps that allow you to create completely custom widgets. I scoured five different wallpaper apps. I downloaded a new launcher. I went through a couple of different designs and never felt satisfied with one. This is where the trouble set in.
Keep in mind that my main reason for switching (or trying to switch) back to Android was the customization. The improved hardware was great to have, especially since I was using the One S. Aside from the Lumia 900, there isn’t a lot of great Windows Phone hardware. With Android, the phones look great, the cameras have awesome features, and the displays are utterly gorgeous (and you guys know how I am about beautiful displays). So all of those things were great to have, but it was really the customization that drew me back. So, that being said…
The customization drove me crazy, and not in a good way. I spent hours every day for weeks simply trying to find a good wallpaper, a good clock widget (or design my own), or an icon pack I liked, even downloading custom fonts for my text widgets. There’s so much you can do! In a way, this is great. But you know what they say, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I spent so much time trying to create a design that appealed to me and I never settled on one. Finally, I gave up. ‘I don’t need this!’ I thought. Why don’t I just use an OS that actually appeals to me aesthetically?
Which brings me back to the reason I switched to Windows Phone in the first place – I like the way it looks. I don’t need to change it because I don’t want to. Yes, there are things about Android that I really enjoy and will miss. (In fact, I’m still trying to find a simple design that will make the phone usable since I’m not ready to give up just yet. The thing is, now that I’ve seen what I can do, I just can’t go back to Sense 4 with a grid of icons and a few widgets.) But the fact that I can customize it so much makes it more of a distraction than an actual tool. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but honestly, I need a tool, not a toy. Android is fun. It’s cool. It’s open and free. But I don’t have time to care about all of that. I need a phone I can pick up and use. Windows Phone is exactly that and it manages to be seductively attractive in the process. It has all the apps I need, it has a fantastic and effective UI, and it has incredibly useful features like live tiles, Local Scout, the ability to pin pretty much any part of an app or the app itself to my Start screen, Microsoft Office integration, Bing Search, and more.
After extensive experience with both Android and Windows Phone, I feel I can honestly say that there are few things (outside of areas influenced by personal preference) that Android does better than Windows Phone. In some areas, perhaps some influenced by my personal preferences, Windows Phone is better.
I still enjoy using Android and I’ll probably continue to carry an Android phone due to the nature of my job. However, while the extensive customization options intrigue me, it’s just not something that adds to a device’s value to a person like me. After an unofficial month-long trial, I’m switching back to Windows Phone. I know the OS is incredibly simple and minimalistic. That doesn’t appeal to everyone, but for me, it’s perfect.