To know me is to know that I’ve been a fan of the re-imagined Windows Mobile/Windows Phone for the past ~6 years or so – since Windows Phone 7 came out.
Was I doing it to be different? No, not really. There were two compelling reasons:
- Since my day job is a Microsoft .NET developer, it was easy and simple for me to dabble and write apps for my own phone.
- The Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 platforms were outstanding! Both the hardware and software were quite excellent!
Now, you’ve likely heard people say “b-b-but there aren’t 1.5 million apps in the Windows Store, so that platform is useless!”. Well, as a user of the platform, that was never a problem. Any company/organization/app that was worth looking at, also came out on Windows Phone. So, you couple that with the VERY high quality of the Nokia Lumia handsets, it was a great platform – I say that as a developer and as an end-user.
The reason I stayed with Windows Phone 7 and 8 was that it was a great platform which was poorly-marketed, consistently. So, I didn’t mind being in the minority, because it was such a quality platform.
Enter Windows 10 Mobile:
As you might have imagined, I was looking forward to Windows 10 Mobile. They wrote the OS from the ground up and with Microsoft acquiring Nokia and taking over the Lumia brand – this should be it!
This should be the Microsoft equivalent of the Apple iPhone. A high-quality vendor putting their weight and force behind a unified platform.
Well, I got a Lumia 950 right went it came out in October 2015 – about 5 months ago.
Since then, it’s been rough-going. The hardware is a significant step-down in quality from the Nokia Lumia’s – but it technically works. The phone generally doesn’t feel high-quality though. The operating system though is… well, junk. From Day One (up to and including today), I consistently have all sorts of problems:
- If I tried to “tether” a device to it, to use it as a hotspot, the phone would freeze. Like, “you had to pop the back and pull the battery” kind of freeze. In fact, I ended up buying an external mobile hotspot because of this, and pay an extra $20/month for the privilege of using it (more on this below).
- SIM errors make the phone cell connection just “go away” once or twice per day. Meaning, you will look down, and instead of “AT&T LTE” in the top-left, you see a circle with a line through it. “I wonder how long cellular has been offline?” I would wonder. You need to reboot to get it to come back. When it came back online, I would find I have voicemails and several missed text messages. It does this once to twice per day.
- Many programs regularly crash randomly and go away.
- Now that I am using VPN, Windows Phone is the only platform who doesn’t understand how this needs to be implemented. It only stays connected while the screen is on. So, the whole time while if uses your cell connection to get e-mail and MMS, it won’t use VPN. You have to unlock the screen and reconnect VPN every-single-time.
- After using Continuum successfully a few times – now it just crashes my Microsoft Display Adapters (both of the ones I have), and if it can connect, I can no longer use the phone as a trackpad – which means you have no “mouse” when using Continuum.
I guess those are the first five MAJOR problems I have with the platform, which come to mind at the moment. It’s one thing to stick with the “underdog” if it was a solid platform – but even 5 months in, it is still a ridiculously bad platform. Like, I can’t believe this ever made it to market.
So that’s it, I hit my limit.
What to get for a phone?
For the first time in 6 years, I took a fresh look at the entire mobile market – what is a good phone to get? Although the iPhone is a nice platform, there are many aspects of it I don’t like – plus, I don’t subscribe to the rest of the Apple ecosystem.
That leaves, pretty much, just Android. Well, in talking with Binoj from CodeRewind – he explained that not all Android phones are junk. In fact, there are several nice, high-end Android devices with great features. So, from reading CodeRewind’s review (of a slightly different OnePlus model) here, and then seeing this great review on YouTube, I decided on a:
This ends up being a pretty great phone! It’s a dual-SIM (for those who have to carry a work phone too), has a comfortable size (5.5”) screen, and has a built-in fingerprint sensor on the bottom for locking and unlocking the phone, among many other great features:
More on tethering vs mobile hotspot:
I telework (a.k.a work-from-home), so that means I need to have professional-level infrastructure and “continuity” plans, just like a business does. I live in Florida, so if a hurricane is heading my way or there is some regional disaster, I need alternative ways to get: power, internet, and phone. I wrote about my strategy a couple of years ago, here.
Anyhow, that’s primarily why I care about tethering. If I grab my work laptop and can tether it to my phone, then I can continue to work. Well, now that I have a proper phone that I can tether to, I decided to try out the different methods.
Android supports sharing it’s internet connection via: Bluetooth, over USB, and as a WiFi hotspot. Also, as discussed, I have a separate mobile hotspot. So, I connected a Windows 10 laptop, each several times, and ran some speed tests (using http://beta.speedtest.net/):
As you can see, I got significantly better speeds when using the external, separate hotspot, as opposed to tether via any technique through my phone.
Bottom line, I think I will hang on to the mobile hotspot for this.
I’ve been pretty aggravated with Windows 10 Phone since I got it, so I’m pretty relieved to have this all resolved. #FirstWorldProblems What’s crazier is that it was super-simple to go from Windows to Android because everything, including all the Microsoft apps I use, are also available on Android.
For example, for music, I use Microsoft Groove Pass. This means that when I am in the truck, I can “pair” the phone with the audio system, and use “bluetooth audio” to listen to music. What’s better is that if I create a playlist on my home PC, it syncs in Groove. Well, Microsoft has a Groove app for Android, so that works exactly like it did with Windows Phone.
Anyhow, since I know a few others who have Windows Phone, I thought I’d share my experience and transition from Windows 10 Mobile, to Android.