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8 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Windows Phone

Rumors are swirling that Microsoft is about to give the OS the boot soon, which leads us to wonder: Is it worth buying a Windows Phone?
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Windows Phone

It's becoming increasingly difficult to recommend that anyone buy a Windows Phone.

According to IDC, Microsoft's platform commanded just a 2.7% share of the worldwide smartphone market in the first three months of 2015. Android and iOS are the runaway winners, and that seems to have been confirmed by the recent news that Microsoft will shed 7,800 jobs in the company's phone division, leading many to wonder whether the OS' days are numbered.

That said, Microsoft isn't throwing in the towel and abandoning its smartphone platform just yet. Windows 10 is around the corner, and it will be accompanied by Windows 10 phones; but if you're considering buying a Windows Phone right now, there are plenty of reasons to think twice. Here are eight things you need to know.

Microsoft May Abandon, Which Means No Support for the OS and Apps

There's a very real risk that Microsoft is sliding towards abandoning its phone platform altogether. It won't happen overnight, but the impact of such a move would be devastating. Even the news about recent lay-offs will have an impact on the wider ecosystem of app developers and service providers working with Windows Phone. They aren't going to continue to update — and in some cases support — the platform if it's perceived to be a lost cause, which may be the way some feel already.

However, Your Data Might Be Usable on Other Platforms

The good news is that Microsoft is working towards expanding its ecosystem onto other platforms. Realistically, it's easy to use Microsoft services on Android or iOS, so if you do have to jump ship from Windows, it shouldn't be a terrible wrench to shift your data.

But Your Phone Will Be Worthless

While you might be able to salvage your data if Microsoft abandons the OS, the same can't be said for your investments in the platform, like your device, accessories, and apps. Not only does that stuff become useless to you, but it will also be hard to sell the hardware and recoup any of your investment if the platform dies.

There's Already a Lack of Apps...

In the race for mobile platform supremacy, Windows Phone has always lagged behind Android and iOS. There are well over a million apps and games in both Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. The last confirmed count for Windows Phone was 300,000. Microsoft now says there are 585,000 apps in the Windows and Windows Phone Store combined. It's not just about the numbers, though, it's about the big name omissions and the relatively poor quality of what's there.

...Many of Which Are Merely Adapted for Windows Phone

Very few, if any, apps were designed for Windows Phone first. The quality on iOS is higher and the prices on Android tend to be lower. If you had to pick just one reason why Windows Phone has failed, it would be apps. If you really love your apps and games, don't buy a Windows Phone.

There's Poor App Support

It's not just the fact that there are fewer apps for Windows Phone, or even that they're poorer quality, it's also the lack of support. Apps in the Windows Phone Store are updated less regularly. Many of them have never been updated. It simply isn't worth the effort for app developers to keep improving their wares on Windows Phone when sales figures and revenue remain so low. Even some of the big name apps on Windows Phone lack features that are present in their Android and iOS counterparts.

Few Hardware Choices

It was recently revealed by AdDuplex that Microsoft makes 97% of the Windows Phone devices on the market. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has made it clear that the firm will make far fewer handsets in the future, which is partly what the lay-offs are about. There's no real incentive for other manufacturers to pick the Windows platform. Even when Microsoft started waiving licensing fees, there was no noticeable uptake in hardware. That means your choice of phone is going to be very limited.

You could argue the same about iOS, but Apple's track record in making desirable smartphones speaks for itself. Hardware design has never been Microsoft's strong suit. One of the biggest problems for the platform is that it has never had a stunning flagship to go head-to-head with the latest iPhone or Galaxy S from Samsung. It could prove tough to find a phone you really like that runs Windows.

You Should Wait for Windows Phone 10 Before Buying

When Microsoft rebooted Windows Phone and went from WP7 to WP8, it didn't allow owners of WP7 devices to upgrade. It seems to have learned from that failure, and intends to push updates to Windows 10 directly to users with WP8 or 8.1 devices, but in some cases the carriers are going to make this difficult to do or delay it. If you're thinking about going for a Windows Phone, it would be prudent to wait until Windows 10 is released, check out the reviews, the available hardware, and the general reaction. If you buy now, you may be stuck on an older version of the platform.

One of the main potential advantages of Windows 10 is this idea that it will be easy for developers of Windows apps to make their software run on Windows Phone as well, but there's a good chance you'll need decent hardware to take advantage. Will a mid-range WP8 device be able to handle it? Possibly not. The smart move is to wait and see what Windows 10 brings. You have to look before you leap, and leaping right now is putting a lot of blind faith in Microsoft.

Readers, are any of your devout Windows Phone fans? Would you recommend the OS and ecosystem? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Simon is a technology journalist with a background in games development. He is fascinated by all things tech, particularly mobile and videogames, and he loves to share that passion with other tech fans.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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13 comments
AMRooke
I really don't understand the obsession with so many writers about the low market penetration in %. What really matters is real numbers. Why should any business ignore 6 million potential customers (the number of WP subscribers with US carriers)? To put it into perspective, that is the same as app developers saying they do not want to write apps for residents of Chicago and Houston; 5 million residents, 1.6% of the US, clearly worth just ignoring these potential customers according to the same flawed logic.

Writers must stop spreading this useless statistic. Focus instead on the relative merits and flaws of the devices and OS themselves, and let the markets decide. When I did that, WP was the clear winner for me and my business.
Theclerk74
Not the best article out there. A lot of opinion being passed off as fact, which will unfortunately be believed by readers not knowledgeable in the subject. I would also say to wait a few months for the two flagship phones to come out. The Lumia 930 and 1520 are good phones, but not up to par with current Android flagships or iPhone.

On a positive note, the author's lack of knowledge has inspired me to become a contributing writer myself!
Travis9x
This has got to be one of the most slanted and biased articles I've ever read. As if that wasn't bad enough, a lot of the "information" the article tries to provide is simply wrong.
But unfortunately, this site doesn't allow enough characters in a comment for me to properly point everything wrong in the article. So, I'll just have to post my corrections elsewhere, and include a link to it here...if this site will let me.
https://www.facebook.com/...posts/1631912030354786
ThePublisher
Windows 10 phones should be excellent. Anything before that I have no idea why you wouldn't have just gotten an Android phone.
HeyBor
TERRIBLE ARTICLE. I can tell you based it on nothing but the doom and gloom articles from the likes of TheVerge and Engadget. Spend 95% of your write-up telling everyone to avoid WP like the plague, then finish it with a couple sentences saying that yes Win10 might change things and sprinkling your own uninformed opinion as to what hardware would support these apps is just making me smh. What's the point of this post if you're just going to jump on the bandwagon calling the platform dead without having actually tried it yourself? Do some actual research and calling it 8 things is really stretching it.

-7,800 jobs were cut from the hardware division which has been reorg'd to Windows & Devices Group
-The CEO has confirmed that they are not giving up on WP and it's they're not trying to beat iOS/Android with WP

Here's a real article about the direction of MS as it relates to WP: http://www.zdnet.com/...ws-and-devices-businesses/
utjunkie
Keep in mind that they are shedding 7,800 jobs in their HARDWARE division. This does not mean they are nuking the Windows Phone OS. It means they could be focusing on making only 1-2 phones, instead of the giant list of phones currently offered. Kinda makes sense as Apple does just fine selling only 2 devices (6 and 6 plus, and older models).
digitalmonkeys
Windows app store is filled with bogus apps and malware knock-offs. You just don't see that on Android. To those people that complain about the price of Android phones, you are uninformed. Do some shopping outside of Best Buy or your carrier's store. You can get entry level Android phones for under $100 and feature-full phones for under $200. My Android doesn't lock up, doesn't glitch, I have name brand apps, 5" screen, quad-core processor, great camera, and I paid under $200. And, I'm not worried about it going away anytime soon. ;)
rvz22
You couldn't pay me to use a Windows phone. I owned a Nokia N8 (Symbian OS) before they partnered with Microsoft. When I had an issue, I could actually talk to a person who could possibly help. Once they partnered with Microsoft, customer support went poof and I had to PAY in order to talk to a live person. If you've ever tried to talk to someone from Microsoft regarding your operating system on your PC, then you know what you'll have to deal with in regards to a Windows phone. Not thanks, I'll pass.
MrJFK
Windows 10 on the phone is the same Windows 10 that will ship on desktops and tablets. They're not going to abandon a platform and leave you without OS support during the lifetime of a typical phone. They're still supporting Vista!

I think you'll see MS consolidate into a select number of phones and push the continuum angle. At that point you'll have a functional, lower end computer in your pocket that also serves as a phone.

I dropped my 1520 a couple of months ago and shattered the screen, so I bought my first iPhone (a 6+) to try out until WP10 flagships are available. Can't wait to get back to an OS that has a soul.
NerdPatrick
I'm a devout Windows Phone fan - I've owned 5 Windows Phones since the early days of Windows Phone 7 for Phones (had to sneak the old, long, redundant title in!).

Sure, Windows Phone may not have all the apps that people are clamoring about, but at the end of the day, it's still is a phone - a darn good phone. The great thing about the Windows Phone OS is that it runs great on just about any hardware - whether you are using a Lumia 520 or a Lumia 1520 or HTC One M8 (for Windows). It's efficient through and through.

I do agree with the article on waiting for Windows 10 for phones - there will be the awesome Continuum feature coming to the new hardware, which will let you use the phone as a computer! Not to mention MS is rolling out tools to Android and iOS developers where they can easily port their apps over to Windows (desktop and mobile) with minimal effort.
Anthony S Jennings
I think Windows phones are a bit dead in the water. But they're pretty damn good phones on Windows 8.1.

I was a fan of the Metro UI from the Zune days (I owned two Zunes) but the utter lack of apps on Windows Phone 7 led me to abandon it for Android. Luckily I was able to unload my WP7 Dell phone for a good price.

Last month I decided to buy a non-carrier, unlocked Lumia 640XL Dual SIM LTE as a backup for my iPhone 6 Plus. Huge screen, nice color options, expandable storage and two SIM slots! After powering it on I found sufficient apps like WhatsApp, all the Lumia apps and a bunch of others. And just leaving it on standby I get 9 days on one charge.

So, Windows Phone will probably go away. I get a really nice souvenir out of it, and a great phone too.
garezangel
My family and I have been using Windows phones since they first came out. And we LOVE them! Yes there's a few less apps but how many apps does one need? And I think some of the app developers are just being stingy when they don't offer certain apps (ex. SnapChat) because he doesn't like Windows. Really? That's stupid. We love how it syncs with our computer and lets face it. Most of them are way more affordable than some other costly brands. My first Windows phone I had for 4 years without a single problem. And it still works perfectly. I only purchased a new one because I needed a bigger phone. Why does everyone always pick on Windows phone. Not everyone can afford or like Apple products. And for what a nice Samsung Galaxy costs I could buy a new computer. Ridiculous! Windows all the way for us! Sorry.