Recently, Microsoft sent me a phone with Mango on it. I want to make that clear, not only because it is the law, but because when I review a product I want people to know the background. It doesn’t really matter that Microsoft sent me the phone, it doesn’t impact my review. If, after using Mango for several weeks, I thought it was terrible, I would say so, free phone or no. Also, keep in mind, I am not reviewing the phone itself; I am reviewing the operating system. But just to get it out of the way, the Samsung I received is a nice, solid phone. (I also think I will be sending it back.)
What did I think of Mango
What really struck me when I set up the new phone was how easy it was. I turned the phone on, worked my way through the on-screen directions, and was set. Now, I am comfortable with technology, but even I have issues from time to time setting up a new phone. This was not at all the case with Mango. I actually remember thinking, as the phone was ready to go in less than 5 minutes, “wow, that was easy.”
Having owned both an iPhone (3 and 3s) and an Android (Evo and Photon) I can say, unequivocally, Mango’s set up was faster, smoother and more obvious than any other phone. The ease of setup translated into other aspects of the phone.
Mango is different
Mango looks different from anything else I have seen. It is arranged in tiles that are easily and smoothly used to navigate through the phone. It can create tiles based on what you use, and allows you to create your own tiles.
Previous Windows phones had tiles, but not as much freedom. I like the way Mango is set up, the evolution of the tile system works well. Another review called the tile system “glance and go.” I think that is a good way of putting it. That said, the title system is very different. It takes some getting used to. I bet people like it or hate it. I liked it.
Not surprising for a Microsoft product, Mango uses Internet explorer. Internet Explorer has never my favorite product, but it works quite nicely on the phone. Also, the search is, of course, Bing. Bing is a nice search engine, just never has caught on as compared to Google. It is very easy to search both the phone and the Internet.
Mango is great for social media
Mango has apps that work very nicely with your usual social media sites. Its integration works as well as anything I have seen on any other phone. I think I can give it an edge over both iPhone and Android. The tile system helps here.
Mango lets you put people into groups so you can easily communicate with people. It helps with the crazy number of contacts we have these days. In essence, you can set up groups so you can easily text or email them with the press of a tile. So, if I am constantly emailing my co-workers, instead of having to create a new email and put in each person’s name, I can simply use my group to communicate quickly.
Mango plays well with music
One of the negatives of Android is that it doesn’t have a system like iTunes, so managing music is a bit of a pain. Microsoft has Zune and not surprisingly Mango works very well with it. As a result, Mango phones are great music players. Mango also works with a new Spotify app.
Microsoft provides services
Another similarity to an iPhone, because Mango is a consistent system offered by one company, it is supported by that one company. Android varies from phone to phone, so the support varies as well. When you get a Mango phone you use it in concert with your Windows Live ID. This provides a bunch of neat tools, including the ability to wipe your phone should it be lost. iPhone has this, Android, you have to buy an app.
The big thing on the iPhone 4S has been Siri, the cool looking/sounding voice recognition. Well, Mango is perfectly capable of telling you what to do as well. Is it quite as advanced as Siri? No, I don’t think it is. But I am willing to bet, given all of the attention paid to Siri, both Android and Microsoft will be working up something to compete with Siri very soon.
When I had an iPhone, I rarely experienced crashes, but from time to time I had issues with freezing. On an Android, because of the variation in software and lack of control over apps, crashes of applications are much more frequent. I didn’t experience any crashes or freezing on the Mango phone. In fairness to both iPhones and Androids, I didn’t use the phone in a true fashion, i.e. I was specifically playing with it for writing a review, I didn’t use it in a day-to-day way.
Mango has a universal email/messaging system. This means that you can combine all of your email addresses into one tile. This is very convenient instead of having to jump from account to account as I currently do with my Android or had to do with an iPhone. It also has a very nice Calendar.
One problem though is that Microsoft wants us to do everything Microsoft. I’d like to see Microsoft play better with Google. It simply needs to.
When I say maps/directions I mean turn by turn directions provided by a voice. The Mango service is on par with, if not better than Android. Of course it works with Bing instead of Google Maps.
Creating Documents/Working with Office
The benefits of being Microsoft: playing well with your own products. The ability to work with the software is very nice. Microsoft also offers free cloud storage, Skydrive
I recall, when I first decided to get an Android phone, everyone said Android wouldn’t catch on because there were no apps. Here’s the reality, Android caught on and the apps followed. If Mango catches on, the apps will follow. Actually, Mango will be easier to create apps for than Android, because there are so many different version of Android out there. There is only one Mango, as there is only one up-to-date iPhone software. So if the phones sell, the apps will come. In fact, new apps are being released every day.
If you are thinking about switching to a Windows phone and there are apps you cannot live without, check first and see if the same or a similar app is available. Also look at web-based apps that might serve the same purpose.
I like Mango. I like it a lot. Actually, I am a bit sad that Microsoft sent me an AT&T phone instead of a Sprint phone. If they had sent me a Sprint phone, I probably would have switched over from my Android to see how I felt about using Mango on a day-to-day basis.
The stability, the ease of use, the integration with Windows products, these are all major pluses. As far as negatives, those mainly come down to whether you like the tile system and the lack of applications. Also, while I realize it is Microsoft, it needs to learn to play well with other companies. iPhone had the same painful lesson when it came to Google Voice. Guess what, Google Voice is on the iPhone (it is available on Windows phones too.)
One of my hesitations in recommending Android to my attorney clients has been the complexity of the operating system for those who don’t have the time or inclination to want to work through setting something up. I don’t have any hesitation in this regard when it comes to Mango. In fact, visual people will find Mango easier to use. The tiles are easier to read than is text. Especially if you have eyesight issues.
The bottom line
If you are considering a Windows phone, I suggest you head over to a store and try one out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.