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TheStreet Open House

Windows Phone 8 Review: Good, But Not Good Enough

The HTC 8X has some modest disadvantages as well. The 1,800 mAh battery is smaller than Nokia and Samsung, although I found the battery life to be competitive with the best products using Android, iOS and Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry operating systems. The lock/power switch is very difficult to use, especially combined with the placement of the volume buttons, often causing you to press both. The corners are very square, perhaps not to everyone's liking. Lastly, I have not yet seen how that wonderful soft-touch back/side material works with someone who wants to add an extra cover/case around it.

Samsung: The Bigger Battery

If you have seen a Galaxy S III, you have pretty much seen the Samsung ATIV. It's a fully competent, very thin, light smartphone with a relatively boring/standard design. Nothing wrong with that! Most importantly, the Samsung has the largest battery of all the new Windows Phones: 2,300 mAh.

Before I outline my criticisms of Windows Phone 8, let me note the system's positives. And yes, for some people these will be sufficient and legitimate reasons to pick Windows Phone 8 over iPhone and Android/Nexus.

Software: The Advantages

1. Skype

Microsoft acquired Skype a year ago, and it will soon (days, weeks?) make available full Skype integration into Windows Phone 8. This is proper Skype, all-IP end-to-end. It will also work in a way that ensures it is connected persistently, but yet does not draw material battery power. No doubt, this is a huge selling point.

2. Microsoft Office

For the remaining souls who have not yet migrated to Google Docs, which I find to be so much better, the Office integration is superb. I might add "obviously" as that brings out the larger point of the vertical services integration for all the major ecosystems: Apple, Microsoft and Google.

3. SkyDrive

Surprise! For reasons similar to Office, SkyDrive integration is great, and SkyDrive is much better than Apple's iCloud. It's not necessarily better than Google Drive, though.

4. Kid's Corner

This is basically a long-overdue "guest mode" for the smartphone industry. It happens all the time that you want or need to hand your phone to someone else, and the ability to put them into "guest mode" is a material advantage. I wonder how long it will take Apple and Google to match this. For the time being, however, this is a strong Microsoft advantage.

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