Sorry, I was up until the wee hours of the morning playing with my new toy.
Now bear in mind that up until now, I was not a SmartPhone user. I've had a Motorola Razor forever, and I only started texting in the past couple of months. I am, however, a Windows developer. I'm not a fanboy, but the platform did have its appeal for that reason.
That being said, here's my quick-and-dirty review from a guy who has never before been swayed into early adoption.
First and foremost, I've never seen a UI before that has absolutely wowed me, and no, not even the iPhone. This did. It's got a few issues, but on the whole it is the cleanest, simplest, most intuitive UI that I've ever seen. The biggest problems I have are in the Marketplace (that'd be App Store to you) and in the 3rd party apps. I don't like wallpaper, especially not here. It distracts and detracts. And though MS has released very specific style guides for the Metro UI, almost no one uses it. I wish they would, because Metro is awesome and theirs nearly universally suck. This mishmash of suckage is one of my primary reasons for disliking Android.
As for social networking, I like the integration. I am a Facebook user, especially for keeping up with distant friends and relatives, and it is nice to have all of my contacts organized sensibly by person. Though I've finally admitted that I rarely use my phone to make calls anymore, this integration of text, voice, email, and social makes a lot of sense in what is still primarily a communications device. I continue to disagree with the criticism that this makes it not a SmartPhone. One thing that is lacking in the UI is notification of FB alerts, which should be present in both the Live tile and the "People" interface.
I also like the Exchange integration. I texted my boss to flip the switch on the server, entered my email and password, and boom - Full email and calandar synch. Beautiful.
There has also been criticism of the lack of an integrated mailbox. I love that lack. I configured 2 live tiles, one for Outlook and one for Gmail. All of my domain hosted personal email is aggregated into gMail (I never actually use my gMail address), so I have POP accounts which function very much like IMAP, with Google being the server, and I have Exchange for work, and never the two shall meet. I wish MS would add a gMail-type IMAP service to their Windows Live platform, because frankly, I hate the gMail interface.
Threaded email - Here's another debate point. I love the concept of threaded email, but I hate gMail's implentation of it. I wish that WP7 had a good implementation, but for my use, I don't miss it.
Calendar implementation is perfect. Perfect. There's absolutely nothing I would change about it. It keeps your personal appointments off Exchange, and work appointments off of Windows Live, but displays the aggregate. And it's damn nice looking, and damn easy to use.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room - Apps. There aren't a whole lot, but remember I'm not a current SmartPhone user, so I don't know what I "need" yet. I downloaded about a dozen free ones already though. Overall, I like the organization of installed apps (list view with search) but I dislike the Marketplace interface. I also don't like the lack of UI standardization. It would be nice if MS enforced Live Tile integration and UI at a minimum. Second, MS really needs to roll out hardware APIs for current devices. Third, and I don't know if it's the app developers or the APIs, but they could and should be integrated a lot better. Fourth, MS needs to start pushing Cloud framework and Windows Live integration for apps. Lastly, if they want to kick start their biggest weakness, they need to drop the yearly fee for developers and bring some apps to market.
As for hardware, the Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Focus is beyond compare. It has clarity and a richness of color that I have never seen on a screen before. It's light, thin, and the firmware buttons are great, with a slight buzzing tactile feedback. The camera is pretty good, but not quite as good as I hoped. The instant access button is one of those little things that makes a huge difference. However, the device does feel pretty fragile.
The Bad (highlights):
- Alarms are quiet. I wish there were a way to max out the volume irrespective of the system volume settings.
- No constant, visual WiFi/3G notification. If I'm paying for data, I want to know when I'm off WiFi.
- Likewise, I should be able to set email to synch only when on WiFi. I might be able to, but I didn't see the setting.
- I really wish I could swap out IE for Chrome.
- Needs better app integration
- No tethering/hotspotting
- No native GPS software. I'm not paying AT&T $10/mo for that.
- Haven't gotten into it yet, but as far as I can tell the Zune software doesn't support wireless synch (bluetooth or WiFi).
- No copy & paste
- Poor text selection/cursor positioning ability.
- Strange and inconsistient "back" button behavior.
But at least so far, no reboot has been needed. On the whole, I would highly recommend this device. Out of all the available platforms, MS seems best poised to move to the Cloud. They need to do it soon and do it right, because UIs get stale fast, and that functionality is going to be what makes this platform worth it.