After three years with an iPhone and two weeks with my Windows Phone I think can say that I’m in a reasonable position to compare.
iPhone is—to my taste—far better looking. Compact, sleek, with screen icons it would be no exaggeration to say are radiant. The Lumia (in spite of its name) is dull by comparison. Big and, for some reason, droppable, with the flat Windows Phone tiles that are oh so drab compared to the beautifully etched iPhone skeuomorphs. You can spice them up, re-size and customize them but the start screen is still a long way from the iPhone’s crisp and shimmering surface.
Although much bigger than the iPhone, and cumbersome to handle with it, the Lumia offers some compensations for its large size: web pages are more usable than on the iPhone as there’s more screen available. Locating the back button (not the Web back button) and the Search button outside the screen area makes better use of the screen itself though it does cause inadvertent “backing up”. The side mounted home button, which it’s easy to confuse with the camera or even the volume button, is clunky by comparison with the iPhone Home button but again it makes more screen space available. That said, there’s a screen double tap Home button replacement but I don’t always find it to work, while the persistent time display which stays awake even when the phone’s asleep is a welcome improvement over the iPhone, which requires a Home key press followed by a swipe. This is set by default to time out after 15 minutes but can be configured for always on visibility via the Glance control, albeit at a cost to battery life.
The Nokia Lumia allows me to easily browse Microsoft secure sites for the first time. The iPhone is well known not to support Flash, but lack of support for Silverlight does not make news, even though it’s a regular pain for Microsoft partners who need to use Microsoft secure sites like VLSC, MPN & PSX.
The relatively poor App support for Windows Phone as against iPhone and Android is, I suspect, more important to press reviewers and pundits ticking boxes than it is to users who are looking for a good range of functional accessories. Standard Apps that felt like they were exclusive to iPhone users (Shazam & Viber for example) are easy to find. So far I haven’t found anything indispensable on the iPhone that I wasn’t able to draw down from the Nokia Store. Some pleasant surprises: The Amazon Kindle App: who needs a Kindle when you have such a serviceable pocket sized reader as the Lumia? So far I’ve only downloaded free books just to test readability and usability but I’m impressed with my first: Victory, by Joseph Conrad. A heavyweight literary tome to some, this was such a delight to me when I first read it in the London Tube about 30 years ago that I thought it was the ideal novel to test on the mini Kindle that is the Lumia. I’m hooked all over again (I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to get lost while travelling.) Photosynth works very nicely with the excellent Lumia camera (with its multiple software lenses) and may just convince me to leave my full-size Olympus at home for good.
And of course there’s the full Office 365 integration. The iPhone did a very good job with Exchange ActiveSync (I wouldn’t have bought one without it) but full integration with O365 and SkyDrive is a definite plus for Windows & PC users. The interface is fluent, fast and predictable, offering the continuity between devices that only Apple could offer 3-5 years ago. iTunes? Never heard of it.