iPhone vs. Windows Smartphone

Which one is "better" - the iPhone or the Windows Smartphone? That's the question that many gadget-loving road warriors and cell-phone geeks are asking these days...

Here is my personal take:

I've been a big proponent of smartphone technology for a long time, and have been chasing the "perfect smartphone" for a while. Specifically, I've been hooked on using Windows Smartphone devices, because of the seamless integration with Outlook and the resulting automatic synchronization of all my contacts, calendar entries, tasks, notes, and e-mail over the air. And my favorite Smartphone so far was the Cingular/AT&T 8525. To meet a new business partner on the road, enter their contact details into the smartphone, and find the same person automatically in Outlook when you get back to the office is simply great - same goes for calendar entries.

So when my wife wanted a new iPhone when it came out, I was very sceptical. Sure, I do use an iPod Video and have been a big fan of the early Macs from 1986-1996, but I could no conceive of how the iPhone could offer anything to me - especially since my AT&T 8525 device had it all: UMTS, Wi-Fi, Push-Email, Windows-based Smartphone, PDF Reader, Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Video, etc.

It took just one week.

I played with her new iPhone while we were in New York. I played with her new iPhone at home. I played with her new iPhone on the boat. After a few days she said "Buy your own iPhone!"...

So I did (at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in NY) and I haven't touched the Windows Smartphone since.

The reason is very simple: UI design, UI design, and UI design! Just like with any great piece of software on the computer, it all boils down to the design of the user interface. Apple has managed to pack the essential applications into the device in such a way, that I actually started using them. Sure, the Windows Smartphone had a browser (Pocket IE), but it pales in comparison to the Safari browser that comes with the iPhone. Integrating Google Maps into the iPhone was a stroke of genius - it's so easy to use that I actually use it. Technically, I could have used it on the Windows Smartphone, and I even did once or twice. But I use it on the iPhone on a daily basis: to find a restaurant, get the phone number for a school, get the doctor's number, or just look up the way, if the car GPS is confused again (which happens a lot in Boston!).

E-Mail connectivity with our corporate Exchange server works great, and the difference between Push-Email and email that gets polled every 15 minutes is unnoticeable in reality.

Sure, I'm missing out on over-the-air synchronization of my contacts and calendar at the moment, but Apple has already licensed ActiveSync from Microsoft, so it's only a matter of time, before that will work on the iPhone. And until then I happily plug my iPhone into the laptop once a day to sync my contacts and calendar.

Bottom-line: even though the Windows Smartphone has some technological advantages (UMTS, Push-Email, over-the-air sync), the iPhone wins this comparison easily with the best UI design I've ever seen on a mobile phone plus it's 1/4 the thickness of the Smartphone and has a much larger screen!

Here's another reason why this XML aficionado likes the iPhone: it's all Web 2.0 based and you know what that means. Yup, it's using XML to talk to the servers!

UPDATE: Apple just annouced that the iPhone price has been reduced by $200 - what are you waiting for - go and get your iPhone now!