Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows: Another Chance at Windows Phone

There are very few phones that I have had that I have absolutely loved. The Note 7 is very much on the list, but my various Windows Phones absolutely make the top of the list. I started my love of Windows Phone with the Samsung Focus back in 2011 or so, when it was just a mere penny for a two-year contract. Back when Windows Phone 7 was the only different and exciting platform, at least to my eyes. I switched to an iPhone after almost a year due to me shattering the screen. But there was always that desire for the iPhone for the fact that apps were just there, and everyone was on iMessage. I then decided to switch back and get the Nokia Lumia 920. Windows Phone 7.5 was a good step, but Windows Phone 8 was gorgeous. However, my first 920 accumulated dust in the front-facing camera somehow, which was covered under my warranty, and my second 920's vibration motor stopped working. AT&T very nicely upgraded me for free for being delightful, I can only assume, and I got the top of the line Nokia Lumia 1520 in red of course. Because who else had a red phone? It was either that to stand out or yellow, another choice great choice. However, I was getting antsy about a year into using the phone. Snapchat had at the time just pulled 6snap, an excellent Snapchat client made by Rudy Huyn, other apps just weren't getting updates or showing up on the platform, and it just seemed like Microsoft was giving up. So I switched to an iPhone 6 Plus. Again, the iPhone is a solid platform, but it just lacks that oomph, that pizzazz, and other synonyms of fun. Then I switched to a Note 4, then a Moto X Pure, then an S6 Active, then a Nexus 6P, then a OnePlus 3, then Note 7 that I wanted to keep, and now the LG V20. The Note 7 was the last phone I have ever had that felt different for a good reason. I would've liked to keep that phone, but the battery had other plans. The LG V20 is a great phone for features, but after viewing the fun that looked like Windows 10 Mobile, I decided to give it another go.

I decided to go with an Alcatel Idol 4S, mainly because of the price on T-Mobile: $288! For a top of the line phone with great specs, and an attractive design, that's a huge reason I went with the phone. Its Samsung Galaxy S6 design makes it slippery in the hand, but it very much feels like a premium phone. The phone has room for expansion with a micro SD card slot, and even has a dedicated camera button, but this isn't like a classic Windows Phone with a two-stage button, it only clicks once. Honestly, that is fine because of its placement in the middle of the phone's side, and not closer to the bottom where it is comfortable to press. It features a 21 MP rear-facing camera, and whatever MP front-facing camera. High numbers are great on paper, but they don't translate well to actual pictures. The Lumia 1520 I had had a 20 MP camera, and that was phenomenal. This camera is less than so. Pictures in bright light are great, but not so much in low light. The battery is 3000 mAH, which again, high numbers are great on paper, but here they're also great in use. The battery life is really nice with heavy use. Now nice hardware is great and all, but this phone's possible drawback is in software.

If you care about beautiful design, a fresh interface, and incredible usefulness in almost every part of the operating system, this is your platform. This is not your platform if you care about apps. Yes, there are the major ones, except for Snapchat. The problem is the major ones may not work well. Almost every app takes just too long to load, and have reliability issues. Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify to name just a few simply don't work as well as their iOS and Android versions. However, after seven years of Windows Phone, apps are not the reason you get a Windows Phone. My reason to switching? Continuum. This phone can either plug into or wirelessly connect to a monitor and display a full Windows desktop. Of course, it can't run classic Windows programs, but I can use one device for any setup. For many, this may not be a special feature, but for me, this is exciting. Plus the overall interface for Windows 10 Mobile never gets old. It's fresh and filled with great ideas, like Cortana, which just feels smarter than Siri or Google Now. Another great reason to pick this phone is the Start screen. The live tiles have been a major draw in since Windows Phone 7, and they're just as useful. They work better than widgets on Android because you don't have to think about setting up a widget, it just shows up where you pin the app. It also allows for the greatest amount of customization than any other launcher. There is no Windows Hello iris scanner, but Windows Hello is still used for the fingerprint scanner on the back on the phone, which is way too slow to unlock. The speakers on this phone are both front and rear facing and in stereo, so they sound great. Plus the 1080p OLED screen is vibrant and a delight.

This phone does a lot of things well in both hardware and software design, but Windows 10 Mobile just falls short with weird quirks, where other areas are well thought out. If Microsoft could just speed up the operating system a bit, fix some Bluetooth issues that cause music to glitch a bit, and just squash some odd bugs here and there, Windows 10 Mobile would be perfect, and as it is, it serves as a great reference for how a mobile operating system should be designed. It's unknown what Microsoft envisions for the future of Windows 10 Mobile, as the company doesn't discuss it too much anymore, but with some developer love, and TLC from Microsoft, it would make a great third place alternative smartphone that we still need.

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