Saturday, December 17, 2011

Windows Phone vs. iPhone–The Winner for Teachers


My district has been offering two new phones to administrators and managers; the Windows 7 (Mango) phone, and the iPhone 4S.  They also offer some less fancy options that may appeal to people who “just need a phone”.  But which of these two options would be best in education?  I got to handle both of them, and then went and consulted some very smart guys who sell phones for a living.


Both the phones have a great interface.  I am used to the arrangement of the icons on screens on the iPhone.  This has been around for years, and it is what people have come to expect.  A very short learning curve – and consistent with the iPad. 

(photo from

imageThe windows phone uses tiles, and like icons they can be rearranged.  However, because of their large surface, tiles can display a small thumbnail of information – like when someone posts a new photo on facebook.  You don’t see a notification – you see the photo!  Pretty cool.  I would say as far as accessibility and navigation, they were both pretty smooth.  The Windows phone (an HTC HD7)  has a slightly larger display – easy on the eyes and easier for texting with. 

Overall – Tie

(photo from


The iPhone 4 and 4S are made of a durable glass.  The front and back are made of the same durable glass – but it’s still glass.  If you drop it, you will crack it.  According to the sales guys, you must put it in a case.  Apparently, some people have a different case for their iPhone for each day of the week.  When I asked the sales guys in different locations why they thought apple went with glass as opposed to the original metal back, they said '”look and feel”. 

It does feel really good in the hand, but would I keep it out of the case?

The HTC HD7 Windows phone has has a combination of plastic and metal back.  It has a little hinge around the camera which is intended to prop the phone at an angle like a desk or bedroom clock.  That’s all well and good, but anytime you build a part that moves, that part will potentially break.  But, this part will probably last for 3 years, and after that people will move on to a new phone.

Edge – Windows phone.

Social Networking 

Commercials tout that Windows and Microsoft products are for business-y people, and that  iPhone is for people who want to have a phone for work and play.  While there are apps for every social network in the iTunes store, the Windows phone makes connections between the people you know, all the networks they are a part of, and seamlessly allows you to follow your conversations with them throughout many social networks.  Someone sends you a message through LinkedIn, but you can also see other ways they have communicated with you, such as tweets and email.  All at one point of contact – the person’s picture. 

No one else has this.  There is no app for this.  Android can’t do this. Seamless integration of multiple networks.  Slick.  

Edge – Windows phone


Productivity and Multimedia

I love the idea of iCloud.  It’s just like Mesh by Microsoft.  Haven’t heard of mesh?  I am not sure a lot of people have, but it is Microsoft's cloud solution.  Its been around for a couple years now.

However in our district, we try to be conscious of FIOPPA – a law that tells us not to host our students information on 3rd party server in the states.  So sending our student’s report cards to a US cloud service is not allowed.  However, our district uses SharePoint websites to post lessons, homework, and host documents.  Once we move to SharePoint 2010, we could use a Windows Phone to send files to and from our own internal SharePoint sites. 

Edge – Windows phone

When it comes to camera and video, I liked the iPhone better for making minor edits to my photos.  Facetime is also something that is not available on other platforms, but I wonder if I could put Skype on a windows phone, and video conference that way? 

Edge – iPhone


The windows phone market is not as big as the iTunes store.  Also, there are a lot of really good apps in the iTunes store specifically targeted towards education.  Also these apps, and the iPhone itself dovetails very nicely with the iPad.  Currently, there is no good windows alternative for the iPad, which is being brought into classrooms everywhere by students and teachers alike. 

Will there be more growth in the Windows Market?  I think yes, but for now:

Edge – iPhone

Final Verdict

Who should buy a Windows phone?  I think educational leaders should.  It would be great for networking, and securely moving their digital resources around our district.  I would like to see my district leaders building a pln, and always carrying their presentations, important documents, and professional reading with them.  How cool would it be if the superintendent of schools had a lull between meetings, so they pull out their phone and get caught up on some reading or paperwork? 

So who should buy an iPhone?  It’s all down to personal choice, but I think teachers should still pick the iPhone over the Windows phone (for now).  It has more apps, including apps that are made for education.  It works with the iPad and iPod touch which many students are bringing into the classroom.  Just don’t drop it, and always keep it in a case.

My next phone will probably be an iPhone. But for now, I have to perform a factory reset on my Android phone. For the second time. Argh.


Brian Kuhn said...

James, nicely balanced view. Actually Microsoft's cloud is now Sky Drive and integrates very nicely into the WP7.

My opinion... the WP7 is more interesting, sleek, and effective of a user experience than the alternatives. I played with voice commands (open apps, search, text, call, etc.), voice text, voice interaction today - actually works very well - I said "text Doug ***" and it found him, asked me if I wanted to speak my test, I said yes and did - I said "Hey Doug just wanting to confirm you guys are coming for dinner Sunday" and it texted exactly that. When Doug's reply arrived, it said "new text message from Doug ***, do you want me to read it to you". I said "yes" and it read the reply to me. It asked if I wanted to reply, I said "no". I wonder how Siri on the iPhone differs? It's actually cooler which is odd for Microsoft...

The main benefits of the iPhone are the number of apps available and the interest from developers to create more and if you have an iPad, ability to share apps for free between your devices. Other than that, I would say Apple has some innovating to do to catch up - ironic me thinks...

James Gill said...

With regards to the number of apps available for WP7 - if there are not so many there now, does this not present an opportunity? A growth market? I say yes. It's all tools in the toolbox.

About voice commands, my android did a pretty good job with Vlingo, which is free for android. But lately I have encountered a lot of problems with Android.

I think there is only a couple of key differences between iPhone and Windows Phone 7 based on abilities. Will Microsoft make it a priority to narrow the gap; will they market it better? That's the difference.