BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — There’s a curious flipside to Microsoft’s iron-grip on the minimum specs for Windows 7 phones: They’re pretty much all alike. This is clearly to Microsoft’s advantage — who cares what brand is on the box as longs as it runs Windows? But it makes it hard to write much about new handsets unless they have great style (Nokia) or, say, a fancy camera. And so there is almost nothing to say about the ZTE Orbit.
The Orbit has a 1GHz processor, runs the Tango II version of Windows 7 Phone Series, has a big-but-not-too-big four-inch display and sees through a 5MP camera. But start the thing up and you’re confronted with the exact same silky-smooth but inscrutable interface. You swipe around, but not much happens.
Don’t get me wrong: I like Windows Phone quite a bit. It may be because I’m so used to the new Apple way of doing things, which is to go to the application first and then think what to do next. Window Phone has me, oddly, thinking in a more document-centric way, ie. what do I want to do? Maybe this is because the demo units never have enough apps installed. If so, the likes of ZTE might want to do something about that.
So there you are. If you want a Windows Phone (and why not, with the announcement of Windows 8 coming Wednesday) then you will probably want something from Nokia. It seems like there’s something to be said for tying hardware and software close together. Now where have we heard that before?