iPhone 4 vs. Windows Phone 7 Smartphones: An In-Depth Comparison

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At a press conference today, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Balmer officially unveiled its new Windows Phone 7 operating system for mobile devices, along with nine smartphones by various manufacturers that will carry the software upon its release.

Together with Android devices, smartphones running Windows Phone 7 will be one of the biggest competitors to the iPhone 4 running iOS, so how do the new devices compare to Apple’s already massively popular iPhone?

The comparison chart below compares the iPhone 4 to the nine Windows Phone 7 launch devices:

iPhone 4 with iOS Win7 Mobile Smartphones
Processor Apple A4 Chip (1GHz) 1GHz and up
RAM 512MB 512MB
Internal Storage 16GB or 32GB 8GB-16GB
Camera & Video 5MP with 720p recording 5MP-8MP with 720p recording
Screen 960×640 Retina display WVGA-480×800 super AMOLED
Battery Life 7hrs talk-time
(300hrs standby)
Up to 7hrs talk-time
(Up to 456hrs standby)
Video Calling Yes Yes
GPS Yes Yes
Physical Keyboard No Available on selected devices
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes No


So that’s how the technical specifications square up to each other. Microsoft has tapped up Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung to make the hardware for the first of the Windows Phone 7 devices, and as far as performance goes, each device is pretty similar. The processors are all around the 1GHz mark, and each run 512MB of RAM.

The camera and video recording capabilities of the iPhone and Windows devices are also very much alike: apart from the HTC 7 Mozart which boasts an 8MP camera, the rest of the Windows Phone 7 launch clan sport a 5MP camera with 720p video recording – just like the iPhone 4.

None of the Windows devices have a screen that comes close to the iPhone’s Retina display, but a couple do have physical qwerty keyboards, which will please the likes of Blackberry users who are used to having buttons. You also won’t find a gyroscope in any of the Windows devices, so those that have been impressed with them in the new iPhone will be disappointed. So what about software?

Video demos of Windows Phone 7 in action certainly seem to be pretty impressive, with a fresh, intuitive user interface, greatly improving upon its predecessors. But it’s unclear at this early whether it will be any match for iOS. To compare the operating systems, we’ve highlighted some of the standout areas below.

Multitasking

Windows Phone 7 won’t support multitasking to begin with, a feature that iOS users waited forever for. Just like it did with iOS, however, multitasking may find it’s way on to Windows devices in a future update.

Multimedia

Windows Phone 7 users will use Microsoft’s Zune media player for their music and movies, and the Zune software for PC to sync their media to their handset. This competes with the fantastic iPod application iOS users love, and the iTunes software for Mac and PC that – faults aside – does a pretty good job of syncing everything we want to our iPhones.

iPhone 4

Internet & Email

We’re all familiar with the fantastic Safari and Mail applications built in to iOS; both of which are a great example of how internet and email should be handled on a mobile device. Safari features intuitive touch controls and the ability to save your bookmarks to your home screen, whilst Mail boasts a unified inbox and message threading.

Windows Phone 7 comes with Internet Explorer Mobile, which boasts tabbed browsing and touch controls much like Safari. It also has Outlook Mobile built-in for email which features streamlined account setup for Windows Live, Google, and Yahoo mail accounts, as well as multiple Exchange accounts.

Tethering

Unlike the iPhone, Windows Phone 7 devices don’t currently support internet tethering. However, just like multitasking, this came in a future update to iOS, and the same could happen for Windows.

Flash

I’m sure you’ll already be aware that the iPhone doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash player, and to begin with, Windows Phone 7 won’t either.

Camera

The Camera app for iOS is great for taking quick snaps while you’re on the move, which you can then sync to your computer, send to friends via email or MMS, or upload to your MobileMe gallery. Windows Phone 7 features a “Pictures Hub” which, much like camera roll on iOS, houses your entire picture collection in one place. As well as syncing them to your PC and sending them to your friends, you can also upload your pictures directly to Facebook or Windows Live.

Windows Marketplace logo

Apps & Games

Of course, Microsoft have their own App Store for their Windows Phone 7 devices, called “Marketplace.” Only time will tell whether the Marketplace will becomeas popular as the App Store with regards to the number of quality apps and games available, but big name developers like EA have already committed to developing games for Win7 devices. And with Xbox Live built-in for online gaming, it’s certainly on the right tracks.

Microsoft have their own Office applications built-in, including mobile versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and Powerpoint. Although iOS doesn’t yet boast Apple’s own office applications for the iPhone, there are plenty of third-party office suites available.

Carriers

On launch, Windows Phone 7 devices will be available in 30 countries on 60 cell phone operators. In the U.S., Windows devices will be available on 3 networks including AT&T and T-Mobile, and 7 carriers in Europe including Orange, Vodafone, and O2.

Conclusion

As a huge fan of the iPhone and iOS, I hate to admit that Windows Phone 7 looks pretty impressive. Compared to its Windows Mobile predecessors, it’s a huge improvement; the software looks clean and intuitive and really nice to use. But at this point it’s hard to say whether it’ll be anywhere near as good as iOS. The same goes for the hardware: some of the Windows Phone 7 launch devices look pretty great and provide features that many people find the lacking in the iPhone, like a physical keyboard. However, none of them seem to beat the iPhone 4, and they’re nowhere near as gorgeous.