Editorial: The Problem With Windows Phone Reviews

Last night a number of Nokia Lumia 900 reviews were published on many major tech sites. In general the reviews were very positive, but there were a couple negative reviews. Negative reviews are fine if they are deserved, but I felt like a few of the reviews were uncharacteristically unfair. There are a few things I think contributed to this.

First off, if you think someone reviews a Windows Phone badly because they “hate Microsoft” or some other nonsense you are dead wrong. The people that write for general tech sites pride themselves on being unbiased and lovers of all things tech. Not only that, but it is literally their job to provide fair assessments.

The first problem I have is that most of these reviews are being written by people who use Android and iOS as their daily phones. Look no further than Windows Phone market share and that’s not exactly a surprise. But these reviewers are not supposed to be the average consumer. Their job is to be the expert so the average smartphone buyer doesn’t have to be. There are certain things that make it obvious that some of these reviewers don’t fully understand Windows Phone, and that is a shame considering their opinion is all that matters to a chunk of potential buyers.

The other thing I have a problem with is their assessment of the “ecosystem” and apps. This goes back to the last point about not fully understanding Windows Phone. A Windows Phone device does not rely on apps like other platforms. If you uninstall all the apps on Android and iOS you’re left with an OS that can’t really do much more than make phone calls and send text messages. A stock Windows Phone can identify songs, scan barcodes, send Tweets, check Facebook, navigate with maps, etc. And I’m not even counting the web browser. And if you’re going to complain about apps don’t use the official Twitter app as your example. If you’re using the official Twitter app you haven’t explored the Marketplace enough to find the dozen better choices.

But the biggest issue I have with these reviews is they are not helpful to the average consumer. We know from personal experience, and customer reviews, that the Windows Phone OS is adored by those that give it a chance. I am confident that someone that walks into an AT&T store will notice the Lumia 900 for its gorgeous body, and will fall in love when they start playing with the buttery smooth OS. You really need to try a Windows Phone for yourself to appreciate it.

FYI: We will have our own review, and much more, once our Lumia 900 arrives within the next week. Stay tuned!


  • I do think you’re right in saying that most don’t get how self reliant the WP7 OS is… but I think that will be a problem in consumers eyes too bc both Android and iOS are so AppCentric …we have all made investments in our devices outside of just the contract and device price, and to convince someone to abandon those apps will always be a challenge.

  • I think this is a problem with most smartphone reviews in general. Most reviewers don’t spend more than a few hours with a phone then write up a review.

    I’d say, a good couple of days is adequate for most, but a week with a phone that’s outside your normal mobile OS would be ideal. Fo sho.

  • Derek Evans

    “A stock Windows Phone can identify songs, scan barcodes, send Tweets, check Facebook, navigate with maps, etc. And I’m not even counting the web browser.”

    Diggit!

  • I have read a few of the bad reviews. I think the one on the Verge got alot of heat but some of it makes a lot of sense to me. I am WP7 fan. I have a Lumia 800, an HD7 and a Focus Flash, so I know about WP7 and I absolutely love it. I am also a vested WP7 developer. But, when it is said we have to stop giving WP7 a pass, I agree. Innovation is all around us, and although I do not care for the next fad (ala instagram, draw something, pinterest, etc) WP7 is missing out on so much that is available today. Does it need quad cores, no. Does it need a better eco system, that is a resounding yes. It has shortcomings and in the app/reading/content department iOS destroys both WP7 and Android. If I cant sell WP7 to my wife, it is because the things she wants in a phone are not there. WP7 is really great. But in order to take market, it needs to be leaps and bounds better than the competition. It is arguably a better experience than the other two, but in many areas it is not and that is why we are sitting at 3.9% marketshare. I would be proud of 7% at the end of 2012 because the Lumia actually offers an all around great experience for the best price, best look with LTE hands down. The price/hardware combination is where the bad reviews tend to miss. But, you will always be compared to the best when it comes to main stream technology.

  • Nicole Scott

    I’d say you’d need to give Windows Phone even longer, alot of issues didn’t become apparent for me until after a month of use…. I’m interested to see the direction of this site….seeing as I left Windows Phone after 7 months of use. :P

  • Nicole Scott

    One thing that I think isn’t being taken into account in any review is that consumers should find out if all of Nokia’s services are rolled out in their region. Off the top of my head most markets outside the US are missing Scout. For now you’re going to have to make sure that you’re reading reviews specifically from your country to get the full picture….

  • InvaderDJ

    I think this is a little off base, those things you mention Windows Phone could do are apps, just apps that come with the phone. A stock Galaxy Nexus or iPhone comes with apps that allow it to at least send tweets (iOS, not Android) and navigate (Google Maps/Navigation and Google Maps on iOS)

    And even if we take your point, why would it matter what Windows Phone can do off the bat if there are well known, good apps on iOS or Android? If the built in Windows Phone Facebook app sucks compared to the free one on iOS or Android (I doubt it sucks worse than Android’s Facebook app, but this is an example) how is that an advantage? These aren’t the first smartphones ever, most people are able to handle the idea of app stores.

    I get what you’re saying though, there should be something mentioned about the built in functionality but that only takes some people so far. Windows Phone is a modern smartphone and if it doesn’t have a good enough app ecosystem to expand its functionality (and even some of its built in functionality is lacking) then that is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Tyson Isringhausen

    Anyone else catch the Engadget review? They made a huge deal out of the fact that the SIM drawer requires a pin (just like every iPhone ever has), and informed everyone to stock up on pins for when they “inevitably lose the sliver of metal.”

    They also panned the battery life because they were only “able to squeeze just about two full days from one charge.”

    Then they went on to bash its single-core processor.

    Seriously, we’re talking about a huge site with several million unique monthly viewers. This is why WP7 is having such a hard time getting its footing.