In Defense Of Windows Mobile 6.5 Or Why It's Better Than The Iphone And Palm Pre

I don't understand why there's all this hate towards the new release of Windows Mobile 6.5. First of all, there's a reason why it's called 6.5. It's just a partial upgrade, not a full upgrade like Windows Mobile 7 is supposed to be. Nonetheless, 6.5's sole purpose was to make the device more finger-friendly. And for that purpose, it succeeds. Since I installed the upgrade, I've only had to pull out the stylus out of habit, not necessity. You do have to install a third-party app to make this happen though. It's called Finger Keyboard 2, a finger-friendly keyboard. It's free. Everything, including your contacts, program list and folders, are scrollable with your fingers. There's no fancy double-finger pinching action like there is on the Palm Pre and the IPhone, but it's really not necessary.

There are reviews that complain that you can't customize the program list much. Well, it's not that bad. Sure, it's not very intuitive. You can't just drag a program to the desired location, but you can move it to the top of the list. It takes more steps, but the list of programs can be re-arranged.

Now, let's talk about web surfing, which is what most people use their phones for nowadays anyway. This is where, through free third party softwares, Windows Mobile 6.5 beats the Palm Pre and IPhone. Sure, Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile 6.5 has been improved dramatically. It now renders pages like it's desktop counterpart would. The main problem is it's still too slow for practical everyday usage. I never use it. But there are two great third-party browsers that make web browsing on Windows Mobile the best web browsing experience you'll have on a cell phone - bar none. Those two programs are Opera Mini and Skyfire. Both are free. Opera Mini 5, which is in Beta release, is hands down, the best overall mobile browser in the market. What makes it so great is its speed. When you're on the go with your mobile phone, speed is very important. I'm on the Edge network. I tested it against the Palm Pre and IPhone, both on the 3G network. Opera Mini 5 renders pages at least a couple seconds faster than browsers on either phones. A couple seconds on a cell phone is an eternity. It's able to do so because pages are compressed up to 90% on Opera's servers before it's sent to your cellphone. Opera Mini 5 also supports tabs, a useful visual bookmark for your favorite websites, text search within pages, and copy-and-paste. It kicks ass. Period. There are some sites, not many, that Opera Mini 5 can't handle. For those, I rely on SkyFire. SkyFire can handle full flash. You can watch embedded youtube videos directly on web pages. I only use it for Google Analytics, which Opera Mini can't handle. The combination of the two is unbeatable.

While we're talking about surfing the internet, Windows Mobile not only supports tethering, but also using the phone's internet connection as an internet hotspot. Now you can travel anywhere, connect your phone to your laptop via USB, and use it as a broadband modem. This is tethering. There's an app on the Windows Mobile called Internet Sharing that achieves this. The IPhone, because of AT&T, doesn't offer this service even though the phone supports it. Windows Mobile also has a great app called WMWifiRouter which turns your phone into a wireless internet hotspot. When you turn that app on, any computer can connect to it through wifi and use its internet connection. This app is no longer freeware, but if you search on Google, you can still find the free version. These two apps are great for times when you're out and about and is nowhere near wifi range, or if your internet connection at home goes down.

Now, let's talk software. Yes, The IPhone has 85,000 of them. The majority of them are crap, though. Most of them are just repetitive mobile versions of tools you can get by just going to the original websites. Do you really need a Facebook app on your phone, when you can just visit either the mobile version or the full site with your mobile browser? Not really. Windows Mobile apps, on the other hand, are generally more mature and solid. And if you use Microsoft Office (including Outlook), there's no better desktop-to-mobile integration than Windows Mobile. This is a good case of quality over quantity.

Windows 6.5 isn't innovative or ground-breaking. It's not supposed to be. It just makes your current Windows Mobile phone a whole lot easier to use. If you use your phone mostly for emails, web-surfing, and Microsoft Office, there's no better cell phone OS.

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