Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone 8 takes full advantage of nothing but large-screen handsets being designed to run it. Luxuriously large tiles offer access to People, Calls, Music & Videos, Xbox games, apps, Calendar, Camera and Photo gallery. Swipe down to reveal Office 365, SkyDrive and Local Scout – a location-based food, drink, business and entertainment finder. Entries in our neighbourhood were very limited. Helpfully, if you need to drive to a location, your Windows Phone 8 will dig out an appropriate app from its Marketplace app store to assist or launch one you’ve installed.
A Microsoft ID is required (Hotmail, Live, Xbox or Outlook.com email addresses all work, but you can use any email address) to manage your account. You can then access Xbox Music Pass unlimited streaming (30-day trial then £8.99 per month or £90 per year). Film rentals are also managed through the Xbox portal. As with Apple’s iTunes, you can preview 30 seconds of any track. Text messages, photos and emails can be automatically synched – photos are posted to your SkyDrive. You get 7GB of free storage.
Windows Phone 8’s app repository mimics the slickness of the Google Play Store and offers 120,000 to choose from. If Find My Phone is switched on you can browse the Marketplace on your laptop and have apps install automatically over Wi-Fi – a slick option that allows you to browse app options in comfort before buying. NFC and contactless photo and message sharing are supported too, so you can beam shots to friends on ICS and Jelly Bean Android phones.
One of the highlights - if you happen to have young children - is Kid's Corner. This is a walled-off area of the OS where you can give your kids access to games, apps and other things without the worry they'll email your boss or delete your photos.
Although there are some great smartphones available running Windows Phone 8, it's the lack of choice in the app store that holds it back. BBC iPlayer has only just arrived, and there are still many, many useful apps which are missing: available only to Android or iOS users.
Next page: BlackBerry Z10