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iOS 7 vs Windows Phone 8: which mobile platform is right for you?

Matt Egan | Oct. 3, 2013
We test Windows Phone against iPhone to find out which is best

If you step into the Apple Store looking for a smartphone you will find a choice of six handsets, ranging from the 8GB iPhone 4S, through 16GB and 32GB iPhone 5C phones up to the three iPhone 5S handsets in storage options of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. You know that each iPhone will work well with iOS 7, and offer access to the excellent iTunes- and App Stores.

And, let's face it, iPhones are great. Superb multifunction devices that offer excellent design, brilliant performance and unmatched features. Products you want to own.

Windows Phones are different, but by no means bad. From Nokia there are several handsets, and from HTC currently two. It's possible we'll see other manufacturers chipping in, but my instinct expects this to become a Nokia only market. As with second-hand and refurbished iPhones you'll be able to find other handsets but we'll focus on the main and new ones.

One of the issues with Windows Phone 8 handsets is that their performance, build quality and feature set tends to be very similar, no matter what you pay. This is a good thing in that it means that the minimum level of performance is always good, but it does mean that the Nokia phones in particular are very samey. They offer colourful and solid plastic build and design. A £90 Lumia 520 differs from a much more expensive 720 principally in terms of screen size and quality, and camera quality. And the same is true even as you go up to the top-of-the-range Lumia 1020: it has an amazing and large display and a 41Mp camera, but the general OS looks and feels the same as its much cheaper cousins.

Overall we much prefer the iPhone handsets. But it's fair to say that the Windows Phone 8 handsets, and particularly those of the Nokia Lumia range, offer decent performance and build. See also: iOS 7 Camera review - what's new in Apple's camera app in iOS 7?

iOS 7 vs Windows Phone 8: choice of apps
Here iOS 7 is the clear winner. It's not just a question of numbers, but if it were we'd hardly bother with this comparison. There are at least 900,000 apps in the iPhone app store - it's been around for five years and if there is an app worth having it is in there. In the Windows Phone app store there are around 170,000 apps. That wouldn't matter, of course, if all the important apps were there. In most cases people install and use regularly only a few key apps.

Unfortunately, if you want to use Instagram, Vine, Dropbox, Flipboard, Sky Go or BT Sport - to mention a handful - then you'll need to look elsewhere or simply go without. Furthermore, the Facebook app is still Microsoft's doing rather than the genuine article. Lots of those 170,000 'apps' are merely a shell that offers access to web-based services, too.


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