merry christmas and happy calling me everyday for help
December 5, 2012 6:56 PM   Subscribe

My mom wants to switch from iPhone to either Android or Windows. What's best for her needs, and which phone should she choose?

My mom, who has an iPhone 4S but wants to try something new, spends a lot of time on her various devices but is not tech-savvy at all. For instance, she has never personally synced her iPhone and can only find websites using the google search box, not with a URL I suspect that the new Windows phones would be easier for her to use, but I want to be certain. She currently uses her phone to:

- Negotiate freelance assignments over email. I'd love to load her resumes and rate schedules onto her phone, preferably in an editable format, allowing her to attach them to emails without waiting to go home... but it needs to be super-simple.
- Make calls; she uses several thousand minutes a month. Call quality is very important.
- Input pinyin Chinese. Very very important, because she is an interpreter/translator.
- Listen to the radio; she likes the selection of Chinese-language stations on the Tunein app.
- Occasionally listen to podcasts, music, etc. This is very much a work in progress.
- View traffic conditions, and use maps for walking around unfamiliar cities. She has GPS in her car so she doesn't need turn-by-turn navigation.
- Light web surfing, no social media.

She has 2 Yahoo accounts and 1 Gmail account (also a work in progress) and maintains calendars for separate purposes on Yahoo web and the phone itself. She uses Windows XP on her computer (sigh) but we're updating to 8 once the new hybrid tablet/laptops come out.

She is, unsurprisingly, attracted to the look and feel of the new Windows phones, but I need to make sure that those phones are great for business and bilingual purposes. In addition to the Android/Windows debate, I need phone suggestions. We're on AT&T and she has an unlimited data plan. Samsung is not an option; I don't want to cause a derail, but she has her reasons and they are non-negotiable. So, if you recommend Windows, should she get the HTC or the Nokia, and if you recommend Android, which non-Samsung phone is best?

I would especially appreciate opinions from those who have used both Windows 8 and Android phones!
posted by acidic to Technology (8 answers total)
Is this switch a done deal? Or is she open to finding better ways to solve her current needs on the iPhone? Or, are you interested in how to tweak her phone for her?

Does she want something new for the sake of novelty? Or because the iPhone isn't meeting specific needs? I'm not trying to derail, but it's hard for me to imagine exactly how the iPhone is failing on those specifics above. Maybe it's a matter of investigating, loading and training her on specific apps?
posted by barnone at 7:38 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I suspect that either one would be suitable. I'd go with Android, primarily because of its tight Google integration and because there are tons of developers targeting Android. I think you'd have more options with entering pinyin on Android too, although honestly I haven't verified that myself.

Using Gmail and Google Drive together, she should be able to load her rate schedules on the phone and optionally edit them - but she could also edit them from a computer.

I think call quality largely boils down to how well the network works where you are, and you should be fine with either one as long as AT&T provides good coverage where she is.

I'd have recommended a Samsung phone, since I've been extremely happy with them (and I'm strangely curious about her reasons), but I think HTC and Motorola phones are just fine in most cases. The key is usually to get the one with the least preinstalled cruft. I'd probably go with the HTC with the biggest screen available - I think having a big screen is helpful for older people (like me!)
posted by me & my monkey at 7:43 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could see the maps on iPhone not working out so well for her; Android is great with them. So that's one data point.
posted by limeonaire at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2012

Let's just say that certain lawsuits she has worked on recently have made her interested in exploring alternatives to either Samsung or Apple.
posted by acidic at 10:08 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Windows Phones get good reviews (stability, user interface, etc.). My sister loves hers. As for HTC 8X vs. Nokia Lumia, you just have to read some reviews to see what the tradeoffs are and decide what features are most important to you (the Lumias are chunky/heavy but have some strengths).

Not sure what you mean "great for business" but I imagine a Microsoft Phone would be fine for business.

As for pinyin input, here and here is some information about languages (I don't think it mentions pinyin specifically though).

As for Android, you could order a Google Nexus 4 made by LG.
posted by Dansaman at 10:13 PM on December 5, 2012

For android phones, I have a Nexus 4 by LG and an HTC 1x and while both are fine I like my Nexus a lot more. This could be because that one is my personal phone and I've spent a lot more time customizing it and the htc is my work phone that I barely use.

My biggest annoyance with the windows phone was the lack of apps. For most serious app developers it seems the order of importance is iphone -> android -> maybe get around to any of those other operating systems that like nobody uses. Maybe the new windows phones will help make developing for that market more important but it doesn't seem to be right now.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2012

Windows phones are interesting, and I'm sure fine (and in many ways more interesting than what Apple and Android are doing). Just make sure she's not a fan of apps. Also realize that Windows phones are the least stable of the three platforms, in that they're doing everything possible to make themselves relevant, and if that means current customers are screwed in the process, so be it.

I'm not going to pretend that I know why/what the problem with Apple and Samsung is, but the idea that Microsoft is any different, and wouldn't do/sue/destroy others to be a more successful player in the phone market, is naive. They're is no difference, they are not morally superior. They've simply done too much wrong to be a player in the market up to this point. Again, none of my business, but she's ignoring both Apple and Samsung, the most successful Android phone makers. I'd make sure she understands there's nothing HTC, Microsoft, etc. won't do when given the chance.
posted by justgary at 2:00 PM on December 6, 2012

I also have a Nexus 4 and love it.
posted by dobbs at 8:56 PM on December 9, 2012

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