No, not 'interface' as in the raw UI, the Start screen, the menus, etc - that's all comparable to anything else in the mobile world, maybe superior, depending on who you talk to and what their preferences are.
I'm talking here about back to back comparisons for real world actions, in my case looking at the IDOL 4 Pro against the almost identically specified ZTE Axon 7, from the Android world, of course. I realise that the choice of actions here will vary hugely from person to person, plus the actual devices will too, according to spec, but you'll get the idea and spot the running theme.
So... despite my love for that 950 camera and despite my love of the IDOL 4 Pro's speakers, I've been taking a back to back look with the competition, trying to do the exact same thing on both platforms. At which point, however elegant Windows 10's scalability, there's more than an 'app gap' to take into account, I contend. Hey, I'm just being honest!
|Common action (for me!)||ZTE Axon 7
(Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM)
|IDOL 4 Pro
(Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM)
|Powering on the phone screen||A press on the power button and the screen is on and unlocked. Or, if it's been more than 15 minutes since I last authenticated, I get the lockscreen and have to use my fingerprint.||Due to a longstanding bug in Windows 10 Mobile, the fingerprint sensor support disables the 'Require sign-in' setting, meaning that you can't set a time-out - it's all or nothing. So if you have a fingerprint registered then you have to use it every single time. It's definitely not quite as sensible as on Android.|
|Typing text||The Google Keyboard (now renamed Gboard) is excellent and forgiving my typing mistakes and guessing what I wanted.||The Microsoft Word Flow keyboard, even with my speed workaround, is still not quite up to the same level as Google's keyboard. It used to be better, back in the 8.1 days, but Android's stock keyboard has leapfrogged it. I now get some non-sensical auto-corrections and gesture recognition that's not quite as good across the board.|
|Logging into web sites||Chrome is amazing at remembering my login details, often popping up auto-fill data for something I haven't visited for months.||In contrast, Edge offers to remember login details but succeeds far less of the time, or requires that you complete half the authentication and then it supplies the rest. It's most definitely not quite as good at remembering things.|
|Searching my email||Search Gmail is quick and seamless, whether the actual email is already on the phone or on Google's servers.||Somewhat annoyingly, when a search string isn't found in downloaded emails, you have to tap again to 'search online'. It all works, but it's not quite as super-smooth...|
|Navigating by car||Google Maps is almost faultless in its real time traffic knowledge and routing, thanks to data gathered from vast numbers of other Maps users in every country.||Even with my recent workaround, Windows 10 Maps is limited in its traffic avoidance because it's reliant on official sources - you'll get where you want to go, but it's not quite as efficient as missing out the jams.|
|Checking my bank balance||Dedicated banking applications are available for every bank, every financial institution, sometimes tied into biometrics like a fingerprint reader, for super-quick login.||Every system I've tried (Lloyds, Nationwide, Barclays, and so on) works just fine in Microsoft Edge - you really don't need a dedicated app, but... the speed of the experience is not quite up to that in dedicated banking apps on Android.|
|Playing videos off local storage||Google Photos also starts all videos from the beginning every time, but there are numerous third party solutions which do remember 'played' points and this saves a lot of time.||Each video plays from the start each time in Films & TV, there's no concept of remembering where one might have reached in (say) an hour long documentary, and the overall experience is not quite as good. Anyone know of a video player for Windows 10 Mobile that remembers the 'played' point?|
|Playing YouTube videos||Google's first party YouTube client syncs your playback position for everything you've played across all signed in devices, so you never have to watch the 'same bit' twice!||Similarly, for cloud-hosted video, every client I've seen for W10M starts every video from the start - anyone know of a YouTube client which can sync/remember playback positions? The likes of myTube! are superb, but they're still not quite as good as what Google offers on Android.|
|Watching Amazon Prime Video||Although setting this up, even on Android is a hassle (long story), once installed it works like a dream.||There's no application for this, so I have to go through a rigmarole in Edge every time I want to see something, it's most definitely not quite as good as the satisfaction of a well-installed player app!|
|Keeping all my secrets||KeePass2Android lets me work with my KeePass database online on Google Drive, saving and syncing automatically.||I've documented my various attempts to get something similar working for Windows 10 Mobile, most recently here, but it's messier and not quite as simple or seamless.|
|Playing my game||My favourite game, International Snooker Pro, launches in six seconds on the Snapdragon 820 on the Axon 7, and Android switches to it later instantly as long as it's in the background in RAM.||On the same chipset, International Snooker Pro takes eight seconds to launch and, unintuitively, insists on relaunching every single time if you access it from the Start screen or launcher. So that's a long eight seconds each time. The workaround is to access the game in RAM from the multitasking carousel, but it's all not quite as intuitive.|
|Playing Music||Admittedly there are more ways of playing music on any platform than you can imagine, but all start playing almost instantly on Android.||Maybe it's the 20GB of music I keep on card, but when I use Groove Music to start a track playing, the delay (the first time after booting the phone) is ten seconds - for a local track on microSD. And that seems absolutely crazy. Yes, I know playback is very quick thereafter, presumably the right libraries are then in RAM, but it's a frustrating delay and not quite as slick as media playback on Android.|
Again, this is just me being honest, based on trying to do the exact same thing on both platforms all week. All of the above is just software, of course, and is in some cases trivial for Microsoft to fix - the acid question is whether they will. I do get the impression that Microsoft has been 'running to stand still' for a while now...
Of course, against this litany of 'not quites' are some genuinely beautiful layouts and stunning features. The whole Start screen system still impresses me. The UI in Groove and Grover Pro on the AMOLED screen of the IDOL 4 Pro is stunning. The Bing Spotlight photos that appear each day on the lockscreen are often jaw dropping. Even the much maligned Store is now one of the parts of Windows I quite enjoy using - it has turned into a guilty pleasure. And, as ever, Microsoft throws an immense amount of apps and features into every installation out of the box, so that new users don't have to immediately start hunting for other things.
So my dissatisfaction is not all one way, by any means. But I'd like to hear from you. What keeps you on Windows 10 Mobile? Parts of the OS you love? Something about the hardware? If you've switched recently to another mobile OS/ecosystem, what do you miss from Windows?