Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango review

Nearly a year after its initial release, Windows Phone 7 becomes 7.5 with the arrival of Microsoft's 'Mango' update. It's much anticipated by current WP7 users, but is this fruit juicy enough to tempt those considering a divorce from Android or iOS? Kevin Pocock finds out in our review.

Internet Explorer and Bing

Smartphones are used just as much for web browsing as they are for phone calls, so the updated Internet Explorer 9 and improved Bing search with Local Scout' feature deserve particular attention. It's now possible, and easy, to share pages in IE via social networks as well as email. The updated browser also has improved HTML5 support for running web apps and complex websites, but on visiting www.html5test.com, it only scores 141 out of a possible 450 points (as a comparison, Chrome for Windows 7 scores 341 and Safari for iOS 5 scores 296). There is clearly some work to be done, but we're sure that Microsoft will be refining its HTML 5 support as the standard matures and becomes clearer.

Local Scout, a useful local search feature in Bing.

Local Scout, a useful local search feature in Bing.

We're also sure that the Local Scout search feature available with a side swipe after a Bing web search will be refined. In our testing, a search of a set of terms returned an extensive local selection of cinemas and restaurants, but the top local return for the more specific "running shoes" search brought up the University of London Students Union website. Not perfect then, but undoubtedly useful.

Multitasking

Last but not least, is the addition of multitasking. Some third-party apps will need updating to support it, but we found the feature very well implemented. A long hold of the back button will open the most recent five uses' of your handset, and you simply tap to select the one you want. In our experience it worked well - listening to a streamed station on TunIn Radio while browsing WP7's Facebook application was smooth and trouble-free.

Switching between multiple open apps/hubs is easy.

Switching between multiple open apps/hubs is easy.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

Windows Phone 7.5 continues with the design philosophy of the original Windows Phone 7 – doing more with less apps, doing more with services integrated directly into the OS, and doing more in a quicker and simpler way than the competition. Users of other mobile OSes won’t be easy to convince, if only because Microsoft's different way of doing things feels quite alien at first, but the Mango update is a no-brainer upgrade for current WP7 users despite its minor foibles. There are also more than enough elegantly designed features here to tempt over disgruntled iOS and Android users. Whether Windows Phone can attract otherwise satisfied users from those platforms though depends not on Mango, but on how quickly new and refined features to match those of rival OSes can be added in future upgrades, third-party support and on the phones themselves.

Windows Phone 7 handset PC running Zune desktop software

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