The 25 Best Windows Phone Games Right Now

This is Windows Phone. No, for real this time.” That’s what I thought when I started hearing about Windows Phone 8 a few months ago. Just lượt thích Windows Phone 7, it represents yet another clean break for Microsoft’s mobile ambitions — but unlike 7, now it’s got the hardware khổng lồ match.

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The truth is a little more complicated: this clean break isn’t as nearly as obvious as Windows Phone 7’s split from Windows mobile was back in 2010. A quick glance at Windows Phone 8’s home screen, its apps, and its overall aesthetic lead you to lớn believe that it’s only a mild evolution of Windows Phone 7.5 — và in many ways, that’s true. Much of Redmond’s grunt work instead went into overhauling what’s under the hood: these latest-generation phones now use what Microsoft calls the “NT kernel,” the same kernel that underpins Windows 8 và several generations of Windows for the desktop that came before it.

As much of an engineering challenge as that conversion may have been, the switch to the NT kernel is something Microsoft insists it needed to lớn do. Amazingly, the framework lying beneath Windows Phone 7.x traces its roots back to Windows CE, Microsoft’s first attempt to port Windows lớn lightweight devices in the 1990s. It was never designed to lớn accommodate today’s turbocharged smartphones — a market segment where features like multi-core processors are now the norm, not the exception.

But under-the-hood changes are tough sells for consumers drawn in by visuals & feature lists. So many of the questions raised by Windows Phone 8 are the same questions raised by Windows Phone 7.5 and 7 before it: is this finally the thiết bị di động platform that Microsoft (and Nokia) need khổng lồ find widespread success?



In the course of swiping from screen to lớn screen through Windows Phone 8’s attractive UI, there’s never a hint of lag. Then again, that was always one of Windows Phone 7’s talking points: Microsoft’s control over the hardware specs and the behavior of the software allowed it lớn run smooth as silk on older, single-core processors. The difference, though, is that version 8 is now doing it in glorious HD resolution. Khổng lồ be fair, I’ve always thought that Windows Phone looked particularly good (as di động platforms go) at lower pixel densities, but 720p is a welcome inclusion nonetheless. Nothing looks scaled poorly, though there are a few third-party apps I tried that were bookended by wide đen bars, clearly hardcoded with WVGA in mind.

But high-level performance aside, Windows Phone 8 represents a modest, mostly delicate tweak khổng lồ the Metro thiết kế language (or "Modern UI Style," as it’s being called now) that first debuted on Windows Phone 7. The fact that Metro continues khổng lồ look fresh some two & a half years after its introduction is both a blessing and a curse: it’s great for Microsoft that you can still look at a Windows Phone today and feel as though you’re looking at something genuinely different (and new) compared to lớn Android & iOS. It’s bad, though, that the feeling of freshness largely stems from Windows Phone’s inability to lớn capture a wide retail audience thus far.

The most obvious UI tweak in 8 — the one that users will immediately notice the first time they turn on their phone — is that the trang chủ screen is now more functional and flexible. Windows Phone 7 is noted for sacrificing precious real estate with a wide black bar on the right side of the home screen, but no more: version 8 spreads out, allowing the Live Tiles to lớn occupy the entire width of the display. You can still get to lớn your full menu of apps the same way as before by swiping left (if you prefer lớn tap, the right arrow icon is still there — it’s been moved to lớn the bottom of the Live Tile stack).

And speaking of Live Tiles, I think this is my single favorite change in Windows Phone 8: users can now choose from up to lớn three sizes for each tile they pin to lớn the home screen (some apps are limited lớn two). If you think of Windows Phone’s home screen as a grid four units wide & infinitely long, the available sizes are 1 x 1, 2 x 2, và 4 x 2; the latter two will be familiar to existing users, but the new 1 x 1 kích thước is a great choice for tiện ích shortcuts that don’t need a ton of space khổng lồ show live information flowing from the ứng dụng (I use one for my third-party Starbucks thẻ app, for instance). Injecting 1 x 1 tiles throughout your trang chủ screen layout really gives it some flair & individuality; I think it’s exactly what Microsoft needed lớn complete the look. It’s not a stretch khổng lồ say that Windows Phone 8 has the best home screen — the perfect combination of flexibility, design, and simplicity — of any major platform right now.

Microsoft has always suggested that meaningful personalization is a critical element of the Windows Phone proposition. Touchpoints lượt thích highlight màu sắc (which is deeply ingrained throughout the platform) and trang chủ screen configurability have always been important lớn the platform — things that let users show hints of individuality while still making sure you can always tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re definitely looking at a Windows Phone. To lớn that end, the lock screen also gets some welcome improvements without losing its "Windows Phone-ness" — it still has the big time and date text across the bottom, for instance. Now, though, you can let third-party apps and services plug into it lớn cycle the background image, which is cooler than it sounds; take Bing, for instance, which is known for its killer imagery. Apps can also make status icons available khổng lồ the lock screen, & you can choose up khổng lồ five icon types to show at a time: Facebook messages, Xbox notifications, unread email, text messages, missed calls, & the like.

Like the trang chủ and lock screens, Windows Phone’s soft keyboard is another element that users inevitably interact with on an almost constant basis, & that makes its design critical — particularly considering that it still (frustratingly) can’t be swapped out for a third tiệc nhỏ keyboard in version 8. You’d think that Microsoft would look lớn the wild success of keyboard lượt thích SwiftKey và Swype on Android & admit that the benefits lớn users of opening up the input đầu vào method to lớn developers outweigh the risks, but no dice. Fortunately, Windows Phone has always had a fantastic keyboard, and this version is no exception; I felt as though it was lagging me on a couple occasions, but that may have been my imagination because I never had major input problems or uncorrected errors.

In Windows Phone 8, the keyboard incorporates something from its Research division that it calls "Word Flow," which operates much lượt thích the phrase prediction giải pháp công nghệ in SwiftKey and the keyboard found in apk 4.1 — it can type entire sentences for you, word by word, by looking at what you’ve typed so far. One interesting feature of Word Flow that I’ve not seen on other keyboards, though, is contextual correction: Microsoft says it’ll actually analyze the sentence you write and make corrections based on context. The example they give is that if you type "come over fir dinner" it’ll correct "fir" to "for," but I’m not convinced — I then tried typing "that’s a nice fir tree" & it still made the same correction.


The lock screen gets some welcome improvements

Contacts & communication

Contacts and communication

In our testing, most of Rooms" functions worked seamlessly

Windows Phone has always excelled at being a "people-centric" operating system, integrating photos, status updates, and other bits of information from various services into the People Hub. Windows Phone 8 doesn"t significantly re-imagine any of that, but it does showroom several useful features in the corners of the OS.

Within the People Hub, Microsoft"s main intervention with Windows Phone 8 is to add another panel, called "Together." It serves two functions: the first is to list the various contacts groups you"ve created và the second is to các mục "Rooms."

Contact grouping is relatively self-explanatory, but interestingly they get displayed as Live Tiles within this specific app & can individually be pinned to lớn the Start screen. Each group acts lượt thích a subset of the People Hub overall, with a listing of contacts, their most recent status updates & photos, & finally the ability to send a group thư điện tử or message. It also integrates with Microsoft"s groups on Hotmail or Outlook. What it doesn"t seem khổng lồ do, unfortunately, is integrate with liên hệ groups on other services.

The bigger và more interesting addition lớn the People Hub is Rooms. They essentially act lượt thích a private group for sharing various bits of information lượt thích photos, calendaring, notes, và messages. It"s not entirely unlike the groups in BlackBerry Messenger or Google+ Circles, but it is obviously more tightly integrated into Microsoft"s services. In our testing most of the functions worked seamlessly — especially group chat, which was nearly instantaneous. OneNote integration was hit & miss, but we"re assuming that will work itself out by launch.

Only the person who sets up a Room can invite new members, although anybody can phối a custom background for the Room, which also appears as the image on its Live Tile. If you invite somebody who doesn"t have a Windows Phone device, they can still use the shared calendars & interact via Messenger on the desktop, but they"ll need a Microsoft ID lớn set it all up. In general Rooms seem clever, but for them to fully work as intended, everybody using them needs to have a Windows Phone device — và Microsoft should know that"s not likely khổng lồ be the case for the vast majority of users. What the feature really needs is compatible apps on Android & iOS, and with any luck Microsoft will recognize that.

It took much longer than anybody expected, but Skype should finally be available & fully functional on Windows Phone 8 very soon. Unfortunately, Skype wasn"t available for our testing ahead of launch, but Microsoft is promising deep integration with the VOIP app, allowing you lớn persistently stay signed in all the time. In fact, other VOIP apps are able to lớn take advantage of the same kind of integration by using Microsoft"s "Rich Communication Suite" APIs, which lets apps lượt thích Tango & Qik act like regular voice calls in the dialer & on the lock screen. Skype messaging will also be integrated with the messaging app and People Hub.

Microsoft has made a few tweaks to email, including the option khổng lồ have a black background on your inbox view, automatically adding Office document attachements khổng lồ the Office hub, và voice-to-text transcription when composing emails. These small tweaks don"t change the e-mail experience too much, though, and some of the same complaints we had with Windows Phone 7.5 still persist — including mis-threaded messages & poor gmail integration. Voice transcription is unfortunately not very good either, which is really disappointing because speech recognition is one of the few areas where Microsoft once had a lead over iOS and Android.


Microsoft is promising deep integration with Skype

In general, using a Windows Phone 8 device as a hardcore communication tool is a phối of pleasant surprises và forehead-smacking frustrations. Messages from various services — Winodws Messenger, Facebook, SMS, and the like — are still intelligently integrated into a single thread (which you can now more easily delete from the menu view), but the Twitter integration on your contact card still doesn"t show you the 140 character message without an extra tap. You can send your location via MMS but the landscape keyboard mysteriously doesn"t take up the full width of the screen.

Finally và most importantly, Microsoft needs to lớn give a little more thought lớn its notification system. Notifications are the lifeblood of any communication-centric smartphone user"s workflow, & Microsoft very cleverly integrated this functionality right into the Start screen with Live Tiles. However, as the proliferation of apps that serve notifications has increased, this solution hasn"t scaled. Unless you"ve placed a Live Tile on your Start Screen for the apps you care about, you can"t go to lớn a central place where you can see all of your missed notifications.

Office is kind of a big deal, & in the past year Microsoft has done its level-best to close the cloud gap with Google Docs — & it’s been largely successful. On Windows Phone 8, the changes to the Office Hub also are an amalgam of small tweaks that địa chỉ cửa hàng up lớn a nicer overall experience. Word now has a "full screen" mode for reading, power nguồn Point adds in a few more viewing options, and Excel supports charts and has an improved UI for navigation. As mentioned earlier, Office also automatically pulls in documents that have been emailed to you without your intervention.

OneNote has been broken out of the Office Hub và it’s a decision that I can get behind: this is the best software you’re probably not using. Like Evernote, OneNote is designed for quick dumps of notes, photos, and voice notes. You can search across all of your notes as well. I care about three things in a note-taking app: plain text, speed, và seamless syncing. OneNote nails the latter two và though I’d prefer straight .txt files, getting data out of it isn’t a pain — and if you’re already deep into the Microsoft ecosystem, that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

What’s really nice about all of this (and you can showroom in the Photos Hub) is that it’s all seamlessly shared to SkyDrive. I’m a Dropbox user myself, but if you’re a Windows user you absolutely should be giving SkyDrive a shot. SkyDrive also has a beautiful và fast website interface from the desktop. There’s next khổng lồ zero management required to lớn keep track of your files with Windows Phone 8 và the apps that connect to lớn SkyDrive and, even better, what management you bởi vì need to bởi actually makes sense. That’s in comparison lớn iCloud, whose structures for app data can often seem byzantine in their efforts to bury the tệp tin system.

Kid"s Corner

Kid"s Corner

I’m not sure anyone saw this coming, but now that it’s here, it makes good sense: parents have smartphones. Some of their children may be too young to own smartphones of their own, but can still benefit from having access lớn a few games và songs for road trips or waits in the doctor’s office. That’s where Kid’s Corner comes into play, a locked-down alternative trang chủ screen that only allows access to lớn functions of the phone that you choose.

Setting up Kid’s Corner is straightforward enough — in its mặc định state, my 8X came with a Kid’s Corner Live Tile on the trang chủ screen, which you can tap khổng lồ set up the service (it’s turned off by default). If you’ve deleted the tile, you can find it in settings. Either way, you’ll be taken lớn a screen where you choose which games, apps, and locally-stored music files that your child will have access to.

Once that’s set up, you (or your child, more likely) can get to Kid’s Corner by swiping right of the standard lock screen. Inside, all the games, apps, & music that you enabled appear on the Kid’s Corner trang chủ screen, which can be customized both by moving and resizing Live Tiles and by hitting the "Customize" tile, which lets your kid choose his or her own highlight color, name, and background picture for the Kid’s Corner lock screen. There’s no full ứng dụng list, though — they’re locked out of everything else, which is precisely the point. If a message comes in, it’s hidden (though calls will still come through).

It works well, but it left me wondering: why not makes this more generalized and just gọi it "guest mode"? I can’t count the times that someone has asked lớn see my phone — either to check something on the internet, make a call, or just because they want to check it out — but considering that my phone usually has access khổng lồ all of my most personal information, I’d rather be able to put it into a locked-down state of some sort before handing it over. Kid’s Corner would be nearly perfect, except for the fact that it’s called Kid’s Corner.

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Microsoft is jumping into the sản phẩm điện thoại payment space with a new Wallet ứng dụng that acts much lượt thích Google Wallet insofar as it combines three different functions: payments within Microsoft"s app and nội dung Store, direct payments via NFC, và local deals. Unlike other solutions, Microsoft decided lớn tie its security system lớn the SIM thẻ instead of the NFC element, which the company claims will make it friendlier lớn carrier options and other third parties in the future.

When I phối up Wallet, it automatically pulled in the payment information I"d already phối up with my Microsoft account, including carrier billing via AT&T, my PayPal account, and my saved Visa card. There"s an option lớn set up a sạc for making payments within apps (and at point of sale stations), and Microsoft has made the app xuất hiện to allowing third party apps to lớn tie into Wallet (though none were yet available in our testing).

I"m not much of a deal-hound, but I have lớn say that the "deals" section of Wallet just might convert me. It automatically searches for local giao dịch and pulls automatically from several sources, including at least LivingSocial, Yelp,, & Groupon. You can scroll through the đơn hàng and save the ones you like to your Wallet"s main screen or pin them lớn the start screen.

As far as NFC goes, Windows Phone 8 has a fairly straightfoward implementation for sharing web pages, liên hệ information, & the like. It"s not automatic when you tap, unfortunately, instead requiring you to dig through menus lớn find "Tap+Send" before you cảm biến phones. For sending simple, short pieces of information it works well across platforms — I could send và receive URLs and contacts with an android phone easily. Unfortunately, sending pictures wasn"t as straight-forward, which isn"t surprising given the lack of standards for transfers that require both NFC & Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Maps and Bing

Maps và Bing

I had high hopes for the inclusion of Nokia’s mapping giải pháp công nghệ in Windows Phone 8 across all OEMs — Bing Maps had historically lagged its competitors in data quality in my experience, và it seemed that nokia (by way of Navteq) had a huge opportunity khổng lồ improve on that.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing it yet. The "stock" Windows Phone 8 mapping experience actually fails in a few key areas. Though you can get basic walking and driving directions by hitting the "directions" button in the Maps toolbar, choosing the directions menu thành phầm on a point of interest gives you a "you need an app for that" pop-up that’s not unlike the one tiện ích ios 6 now gives users when they try lớn get transit information. The danh mục of available apps to handle direction-giving will presumably be populated with options like Nokia Drive soon, but in our early testing, none were in the Store. I don"t understand why you can get a các mục of directions from the toolbar, but not from a POI.

Just as alarmingly, I had a terrible time with several searches I conducted. In one instance, I entered a specific street address in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove và was pointed lớn a spot about two miles away; it wasn’t until I arrived in a dark alley behind an industrial park that I realized I was led astray. In another case, I searched for "starbucks" in lower Manhattan — the phầm mềm zoomed out to show me all of Manhattan Island & eight or so Starbucks locations, none of which were anywhere near me. I suspect there are more than eight Starbucks in Manhattan. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’ve been to lớn more than eight Starbucks in Manhattan. In a single trip.

On the plus side, downloadable worldwide maps for offline mode are a welcome improvement that help Windows Phone go toe-to-toe with mapping behemoth Google on game android — anyone who’s traveled overseas without access lớn cheap data knows just how important this one can be. Downloaded maps sections don’t appear to automatically update, but you can manually kiểm tra for updates using a button in the app’s settings.

The last vestiges of Zune have been extricated from Windows Phone 8; you now use Xbox services to reach music và podcasts from the device. Like before, you can purchase tracks directly from the device, but you still can’t rent movies. It’s a strange omission, particularly now that Windows Phone has gorgeous 720p displays at its disposal.

I tried Xbox Music Pass — the replacement for Zune Pass, Microsoft’s unlimited music subscription service — và was quite happy with it. Tracks quickly downloaded over my HSPA connection as I selected them, though I was disappointed lớn find that I had no way to lớn control whether lớn allow downloads over cellular or to lớn restrict them khổng lồ Wi-Fi; the phone decides that on a per-track basis, which meant that when I downloaded an album on 3G while in the airport there were two tracks left behind waiting for a Wi-Fi connection. That said, the selection of music on Xbox Music Pass seems excellent — there’s a lot of eclectic content here that I’m not able lớn find on competitors like MOG, Rdio, or Spotify — but it’s hard khổng lồ recommend unless you’re living in an all-Microsoft world and you don’t require web access. For me, personally, platform independence is a big giảm giá khuyến mãi for my music.

The coolest part of the Xbox experience here isn’t actually exclusive lớn Windows Phone 8: SmartGlass is already available for Windows 8 devices (like Surface) và will be coming to other platforms soon. Using the remote feature — which turns the entire phone into a touchpad for controlling your Xbox console’s interface — immediately felt so natural that I might consider using it as my primary remote control for watching movies và controlling music. It was just a bit slow; gestures took about a half second on average lớn register on the console — long enough lớn be noticeable — and connecting lớn the Xbox took up to đôi mươi seconds. Unfortunately, leaving the SmartGlass phầm mềm (even briefly) requires that you reconnect the next time you go into it. The app also insisted that my phone was on a different network than my Xbox (I wasn’t), which prevented me from using the browser và keyboard functions. Admittedly, it’s pretty cool that you can still use the remote control when you’re halfway around the world, though it isn’t very practical except to play tricks on people at trang chủ as they’re trying to lớn use the console.

SmartGlass is pretty cool
internet Explorer 10

Internet Explorer 10

Fast & responsive

Microsoft has spent the past few years touting mạng internet Explorer and IE10 on Windows Phone 8 is definitely worthy of some bragging. It shares much of the technology from IE10 on the desktop — & on top of the new Windows Phone core và more powerful hardware, it"s fast and responsive. It rendered most of the full desktop sites I visited quite well — including the custom fonts on There were a couple times where it was a little overly agressive in zooming, but overall it"s really much better than I expected.

Microsoft also baked in some nice additional pieces, including the ability lớn customize the button on the toolbar và find text on a page. Finding text in a page, especially, is really great on IE10 — it jumps và zooms khổng lồ each instance quickly & painlessly. There are also back-end benefits like "SmartScreen Filter" for alerting you about malicious websites và the (slightly contentious) vì Not Track option.

From a UI perspective, my second-biggest complaint is simply that Microsoft only allows for six xuất hiện tabs at any given time. That may be a function of the fact that each tab is its own process and so a crashed webpage should be less likely to bring down the entire browser, but it"s still a pretty anemic number.

My biggest complaint about IE10 is something that Microsoft is going to have a more difficult time solving: the di động web simply isn"t friendly to browsers that aren"t based on the Webkit rendering engine. Facebook & Google, in particular, treat IE10 as though it were a browser straight out of the 90s, serving up ancient-looking di động pages that simply have no place on a modern smartphone. It"s a very thorny issue, with both Microsoft và Mozilla doing their best lớn get developers lớn target di động web browsers more generally instead of just iOS & Android. Showroom in that many sites that would normally serve HTML5 đoạn clip instead of Flash (which isn"t supported here), and it"s even more frustrating. Regardless of the politics behind it, the actual experience of using IE10 is a jarring melange of beautiful website pages & mobile sites that treat it lượt thích a second-class citizen of the web.

Luckily, you can mix IE10 to lớn identify itself as a desktop browser instead of a điện thoại browser, though that presents challenges of its own as some desktop pages are simply too much for even this browser to handle. Between the rock of crappy thiết bị di động pages and the hard place of sometimes heavy desktop pages, I"ll take the latter.

Microsoft made the camera a central focus since the beginning for Windows Phone và with WP8 it"s making some small tweaks that should theoretically make the experience much better for users. It has tweaked the viewfinder software a bit, but not all the changes are for the better. I"m happy to lớn see that you can now directly toggle the flash without digging through settings (and also happy khổng lồ see that settings includes plenty of custom camera settings).

Strangely, Microsoft decided that having zoom buttons on the screen was a bad idea, and instead you zoom with a two-finger pinch. That"s a strange decision for a process that"s most often one-handed — pinching to lớn zoom when you"re trying to compose a shot is awkward at best. Perhaps, lượt thích me, Microsoft thinks that digitally zooming on a điện thoại is kind of silly — but even so it"s a change for the worse for the average user.

A bigger change lớn both the camera and the Photos Hub is that Microsoft has made them extensible in interesting ways. There"s a new button in the camera called "Lens," which opens up a custom danh sách of camera apps you can use khổng lồ shoot with. You can"t phối one of them as the default for the camera button, but having them here is convenient. When you take a photo with a Lens-enabled app, it goes into your Photos hub just as any other photo, marked with a special tag letting you know which tiện ích it was shot with. It"s as though it was custom-designed for Instagram, which of course isn"t available on Windows Phone.

The Photos Hub now offers multi-select and photo editing tools: Rotate, Crop, and an auto-fix option that primarily tries to normalize trắng balance và exposure. Just as with the Lens option in the Camera, you can quickly jump khổng lồ third-party photo editing tools from within the photo view. The last bit of extensibility involves the instant-upload button. Whereas before you could choose between SkyDrive và Facebook for your automatic uploads, now Windows Phone 8 will let you choose any third các buổi party app that supports the feature — unfortunately, in our testing no apps (including Facebook) were yet updated to support tự động upload.

Lenses are a chất lượng addition
7.9Verge Score

Microsoft Windows Phone 8

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The Good

Home screen is the best on any điện thoại platformFast và fluid, just as Windows Phone has always beenCompelling, useful cloud strategy
ul>:py-0 pt-16 <&>ul>:my-0 <&>ul>:mb-16 <&>ul>li>:mb-6 <&>p>:mb-8 <&_*>:font-polysans-mono <&_*>:text-14 <&_ul>:font-light <&_p>:font-light <&_strong>:font-medium <&>ul>li>:leading-140 <&_li>:marker:text-franklin border-t border-franklin <&_a:hover>:shadow-highlight-franklin <&_a>:shadow-underline-black md:pt-0 md:<&>ul>:mb-0 md:first:pr-16 md:last:pl-16 md:w-1/2 md:border-t-0 md:first:border-r">

The Bad

App availability is still a concernStock mapping app isn't as good as hopedMany annoyances from WP7 persist

With each new generation of Windows Phone, Microsoft not only closes the gap with iOS and Android in important ways, but it also differentiates in important ways — & that might be more true in version 8 than ever before. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are still countless annoyances that trace back khổng lồ 7.5 or even 7: the status bar that only occasionally appears (who doesn’t want lớn see time, battery, & signal strength at all times?). The attractive animations & screen transitions that can turn into annoyances & time-wasters after you’ve seen them 50 times. The lack of a unified notifications tray. The fact that the hardware tìm kiếm button isn’t contextual (and often appears alongside an on-screen tìm kiếm button that is contextual). The “Resuming...” animation when loading an ứng dụng back up. & speaking of apps, just today, I pined for Uber, United, and a real first-party Starbucks app. There’s still a big ứng dụng gap between Windows Phone & its competitors — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t give Windows Phone 8 a serious look going into the holiday shopping season. Nokia’s troubles aside, Microsoft is showing as much commitment to lớn making Windows Phone work as ever. Between Office and Xbox alone, Redmond is presenting one of the most compelling ecosystem stories in the business right now, and the 8X và Lumia 920 are both lining up khổng lồ be formidable flagship phones over the next several months. For the moment, though, buy into Windows Phone because you want to lớn try something different, not because you want the flat-out best và most complete mobile experience you can possibly have.

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