Anyone who knows me will be well aware I’m a complete iPhone (& Apple) man. I have been since the beginning and continue to be so. Over the years I have been tempted to try rival smartphones but none have come close to luring me away from the king of smartphones. Recently I got my hands on the latest phone from Windows – the Windows Phone 7.

To be honest, like with all the others I wasn’t expecting much. The bar had been set and my expectations were correspondingly low.

My initial impressions were promising as the phone showed it was capable of operating at great speed with impressive responsiveness to touch. One of the big differentiators is the homepage which is made up of “tiles” within a single screen view. Each tile, relatively large and clear to read, corresponds to an app or page providing live updates at a glance. Essentially you can assign a tile to your favourite page or apps (including your Facebook or Twitter streams) allowing you to flick between the menus of apps and pages with ease. The fact that tiles update themselves automatically is really useful for keeping up with friends on facebook etc at a glance when you’re on the go. This was a real highlight for me as was the overall navigation of the user interface which is really quite intuitive.

Without getting too technical, here’s a brief overview of some other highlights:

- The keyboard is really good too and easily rivals that of the iPhone in terms of accuracy.

- Consolidated Contact Cards contain all the information you have about a person including content from the person’s online profiles including recent Facebook status updates and photos.

- The ‘Me’ tile allows you to update your status or profile pic without having to open any application.

- Like the iPhone, it has a 5 megapixel camera but the difference being there is a dedicated camera button, akin to that on a digital camera, which works even when your phone is locked meaning you can go from pocket to picture in seconds (which as I found comes in very handy when your trying to a capture a cheeky snap of your new nephews first smile!)

- The Marketplace Hub (Microsofts version of itunes & the app store) including apps, games, music and exclusive Xbox LIVE games

- Microsoft Office Hub provides mobile versions of Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint & Excel to view and edit documents.

- Built-In FM Radio

Overall the Windows Phone 7 really puts it up to Apple and is a genuine rival. Will I be replacing my iPhone for one anytime soon? Well that remains to be seen!

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