iMessageFor the past few months I’ve been using Windows Phone devices on a daily basis. This marks a switch from my years-long stint as a faithful iPhone user. While my work dictates that I try other smartphones on a regular basis, and I’m always on the lookout for an even better phone to use, nothing has appealed to me more than iPhone over the past several years.

Until Windows Phone 7.5 Mango came along.

Nokia’s Lumia 800 got me paying attention to Windows Phone last Fall, and since then my personal SIM card has cycled through that, HTC’s Titan, and the Samsung Focus S. It’s been all WinPhone all the time for me since the day the Lumia loaner arrived on my doorstep with the notable exception of my trip to Vegas for CES earlier this month. Why no Windows Phone at CES? Because I wanted to use Skype and FaceTime to keep in touch with folks back home, and Windows Phone doesn’t support either video chat protocol. So I went back to my iPhone 4 for the week-long trip to Sin City.

Now that I’m back home, I’m using Focus S again but am starting to wonder how long I can keep it up. Why? Let’s call it peer pressure. Just like going out of town for a week made me realize how much I like using video chat to stay in touch with folks when I’m on the road, coming back home has made me realize how many of my acquaintances are iPhone users. And the fact of the matter is when so many of your close wireless friends are tied into iOS, you kind of miss out on a lot by being outside of the ecosystem.

A few examples:

  • iMessage. I didn’t care until I saw a few iPhone-toting friends in from overseas for CES. Now that they’re back in the U.K., the Middle East and other far flung corners of the globe, I can use the iOS-only iMessage to text message them for free. Or I can pay AT&T only knows how much to send trans-Atlantic SMS notes to them from my Focus S.
  • Video Clips via MMS. I know, I know, all the cool kids share video over Facebook, not MMS. Well, not all of my friends are cool, and they like it when I MMS them short video clips, and vice-versa. Too bad iOS and WP7 don’t play nicely together in that regard.
  • Contact Cards. Same as above, when my friends send me .vcf cards from their iPhones via MMS, my Windows Phone can’t deal. Grr. There’s nothing worse than bugging a friend to give you another person’s contact info, except asking them to resend as a hand-written text message because you stopped using your iPhone.

Those are just three examples. There’s a whole other category of non-social things I miss about iOS that fall under the general category of “apps.” Most notably there’s no Sonos or Wolfgang’s Vault apps for Windows Phone, both of which I used almost daily back in the iOS days. I know, Rich Man’s Problems, but hey, it’s how I use my phone.

Going back to the original thrust of this post, for as much as I’ve always contended that the best smartphone is the one that makes you the happiest, by their very nature phones depend on other phones to work. As such, the performance of your phone – and, therefore, its ability to make you happy – is contingent on how well it gets along with the phones your friends and acquaintances are using.

In my case, using Windows Phone has been making me happy. Or it had been until I got out of the house and saw my old friends. And now I’m a little sad because they all use iPhones and I don’t. Ahh, smartphones – just like the high school cafeteria. There’s always a cool kids’ table to wish you were sitting at.