Today is the day that Windows Mobile 7 phones are to come to stores. My first experience with trying to get a phone other than an iPhone on launch day, has so far been a disappointment. I called up the local AT&T store, and asked if they had any in stock, and the answer was that they hadn’t arrived yet, and that I should check back around noon. Honestly, 9:00am I should have been able to walk in, and walk back out with the phone.

Another disappointment is that “not all phones are the same”. Since MS isn’t creating the hardware, they have to rely on 3rd party companies to develop the phone line up. That in itself isn’t bad, but looking at some of the graphics, a few have gone with their own design for where the windows start button should go, for example. All 3 available launch devices from AT&T are running on the older 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

According to other website sources, the HTC Surround won’t be available for a few weeks after today’s launch. [edit: When we visited the AT&T store, they did have the HTC Surround in stock ]

Another option is the LG Quantum which does have a QWERTY keyboard, but also has a slightly smaller screen at 3.5 inches. [edit: This one was NOT available at the store however, on display or otherwise. I didn’t ask why though.]

Samsung’s entry is the Focus, better known as the Cetus. The touch-only design centers on a four-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen like the Galaxy S but uses older hardware: the 1GHz Snapdragon is slower and is mated to a smaller 8GB of storage. A five-megapixel camera and 720p video again join the mix, as does a $200 price; the Focus is the first device to ship and will be ready on November 8.

The Samsung Focus is the device we were looking to purchase when we went into the store. With the largest screen, it seemed the best option for us to test our applications and games on.

For more information, feel free to check out the article I referenced for my tech specs.

[11:00 AM]
We just returned from the Oviedo, FL Corporate AT&T store empty handed with yet another disappointment.

I have several iPhones on my account, needless to say, we’re with AT&T already. We went over to pick up the Samsung device, only to be denied, not because they were out of stock, but because we did not want the voice/data plan to go along with it. We called around to see what we could do about this situation, because we wanted to purchase the device out right, not with a data plan, but at every stop we were told that a voice/data plan would have to go with the phone, even if you’re buying it outright. Of course, since we would be adding a device to our plan, and a new number, we would also have to pay fees for that, as well as a early termination fee if we should decide to turn the new device off after a month or so.

All in all, once again disappointed with AT&T for not allowing us to just pay for the phone. Add another $100 to the device itself and get rid of the hassle so developers can get their hands on the device and release software for it! This is so VERY dumb!

Thank you to Twitter, a friend mentioned getting a device from England or Canada where they’re [usually] unlocked by default. I don’t mind being locked to the carrier, what I mind is the hassle involved in getting the device, rather than being able to just go in and pick up the device. If I wasn’t so happy with my iPhone, and maybe still had my BlackJack this wouldn’t really be a problem, I’d be happy to upgrade, and even take the discounted price.

Disappointed at every turn today pretty much sums it up.

[3:00 PM]
No Wait! The adventure continues!
So I saw an ad on Facebook for Windows Phone Developers to get discounts through T Mobile. So naturally I had to give them a call and see what they could do about getting me a phone without a line attached. They said they could do it! But sadly their systems at the store I went to were not updated, so they couldn’t sell the phone today. Well, THAT’s a bummer.

On the way out of the mall, I decided to give Radio Shack a try — even though the guys at the AT&T Corporate store told me that Radio Shack wouldn’t be able to sell me the phone without the contract either… I explained what I wanted very briefly, let him know (as I had been doing with each store representative) that I was a developer, was happy with my iPhone and just needed the phone for testing our software on the device. I had a choice between the Samsung Focus from AT&T (which is the one we wanted ANYWAY) and the HTC HD7 from T Mobile. It only made sense to pick up the Samsung Focus since, if necessary we could just drop a sim card into it and test features intermittently.

Needless to say, we are now happy campers thanks to Radio Shack!

We have already tried a few builds on the device, and I’m happy to say that we’re progressing nicely!