So, I took the plunge – I switched platforms – I was all in on Google – I used Google Mail, Drive, Blogger, Sites and Analytics, just to name a few of Google services. So, I was already fairly ensconced in the Google world when I originally hopped on the Android platform on August 30, 2010 with the Sprint’s Samsung Galaxy S device, the Epic 4g. (I actually tried an Android phone a couple weeks before this, the Samsung Moment – really not ready for prime time phone.) This phone, especially as a smartphone, was light years ahead of anything I’ve ever used. I could still use a real keyboard, the screen was a beautiful bit of 4″ Super AMOLED goodness and it could handle any media I could throw at it. Overall, it was a good mix of tools and experience. Not always the most polished, but dead simple and worked reasonably well. At the time, it made the best sense for me. I was tied to Sprint at the time and so iOS was out, Windows Phone 6.5 really wasn’t a viable choice (it just didn’t work well) and Blackberry was limited as well. No, at that time, Android was the right choice. It’s amazing what a difference 2 1/2 years makes.
Sprint’s network in the Raleigh area was good and with a good roll-out of WiMAX (LTE wasn’t out yet). Yes, the GPS on the Epic was worthless and the ability to grab calls a bit dicey, but not terrible. Mobile life was pretty good.
So, why not stay in the Android world when it was time for an upgrade? First, the fractured platform: the original Epic 4g made it to Gingerbread. This took a long time. At the time I bought Epic, I thought, I’m not just buying a phone, I’m buying into a growing, improving platform. Not so much. The platform may improve, but you’ll need different hardware to improve with it. That’s true, to some degree of all platforms, but the fractured base of Android exacerbates this problem. Second, there was some awkwardness in the interface and OS. Enough halts, freezes and crashes to get tiresome. Finally, I really like the subscription model of music – it allows you to explore à la Pandora while giving more control (I still listen to albums). Spotify wasn’t on Android yet and I prefer Xbox Music (formerly Zune Service) anyway. Finally, there was the siren call of that lovely hardware package: the Nokia Lumia 920. Flat-out gorgeous, lovely to hold, a joy to use and it simply works. Oh, and did I mention the camera? You know, the one with optical image stabilization and Carl Zeiss lens that allows for good low-light pictures? By the way, regarding the weight and thickness comments, I’m not quite so feeble that I can’t carry it or hold it. If I do let it go, it will survive. See PhoneBuff’s drop test. Oh, and the wireless charging. Wow, I love just dropping it on the charger and picking it up without having to think about wires. And the…, well, this list could go on.
I was already tempted by Windows Phone 8 – a cool new interface; traversing this multi-tiled landscape across a field of smooth tapered glass was a joy compared to selecting icons on my old Android. But wait… I’ve invested all this time in the googleverse, some money on apps and the platform is growing. Do I want to make the effort to switch? Learning a new OS and apps on a somewhat risky platform that still hasn’t reached a huge following yet seems a bit of a stretch. First, it wasn’t that much of risk; it was unlikely that Windows Phone wouldn’t survive my contract. Mostly, I don’t want to be driven by fear, especially on something like a phone choice. So, live on the edge, learn some new stuff and stave off the onslaught of weakening mental faculties for just a little bit longer. Seriously, the interface is intuitive and there are so many apps in common (Evernote, Pandora, WordPress, Kindle, Audible …), the new ones are fairly straight-forward to learn and the Windows 8 UI is dead-easy. Switching is one of the best moves I’ve made. Is it a perfect experience? No. There are a few (less than you would think) apps that aren’t native on the platform I would like. Yes they have counter-parts but they typically aren’t as good (with exceptions like Graffiti Radio, a Pandora client which is better than a very good native Pandora client). I’ve had the phone lock a couple of times (like 2). The overall experience is a delight. Oh, and it really works as a phone and the GPS is dead on.
At the same time, I moved to AT&T. I’ve heard all the “Attempt to Talk” jokes and how much more fabulous Verizon’s network is. Probably true, but I can simply speak to my 5 plus months experience – it has been outstanding. Calls connect, texts reach their target immediately and the LTE roll-out in the Triangle is wicked fast. Your mileage may vary. Sprint’s customer service was fine, but the network severely deteriorated the last couple of years. Since AT&T was the only place to get the Lumia, I took a chance, tested the heck out the network the first 14 days and have never regretted the move since. (My wife and daughter have moved over as well with Android and Windows Phone 7 devices. My son will follow suit in a month on iOS; we’re a diverse family.)
So, I’ve drunk the Microsoft cool-aid for now. I use Skydrive, Office on-line (much better formatting and familiar function), Outlook email and the non-Microsoft WordPress for blogging. Overall, it all works better. Is the Googleverse bad? No, I haven’t completely abandoned it. But I prefer the new; moreover, I definitely appreciate my mobile interface to it – for example, documents render so much better now.
Nokia itself is fabulous; they care in ways I never saw from Samsung. Adding apps, updating with improvements and producing sturdy, beautifully designed handsets. They have a commitment which Samsung never showed. I’m not worried about a seriously delayed or never adopted update because the OS is fragmented from the original development code.
Is my experience the same as someone else’s would be? No. Because I went to a new network, a better spec’d phone and more recently updated OS, I received benefits I would have on any phone. Had I gone to Samsung Galaxy S3 on AT&T, my experience would have improved as well. So what sets my Lumia experience apart? The delight factor. The Lumia and Windows Phone 8 is a delight to use. From it’s feel in the hand to the live tiles showing the weeks of the weather (I love Weather Flow), it’s simply a joy to use. For me, the S3 would have been a good, improved tool, but just a tool. (The S4 would be a very large, good tool. Seriously, 5″?)
So take a risk; try something new. Even if it’s not Windows Phone 8, experiment a little.