Well, it’s a bit over a year and half into my Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8 life. (I came from Android, go here for more on my transition). Normally, at this point in the life of my contract is where I get a bit itchy for the next phone. I start looking down the horizon of what’s coming. Part of this my geeky self looking for the next cool toy but, at least in the past, my phone was really missing something or beginning to be troublesome such as crashing with some frequency, battery dying quickly or not connecting well. In other words, I really was ready for a new phone. While I love Nokia 1020’s camera and I love the Nokia Icon overall, I’m happy right where I am. The phone remains snappy, the battery is decent, the photos are great and it rarely has glitches. It just works and it’s fairly intuitive. Yes folks, a year and half in, I really still love my phone and the Windows Phone platform. Crazy, right?
Before diving into my reflections, let me give you some context by describing my main uses of my phone and to do that I need to tell you what I do and what I love. I’m in IT for an insurance company, so I like to keep current and experiment a bit with new geek toys. I love books, including audio books (I constantly use the Audible app). I love music (even when I’m reading books); I have fairly eclectic tastes (eveything from The Tallis Scholars and Anne Akiko Meyers on the classical side to OneRepublic, Civil Wars and Ed Sheeran the pop/folk side to a little M83 and Daft Punk and everything in between. So a subscription service is really great to explore and Xbox Music and, more recently, Beats Music are great. (Neither Pandora or Spotify serve well for someone who, like me and unlike most of the planet, is album oriented such as myself). I am a somewhat casual photographer; a bit more than point and shoot but not a lot of manual settings. I play games but like to do that more on a larger platform (e.g., a tablet like the Microsoft Surface – go Halo Spartan.) Oh, and I talk and text as well :)
What’s been the surprisingly great stuff?
– The Ecosystem: While the media would suggest that I ought to be slitting my wrists over the dearth of apps, this platform actually works for me. All of the major apps I use, Audible, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Netflix, Office, Kindle, YouVersion Bible, Pandora etc. are on the platform. This took a bit of time for some of them, but they’re all here. If you have some special needs or need 50 different choices of a Twitter client (I keep returning to the native Twitter client from Twitter), then you may need a larger ecosystem. Are there some apps I would love to see on Windows Phone 8 that aren’t there (talking to you Amazon Cloud Music client)? Sure. Nothing critical however.
– Wireless charging: it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but plopping this down my charger on the desk and picking it up without plugging and unplugging is hugely convenient.
– Nokia’s Here Maps and Drive work well. That’s what you want. No surprises. I love the fact that I can listen to GPS and texts while driving and respond to texts verbally without taking my hands off the wheel.
– Nokia: Since they’ve had to push for market share (in the overall phone market, they own the Windows Phone market), they are constantly looking for cool new things. Nokia Camera, updates, City Lens, the various Here apps. Rock-a-lockin’ I like being with a company that’s hungry. Yeah competition. I hope and trust Microsoft will serve as good owners.
– Office: Looking at or editing documents or spreadsheets have been a nightmare on the phone in the past. On this phone, they read well. Formatting is preserved and re-sizing to read it is a breeze. Editing is still a bit of a challenge simply due to the form factor, but it’s eminently doable and not like gouging my eyes out. The phone is a great compliment to a mobile office.
Lumia 920: Just a flat out great phone. I’ve played with iPhones (4S & 5), Samsung S3’s & HTC’s One X with more than casualness. I love the 920. Other phones, for me, have worked fine. There are little touches with the Lumia 920 that just bring delight for me.
What don’t I love?
– I have a love/hate relationship with Audible on Windows Phone 8. 90% of the time I love Audible on Windows Phone – it plays well with good bookmarking and uses Whispersync for Voice well. The hate part is it’s a bit resource intensive and switching between an incoming call (or an incoming text being read through my bluetooth headset -Jawbone Icon HD) can cause hiccups. At worst, I have to restart it, but I would like that to be smoother.
That’s pretty much the only major challenge. The normal phone stuff works well (calls, text, conference call, pairing to bluetooth etc). The apps behave. I think some of this points to a more mature market; phone capabilities are not changing as fast as they used to. Part of this is, I believe, the OS. Even when it first came out, the 920 didn’t have the fastest processors, biggest batteries etc. Yet it has never felt sluggish and, (some due to wireless charging), I rarely have to give thought to battery life. So being clever in build and design is as important as being brawny; this is an argument Apple been giving (and winning with) for years.
What did I think I would really miss but haven’t
– Replaceable battery: I had an external charger for my battery that didn’t requirement my phone to be plugged in. So I typically had one ready and one charging. As long as I had the batteries with me, I didn’t worry about running low. My phone used them up fairly quickly (4 – 6 hours depending on how new that battery was and what I was doing), but this was a workable solution. Due to wireless charging and Windows Phone’s relatively good power management, this hasn’t been an issue. I’m not sure I would risk this with Android (although it can be done – Motorola Maxx has great battery life)
– External memory slot: I didn’t have a ton of on-board memory (16 gb with 10 user-available) but had a 32gb card. Due to Lumia 920’s 32 GB on board memory and much more cloud storage and streaming, this has not been an issue. It’s also been nice not trying to manage where things live. Even though Android would support loading apps to the card, many apps would not support it. So storage got tight on my old phone even though I had plenty on my card. Photos and documents automatically upload to the cloud on OneDrive, I don’t store much music or video locally; I stream most of it.
– Swype: I really liked Swype. Due to a good predictive keyboard and more use of voice-to-text for things like texting, this has not been a big deal. Will I check out the swiping-style keyboard in 8.1? Sure.
So, we’ll see what’s on the horizon, but I don’t have a burning desire or need to upgrade with a bit less than half a year on my contract. Now that’s a nice place to be.