A Week with Windows Phone 8 (Nokia Lumia 920)
About a week before Thanksgiving, I sat at my computer searching for any review or picture of the Nokia Lumia 920. Anything that would convince me enough to buy the phone. At the time, I was using an HTC One X with Cyanogen mod 10 on it. Which IMO is the best android experience you can have on any Android smartphone right now and anyone who has an HTC One X on AT&T I definitely recommend you go ahead and flash that ROM if you have any experience in doing so(Link to XDA), but I digress. The One X was great, its UX mixed with Google Services was fantastic, but I was looking for something different. Having used iOS for a better part of 3-4 years starting with the OG 2G iPhone (Unlocked and used on T-Mobile) and using Android for about a year or so (Galaxy Note, International HTC One X, AT&T HTC One X) I was just looking for something different than an array of icons on a screen. The question I asked myself was "What are the features that I want from a phone, that would compel me to switch?" I had the same question when I switched from iOS to Android. What compelled me to switch from iOS to Android was the Hardware and Services. Stuff like GMail and now Google Now were things that "made sense" in everyday life. I used them on a daily basis, as a daily briefing in the morning when I woke up. So what kind of things would want me to think about switching from that? When Windows Phone 7 was announced it definitely opened my eyes, it was glossy in every sense of the word. The way the animations moved and the way you interacted with the OS was the same and totally different than any other mobile OS. I had originally bought a focus off some guy on craigslist for $50 and waited patiently until WP7.5(Mango) was released, which made the phone much more enjoyable, but somethings just didn't seemed finished. The screen was too low res, the OS did not have a dearth of apps, and although animations were completely smooth the load times of the actual apps were slow. So I told myself when the next iteration of Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) were to come out, I'd reconvene on the OS and take a second look. It was that intriguing.
Fast forward to Monday of last week, I had ordered a Red Nokia Lumia 920 from the AT&T store on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and it would be shipped to me. It had finally arrived. I quickly opened the UPS box to find a stale AT&T box (you know, the box that comes with every phone, except the iPhone and the GS3) although packaging should not matter, it does to me. When I look at a package, especially in the store, it is the first impression to a product. When I see that standard ATT box, that first impression I get is the impression of being the same as every other phone. I continued to open the box to find a "Ferrari Red" colored Nokia Lumia 920. It was gorgeous, it looked like something that was of worth. Not necessarily something you would see the CEO of your company carry around, but something that you would take out on the weekend while you are driving your Italian Sportscar. The first thing that comes to mind is "FLASHY". I continued to power on the phone and set up the phone.
Going through the process, the first thing that comes to mind when you get a smartphone is to look through the App Store or marketplace. This I did, the first thing that came to mind was, "How do I actually find anything" the app store is quite a confusing thing on WP8. Not saying that it lacks apps(more on that later) but it is very difficult to find apps. For example, Nokia and Microsoft have a lot of apps that they create for a specific phone or just the OS in general. They do not show up unless you query "Microsoft Corporation" or "Nokia Corporation" which in my opinion, they should be displayed as the first things you see as they are probably the most compatible and useful 1st party apps. The app selection is also another thing that is talked about a lot because of the "lack" of apps. I did not really see this problem as most of the apps on my Lumia 920 were available in some sort, whether it be integrated into the OS (Facebook and Twitter) available in 1st Party form (Weather, IE10) or available via a 3rd party (MetroGram and MetroTube). I mostly found all of the apps that I had on my Android device and even iPhone. The 2 huge omission of apps for me were Instagram (I know) and the little apps like Snapchat etc. Other than stuff like that I had really not missed anything from my previous phone.
As I waited for the apps to install on my new device, I started to look around and admire the shape of the phone. It is really solid, everything from the plastic buttons that have a good press, to the Corning Gorilla Glass 2 on the front. It just feels like a solid product. Not solid in the way of Apple products which use metals, but solid in the sense of there is no creak or give. It just feels right in the hand. Another thing I had noticed instantly was the weight of the phone, reading previous reviews and impressions of the phone, I was quite worried about it being too heavy. I lifted the phone to a nice surprise, yes it was heavy, but yet for some reason it felt like good solid weight. Like you are holding something of worth and in the pocket, it was no different. Lastly the color is pretty amazing.... The deep red is fantastic and you can tell it oozes vibrance. Every time I look at my phone sitting on a desk, I feel like it is something out of a movie. The hardware matches the software, it is fantastic. Not to be without gripes though, the phone is quite large (nothing I wasn't used to with the Galaxy Note) yet large nonetheless and is also a tad thicker than I would have liked it to be. Overall though a solid package.
Going back to downloading apps, I started to add my accounts such as Facebook and Twitter and some personal email accounts. The way the OS flows just seems like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. It feels like the OS is from the future and is here for me today to get a taste of whats to come. The way the animations flow and the way you interact with the phone is positively amazing. I would say that these animations are as important to WP8 as Metro's Live tiles themselves. It just makes you say wow, this is incredibly smooth. Like I said previously, I had some gripes with Windows 7.5, whether it be hardware or software. I did notice that apps noticeably loaded faster, but I am not sure if thats because the apps have been updated or the hardware is just faster, could be a combination of the two. Another gripe with 7.5 was the screen res, the screen on the Lumia 920 is fantastic. I like to keep it at low brightness to conserve battery and view the deeper blacks. i would say that the blacks on low brightness are near AMOLED status which was very impressive to me. Coming from the HTC One X which is touted as having the "Best" screen, Nokia does not skip a beat with this screen, that's how impressive it is. The camera is also another thing to admire. It is a very very good camera which I feel can be the best with software optimization and tweaks. The low light performance is unsurpassed, which we already knew. The photos in daylight are solid, I wouldn't say as good as the iPhone 5 for example which I think uses good camera software, but the photos are good. I also really enjoy having the hardware camera button as well as it being a 2 stage button. It is a little tough to press down at some points, but good nonetheless.
Overall, I wrote this post as an personal opinion/impression, not necessarily as a review. I find the Nokia Lumia 920 to be a stunning phone with a lot of potential. If Nokia and Microsoft can bring some of the apps in such as Spotify and Instagram, they have a winner on their hands and a winner in the future. People have been coming up to me and asking me about my phone and admiring it. So this begs the question, "Why aren't they buying it themselves?" I asked myself the same question and answered it.
Questions, Comments, Concerns appreciated
Also posted in Microsoft Tribe