My experience with the Lumia 520

Hardware

I've always wanted to try out Windows Phone as I've always been very critical of it. I've never liked the Metro / Modern UI (or whatever they're calling it nowadays) interface, but you can't really be honestly critical of something until you've really used it. The Lumia 520 is a cheap phone. Everything about it screams and feels cheap. The screen feels like I'm sliding my finger on resistive plastic as opposed to glass. I'm not quite sure what material it is, but if it is indeed glass than it is one of the most the bottom of the barrel glass screens I've ever run my fingers across. Maybe it's because I'm used to my Nexus 4 with it's slippery glass screen that my fingers effortlessly glide on. I actually had to double check whether there was some type of screen protector or protective plastic covering over it because it feels so bad.

This also leads me to another annoyance with Windows Phone - the vibration each of the capacitive buttons make whenever you touch them. There is no way to turn it off or even reduce the level of vibration. The vibration is so intense it rattles the phone each time I use them. To not even offer the option to turn off these annoying vibrations is bewildering. The phone is also very bulky. More so than I'd like it to be. As someone who used to own a Galaxy S2 i9100 this phone feels chunky, bloated and heavy. The S2 is a phone that has similar specs to the 520 with the only real technical difference being that it used an OLED screen and had 1GB of memory. The screen was also disappointing. It apparently uses an IPS display, but it looks more like a TN display. The viewing angles aren't that good and the colors looked extremely dull and muted.

OS

If you're coming from Android the experience can be pretty jarring. All you can do, from a customization perspective, is change the colors of the tiles and their size. I've heard a lot of things about the OS in regards to its fluidity and scrolling and it's all really subjective. I was surprised by how slow the scrolling speed really is. I tried to flick the screen as fast as I could to see how fast it could actually scroll and it was if it had some type of speed limit/governor to control the scrolling speed. I believe it does this to control the experience and give the impression of smooth scrolling, but when you're used to blisteringly scrolling through settings and options on a Nexus 4 the scrolling speed of Windows Phone leaves a lot to be desired.

As for the fluidity of the OS it uses these superfluous transitional animations throughout the OS. At first glance they're nice, but they get boring quickly and there is no option to turn them off or even reduce their animation time. Again, the OS seems to using these animations as a way of masking the performance issues of the OS. Another point of interest was how intuitive the OS was supposed to be compared to iOS or Android. Steve Balmer once said that you needed a computer science degree to use Android. I'm guessing he's never used Android because I find Android and iOS to be more intuitive than Windows Phone OS simply because people are used to the common icon UI paradigm found on nearly every computer and device UI. Using Modern UI was a frustrating experience not only from a usability point of view, but also from a feature perspective.

The OS is so void of features that it feels like a feature phone OS. One other thing I've noticed about the OS is that it'll often close apps for some inexplicable reason as I've often seen apps disappear when I bring up the multi-tasking view. Another annoying thing I've run into was that I was downloading maps for Nokia here and went somewhere else only to find that the download stopped in the background and when I returned it asked me if I wanted to resume the download. The OS feels so unpolished and in a perpetual state of beta.

Office

I was really excited to try Microsoft Office and see how good it was on their own platform. The app is quite good, but I wasn't really impressed. As a user of Kingsoft Office and Office Suite Pro for Android I didn't really see the advantage of it over any of the Android alternatives.

App Store

The app selection is horrendous to say the least. There are 3rd party Android app stores that not only look more appealing, but are also better organized. The app store doesn't seem to get a lot of attention, from a curation perspective, from Microsoft. Their broken YouTube app is still up there. Why they continue to leave a broken app, that they wrote themselves, up in their app store is either carelessness or just basic disregard for their own apps. The store is also filled with what I call copy cat apps that try to deliver the experience of apps that aren't on the platform. This is probably true for all platforms, but no more so than Windows Phone due in most part to how many official apps it's missing.

Final Thoughts

I'll be returning the phone soon. The Phone and OS are just not for me. I was expecting an experience on par with Android and iOS, but the Windows Phone OS doesn't even come close in my view.