Some time ago, I got an incentive to get a new Windows Phone – I’ve written a few articles about this ( here, here, here and here). The long and short of it is that I got enough clicks to earn me a new phone so long as I used it solely for 3 months.
It’s now been over a month since I moved over from my older iPhone to a new Lumia 820 Windows Phone (with WP8). It’s taken time to get used to a new device, a new device OS and a new device/OS ecosystem. I’m sure it’s no surprised that one’s reaction to a new phone is a mixture of one’s reactions to all three of these!
The phone itself, the Lumia 820 is a step down in quality from the iPhone. It’s nice enough, but the screen resolution is not as good. Having said that, the phone in bright sunlight (like we had today!) is pretty good – better than the iPhone. The phone has a plastic back cover just feels rather like, well, plastic. The Lumia feels ok in the hand while the iPhone, on the other hand, felt great.
The telephone functions (SMS text and PSTN calling) works great so far. As we know, it sucks at home a bit, but that’s O2’s fault as the reception here is sub-optimal. The reception across northern Europe has been good.
The device as a smartphone is excellent. I can do mail, surf the web, play on twitter fairly easily. The wireless aspect is pretty smooth – connection seems easier than in the iPhone across the many Wi-Fi sites I access in my travels.
The phone’s controls are on the side and I find I often turn off the screen when holding it. I am kind of getting used to it though – but I prefer the controls on the top of the phone.
The phone’s back is a hard plastic shell. The Lumia has several striking colours on offer and mine was white. It looked awesome, at first, but the whiteness is fading a bit. It, and the plastic controls, make the phone feel cheap.
The worst aspect of the phone is the screen resolution. It’s just not as good as the iPhone. And that would keep me from buying or recommending the phone.
The WP8 OS has been quite interesting to get used to – and I quite like it. It’s very different to the IOS/Android. With WP8 there are, in effect just two screens: the first is the start screen with tiles etc. and the second, a full alphabetical list of all the apps on the phone. The former lets you organise how you view all the goodness on your phone while the latter helps you find it all.
This new paradigm has taken me some time to get used to. But as I use the device more, I am slowly honing in on tiles I need for the 80-90% case and leaving everything the else to the flickable a-z list. It works, but it takes a lot of work to get it all setup. I found the time to get all the applications up and running was longer than for both iPhone and Android.
The application ecosystem lags far behind the iPhone and Android. There are just far fewer applications and applications that exist are often not as good than for the iPhone of Android. There’s no native app for my bank (First Direct)-and although I can use the web site, I really like the iPhone app. There’s also no Drop box application, no decent BBC or Iplayer application either. Sure I can, like my bank use the main web sites for some of these, it’s not as convenient.
The Nokia 820 is an OK phone, with a pretty good OS and a poor application ecosystem. The 820 suffers compared to it’s bigger brother (the 925) particularly in terms of resolution. The WP8 OS works well enough to not be a hindrance but the application ecosystem needs a great deal of improving.
If I had to buy a new phone today, I’d not buy this particular model, but would consider a 925 mainly due to the better screen resolution. The OS is not an issue – if there was a great phone, having WP8 on it would not be an issue.
So thanks to Microsoft for letting me have the phone. If it’s OK by them, I’ll keep it a little while longer (beyond the three months I originally agreed!).