Thursday, April 04, 2013

Moving to a Windows Phone–Part 3–The Move Over

As many of you will know, I engaged in a contest to get you all to click, click, and click. If enough of you clicked, the story was that Microsoft would give me a new Windows Phone. I accepted that challenge and promised that in return for the phone, I’d cease using my iPhone and use this new Windows phone for 3 months. I love my iPhone, and was somewhat nervous over the deal – but I’m willing to try it.

Well, the first part of the challenge was a success, and I duly headed over to Microsoft to pick up the new phone. It’s a Nokia Lumia 820. I arrived at Microsoft and was given the phone by Claire Smyth, our most excellent MVP Lead. We had a nice chat and I was quite excited to open the box.

First Impressions

As I opened it, the packaging was nice and very Apple like with a nicely designed box. The phone it self felt good in my hand and felt heavy enough to be real – and the battery even had nearly a full charge! Some of the newer phones I’ve held recently felt cheap and plasticy (Is that a word – all plastic like), in other words cheap and cheerful (maybe). By comparison, it was heavy enough to feel good, and could pretty instantly be used.

First impressions, thus, were good. The phone looked good, the white plastic back looked cool. It was stylish, but practical. So far so good.

Getting into the new phone

Back home, I immediately started playing. The phone booted smoothly and I was immediately able to get wireless connectivity going. My first task was to get mail working and this was surprisingly easy. I just typed in my credentials and the Exchange Server name and away it went. The Email client, at first sight looks OK, compared to the iPhone.

Getting the phone to work as a phone was also snap – I just had to find the iPhone tool to retrieve my SIM and pop it into the phone. As someone with non-existent finger nails, I did find getting into the new phone was quite difficult. As I’m not likely to have to get into the innards very often, this is probably no bad thing, but in the end, I had to get my wife, with her longer nails, to help. But once I popped the old SIM into the new phone, immediately it worked! The overall phone quality from home is sucky, but that’s O2’s issue, not the phone. But I could make calls in the UK. I’ve yet to try calls when abroad but I’ll post any issues or success that arises.

I also started playing around with the Windows Phone 8 UI – the new version Windows 8 with it’s tile based front end. And I also started searching for apps. As I posted, I have a bunch of apps I wanted and needed on the new phone so time was spent in the Store. In my last article on this topic, I set out what my needs and expectations were with regard to apps. While I knew that, at least, some the apps in a given category might be different (like they are between Android and iPhone). I can live with that to a degree.

Good stuff

Moving over to the phone for all my KEY needs has been pretty painless. Email was up in a snap, wireless and mobile data were a breeze to setup. Props to the Phone OS – when I went to setup the wireless data, rather than having to call O2 to find out the password etc., the Lumia displayed an option to just use the O2 settings and hey presto. Sweet! Mail is quick, the phone works in the local area and some of the key apps are up and working.

The Windows 8 tiles seem pretty cool. At first sight. It took me a month or two on both my last Android and iPhone to get a layout that worked and this is certainly going to be true for the Windows phone. The tiles are easy to access, easy to move around and easy to re-size. The application the tile represents can change the display – and this I find better than the iPhone’s method of displaying pushed changes.

Adding storage via a MicroSD chip is trivial and not very expensive. It was trivial to buy off the net, and a breeze to install (with the proviso that getting the back of the phone off so I could insert the chip was not easy). But after inserting it, replacing the cover and rebooting the phone - it just worked! Of course, filling it is not be a problem! I wish the iPhone had had the ability to use a MicroSD chip. Lack of on-phone memory was for me a limiting factor to the iPhone – so well done Nokia. Any chance of adding in a 2nd or 3rd slot next time – I have a lot of Grateful Deal to move onto the phone! Trying to take my 3.5TB worth of shows and fit into a mere 64GB is not easy – but that’s my problem to deal with.

Issues Arising So Far

While the initial honeymoon period was nice, it wasn’t perfect and there are a few issues I’ve noted. The first issue is the resolution of the screen. When I open an Email message, the resolution of the text is just not as crisp or as clear as on the iPhone. The iPhone is much better despite 2 year older technology. That said, I can live with it – but it feels cheap. This is a Nokia fault, really, not Windows.

The second issue, which is really quite a mild one, is the difficulty of getting into the phone’s innards. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have adequate finger nails to pry off the cover. I suppose this is a good-news/bad-news thing – it’s difficult to get the cover off, meaning the cover won’t come off easily. And as I hopefully won’t need to pop the cover off very often, this is a minor thing.

The third issue is apps, or should I say lack thereof. After a week, I’ve not managed to duplicate the full richness of my previous iPhone environment. The Windows shop reminds me of visiting East Berlin and the USSR in the early 1980’s and going into a shop there. I’ll report more on my quest for apps in the next article.

Summary after a Week

Overall, it’s a nice phone. The display quality is somewhat disappointing – I expected iPhone 4 quality and better. The OS is solid, and the core apps I’m using so far all work OK. But several apps are still unfound and some don’t yet work for me. I’ll return in a week or two with further commentary.