Just a quick mini post – I left my Nokia 920 out in the car again last night (sorry Crime Watch) and when I went to pick it up this morning it still had 25% charge. That’s great considering we had freezing temperatures in our region last night and the battery started its torture test with about 75% charge. Those Scandinavian chaps clearly know a thing or two about engineering technology for cold environs
Well my partner has just picked up a Nokia Lumia 820 via T-Mobile UK. A mere month after the official UK ‘launch’ date, they can now furnish you with, arguably, the finest handset in the current Nokia Windows Phone 8 lineup. Find below my unstructured thoughts…
Quality Speaks For Itself
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the handset feels higher quality than it’s flagship big brother, the Lumia 920. The high contrast and popping colours on the AMOLED screen more than make up for the resolution deficit vs its sibling. Yes, 800 x 480 pixels is a LOT less than 11280 x 768, but the Windows Phone 8 tiles really benefit from strong tones and deep blacks, to the point where I don’t CARE. The reality for many people is that they don’t spend time watching movies on their 4.3″ smartphones. Perhaps, like me, you have a short commute to work so can only fit in a few rounds of Angry Bird? Well the good news for you is that the high contrast AMOLED screen makes the 4 games available for WP8 (sic) look fantastic. Who want’s real life flesh tones, and photography graded muted pallets? I have the real world to look at for that, and trust me. Real people’s flesh tones look sickly and horrible this time of year
The quality doesn’t stop there though – the plastic shell fooled me into thinking it was metal. My Lumia 920 shipped with a dirty great chunk out of one corner, and even with my OCD driven careful handling of the device, the polycarb mono block has still picked up a few hair scratches. This shell feels sturdier, and is replaceable at negligible cost (vs a phone) to boot! The ceramic keys are up there with the 920’s, if anything higher as I’m feeling less play on them.
Good thing Come In Small Packages
The handsets geometry makes more sense to me too. Much like the iPhone 5, it is hand sized, unlike it’s cyclopean BIG bruv. The battery is pretty small (physically) but all reports so far indicate that for the target user base of this handset (somewhere below power user, but above Grandma) it will be more than adequate. YMMV but I’ll return with stats once my partner has bedded the phone (well, more importantly the battery) in. A Micro SD card is another tiny treat for the customer bold enough to buy this handset, something the Lumia 920 sorely misses. The Windows Phone 8 OS, as I stated in my other Lumia 920 posts, is pretty amazeballs and is the best treat of all.
The Impossible Dream
However, nothing in life is perfect, even the Lumia 820. The camera is noticeably worse in challenging situations than the iPhone 4X/iPhone 5/Lumia 920, it’s headline 8MP camera being just that; a headline.
Removing the case, should you want to replace your shell with a charging capable one (my partners shipped with one out of the box, YMMV by region), or should you need to do something as demanding as putting in the micro-SIM to use the device as a phone is challenging. Allow me to state an unstated pre-req… YOU MUST HAVE FINGERNAILS THE SIZE & STRENGTH OF BUTTER-KNIFE TIPS. I only have little diddy finger nails due to a disease where I keep eating them, hence if there hadn’t been an adult around to help me open the phone, it would have been demoted to a Microsoft Wireless ZunePod 8.0. I provide ye with the guidance here for changing the shell, but I can must emphasise, it is hard. Especially if you don’t want to break the proscribed methodology by bringing some metal instrument into play, potentially wrecking your lovely AMOLED screen. Your finger nails will break and you will fear for the structural integrity of the phones shell. You have been warned.
In summary, I’m impressed with this sub-flagship phone. This would make a great business handset (hint-hint employer) and I’m sorely tempted to go out and buy one, if it wasn’t for the current list price (£379.95 SIM free). I’m not saying that’s too high for handset of this quality; nay it’s a bargain. I just don’t have the spare scratch pre-Christmas.
I’d go so far as to say that this tiny titan is a great sign for the recently unveiled , a phone even further down the pecking order. The Windows Phone 8 experience clearly translates well from flagship handsets down to more commodity fare, so I can see the Lumia 620 being a commercially successful device. It’s got a low clock speed processor (WP8 don’t need no stinking clocks) and uses well established screen technologies which should equate to fantastic battery life for the customer and increased margin for Nokia. NB: In the authors mind it isn’t a crime to turn a profit. Sorry Internet… Its pricing is rumoured to be the good side of £200 (read cheaper) SIM free/unsubsidised which should translate to a touch cheaper for Pay As You Go contracts, a Western niche I could see it doing well in, outside its initial target market of the developing world. It’s got interchangeable shells, which should increase its longevity and raise its appeal with the cool kids, also potentially increasing sales. Most importantly, it comes in Lime Green and everybody loves Lime Green.
(How do you think Marvel sell so many of those Hulk comics? It isn’t for the plot…)
As I posted earlier this week, my transition into the Brave New World of Windows Phone 8 hasn’t exactly been smooth. Although my last two blog posts covered one of the most significant faults reported to date (random freezing, not just limited to Nokia), sadly there’s been others too. I’ll cover the high points and the low points below:
Rapid Battery Drain & Overheating
I experienced this one whilst at a conference without my charger (inconveniently). My work ActiveSync account spontaneously lost all its mail. My phone then attempted to download every mail it was missing. Now, I have my phone set to download 30 days of mail history and I get a LOT of email. Three minutes later my handset was red hot (around the camera area) and I’d gone down from 66% battery (approx.) to 0%, (read: flat as a pancake). To be quite honest, I thought the battery may have shorted out!
I’m hoping it was just a one off brain-fart from the mail app as I haven’t seen such drain again since Thursday and the device recharged fine. I wonder if anyone else has seen this in the wild?
Two more freezes
I’ve had the phone black screen freeze two more times since I reported it last Sunday. As I recently read that this is associated with ‘bad applications’, I started paying attention to what I was doing when the phone froze. The last freeze was induced by my pulling out of the headphones when using the Nokia Music application. A handset manufacturer’s software causing crashes? That would be a first 😉
I’d consider this fault innocuous, if it wasn’t for the fact that my date resets back to the date of handset manufacture (I assume) every time I perform the recovery action, a soft reset. If I don’t set the date quick enough, messages from my friends and family get injected into the past, Marty McFly style, adding to my frustration.
…and The Highs
Windows Phone 8 – Live Tiles v2
By far and away the best feature on the new OS platform is resizable Live Tiles. When Microsoft were going berserk promoting the virtues of this enhancement I figured it was just vendor overexcitement. I was dead wrong! The amount of screen real-estate I’ve managed to reclaim by shrinking tiles that I don’t need live data from is significant, freeing up the screen for fun stuff, like those People Groups I never could find the space for. I’m not getting a lot out of wide tiles to be quite honest, but the small ones let me reduce the amount of times I have to navigate into the murky depths of the side rail. Speaking of side rails, losing the perpetual side rail shortcut was another inspired move. Please don’t misunderstand me – this iteration of Live Tiles is only an evolution (rather than revolution), but it’s a big step, like opposable thumbs.
Nokia Lumia 920 – PureView Camera
I’ve also had a small measure of time to play with the headline PureView camera, and it’s pretty swish. It’s capturing low light shots my iPhone 4S camera would never have achieved and it’s autofocus, colour balance and resolution are far, far better than it’s precursor in my portfolio, the Nokia Lumia 800. This is great kit, and I really look forward to getting to grips with the Smart Shoot and Lens features.
Overall – Am I keeping it?
Now please bear in the mind, I’ve had exposure to all of the mainline phone operating platforms over the past few years. I grey imported my iPhone 1 and have been frustrated/excited/made ambivalent by the various incremental versions of Android. I’ve been RIMed by Blackberry, sideswiped by Symbian & underwhelmed by WP7. It’s fair to say I’ve lived with more platforms than most! Until quite recently I was a dyed in the wool iPhone guy as I honestly felt that the platform was the most balanced, taking into account the SW and the HW.
Note: I’m not espousing the ‘App ecosystem’ – I’m not into that these days, as I’m not twelve nor do I feel the need to burn every spare brain cycle on scrabble/name that tune derivatives. Most of my application needs are met by web applications or core platform functions (browser, maps, messaging & mail – everyone has these, it’s just a question of implementation)
The WP7.5 Nokia Lumia 800 changed that for me. WP7.5 was a revelation of what ‘could be’. It performed the smart phone functions better than my old iPhone and put me in far better touch with my social media feeds, be it reading or posting. That said, I felt I was having to make a hardware compromise to have access to this great OS. The general build quality was great, the AMOLED screen vibrant, but the camera, oh Heavens above, was rotten.
The Lumia 920 is the long-awaited Windows Phone platform promise that I’ve yearned for made real. The star of the show is the fantastic, fully rounded Nokia HW, allowing the WP8 OS to impress me with no distraction. The camera is top of class and the screen is sharp beyond belief, popping as much as any LCD I’ve ever used. The Nokia value add software feels so tightly integrated that you’d swear it was OEM and frankly makes up for any deficiencies in the ‘bog standard’ WP8 platform (i.e. decent turn-by-turn nav). Sure, the device is big but you get used to that and actually start to appreciate it when you’re watching media or trying to parse large documents.
All WP customers will in some degree get to appreciate the steps forward made through core Windows Phone OS development (be it an OTA 7.8 update of an existing device, or through the purchase of a WP8 phone from an alternative vendor) and that’s a great thing. I do reckon that Nokia customers get the best deal though, quality oozing from their HW and value-add SW sweetening the pot, resulting in a great experience.
Nokia/Microsoft just need to release stability patches quick, as in yesterday, before they get bad press. It would be a terrible shame if the best smartphone platform to date (in my humble opinion) didn’t get the adoption it deserves due to the schoolboy error of not releasing a fully finished/tested flagship product. Whether HTC & Samsung like it or not, people in Europe intrinsically associate Windows Phone 8 with Nokia.
[This is only fair considering the Finnish companies massive commitment to Microsoft (in both approach and marketing) over the years. They truly have gone ‘all-in’.]
Therefore, I would suggest that a bad Nokia launch bodes badly for every manufacturer hoping to sell devices using this platform. It’s in everyone’s best interest to get WP8 stable on all the handsets that are out on the market now, if phones launched later are going to stand any chance of selling. I’ll be giving Nokia & Microsoft a chance to get it right, but I’m not so sure the marketplace will be so forgiving to the underdog.
As I posted a few minutes ago, my Nokia would not turn on this morning. I posted (here) expressing my knee jerk anger.
Being an IT Pro by trade, and a Nokia shareholder (there, I said it), I felt I should at least make some effort to fix the device. If it was a software or firmware issue, rather than hardware, I figured I should stand a fighting chance. If I’d tried all I could, it should also equate to an easier refund experience at Phones4U tomorrow.
Lo-and-behold, two Bing searches later I found some guidance on the two known methods of resetting the anatomically similar Nokia Lumia 800. How many ways could those crazy Finns allow you to control the phone hardware through an identical button layout?
Not that many it turns out! The soft reset procedure outlined at ukmobilereview.com brought my Nokia Lumia 920 back to life. To give more detail, the phone appeared dead, inert, brick like. Pressing the power button on the side left the screen black & lifeless. Connecting the device to a charger or USB port did nothing. The soft reset process made the handset reboot and things have been OK so far.
I hope this doesn’t happen to other less IT savvy consumers, who frankly may just return this flagship handset in frustration and purchase and iPhone 5 with their monies. I sense a firmware update in this device’s impending future…
After last weeks Windows Phone UK ‘launch’, I finally managed to find someone carrying stock in Reading yesterday. In my excitement, I purchased a matte black handset immediately, willing to forgive Nokia this minor transgression.
Day one was fantastic – Windows Phone 8 was just like Windows Phone 7.5, only Windows-ier… no seriously it was fantastic. Resizing tiles made the home screen way more useful, the SkyDrive integration was way stronger, including a means of backing up text messages for yo text kiddies out there.
I didn’t get much further than that on the OS though. The HW from the promised land of Finland may have many things – a cracking PureView camera, 4G antenna, NFC, Qi wireless charging, a PureMotion HD+ screen. However, it didn’t have the ability to take a charge. Day one was the only day I actually got to use the handset, as it’s battery wouldn’t take a charge last night and wont take one now!
I’m positively fuming! This is the ONLY time in my life I had this experience with a premium phone handset. I’ll be down Phones4U in the morning to return this glorious handset. Whether I give one another chance will entirely depend on my ire in the morn.
My marketplace tile just notified me of updates available for several of the Nokia apps bundled with my Lumia 920, specifically…
- Nokia Maps
- Nokia City Lens
- Smart Shoot (Lumia 920 exclusive)
- Nokia Music (I think)
Nothing too exciting – just stability/performance enhancements for the most part.
Apologies about the sketchy final bullet point. Sadly, I’m doing this from memory. I recall four apps in the list and it wasn’t Nokia Drive or Nokia Care. It still strikes me as odd though, as the latest version of Music has been available since the 28th
Perhaps it took Nokia a little bit longer to get it ready for the Windows Phone 8 platform?