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.