Week with Windows Phone 7 and Nokia Lumia 800
I was honored to be member of Megaspeaker team at Garage48 Music week. We were given the “Nokia special prize” which came with Nokia Lumia 800 phones. Hence I decided to do something I never thought I would – spend a week using Windows Phone 7 device. Following is my experience with Windows Phone 7.5 and Nokia Lumia 800. The review is divided in 2 parts – one about the Operating system and second about the device.
Before I go one, I’ll just make it clear, that I used the phone for my everyday activities, exactly like I usually do with my Galaxy S2. I didn’t do any specific tests (compare cameras in different conditions/benchmarking or other stuff journalists usually do.).
Windows phone 7.5
I’ll start with what I liked about the Microsoft’s latest mobile platform.
+ The UI looks nice and live tiles are about the best thing since distributed version control. Contacts tile especially looks really nice.
+ Windows Phone has some unique and cool games. For one I’d love to see “Call of Carlos” on Android. And anyone familiar with internet memes will love “Fly the Nyan Cat”. Xbox Live works well on Windows Phone, however not many free games take advantage of it.
+ Nokia Drive is by far the best free navigation software available. It has pre-downloaded maps and can give instructions even in the small bizarre language called Estonian.
+ Voice commands are decent. It’s no Siri, but works better than Samsungs. It is actually usable for search and opening applications.
+ Built in search comes with Shazam style music identifier and barcode scanner. The barcode scanner looks awesome!
+ Multiple Gmail tiles. I didn’t test that one myself as I only use one Gmail account. But as I heard you can have different tile for every Gmail account. That’s more convenient than having several inboxes like you do on iOS mail.
- Internet is slow. It’s not just Internet Explorer but just about anything that requires internet connection. Site that loads (using same WiFi) in few seconds using Opera Mobile on Android can take ages to open. For some reason, loading of Facebook or Twitter feeds are much slower than on Android or iOS. I suspect it might be due to Metro UI loading content to all possible screens at once.
- Worst keyboard. Ever. Windows Phone is probably the only platform where keyboard is more thumb-friendly in portrait than it is in landscape. Buttons are not much bigger in landscape mode, but just bizarrely placed. This is rather subjective of course, but I didn’t get used to the keyboard in a week. Also it only has “õ” character (which is rather common in Estonian language) on Spanish keyboard. I wouldn’t have even found it without Jaanas help.
- Applications can not be organized into folders. Folder tiles would be awesome! Yet there are none and if you have loads of applications prepare to scroll a lot. Or end up using voice control to open the application you need just because the icon is hopelessly lost.
- Applications are not up to date. For example, twitter on Windows Phone does not have the connect feature which it does on Android and iPhone (hopefully soon on iPad). This is real shame. This is a textbook example of clients – users problem. As Windows Phone is not that popular, vendors don’t bother pushing the latest updates on it. But users will probably prefer platforms which deliver the latest and finest of services they use.
- Built in chat is really not that good. It fetched all your contacts from Windows Live and Facebook and synchronizes them into one feed…which has no search feature. Opening the Messages (just to send and SMS or contact someone on Facebook) will automatically log you into Windows Live Messenger. This would not be a bad thing if it didn’t log me out from my computer. Opening the keyboard in chart will leave barely one message visible.
Also if you are on a tight budget you might only later discover that what you thought was a facebook conversation was actually an exchange of SMSs.
- Like iOS Windows Phone 7 has limited the size of applications you can download over 3G. The limit is 20 MB and developers seem to have been rather generous loading their applications with images and other heavy weight media. Even the most simple applications could not be updated over the air, which was a real surprise for me.
- Ringer volume can not be set separately from regular volume. Having only one volume control means either really loud music or a lot of missed calls. Adjusting the volume before and after listening to music is just stupid.
- Reviews are not helpful - Not much Microsoft can do about that, but reviews on Windows Phone 7 App store are just not helpful. Unlike on Android or iOS you can’t decide on application based on its reviews, which are mostly negative. And negative reviews are rarely justified. Hopefully this will change over time.
- For some strange reason, Internet Explorer fails to render mobile Twitter. Small, yet very annoying issue for me personally.
- Rotation is not that good. I’m not even comparing it to iOS devices, but at times the rotation from landscape to portrait just didn’t work. I’m not sure if that is Windows Phones or Lumias fault.
- The Office Windows Mobile ships with is a lousy excuse for text editor. I got to admit I only do text editing and didn’t even try Excel, but Word is just like SMS with a change to change color from the menu. It simply does not compare to Google Docs on Android.
Metro UI takes some time to get used to. For example I often accidentally moved left or right while scrolling down. Even though its smooth at most times it can be much less responsive while application is loading. Sometimes I just failed to navigate left (yet, navigation to right worked flawlessly).
It does becomes dull over time which is a shame. Live tiles could bring so much life into your desktop, but most of them are rather boring or static. If more tiles were like “People”, you could spend ages just looking at your desktop.
Nokia Lumia 800
+ Simply put, Nokia Lumia 800 looks gorgeous in blue. I’ve so far met only one person who disagrees. When first iPhone came out people stopped and stared it (and you). This effect is far gone, but I noticed people taking long looks at Lumia whenever I took it out. From design point of view, it’s Megan Fox of smartphones.
+ It comes with rubber wrapper for the phone (Which is also blue, just had to mention it). That’s usually an accessory you have to buy separately.
- No SD card
- The battery is just horrible. My S2 can go 2 days with one charging with moderate use (moderate use being no graphics intensive applications). Lumia 800 can’t survive a day. It is really that bad.
- From my experience, the camera is pretty bad. I didn’t take many pictures with it, but I wasn’t impressed by the ones I did. I’d go as far as saying that my age-old Nokia N82 made better ones.
- It is heavy. And as wide as Galaxy S2, but has a smaller screen.
The Amoled screen is good, but not as good as Galaxy S2s.
Nokia Lumia 800 is not yet available on stores here, yet carriers in US are already taking pre orders for Lumia 900. Makes you feel like buying outdated hardware.
And then is the issue of price. At 450 pounds in UK (~540 euros) it’s more expensive than Samsung Galaxy S2 and that’s just not worth it.