I have been waiting to write this entry now for a couple of weeks now. As with many Windows Phone fans, I waited patiently (or not so patiently) for the successor to my Samsung Focus and Windows Phone 7.5. I will go ahead and just say it, I’m a fan of Windows Phone. I’ve used Droid, I’ve used iOS and for me, the Windows Phone interface just works for me. I have my own character and as such, I find the iOS and Droid interfaces to be just well, OLD. If I’m going to have that many icons on my screen, then they should give me some information aside from the app they represent. Nevertheless, I digress; I ordered the Red Lumia from my local AT&T store on 11/7. I can’t tell you how excited I was. As a 2 year Samsung Focus user, I’ve watched iPhones come and go and my friends running Droid like to wave those around as well. Especially those running the Galaxy models of the droid. In my house, iOS reigns supreme, we have iPhones, iPads, iPods, whatever. I waited patiently like a kid waiting for Santa Claus for the postman to bring my box with my new Lumia in it. It was just perfect:
Exactly what I hoped for. I immediately went to get it activated and was ready to go.
Apps, Apps, Apps
A lot has been made about apps for the iOS and Android platforms and the lack of applications that are available for Windows Phone. I have to say that while I know that there are fewer apps available for the Windows Phone than other devices, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t quality apps. On the contrary, I would make the case the there are more quality apps. When I played with my iPad, there were all kinds of apps that I never knew that I ever needed. Those succeeded in clogging up my iPad and ultimately requiring me to reset it over and over. In the case of Windows Phone 8, I have found more than enough useful applications:
- Start Screen – The start screen has provided some significant changes that have been widely written about. Aside from the increase in applications that utilize Live Tiles, users have some additional controls over the start screen. The ability to resize the tiles into 3 different sizes: full size, thumbnail and full width tile.
- Office – Lets start with the easiest. Being able to review and edit documents and spreadsheets while on the road. Access to documents on SkyDrive and SharePoint makes the office applications that much more valuable.
- People – the People tile has been enhanced to now include the ability to set up rooms for sharing calendar and picture data with other Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones.
- Calendar – the calendar application has been enhanced (when used with the Lync application) to allow a 1-click to join audio conferencing.
- Facebook – The Facebook application got some terrific upgrades with Windows Phone 8. The upgrade that I enjoy the most is the new integration with the lock screen. The lock screen can now utilize pictures that you have uploaded into facebook albums on the lock screen. You can select the albums that are used for photos. You still get the benefit of the notifications screens
- Photos and Camera – The Photos and Camera app have both been upgraded with some nice additional features. First, in the Camera App, you now have the additional ability to add the filters and effects as you are taking photos. Note the Translator Application. The Bing Translator application makes it possible for you to photograph text and have it translated, nice touch.
- The Photos application has also gotten some upgrades. The sharing ability allows you to now share via different applications such as Instacam or WordPress, social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Linked in, or now via the new rooms that are available as part of the upgraded People Tile.
- While the Maps app continues to be effective, owners of the Lumia devices have the opportunity to take advantage of new applications that are available as part of the Nokia collection. Apps such as the Nokia Maps application and Nokia Drive+ Beta. Previously, I had been a big fan of the Maps application and the ability to provide turn by turn directions for WP7. The Drive+ application is a terrific alternative. The intent was for it to replace the Maps app, however some clever developers have provided an app to restore the Maps application (as I have)
- Wallet and NFC – The Nokia phones provide Near Field Communications for sharing pictures or to be leveraged for providing payments or other applications. Right now, I haven’t found any where to attempt to try using the NFC payment system, I don’t have anyone to swap pictures with right now, so ultimately, I don’t have much use for NFC and it’s a heavy drain on the battery, so I’ve disabled it for now.
- Kids Central – There has been much made about the new kids central access to the phone. The idea is that you can provide a way for your kids to be able to access their apps, games and music without needing to log into the main section of the phone and risk applications. You access Kids Central by swiping left from the lock screen. On my phone, I have given my kids the ability to play their music and play some of their games.
- Screencaptures – A nice addition for Windows Phone that was missing was the ability to get screen captures. Sorely missed with Windows Phone 7, it was added in Windows Phone 8. A combination of the Power button and the Windows button will take a screen capture and put it in the Screenshots album.
There have been some talk and blog posts about battery life on the Lumia 920. Let me just go ahead and say that with all of these smartphones, there is a learning curve associated with learning what needs to be turned off and what needs to be kept on to maximize battery life while maintaining maximum functionality. Inside the settings applet, there are a number of items that can be adjusted to impact the battery life of the phone. By swiping to the left, you can make adjustments to applications and which applications can continue to work in the background.
In addition, there are settings that can be adjusted to minimize the drain on the battery power.
As I mentioned earlier, turning off NFC is known to have a drain on the battery and since I haven’t found a more practical/everyday use for NFC, I figured it was worth turning off. I enabled the battery saver option to ensure that I get maximum conservation when my battery gets low. Finally, I have adjusted my brightness to the minimum. All of this has allowed me to get through a day with my phone charged. There have been some additional reports of being able to disconnect the Drive+ application from online updates. Otherwise, it is constantly updating in the background for the updates, and will quickly drain the battery as well.
Charging the battery
The last thing I wanted to highlight with the Lumia 920 is how to charge it. In the box is a charger and Micro USB adapter. The Lumia has a micro USB charging port and that makes it versatile because existing chargers and cables are readily available. The terrific edition is the wireless shell that was included with the Lumia 920. AT&T was offering a wireless charger with the purchase of the Lumia 920 and I received my charger. I am not overly familiar with the different wireless charging standards, but I do understand that the Nokia phones are utilizing the Qi inductive charging standards. I love the fact that when I go to sleep, I just set the phone down on my nightstand and it begins charging. It is very forgiving (the phone doesn’t need to be in “that exact spot”) and so far I have been very happy with it.
I would love to say that my experience has been all wine and roses. Alas, I’ve had my share of some issues. The Lumia 920 that I purchased first, was plagued with issues locking up, at one point I even had my music skipping. I went ahead and returned it to AT&T. I would like to say that the experience was a pleasant one, but alas, AT&T made me jump through some significant hoops to return a phone that I had for 14 days. It was very disturbing that AT&T would require me to go to the lengths that I did to exchange a defective phone. That said, I have since obtained a black 920 and I haven’t had any issue since. I truly am a fan of this device and I look forward to what’s next from the application developers and the updates from Microsoft.