Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
The UK got its first 4G network this month and the choices for 4G phones are thin on the ground at the moment the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 were there at launch however as a long time Android and IOS user i’m finding both operating systems at that stage of their life when they ar about features not innovation. This may well change in the future however, and you must understand these words are hard for me to say, Microsoft seem to be innovating quite a bit in the OS market, pushing the boat out and taking some risks.
My phone of choice on EE is the Nokia Lumia 920, Nokias last bi breath attempt at staying alive as a company it would seem however this is a phone developed for Windows Phone 8 in Microsoft. It is the phone Microsoft were happy to share the stage with at launch and it’s got generally good reviews.
Lets start this with the two important things the phone and the 4G..
Lets get the first thing you notice about the phone out of the way from the start. This phone is big, the PureMotion HD+ 4.5-inch display is a whopper and the phone is built solid, it may be a little heavy for some people. My take on this is a simple one. When the iPhone 5 came out to my hand it felt like a lightweight cheap plastic toy. It reminded me of chocolate bars in so much as I remember a Mars Bar being a certain size and weight, i remember an iPhone being a certain solid build with a nice metal back. Now i pick up a mars bar and it feels somewhat lacking, like i’m getting the same chocolate bar but its not quite as chunky and solid as it once was. The Nokia is the opposite of this it feels like its been crafted, and crafted is a good word, out of metal much like a modern unibody Macbook Pro. I’ve got big hands and it fits well in them.
The screen as well as being large is as its name suggests very capable of the Pureview as well. the blacks are black, the Windows phone 8 interface’s colours are very vivid and the text is very sharp to my eyes.
Performance wise the phone’s 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon CPU, 1GB of RAM and Adreno 225 GPU combination do something I’ve not felt since getting my iPad, they give me a fluid moving interface which unlike the various Android phone’s i’ve had doesn’t jerk and jar all over the place. The Windows interface is amazingly smooth and I’ve not had any lock ups slow downs or jerkiness and there are a lot of effects going on with the Windows interface.
As hardware goes this is a solid, well built big phone which I can understand why some might feel heavy however I just like the good build quality.
The promise of 4G is 40Mbs + speeds on a mobile phone and straight up I can tell you I have had this once, it seems to steady out in the office at about 14 to 20 Mbs which is not to be sniffed at.
EE is not cheap and many are moaning at the price, i have a simple statement to them. You pay for new services, this didn’t drop out of a cornflake box and needs paying for. No point making it cheap for the masses and going bust is there.This also means a little less congestion on the network which is always a good thing for us early adopters.
So yes EE is fast, no it isn’t fast everywhere in the area of North London i live its 3G speeds however where I work in central London its very good.
This will improve over time and I’m happy to live with this for the time being,
What is a bit measly however are the data tarrifs 1Gb isn’t great and while i don’t subscribe to the faster mobile broadband makes you download more it is a bit tight. It is possible to purchase topups on the myee.co.uk site.
There is more however to this device than hardware and data speed and they are more than worth covering.
The most striking thing immediately with the Windows Phone 8 interface is just how blatantly different it is from IOS and Android. Now that might sound strange however with IOS effectively creating the Smartphone 2.0 market and owning it for so long then Android arriving and really looking pretty much the same (Did the judge rule it did or didn’t?) its been columns and rows on smartphones for a very long time. Microsoft have done a nice thing with the Tiles system in not only creating something different but intuitive as well.
With any interface getting to grips quickly and with simplicity is important which is part of the reason IOS works so well. What Microsoft have done here is take the fundamentals of what we know already about smart phones and provide an interface which builds on the touch experience we know already. Doing so in conjunction with the release of the Windows 8 Desktop/Tablet release is just genius as it’s providing consistency.
Along with a well thought out tiled interface another master stroke performed on the interface is that of consistency. again I refer to the IOS experience first where despite Apple’s legendary attention to detail application interfaces vary greatly across the app store. With Android this too is also the case, not so from my experience with Windows Phone 8. When you open an app such as Twitter, Facebook, Lastpass the Apps all have a consistent look and feel bringing up IE and running a search doesn’t display in the browser it displays the search results in an interface aware way. This leads again for consistency which is displayed across the whole interface, messages, texts, information and all visable output is displayed in the same way. this is something which Apple and Google could learn a great deal from (there I go again, did I say that) as it really does make the interface easy to use.
Apple will tell you it’s all about the apps, and lets face it with a 30% share in every app you purchase and having invented the App Store they have a vested interested in this concept. Both Apple and Google will point (in dark corners where tech bloggers dwell) to the lack of Apps in the Windows Phone 8 App store. Well let me twll you while Microsoft may not have the library Apple and Google have what they do have is the apps you actually want to use and not an App store hijacked with 50 odd useful apps and 10’s of thousands of terrible overpriced apps.
Pretty much everything i’d need on the phone is catered for, Facebook, Twitter and Linked in, the usual Google suspects Mail, Reader, Plus are all here as well as Evernote, Lastpass, News360 and many others. In fact all I can not find is Spotify (which is being worked on)
As well as the Microsoft apps there are the Nokia Apps of which I’m very impressed, the Camera is as advertised and we will cover that later. Maps being built on pretty much the same/similar data as Apple Maps seems to do a far better job than Apples offering and while doesn’t do 3D flyby’s does do maps. To compliment maps is City Lense which is an interesting augmented reality idea which works so well. find a place to eat, drink, travel and it will be placed over a video image of the area once you’ve found something of interest select it and the app pulls in a much information it can find from the web about that location. Web sites, phone numbers, Nokia Maps locations, other details this can also only improve with vendors getting involved and more information items becoming available. Also on the Nokia apps front is People which pulls in the social media contacts in the best way i’ve seen so far on a phone providing a one stop update shop for your social world.
My biggest complaint with Apple and Android are the purchasable but not try-able apps, forcing you to spend money on something which turns out to be a load of rubbish. On Microsofts Apps store many of the chargeable apps, ok most of them have a try feature where you get what seems like 30 days in which to try an app before you pay for it, this can only promote good apps in the long run and might stop a deluge of fart apps appearing.
Using the App store has apps searchable, placed into groups and easily navigable and the Microsoft Wallet even can be setup to pay for apps using paypal which I love.
We have talked about the hardware, it’s solid, we have talked about the apps, they are not aplenty but most of the popular ones are there and we have talked about the interface and it is very well put together. The Lumia however has a rather good camera on it as well and it’s being routed for low light situations. The Carl Zeiss lens captures blur-free videos even if the camera’s shaking or in low light. Thanks to its Optical Image Stabilisation. is the tag line and it’s actually not just marketing bollocks it is actually a very good blur free camera in low light. With winter and Xmas parties coming this is great..
It’s an 8.7 megapixels camera which can take photos up to 3552 x 2448 pixels these are nice photos and the front camera has a decent HD resolution 1280 x 960 pixels for those Skype Calls.
The camera app is a sparse affair however Nokia have a set of plugins for panoramic shots, taking group shots and some strange Gif creator which makes photos wobble..
The main reason for the phone being as bulky and weighty as it is, is the spring system in the camera to stop shots blurring under camera wobble.
So what do we have here? Simple this is Nokia’s last stand, if this goes wrong Nokia is a sitting duck for a buy out, probably by Microsoft who will get themselves a hardware manufacturer they can rebrand. This is Microsoft looking to grasp second place in the smartphone market by offering something different to what we have seen over the last few years on IOS and Android yet still similar enough that both these companies will learn from this. We have EE looking to get 4G into the hands of the people using a well advertised phone.
Yes this is a big phone, its not light, but that isn’t necessary a bad thing, it feels we built and solid and as though you’ve paid for something that has worth and didn’t fall out of a cereal packet. Its screen is a think of beauty and it’s camera is also a window to the world..
This is not a dud, however i agree it’s not for everyone and as such its tenuous at best if this is going to change Nokias fortunes. It will however make Microsoft some money.. I’m impressed and i’ve used and owned IOS, Palm and Android devices over the years..