Windows Phone great platform but not quite there

Choosing a Phone platform is a big issue, people spend vast amount of time contemplating what to choose and which phone to have. I recently got the opportunity to explore Windows Phone as an alternative to Android, I have also indirectly experienced iOS.

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So let me start, my experience may be tainted by the phone. I used a very low end phone and have been now using for almost two months, the former is the concerning part. To be fair I therefore am unable to contrast speed or camera with any other phone since when you spend £100 on a phone you can’t expect much.

So this is my chosen phone the entry level Nokia 520, £100 or ~£80 network locked.

Basic Tech Specs:

  • Primary camera sensor size: 5 MP
  • Display size: 4'' WVGA (800x480)
  • Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4

What works great…

Microsoft Integration-ish

So given this is a Microsoft platform I was surprised how little it actually did. Windows Phone has seem to go with the approach of complete App isolation, I am sure in defence of this is a massive security bonus. I am surprised there isn’t a way for an app to get access to credentials even via generation of another unique access token based on the permissions you give to the phone. I spent a lot of time signing into all the different products/services. On the plus side there is easy access to all of these services.

Simple UI

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The tile/metro/modern UI is a much discussed argument, some love, some hate. I personally really like the interface I think it works incredible well and provides instant access to the items you want most. This is of course if you keep it clean and organised. In contrast to my predecessor phone the Samsung Note (original) I found generally I didn’t loose much “glance” information despite smaller screen and resolution.

Search Button

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Now I have often heard said people are irritated by the search button, whereas I found it useful there are countless times I grab my phone to search for something this combined with the voice to text working 60% on long queries 90% on bi-gram queries was enough to keep me satisfied.

What’s missing

Swipe Down Network Info (always)

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On the home screen there is a nice feature where you swipe down from the top you get network information e.g. signal strength, internet speed(GPRS,HSDPA..). Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to always apply. For example search wonder why a page is loading slowly when in the browser swipe down and nothing.

Sound Control

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This is a big pain to me something that I feel is severely broken. To contrast on Android you have two sound volumes, one for media and one for alerts/calls. Now this may seem petty, but is so incredible useful. For example I may want to listen to music and not have incredible loud ring tones. Having said this, I believe this is fixed in WP 8.1!

Background App Persistence

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So one app that I was hoping would be significantly better on Windows Phone was Skype. What I found was it was as unreliable and annoying as the one on Windows 8. Messages don’t come through then pile in, and calls are occasional and inconsistent. This isn’t the only app that suffers from this phenomenon WhatsApp, Line therefore it has led me to conclude something is going wrong in the background state. This probably has big battery bonus making my cheap Nokia last almost two days on a single charge. It does lead to frustration.

More things…

There are many other things, the only major one I didn’t touch on was keyboard the Windows Phone keyboard is simple and not changeable something another element I miss about android. This leads to the text selector being a nightmare sometimes working perfect but trying to edit a letter or word can be a challenge.

Who is this phone / platform for?

This is an amazing business phone simple elegant and does what it says on the tin. I am convinced Windows Phone will only get better, and 8.1 will surely be a leap along that line. For anyone on iOS I think they would find Windows Phone great, with many benefits. The only big problem for iOS users is style, there aren’t to my knowledge any (to use a common vernacular for iPhone) sexy Windows Phone phones. This could be solved by third parties building them but I am not sure Nokia has it in them, with the recent trend away from Windows Phone from third party this is going to be a challenge.

Catch up or leap frog?

As I alluded to above this phone is really playing catch-up I am hoping they pull something out the hat but with the “apparent” delay of WP 8.1 therefore making it hard to believe 8.2/9 will be available this year, it is going to be a struggle. I believe Android is now a very solid platform, so much so it has moved to what gadgets(toys) come with an android phone than what is new. Give it a year.. I do expect great things from Google.

Conclusion

This platform/phone has it’s place and it is good at what it does, but for many it wont cut it. I had high hopes when I started using Windows Phone fulltime after Christmas, as time went on I have found myself waiting to get back onto Android. So my conclusion is really get this phone if you or the person you are recommending to likes the simple phone experience this stereotypically is parents and other senior family members.  If you are iPhone move, Nokia has great cameras and the platform just works. For me its back to android in a few months!

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Posted by Stuart James Saturday, February 22, 2014 6:23:25 PM
Stuart James