Moving back to Windows Phone


I’ve been using an iPhone 3GS for the last two years and have enjoyed the experience. I even wanted to get an iPhone 4S before Christmas but couldn’t get one for love or money anywhere in Dublin. I might not have tried as hard as was necessary to procure a 4S in the madness that exists in the run-up to Christmas. On the other hand, I had heard some good things about Windows Phone 7.5, or the famous “Mango” release and how the Nokia Lumia 800 provided hardware that showed it off to maximum benefit. It’s good to see Nokia get back into the game again and become competitive. Many of us remember phones such as the Nokia 6310 (still on sale today) with a lot of fondness due to its indestructible and easy-to-use nature.

I’ve used many Windows phones in the past, most of them HP iPAQ models. Some were OK, such as the iPAQ 510 and some were bloody awful, like the iPAQ 6915. All seemed to be handicapped by a mixture of design shortcomings, battery life, and the awfulness of the Windows mobile operating system at the time. All broke my heart in one way or another and moving to an iPhone was a liberating experience.

But the iPhone has become boring and it was time for a change. I therefore took the plunge and bought a Nokia Lumia 800 (Incidentally, the price in the US at $528.95 is much cheaper than the STG399.99 or US$624 charged by Amazon.co.uk, but I guess it costs that much more for a three-prong plug than for the two-prong used in the U.S.). Amazon did their normal efficient job in delivering the phone, complete with a note on the box to attest to the presence of the Lithium-Ion battery inside.

First impressions were good. Nokia has clearly taken a leaf out of the Apple packaging manual as the phone came in a nice blue box. Not quite as nice as the iPhone box but sufficient to say “there’s something good inside”. Nokia include a slim rubberized cover for the phone too as well as a leaflet that contains advice about how to hold the phone to avoid disrupting antenna performance. Perhaps Apple should have done likewise when they released the iPhone 4 or maybe this is just a case of Nokia learning from those who have gone before.

The next step was to transfer my SIM. This task proved to be initially frustrating because Nokia requires you to press down on a button that hides the mini-USB connector and then slide across another piece of plastic to reveal the SIM card. Naturally, my fat fingers made a right mess of this and it took a little while before brain and fingers coordinated action to attain the necessary outcome. I’m sure that Nokia could come up with a better-engineered approach to this problem. By contrast, Apple does a nice job with its pin device that convinces the SIM to slide out of an iPhone. This approach becomes less valuable if you lose the special pin but anything with a slender point will usually do the trick.

The Nokia takes a mini-SIM card instead of the standard SIM as used by the iPhone so a trip to the phone provider’s store was necessary to get a new SIM. Once the new SIM was installed, the work to set up the phone was pretty easy. As you’d expect, it was a snap to connect Outlook to Office 365 and this made sure that my calendar and contacts also came across to the phone.

The longest amount of time expended to setup the phone was installing the Zune software on my PC and then copying all my music and phones over. I also had to take out new podcast subscriptions to the shows that I follow. All of this is pretty well what you have to do with iTunes to customize an iPhone to a user’s taste and the only difficulty arose in understanding the slightly different methods used by Zune and iTunes to find and install applications such as Facebook and Twitter from the respective marketplace (app store) and synchronize data with the phone. Thankfully there are quite a number of helpful articles available on Microsoft’s web site and elsewhere so the process was relatively painless once I understood what needed to be done. I think Apple’s new iCloud approach is probably a little slicker and certainly would have paid big benefits had I moved to a new iPhone.

The Nokia gives an impression of being a quality device with a top-notch 3.7 inch AMOLED 480×800 resolution screen (the Nokia Lumia 900 apparently has an even bigger 4.3 inch screen but I think this device might be a tad too large for my liking). So far I haven’t encountered the same kind of issues that caused a blogger named Matthew Baxter to dump his device after a month, which might go to prove that one person’s dud is another person’s delight. I do think that there value in many of the comments (plus the associated review of Mango for the HTC Titan) that will help you understand some of the differences between iOS and Mango. For example, how notifications (a big part of iOS 5) work compared to the way that the various Windows Phone applications tell you when new information has arrived.

At this point in time, my personal gripes revolve around the way that some of the Windows Phone applications seem less complete than their iPhone equivalents. Facebook is a good example.  Many posts contain URLs that lead to interesting information and on an iPhone it’s a simple matter of clicking on the URL to go to the link. The Facebook app on Mango is attractive but URL links are dead, which is pretty frustrating. Of course, you could point to the fact that links work properly when Facebook provides a feed to the People application (basically a consolidator of various feeds from different sources) but that’s not the point.

To me it’s just a matter of getting used to one device over another but I can see how some of these differences would make people climb the wall in frustration, especially if you are a heavy-duty user of one of an application that’s not quite as “finished” for Windows Phone as it is on iPhone.

In any case, I am now fully across and the Nokia is customized and fully loaded with music, photos, and podcasts. It’s a really nice piece of equipment and I value some of the stuff that Nokia has included such as the Nokia Drive application (GPS guidance), which I am sure will come in useful in the future. In the meantime, I’m happy with a new piece of hardware to play with and accept that not all will be sweetness and light as I get to know the new O/S and its applications. In the meantime, my son’s happy that he has my iPhone to replace his now sadly outdated but very reliable Sony phone.

Some would call this progress, others might say regression. I say that a change is as good as a rest and am looking forward to using my Nokia.

- Tony

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About Tony Redmond

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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3 Responses to Moving back to Windows Phone

  1. Interesting – I’d read the Guardian article and wondered how true the criticisms were (they are often fairly anti-Microsoft) so it’s good to hear another view point. I’m looking forward to trying out one myself and seeing how it compares to iPhone, HTC and Samsung (both Android) devices I’ve used.

    Steve

  2. Alan McBurney says:

    Steve, imo Charles Arthur is definitely iBiased.
    A good post on the Lumia 800 is available from RegHardware

    http://www.reghardware.com/2011/11/10/review_nokia_lumia_800_windows_phone_7_mango_smartphone/

  3. paulbendall says:

    I had a HTC Mozart when WP7 was released and then traded up to a Nokia Lumia 800 when it was released. I really like the Nokia it has the traditional solid engineering of Nokia, although as pointed out by Tony the plastic cover over the micro USB that sits on top of the phone doesn’t seem very well thought out to me. In terms of Facebook I rarely use the Facebook app itself but use the People Hub which aggregates Facebook, Twitter and Linked In into a single portal and can’t say that URL haven’t worked from here.

    I think Microsoft have made huge strides in the relatively short timeframe that WP7 has been concevied and deployed, this looks likely to continue with “Apollo” which is sorely needed to support core enterprise requirements (Activesync only has basic support atm). The Nokia is solid and works well, I love the screen which works well with black bacgrounds and light tiles. However, I also get the impression the firmware is still in need of refinement as compared with my previous HTC it can be a bit “sticky” at times.

    Paul

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