Living with Windows Phone 8

I have been using an Android phone since the Samsung Galaxy S was launched in the UK. It has grown from an OS which was only slightly better than Symbian and perhaps a little worse than iOS to the best selling OS in the world and with 4.4.1 arguably more polished, functional and usable than any other OS.

However, I have been curious about Windows Phone for a while. In terms of a mobile phone my requirements go in the following order

1. Phone calls
2. Camera
3. Web browser
4. Deezer
5. Email
6. Whatsapp
7. PDF reading
8. BBC iplayer
9. Youtube

Now Nokia has been releasing phones which are perhaps the best in terms of the first 2 criteria. With IE11 Microsoft have arguably one of the best browsers available so I was hopeful the browser would be good enough quality. Also due to the lack of popularity of WP the prices drop very quickly.

I picked up a Lumia 1020 and here is what I can report:

1. Phone call quality - definitely better than my last Samsung phone, probably the best I have ever experienced. I have not yet had a phone conversion where I have not understood what the other person has been saying nor has anyone on the other end complained about not being able to hear me.

2. Camera - well I do wish it was faster but the quality of the photos is the best I have seen in a phone. Great for capturing a moment.

3. Web browser - My favourite browser is still Chrome on android, but you need to have a top spec phone or it is no where near as smooth as IE on WP or Safari on iOS. That being said IE on WP is fast, fluid and works for every website I have tried so far.

4. Deezer - The sound from the headphones is much better than my previous Galaxy Note and Nexus 7, the application works well, although the recent update on Android has a slightly better interface, but not significantly.

5. EMail - Well I use Gmail and it integrates much better on Android than it does on WP.

6. Whatsapp - This works, but WP is missing the ability to compress videos which is a bit of a shame, otherwise I have not noticed an obvious difference.

7. Adobe - Available on both WP and Android it works well, although the ability to easily copy files on Android means that it is a big winner in this department.

8. BBC iPlayer - BBC iPlayer seems to never function well with the latest Android then after the release has been out 6 months and BBC iPLayer has finally fixed its bugs a new version is released and it falls apart again. WP the interface is basically the same but the app has not messed up on me yet so WP wins this one.

9. Youtube - This is a great big hole in WP. Basically you just use the web browser, it lacks all the nice stuff that is now available on iOS and Android.

Things I miss

1. Swype, the WP keyboard is good, better than iOS from my perspective, but Swype is better than both, allegedly WP8.1 brings gesture typing and I for one cannot wait.

2. Notification bar - With Android I was one swipe away from reading emails and SMSs. With the Lumia 1020 I am notified that I have emails and SMSs to read on the glance screen, but then I have to go into the main screen and click in and out of the two different apps.

3. Google+ photos

4. Quick voice reminders

Things I like more

1. Glance screen is very nice.

2. The animations are better on WP than any other device, I enjoy the squeeze effect on reaching the end of the screen, the way different sections animate in at different speeds and generally how stuff moves about on the screen is pretty and fluid.

3. Phone switches in and out of Wifi very quickly.

4. Hardware is quality throughout, from buttons which require just enough pressure to never trigger accidentally to a battery which lasts 2 days, great sound and reception quality.

5. Voice recognition is the best I have experienced so far, while all vendors have stepped up over the last 2 years Microsoft so far has recognised every word I have tried...I haven't tested extensively but it has already beaten Google and Apple in contacts recognition so I have confidence that it is the best. The next real test is place names...

What will be my next phone?

Hmm difficult choice, I doubt it will be an iPhone, but a lot depends on Windows Phone 8.1. If a notification centre and voice reminders are not forthcoming I suspect I will be looking at Android again, otherwise I could be getting the next pureview model released.


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