I take my daughter to her gymnastics class every week and for these two hours a week I generally listen to music on my Nokia Lumia 920 while either Wi-Fi hotspotting my laptop while I catch up on some work or web surfing on the phone, tasks that have generally seen a fairly rapid discharge of battery and plenty of heat generated. My previous phone used to get uncomfortably warm under these conditions and you could literally watch the battery meter drop. The Nokia Lumia 920 on the other hand merely gets warm rather than hot.
One aspect I always found on my Android devices was if the screen was on you could pretty much watch the battery level drop down. Battery life was a mixture of minimising power consumption while screen was off or processor was on idle and then trying to control your screen on time.
Windows Phone 8 it gives you nowhere near the diagnostic abilities or system control of Android. You have little option but to just go with the flow and hope it works. Good news is it does work and it works well, no need to fiddle or fine tune CPU speeds or battery voltages, or shut off the functionality of a smartphone all in an effort to get a solid days use out of it.
I chuck it on the wireless charger overnight, put it in my pocket in the morning and never concern myself about battery life and at the end of the day it usually has anywhere between 30 & 50% battery remaining. This is with wifi, location services, two push email accounts, data etc all constantly on.
Below is some screen shots from Battery Sense App, the graph represents 7 days charge/discharge cycle.
Another aspect I found relatively impressive is the Nokia's music player ability. I had made mention of this already within a thread on Geekzone and drew some fairly rapid responses from fellow Geekzoners. Let's be clear: I am talking about the out of the box experience with supplied ear buds, not back to back testing with high end replacement ear buds/headphones and/or associated headphone amplifiers or the like. For two hours of listening a week I can't justify the expense.
I had an SGS3 and by comparison the Nokia with its supplied ear buds versus the Samsung and its supplied ear buds there simply is no contest. The Nokia has an acceptably nice sound in its standard form and with a tweak on the seven band EQ it can be made to sound damn good for a straight out of the box solution.
I would expect the larger population would be more than happy with it. In the bigger picture the Samsung has a distinct advantage in having a highly rated DAC as well as the ability to output a digital signal via USB however the audible benefits of these features come at a cost which most will not care to bear.
Back to topic, navigation through the Nokia Music app is in a very familiar and typically Windows Phone 8 format, with simple concise fonts and the usual side scrolling menus. As I mentioned earlier there is a seven band graphic equaliser with the usual presets plus ability to set your own curve. I am yet to find a touchscreen equaliser that offers pinpoint precise adjustment and this is no exception with my fat fingers. Give me a simple three or five band parametric equaliser without on screen slides and I would be far happier but I seem to be in the minority of consumers here.
I should mention that there is only the ability to set one custom curve. This is not exactly a dealbreaker but worthy of mention none the less. One relatively unique feature is "Dolby Headphone for Mobile Devices" setting. This is a pseudo 5.1 surround sound effect. Traditionally I am one for leaving effects like this switched off however in keeping with my general findings of the Nokia Lumia 920 it just works and adds to the experience so I leave this feature on. The Windows Phone app allows you to sync playlists directly from iTunes which is fantastic as I use iTunes. I just created a playlist of the albums I wanted on the phone and synced it across. A point to note here is that Windows Phone 8 doesn't like AAC files so this could be a problem depending on how you encode your tracks. Syncing from Windows Media Player is also possible and probably the better option however I cannot comment as I don't use WMP.
It has now been two months since I switched from Android to Windows Phone 8 and to a certain extent I am struggling to find the right combination of words to accurately and succinctly explain the journey. I went into this experience hoping for some good things but with relatively low expectation. Fast forward two months and I can quickly recommend Windows Phone 8 or the Nokia Lumia 920.
Let's break a summary down into the four key areas;
Operating System - Windows Phone 8 is a very intuitive and logical OS. It is slick and has a very consistent feel, never slowed by background processes, apps blend smoothly in and out of the core OS with a strong family feel to them. The user experience just feels so natural and intuitive. There are no OEM skins to contend with. The home screen with its resizable tiles actually works really well in practice offering plenty of customization, live tiles add an extra dimension negating some need for notification bars although in reality most live tiles only update every 30minutes while push notifications work in real time. Be aware though that tiles do not offer direct shortcuts, only a shortcut to relative setting. In my opinion the more rigid and locked down nature of the Windows Phone interface is mitigated by the overall stability of the OS. No more chasing rogue apps to understand what is hogging resource or chewing through battery, it just works and works well.
Hardware - The Nokia Lumia 920 is a very easy handset to get along with, it is solid, well-built and just feels like a quality device. This is a phone that feels as durable as the old 2110s, 5110s, 6210s of yesteryear. The call quality is fantastic and let's be honest this is the core function of a phone. I'm not talking about the network quality (of which I might add the Telecom network has performed flawlessly since making the switch), I am talking about the voice at the other end of the line. It is real nice to just be able to make a call and hear the other party crystal clear, no screeching or having to hold the phone off my ear as my ear drum warbles!
Software/Apps - There has been plenty of discussion here, Windows Phone 8 is a newcomer, Windows Phone 7 never quite brought the party to the table so the net result is the app store is in its infancy. There are a number of key apps that some people cannot do without and subsequently this becomes a deal breaker for converting to Windows Phone 8. One such app for me was Dropbox, an app I used extensively on Android. I tried a third party app that is available but it simply did not cut the mustard. Given the options I took the approach of trying to work around this issue and soon discovered that SkyDrive offered all the same functionality that I required plus being part of the Microsoft suite integration into Windows Phone 8 is second to none, including automatic camera upload, local folder, desktop folder option. In all honesty I have found sufficient apps to cover my requirements without feeling like I am missing out on something critical. That said, I have also bought a Windows 8 Hybrid tablet which is never too far out of reach so I am more tending to spread my demands across both devices depending on which is better suited to the task.
Ecosystem - The jury is out on this one. I like the SkyDrive suite, it is simple concise and easy to use however the overall levels on integration between devices is lacking by Google standards. Google Chrome's ability to synchronise bookmarks between devices is one of those nice touches that is hard to live without, the Microsoft ecosystem is just not as developed as Google's. Again it is not a deal breaker more just a quirk. Windows Phone 8 does not necessarily offer the same apps as Windows RT/8, even the tiled start screen layout feels quite different to Windows Phone 8's tiled homescreen, tiles are not resizable the same. But for anyone that uses Microsoft Office on a regular SkyDrive is just a win win situation, being able to open and save files directly from the cloud is a fantastically simple solution. Sure Apple and Google offer similar products but let's be honest their options are toys compared to the power of MS Office.
A simple car analogy to express this is to compare Android to a high performance Japanese car: out of the box it is a relatively impressive package, it can be modified fairly easily to offer big gains, the trade off is you end up with something that is potentially unreliable and a combination of parts that possibly will not all play nice with each other leading you on a trail of constant fiddling trying to get the ultimate solution is up there with finding the end of the rainbow. Windows Phone 8 and in particular the Nokia is more like a European performance car, it may not be the biggest/baddest/fastest car out there but commands respect, is a pleasure to drive, offers more than enough performance for its intended use, it simply works as intended, when required, no fiddling or tweaking required.
If you are an Android user that is a bit over erratic battery life, rogue apps that cause havoc, forever chasing that elusive latest update or that smooth and consistent UI experience then Windows Phone 8 and Nokia Lumia 920 could be just what you require. If you are an iPhone user that has become bored with iOS than Windows Phone 8 could be just what you are looking for - appstore aside Windows Phone 8 offers a refreshing alternative to iOS without some of the inherent flaws of Android.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is an absolute top notch quality handset which I honestly do not see myself replacing until Nokia offers its successor. I truly hope the platform obtains the momentum and following it deserves. In my opinion it has the real potential to become the perfect business/social hybrid smart device offering a simple but smart solution that just fits into one's daily life.
About the author
My name is Wade, I am probably best described as a slightly demanding tech savvy consumer who is fast approaching an age where one needs to start planning one's mid-life crisis. I'm a family man with two extraordinary daughters, as well as a fabulous and understanding (most of the time!) wife, hobbies include home theatre and car audio. work in supply chain within the manufacturing sector. I have a vested interest in simplifying and enriching both my work and personal lives through technology. I live in a household filled with the usual plethora of Apple devices however my weapon of choice has become Android and the Google ecosystem. Windows Phone is a somewhat unchartered territory for me. Having no prior experience with Windows Phone or SkyDrive, I am very much looking forward to immersing myself into this ecosystem and understanding how it stacks up for my needs.
Other related posts:
Nakedmolerat’s Nokia Lumia 920 wrap up
Wade’s Nokia Lumia 920: the hardware
Wade’s Lumia 920 wireless charging and camera impressions
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