Nokia Lumia 1020: the phone side

, posted: 10-Oct-2013 20:28

The Nokia Lumia 1020 can be looked at a couple of ways - is it a phone with a camera, or a camera with a phone. This post will discuss the phone side and how it stacks up in that department.

The 1020 ships with Windows Phone 8.0.10328.78 or GDR2, which is the latest available at time of writing, with GDR3 expected either end of this year or early next. Coming from Windows Phone 7.8, 8 is significantly better - the rough edges left in 7.8 are gone. It is on the whole more stable and the dual core processor in the 1020 seems to remove the rare occasions where particular apps would start slowing down.

If you have never used Windows Phone before, it does take a bit of getting used to. The standard row of icons or folders as used in Android and iOS is gone, replaced with the Modern (formerly Metro) interface which is now common across the Microsoft ecosystem (Windows 8, Xbox). Essentially you have a set of tiles in 3 sized (soon to be 4 with GDR3 and higher resolution devices). A tile can either be static or live - where it updates. An example would be the messaging tile, which updates with the number of text/mms messages, or the photo tile, which cycles through your favourite photos. Swiping to the right brings up a full list of applications.

First step upon setting up the phone is adding your accounts. A Microsoft Account (formerly live account, formerly Hotmail) is required to connect to the store and make purchases. I have an outlook.com account (which was originally a Hotmail account back in the day) but the majority of my daily activity is done in the google ecosystem so my outlook.com account is set to forward all email to my Gmail address. So my Google account is next to be added (GDR2 updated Windows Phone 8 with CardDav/CalDav support, so you are able to use Google account fully in the future). Then I add Facebook. I do not add my Twitter or LinkedIn accounts - I don’t need that amount of info flooding my phone. Finally I add my work ActiveSync.

Accounts added here will populate the built in apps - People (contacts, status updates, etc), Calendar and appropriate mail accounts. You can still download and use the native apps for Facebook, Twitter, etc without adding the accounts directly to Windows Phone. This is how I use Twitter and LinkedIn without flooding my People app with work colleagues or NRL players.

The 1020 supports the following account types out of the box:

  • Outlook (Exchange ActiveSync, outlook.com, Office 365)
  • Hotmail
  • Nokia Mail
  • Nokia Account
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Google
  • IBM Notes Traveller
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • POP/IMAP

The People app combines Contacts, Recent Activity and a What’s New tab - which contains activity from any of the accounts added to the phone. It is a quick way to see what is going on without checking all the individual apps. Contacts does what you expect and pulls contact info from all your accounts and allows you to combine contacts from different sources. Recent just shows the contacts that you’ve been interacting with.

Messaging handles all text, online chat and mms messages - grouped by conversation. Tapping any conversation will bring up the messages and tapping on the name of the other parties will take you to their contact entry, from which you can text, email, post on their wall or phone (depending on what contact details you have).

Phone does what you expect. Default view is call history, with buttons to call voicemail, bring up the keypad, go to the people app and search. The calendar is functional, but nothing special. Multiple calendars are supported and show up in different colours - in my case my personal and work calendars.

The mail application does everything you expect, again grouping by conversation. You can link mailboxes as required. The mail client is a great example of how readable text is throughout Windows Phone - large typefaces abound and go well the the overall flat design language used throughout. The majority of screens are dark with lighter text, again aiding in readability.

Windows Phone also comes with a mobile version of Office - allowing you to read and do basic editing of Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents. You’re not going to be writing a novel on there but they are perfectly serviceable for basic viewing and editing. The Office app allows access to documents stored on Skydrive, Office365 and the phone itself as well as any email attachments you have opened. OneNote is also included - again offering syncing to SkyDrive. Interestingly enough, there is no native pdf reader. You need to download Adobe Reader.

Which brings us to the Store. Perfectly functional, as long as your needs are basic. As a Windows Phone user you need to get used to being a third class citizen amongst app developers. That TV ad for the new app from your local supermarket/bank/city council? It will be on iOS and Android. New Mobile Game? iOS and Android. Remote Control App for your LED lights/TV/Blu Ray? iOS and Android. However understandable - Windows Phone has barely broken double figure market share in Europe - it is still immensely frustrating if your phone is where you experience these apps. I am lucky enough to have an Android Tablet - so that is my go to for those type of apps, while my phone does everything I need it to - phone, email, photos, text and the limited other thing I use it for - reddit, social networking and the occasional game.

One cool thing Windows Phone 8 adds is Kids Corner. Essentially a ring fenced sandbox, it is accessed by swiping right from the lock screen. You can give it a name, set a background and colour scheme, then assign apps and media to it. Those items are the only accessible items from the Kids Corner. It also disables the search capacitive button, so it helps with accidental presses there too. So if you want to let your toddler play Angry Birds without worrying about them emailing the boss or calling Guatemala, you can. My three year old loves it - especially given it has a picture of him as the lock screen.

Moving on we come to the desktop software side of things. Windows Phone 7 used the Zune desktop software to handle media and syncing. Zune was something of an odd piece of software but it was very pretty and did what it needed to. Zune does not support Windows Phone 8 - instead there is a Metro app: Windows Phone and a Desktop app - Windows Phone for Desktop. Both offer less functionality than Zune - they can be used for viewing what is on your phone and copying media to them. That’s it. Plugging your phone into your PC also brings up your phone storage as a removable drive which allows you to drag and drop content in there - effectively defeating the purpose of these apps in the first place.

This wouldn’t be that big a deal apart from 1 thing - podcasts. Zune supported the adding of custom podcasts via RSS, then syncing them, included tracking if they were played or not. That isn’t supported. Being in New Zealand we also have no access to podcasts through the Store - something that may or may not be added in GDR3. You are left with two options - use Zune to manage your podcast downloads, then the Windows Phone app to synchronise the Podcasts folder (two apps, no tracking of what is played) or a third party podcasts app. One step forward, two steps back.

So Windows Phone 8 is good - but it has its limits. On the corporate side there is still no VPN support and the MDM features are nowhere near those of iOS or even Android. The App Store, while growing, is still a long way from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Android and iOS deliver significantly more choice through apps (iOS) and customisability (Android). However, Windows Phone 8 is remarkably smooth, reliable and most importantly a good experience. I can do what I want to quickly, without fuss. It is also a step up from 7.8 in terms of stability and functionality. Specifically the bug that would cause my Lumia 800 to occasionally hard lock when playing music and using 3G data is not apparent here.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Other related posts:
Nokia Lumia 1020 Social Features
Lumia 1020 for Work
Nokia Lumia 1020: some photos






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Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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