Gadgets Microsoft

Nokia Lumia 920

I bought a Nokia Lumia 920 & using it as my mobile for last two weeks. Yes, you heard me right!

I started using iPhone exactly 4 years back, first with iPhone3G and two years back iPhone4. Then I got myself deeper into Apple Ecosystem, moving all music/movies to iTunes, buying an iMac to manage/store it and then recently iPad3. So this month when I decided to change my aging iPhone4, the choices in front of me were just two. Go the least friction route to buy iPhone5 or go with Windows Phone. I don’t seem to like Android so that was a sure no-go for me, I have tried Samsung Galaxy Note II as recently as few weeks back and I have used for more than a week MicroMax A90S with Android 4.0 ICS. Seeing the features of iPhone5 and using it from friends who have it, I would like to say I am not impressed. iPhone5 is a great phone, but I don’t see any upgrade in there from iPhone4 other than the processor & display (which looks pretty odd dimensioned to me).

A brief on Mobiles I used in the past:

In the past I have used/tried various Windows Mobiles including XPhoneII in 2004, BenQ P50 in 2006, HTC S710 in 2007 and HTC Mozart (With first version of Windows Phone 7) in 2010. Before iPhone my favourite was Nokia 9300 (smaller sibling of the Nokia communicator). After waiting two years for a good phone to emerge from Nokia-Microsoft partnership, I finally was impressed with Nokia Lumia 920. The earlier avatars of Lumia phone didn’t interest me, because they lacked support for my mother tongue (Tamil). Lumia 920 supports Tamil due to the underlying Windows NT kernel in Windows Phone 8 OS.

I went with Nokia Lumia 920 and not HTC 8X due to Nokia generally having better Voice quality from its superior Radio electronics & better low-light camera. I spend considerable time with the phone in Dubai (during last year XMAS vacation) where a friend was using it and online reviews (comparing with competition) before deciding to order it on 18th February from Flipkart. The price I paid was Rs.36038, this was before the recent Budget tax hike now the phone costs Rs.37510 when I saw today.

Experience of using Nokia Lumia 920 for two weeks now:

My home screen customized in Nokia Lumia 920
(My home screen customized)

After buying the phone I still had my doubts. Can I adapt myself to Windows Phone UI from iOS, won’t the weight of the phone bother me (Lumia 920 is 185g where as iPhone4 is just 137g). Now after two weeks of using it as my only phone I can say that I got used to Windows Phone and in fact I love it. Going back to iOS or Android looks time travel back in time. The heaviness of the phone is not that noticeable, I felt it made the holding/handling of the phone better, kind of sits firm in your palms; I never felt the phone was slipping and I haven’t dropped it so far (touch wood), which can’t be said of iPhone even with Apple bumpers.

Unlike what I feared, the setup of the phone went without any hitch. Vodafone pushed Access Point settings automatically Over the Air (OTA) and everything worked fine on first attempt. Configuring my 3 emails, Contacts, Tasks  were buttery smooth. This included my work account (Office 365 Exchange Online), Hotmail (Personal Contacts & Calendars) & Gmail custom domain email. The Windows Phone connector for Mac OX made it super easy to sync my Photos with iPhotos & Music/Movies/TV Shows with my iTunes library in OS X.

Windows-Phone-Connector-macOS

Initially I missed few things of iOS like Favourites in Contacts, Unified Mail & few apps. As I use the phone I am learning new ways of accomplishing the tasks in WP which at times are is better than iOS way. For example the separate tiles for each mail account makes it faster instead of iOS change folder and especially while sending emails. Instead of Favourites in Contacts, you can group your contacts in Outlook.com and pin individual groups as Live Tiles – this has an added advantage of able to see all social activities of people within the group in that tile itself. Instead of double-click on home button in iOS to switch Apps, you can long press the back button & see running apps before switching to them. Screenshots can be taken with nearly the same key combination (Windows softkey plus Power button pressed together). Instead of iCloud, photos & documents are automatically uploaded to Skydrive which is a full service cloud storage service compared to iCloud.

Features that I found to be great about the phone, which makes it a better choice than iPhone5 for me (in order of advantage) are:

  1. Microsoft Office – The original is still the best!
  2. Carl-Zeiss Lens & Camera – The camera is great especially in low light, see the pictures I took with this phone here
  3. Nokia Music – This provides free legal download of millions of tracks including the latest Hindi & Tamil language songs. This is an under spoken feature of Nokia over other WP OEMs
  4. People Hub – This is the unique differentiator of WP, where it gives a unified view of your contacts across their social networks. The pictures for each contact makes it much better than iOS contacts list
  5. Nokia HERE Maps – For India Nokia Maps is great especially its turn by turn and Near-By search
  6. Kid’s corner is a nice feature unique to WP (now in Amazon Kindle Fire) where you allocate a home screen with access only to Apps/music/videos of your choice. With my son taking my Phone most of the time when we are out, this is a great feature for me
  7. The display at 4.5-inch size & resolution of 1280 x 768 is brilliant, compared to 4 inch and 1136 x 640 of iPhone5. And the display is clearly visible even in outdoor sunlight

The Apps that I have discovered & currently using for the tasks I do (in Alphabetical order):

  1. 7Pass (Paid) – App for opening Keepass Password files
  2. Amazon Kindle
  3. Burrp – The peer review of Restaurants in India
  4. Dictionary.com
  5. Facebook – Though you don’t need a standalone app due to People hub, good to know its still there
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Lync 2010 – The office communicator for work collaboration
  8. MetroTube (Paid) – The YouTube! clone due to Google not providing one
  9. MSN India Cricket
  10. News360
  11. PDF Reader – From Microsoft to open Adobe Acrobat files, latest update supports Password protected files and more feature. Surprised Adobe doesn’t have an official version yet
  12. Skype
  13. Twitter – I like the latest version of Twitter App giving it a consistent UI across platforms
  14. WhatsApp – I have been a late adopter of this Mobile Texting platform
  15. WordPress – The official app Use to manage this blog including approval of comments & view stats, lags behind iOS version but functional
  16. Nextgen Reader – After trying many RSS readers, this is the best I could find

One thing that didn’t work was the USB connection of the phone to my Car Stereo. The Pioneer Audio system supports only iPod interface, so does all the equipment at my Gym. As a stop-gap till I buy a Bluetooth adaptor for the Car Stereo, I have dusted my old Zune Player & connected it to AUX Audio input in the car.

Two features I am missing from iPhone are 1) the hardware toggle button for mute. With Lumia 920 its a 3 click operation – press power button, then volume up/down, followed by touching the ring/silent icon on top right, 2) the long battery life of iPhone, Nokia Lumia 920 gives me on average usage about 20-22 Hours before it dies, which by itself is great compared to competition but I am spoiled by iPhone.

In summary, I am happy with Nokia Lumia 920 and you should consider it as your next smartphone

Update (15/April/2013): After doing some tweaks and few full charges, I am now able to get over 36 hours of battery charge, with 10-15% to spare. The tweaks were setting the Brightness to Low, Automatic Photo sync to Skydrive turned off, Location services off, NFC – ON. The main tweak is to switch “Data Connection” in Mobile Network/Settings to OFF. You turn it ON only when you need to browse/email and that too when you are away from a Wi-Fi location. I found this paid app “Easy Tiles” that makes it easy to pin this settings screen, so that quickly you can access it.

5 Comments

  • But I prefer native google apps.. Gmail app for example supports Labels which i extensively use to sort out my email and i think the default Email app doesnt support it. Chrome syncs all my bookmarks from my other devices….. I am so tied into google ecosystem that I need all apps from google. Youtube, Google+, Drive, google maps all aren’t available ….
    More importantly, android os from ICS is a lot more polished with a great app ecosystem and can’t imagine moving out of it…

  • It doesn’t have any google apps and that is a show stopper for me. Doesn’t have Instagram, flipboard to name a few …

    • Girikrishna, Yes it doesn’t have Instagram and that can b a show stopper if your big into it, I am not into Instagram.

      As for as Google Apps – what do you miss?, the default email/calendar/tasks are expected work fine with Gmail.

      There are many flipboard equivalents in WP, I am trying few – but none is as polished as FlipBoard agree.In reality after using FB (Flipboard) in iPad where it is gorgeous, I didn’t feel like using it in my iPhone.

  • Nice review. I have the 920 too. Am impressed by this and like it better than the iPhone 4 I had. With regards to battery life, is the number you report based on wireless charging or plug-in? I notice that I get very little battery life with the wireless plate, around half a day compared to around 1.5 days with plug-in. Not sure if this is a universal issue or if my wireless plate is bad. In fact, I am fairly into the microsoft system that I am considering getting the surface RT or the pro when it comes out. What do you think?

    • I don’t have a Wireless charging. So my numbers are based on default wall-charger. But I am not surprised on lower figure for wireless, obviously it can carry (since early days of technology) only lesser current.

      Surface RT and Pro have both got released (earlier in Oct ’12 and later last month end). Due to lack of maturity of Metro Apps (Native Windows 8 Apps) I will suggest you wait for the next version of Surface RT by which time this would have got solved. The Surface Pro is nice if you want the full power of a PC and enjoy a finely engineered device by Microsoft; but remember its battery life is around 4-5 Hours unlike a iPad or even Surface RT (which is around 8-10 hours). And I have heard as a laptop it is not that convenient.