My phone for some time now has been a Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows 8, which I find very comfortable and productive for my use case. I love the clean design and UI metaphor (Live Tiles) of Windows Phone and the world-class build quality of hardware from Nokia. I do use a lot of Microsoft’s online services including Office 365, Hotmail, OneDrive, OneNote & Bing News which all makes a Windows Phone a natural fit for me. The only other phone I feel that comes close to this all around design elegance is iPhone5 with iOS7.
That aside for last few years I have kept a standby phone ready in my office at all times with a second SIM from a different TELCO, Apps downloaded/password saved & configured, email accounts set up and contacts synced. I ensure I carry this phone when I am travelling for emergencies. Saves a lot of time and tension. For the last two days that standby phone has been a low-cost Micromax A90S. Few weeks my nephew eyed at this sparingly used phone, and being a kind uncle I gifted it to him. This meant I needed a new standby phone. My first preference was Nokia Lumia 520, but I thought it will be better I have some exposure to an alternate mobile ecosystem. This meant it has to be Android as I already use regularly my wife’s iPad3.
I looked around on the phones that were available in the Indian market in Android KitKat (it has to be the latest OS). I ruled out Samsung Galaxy 5 and other phones which costs more than Rs.30,000 (USD 500). After much searching and crowdsourcing feedback from my facebook friends, I narrowed the list to 3 – Moto G, Moto X & Google Nexus 5. I liked Moto G a lot, it pretty much had everything I was looking for – upgradable to KitKat, pure Android experience, dual SIM and all for just Rs.14,000 (USD 233). I didn’t go with Moto G as I wanted to try out Google Now which is not supported in that. Moto X at Rs.24,000 (USD 400) came close but the deal breaker for me was the Nano SIM requirement. This meant if I have to interchange SIM from my Lumia 925 I can’t and don’t want a repeat of the problem I faced with incompatible SIM between iPhone4 (MicroSIM) and Micromax A90S (full sized SIM). That left only Google Nexus 5 32GB and I felt comfortable buying it directly from Google India for Rs.32,999 (USD 550) a little over my set budget. The phone got delivered in just 2 days.
I could set up the phone pretty easily, I liked the auto updates from Google downloaded for many of the default apps including Camera (which got changed to Google Camera). I could notice most of the new services in Android nowadays come packaged in as Google Play Services which was the first to get updated. The voice quality was good, the IPS capacitive touchscreen with 16M colours and 1080 x 1920 resolution looks gorgeous on the 4.95 inches device. In online reviews, the battery life was said to be poor especially using LTE (but I don’t have LTE in India). In my usage for over a week, I could over 28 hours on a single charge which included Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Location ON and casual browsing with 3G and music. The camera produced good pictures and free Snapseed app made them much better.
After changing the language to English USA I could Google Now voice assistant working. I found it to be useful, especially dictating messages or texts instead of typing them was interesting. I liked the Google Now cue cards on weather, my interests (based on my Google search queries) and time to the office & then back home.
I could get all the popular apps including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Flipboard, Feedly, WordPress, Amazon Kindle, Adobe Reader and Solitaire (mobility ware) configured. The Microsoft apps I use regularly like OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook.com, Skype and Microsoft Office Mobile got installed just fine. One of the free ebook readers I found was FBReader. I was surprised to find my home printer (HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus) configured and ready for printing, I noticed an HP App got downloaded to facilitate this.
One of the must-have features in a smartphone for me is to be able to sync the music, pictures and videos from my iTunes library. With iOS devices it is out of the box, with Lumia 925 I use the Windows Phone connector for mac but on Android, I couldn’t find anything out of the box. The Android File transfer is an archaic tool which is best not commented about. After much searching and trial, I found iSyncr app (paid app for Rs.299) and the accompanying Rocket Player to suit my needs. It’s not ideal but it worked for me by syncing my music, videos and podcasts from iTunes to Nexus 5. The Google Play policy of full refund within 15 minutes of purchase was really useful while I tried various iTunes sync app, this refund policy rocks.
I got Office 365 email configured easily in the Corporate account, my personal domain email configured with Gmail App and for my Hotmail email ID, I used the Outlook.com app. Doing these got all my calendars & contacts (from Office 365 & Hotmail) downloaded to the device, while I could edit the Office 365 contacts I couldn’t edit or add contacts to Hotmail. Searching online I found out the solution is not to use Outlook.com app but configure the Hotmail account through Corporate account setting in the device. Doing this solved the problem, but somehow I was not comfortable and worried something wrong will happen to my contacts. While doing this I noticed my linked in contacts showing up as well, it turns out the Linkedin app does this and it is better to turn the contact sync off in Linked In app.
One of the features I found very convenient in Windows Phone that I am missing in Nexus 5 was reading out SMS messages over Bluetooth speakers while driving. With Google technology available in Google Now I expected this feature to be present and better, but it turned out it was not there. One app I am missing really in Nexus 5 is Nokia MixRadio which allowed unlimited free download of millions of songs. Using the device for few days I disliked the default dialer and messaging app (now called Hangouts). Here the benefits of Android platform came to play, I could search and find replacements that I liked for both the apps – they were DialApp (left swipe and right swipe quick functions) and hello SMS (which sported a vertical tab interface).
After having configured everything and making myself familiar with the device for two weeks, I have now come back to Lumia 925!. I am keeping Nexus 5, I like it but only as my standby phone.