I just added the Nokia Lumia 928 to The Quest. It’s a Windows 8 Phone (or is that Windows Phone 8 phone?). My primary phone is an iPhone 4S. This isn’t replacing that, at least not yet. Officially it’s replacing a terrible Android phone on a second line. I’m new to Windows Phone, of any version, although I use (and love) a Surface RT and run Windows 8 on my desktop. This article are my first impressions after a couple days.
I ordered online due to the pricing, but picked it up in store because I wanted to touch and see it before taking delivery. While there’s a return period, it’s just so much easier to walk out and leave it in the store. I took the contract renewal because the upfront fee plus the early termination fee was still less than the no-contract cost. It’s a wash if I have to give up the rebate. Plus, much to my annoyance, Verizon doesn’t offer a cheaper plan for an un-subsidized phone. I heard on one of the TWIT podcasts that NewEgg and Amazon were selling the phones for even less, but I couldn’t find anything lower on their websites.
The phone was activated at the store, but I saved all the setup for when I arrived home. I had to do the setup twice. Something just wasn’t right the first time through. I could send and receive phone calls. I could send text messages but I couldn’t receive any, not even replies. Some research should that some apps just didn’t see my phone number and had (000) 000-0000 listed. The second time through and all was good, but I lost of hour or so of my time.
Next I picked my country and then things got wonky when I was prompted for my MS account (or to create one). I didn’t really have a problem, but it didn’t work the way I expected. I use a custom address for my MS ID. It’s an ID used to subscribe to Office 365 Home and it’s setup as a custom domain with Outlook.com. It took my account and logon just fine. But I later found there was no email, calendar or contacts. It seemed to see Skydrive just fine. More on the mail setup later once the wizard is finished.
Then there was a prompt to backup to Skydrive. This saves Photos to Skydrive, syncs my text messages to the “cloud” and backs up my phone’s settings to the “cloud”. I answer yes to turn this on since it works well on my Surface RT. There’s a prompt to use Verizon’s service to back up contacts. This seems redundant since I’ll be using the Outlook.com contacts, so I don’t enable it.
Finally, there’s a notice about location services and a prompt asking if I want automatic phone updates. I enable the automatic updates. In what I thought was a nice touch, my phone number was displayed a the very end.
After the wizard ends a text message appears with a link to more Windows Phone tips. (It’s a free message)
I had to manually setup mail, calendars and contacts. My account was setup during the wizard but the email option was unchecked and options for contacts and calendar didn’t exist. I checked the email box and started to receive email. But I still had to set up calendar and contacts. I ended up having to set up the same account I used for the wizard, but selecting the “Hotmail” option when I set it up. Then I could enable calendar and contacts for this “second” account. I also enabled tasks, although this was less of a concern for me.
Once the setup was finished I had 23.81 GB of free space.
The phone support 802.11n on the 5 GHz band which is my preference since it’s less congested in my apartment complex. I get good performance using it throughout my apartment. It seems like most phones support 5 GHz these days so this isn’t unique to the Lumia 928, but it’s new for my phone.
I like the bigger phone. The screen is nice and clear. The text is easy to read. As I get older my eyes have struggled with the smaller text of the iPhone. The phone still fits in a pocket although some may find it uncomfortable in a shirt pocket. It’s heavier than my iPhone 4S, 162 grams (5.7 oz) compare to 137 grams (4.8 oz) but it doesn’t really feel heavier to me when I’m using it. That probably has something to do with the increased size. I’m still getting used to one-handed operation of the phone since it’s larger. My thumb doesn’t quite reach the physical back button. Well, I can reach, but my hold on the phone is precarious since I have to hold the phone lower in my hang, making it top heavy.
The phone feels well built, despite being plastic. Aluminum and glass have a solid and expensive look compared to plastic but I think the plastic will be durable. I don’t use a case and it seems like it will resist scratches. I don’t plan on dropping the phone to test it’s durability, although I figure it’s only a matter of time before the accidental drop test.
The buttons along the side have been a bit annoying. They stick out and are prone to accidental pressing. There is a setting to avoid accidentally turning on the camera when the phone is locked which helps a bit since I was often hitting that button. The other annoyance I have is the lack of a system-wide screen orientation lock. Some apps don’t rotate which is also kind of annoying.
I’ve purposely avoided blindly installing apps that I use on my iPhone, if they are available. I’m using the opportunity to find different ways of doing things. I have installed my Synology apps (for my NAS) – Video, Music, Photo and Finder. I also installed the Lastpass and Audible apps. I pretty much stopped there for now. I want to become more familiar with the built in apps and what I really want to use on the phone.
Like other mobile OS’s, the UI isn’t easily discover-able. For example, I was annoyed that there wan’t an easy way to switch between apps. But then I accidentally held down the back button and a app switcher popped up. After Windows RT I’m also disappointed that there’s not more swipe support. I find myself swiping IE to go back but then have to press the back button. On the other hand other apps require swiping to move between screens.
There are some apps I use that aren’t available on Windows Phone, no denying that. I’ve been trying to avoid app lock-in, going with mobile web options whenever possible. I think my biggest problem is going to be a podcast app. I really like Downcast and the Windows phone options don’t come close, at least not yet. I’m giving “Podcast” a try. It’s free and seems to be OK but the one problem I have is that I can’t subscribe to any TWIT podcasts using it. Leo seems seems to use a lot of different subscription URLs along with redirects, I may just have to hit the right one.
The Nokia Lumia 928 has been fun so far. The Nokia apps seem to be a step above the (low) quality I’ve come to expect from vendor apps. It does cause some duplication, such as in my music choices. My iPhone 4S is still my primary phone but I do see a not too distant future where the Nokia Lumia 928 and Windows Phone 8 replaces it as my primary phone. Now I just have to get there. I’ll post updates on my progress (or lack of progress).