I imagine that most of you, like myself, have had very little experience using the new Window’s Phones. And it’s no wonder, with Android and iOS currently owning over 91% of the smartphone marketshare. But that statistic needs to change, because speaking as someone who’s had the opportunity to use this OS for a few weeks, this is a great smartphone option you should consider.
For this review I was loaned a Nokia Lumia 920. I’ll make a few comments about this phone itself but primarily I want to focus on the OS. After unboxing the Lumia I was impressed with the quality of the handset. Nokia makes some great phones and this one was no exception. After turning it on the screen surprised me by how vibrant and bright it was…even outside. Since I’ve had Android phones in the past the 4.5″ screen didn’t seem too large to me. The camera took some great pictures and the dedicated shutter button should be standard on all phones. The voice quality on phone calls was absolutely the best on any cell phone I’ve ever used. The touch response on the screen was not as good as on my iPhone, I found myself making A LOT more errors typing on the touchscreen keyboard. My only other complaint for this particular phone is the weight. This phone is heavy for a smartphone…185 grams. That’s nearly 40% heavier than my iPhone 5! I thought that maybe it was heavy because of having a larger battery, but battery life wasn’t amazing either. I found it to be average with other phones I’ve used. But again, these complaints I’ve mentioned are Nokia problems, not Window’s problems.
Windows Phone OS is a solid platform. I was impressed with how fast and snappy it performed. The OS feels very natural and intuitive as well. It’s very simple to customize the home screen by pinning favorite apps to the home screen and once you do you can easily see a variety of information displayed via their “Live Tiles”. And you can pin more than just apps…you can also pin people, songs, websites, directions, games, photos, docs, and more. Speaking of apps, the Window’s Phone currently has over 145,000 apps available. Most of my favorite apps like Pandora, Audible, Facebook (beta), and Twitter were readily available.
The “People Hub” is a shortcut to all of your contacts. But this doesn’t just take you to a list of your contacts information. It goes further and includes their latest photos and social networking updates as well.
I also really liked the built in messaging app for sending and receiving text messages. It integrates really well with Facebook’s messaging so often I found myself chatting with a friend on Facebook without even realizing it. And while I’m on the subject of messaging, one of the cool features that came standard was voice messaging while connected to Bluetooth. I never had to configure this but anytime I was connected to Bluetooth in my car the phone would automatically read any SMS messages I received and gave me the opportunity to reply or call the sender. I used this feature repeatedly and it never failed. There are probably apps available on other platforms that can do this as well but I liked how this came standard on this phone.
The Window’s Phone also features a mobile version of Microsoft Office so you can view and edit Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files on the phone. I never really had the need for this but some may find this appealing. It also integrates really well with XBox via the built in “Game Hub” but again, this was not something that I really had to opportunity to use.
I do have a few complaints as well. As good as the platform is there is still room for improvement. I mentioned earlier that “MOST” of my favorite apps are available…but not all of them. There were a few key apps that I was missing, such as Dropbox and Instagram; yes there are 3rd party apps available but I couldn’t find any that performed as well as the native versions of those apps on Android or iOS. I was also missing the Roku and Fitbit app. Same story, there were 3rd party apps but none of them were good enough.
Above I also referred to the number of mistakes that I made using the touch keyboard. While part of that blame goes to Nokia I also believe that the native keyboard in Windows Phone could be better. The predictive text works really well, but I just found myself having to re-type a number of words due to mistakes made with the keyboard.
My only other minor complaint was using the mail app. While it was very simple to set up all of my email accounts, I found it difficult to distinguish which emails were read or unread. This may vary depending on the theme color you have selected as some may be easier to distinguish than others. Other than that using the mail app was easy and straightforward.
Overall, I believe that Windows Phones are a great choice for anyone. This is a very easy and intuitive phone to use, and I think it would be a great phone for the first time smartphone user and the non-techie user alike. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these phones would be great for anyone, but it is still missing a few features and apps that some more experienced smartphone users may feel are missing. But as with iOS and Android, it’s all a matter of personal preference and I believe Windows has a great platform for consumer or business users.