Top positive review
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Beautiful Phone, Great OS (But Not Perfect)
on November 14, 2012
So you know where I'm coming from: I upgraded to the Lumia 920 from the iPhone 4 that I'd used for two years.
It's simply beautiful. Beats the iPhone hands down, from my point of view. The matte cyan polycarbonate looks and feels great in-hand along with the slightly curved back. It's a solid device with some heft -- but it's far from the "brick" some reviewers are making it out to be. It weighs just enough to feel solid without being fatiguing when held for long periods.
Only negatives: if you're looking for the absolute lightest and thinnest device on the market, no, this isn't it. Also, the matte finish is a tad slippery, though I've yet to drop it. (Update 7/21/13: I have now dropped it a couple of times from about 5 feet onto asphault -- the worst possible surface to drop your phone onto. There is a small indent on the upper left corner, but otherwise the Lumia handled the falls with aplomb. You wouldn't even notice the slight deformation in the corner if you weren't looking for it. A+ for durability.)
The screen is simply gorgeous, subjectively speaking. Beats the iPhone 4's screen hands down, and I haven't seen any screen on anyone else's device that looks as good. The 4.5" screen in 1280x768 works great for videos, games, and web-browsing. The super-sensitive touch works great: nails and gloves work no problem. I was disappointed to find that an ordinary, resistive stylus does *not* work (I hate the capacitive styluses, it's like writing with a big, awkward crayon). Clearblack and high brightness combine for very good readability outdoors sunlight.
Not much to say that hasn't been said about the camera on every review everywhere. Low-light performance is phenomenal: no other phone camera can match this at night or indoors. Outdoors, photos are a little soft but otherwise on-par with any other flagship smartphone snapper. A firmware update is supposedly incoming to address the softness, and it can easily be correct in about 10 seconds with any basic image editing software if it's a huge deal.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 with Adreno 225 simply flies through Windows Phone 8 with no discernible lag or stuttering that I've been able to see. Apps load quickly. The Adreno 225 is more than able to handle to handle the UI and any mobile game. I live in an LTE market and web pages load quickly and apps download almost as fast as my home wired internet.
Battery life seemed sub-par for the first couple of days, but after a few charge cycles the battery seems to have calibrated and I don't have any trouble getting through a day on a single charge. Plus, being able to sit it on the wireless charging plate while I sit at my computer or watch TV works great for keeping the charge up. (Update 7/14/13: While I still get all-day battery life no problem for the most part, this device definitely has an issue where it will heat up and the battery will drain very quickly for no discernible reason. I've tried turning off all the usual suspects -- GPS, bluetooth, wifi, NFC -- but the problem happens regardless. The only thing that fixes the issue is a quick "battery pull" reset, achieved by holding down the volume down and power buttons simultaneously for about 10 seconds. Not a huge issue for me, but something I'd hoped Nokia would have resolved by now.)
Nokia Drive is currently in beta, apparently, and I've certainly noticed a quirk or two. The map for my area seems to be a little out-of-date: I live in a newer track of homes, about three years old, and it shows the area as still dirt, and there are a couple of new roads or old roads have been extended which don't show. Hopefully the maps get updated soon. All-in-all, though, it's works well and will be exceptional once all the little quirks are worked out and the map for my area is (hopefully) updated.
Nokia music is a very competent alternative to Pandora. Which is good, since Pandora isn't currently available in the Store. (Update 7/21/13: You can get Pandora for WP now.)
Creative Studio works very well for doing some basic image adjustments/enhancements: sharpness, color/white balance, crop and rotate, and eliminating red eye.
Those are the only three I currently use.
Here's where things start to get a little more interesting. It would take longer than I have to do a thorough review of Windows Phone 8, so I'll just sum it up: no matter what mobile OS you use, there are trade-offs. There are things WP8 does exceptionally well that iOS simply didn't, and which Android can't either. On the other hand, there are things which are more polished on the other platforms.
Push notifications in particular could use some attention from Microsoft. The Facebook integration is great, but regular Facebook users will still need a dedicated app. Unfortunately, the dedicated Facebook app is behind the iOS one in terms of functionality. You can't do custom tones for messages, emails, or notifications currently, for some reason. (Update 7/21/13: The Facebook app has been revamped and is much, much improved.)
In my opinion, the WP8 does enough things well that I can overlook its flaws. Most are minor things that Microsoft will hopefully address, and none are show-stoppers that prevent me from doing anything I need to do on my phone: communicate, browse the web, watch videos, listen to music, check various things like news/weather/financials, and play the occasional game to pass the time.
There is one big flaw I must mention though: syncing is a bit of a mess. You can no longer use Zune. You have to use Windows Media Player or the new Windows Phone application. The Windows Phone application is half-arsed and no substitute for real syncing software. WMP works OK, but I'm having problems with missing album art and metadata not matching up (resulting in multiple entries for the same album and other oddities). Nothing show-stopping, but Microsoft really needs to offer a real alternative to iTunes. One positive though: the phone will show up as mass storage on your PC and you can move things to and fro via the file browser.
I recommend WP8 to anyone who isn't stuck in the iOS ecosystem (or who is but wants to get out) and doesn't find anything appealing about Android and its open but fragmented mess of an ecosystem.
I recommend this phone in particular to anyone who loves a phone with impeccable, attention-getting design and an absolutely steller screen. It's a pleasure to look at, whether you're simply admiring the phone itself or actually using it.