Customer Review

45 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great hardware, OS has promise but needs work, sync is TERRIBLE, November 16, 2012
This review is from: Nokia Lumia 920, Black 32GB (AT&T) (Wireless Phone)
I'm a big Windows Phone fan. I bought a Focus on the day it came out (and was the only non Microsoft employee in the store buying one). I later moved up to a Lumia 900, which was even better. When Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 920 were announced, I had made up my mind that THIS was the next phone I was getting.

When I got my first Windows Phone I liked the hardware but thought the device had a lot of promise, but that there was a lot of stuff that had gotten dropped on the software side because they simply ran out of time. Unfortunately, with the cutover to the new kernel, I find myself feeling the same way again with Windows Phone 8.

The Good:

On the hardware side, the Lumia 920 is fantastic. Build quality is very good, and the phone feels like a high quality product. It feels very solid, and while it did initially feel a bit heavier than my Lumia 900, it's honestly not an issue. I haven't gotten my wireless charging plate from AT&T yet, it's still on back order, but I'm excited about that as well.

The screen looks fantastic, everything looks much sharper than the older screens. I'm not sure what the OS is doing to scale older applications, but it looks great. The camera is also quite good, the image stabilization on videos looks great, and it performs quite well in low light.

The changes to the live tile setup are actually more useful than I had thought they would be. For the most part, the smaller sized live tiles work exactly like the larger versions, get updated properly with status information (number of new emails, etc) and really do give you a lot more flexibility in terms of arranging the home screen.

I was a little worried that the change from Bing to Nokia maps would be a bit awkward, as I particularly enjoyed the Bing Maps routing based on the traffic. Overall I've been impressed by the new maps apps, and drive has worked great for turn by turn navigation.

There's a lot of other little tweaks here in there in the OS that fix some of the silly little annoyances I noticed about Windows Phone 7 (text selection is much easier now, you can multi-delete text message threads, etc).

The Meh:

Honestly, other than the start screen changes, most of the major OS changes on the phone seem to be behind the scenes. Other than the hardware differences and the start screen, my day to day Windows Phone experience really hasn't changed substantially with the upgrade.

The new features that do exist seem like they really weren't usability/focus tested with real world use cases. Kids corner is a great idea, that I haven't seen elsewhere. Unfortunately, if you put a password on your phone to unlock it, it also password locks kids corner as well, with no way to disable that behavior. Maybe that made sense to someone, but it's left a lot of the rest of us scratching our heads.

It's still early, but there's not really much in the way of apps taking advantage of the new features that did make it into this release. THere's also a number of Windows Phone 7 apps that simply don't appear in the store if you're running Windows Phone 8 because they aren't compatible (including ones I've purchased). Presumably both of these will go away over time, but for people buying now, it's an issue.

The "app gap" between Windows Phone and other platforms is starting to close, but there's still some high profile apps that don't exist here. I can do most of what I'm interested in, but this is going to be especially noticeable for smaller services/companies. Your local minor league baseball team may have iOS & Android apps, but they probably are not working on a Windows Phone version for example. Microsoft has recognized this and seems to be working hard to stir up interest (and also throwing money at developers to port), but still an issue, especially for people jumping platforms.

The Bad:

With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft got rid of the Zune software to sync with your PC in favor of exposing the folders to your PC via drag and drop. When you connect the phone to your PC, there's folders for Music, Documents, Videos, Ringtones, etc than you can drop files into to transfer them to your phone. This is actually a good thing if you're a person who wants to drag and drop files to/from your phone, but that is not in any way how I want to interact with a device.

They released a Windows 8 app and a desktop app for Windows 7/8 to "sync" content to your phone from your Windows libraries or in the case of the desktop software, from iTunes. Unfortunately, these apps are very bare bones, and the desktop app crashes for me almost every time I try and sync music from iTunes. Microsoft provided no migration path for existing users using the Zune software to start syncing with Windows Phone 8, and strangely, for the "best" experience in terms of syncing your phone, it appears you should be using iTunes. And when the desktop app does actually work, it's not an actual "sync" at all, in terms of syncing up things like podcast positions, etc. between the phone and the PC, it's just a straight copy. In a lot of cases, album art isn't being copied down to the phone either.

The entire Windows Phone 8 sync process has been a huge source of pain for people on various forums, with people ending up finding terrible workarounds to this setup. There's currently just no way to fill the gap left behind by moving away from the Zune software. I've got a fancy new phone with tons of space, and no easy way to fill it up with my content, drag and drop just really is not how I want to manage music in 2012.

Getting rid of the Zune software also means no more sync over wifi, which was really one of the better Zune features.

The Xbox Music Pass, and in particular the "cloud" features seem somewhat buggy as well, with things randomly working/not working. Same goes for purchases in the video store, although I'm not sure if those are supposed to work on Windows Phone 8 or not.

Overall:

Hardware wise, the 920 is fantastic, I have zero complaints, it's a huge step up from the last generation of Windows Phones.

Unfortunately, software wise it really seems like we're in a similar situation to the 7.0 release, where things look promising, but most of the really interesting stuff isn't there. For Windows Phone 7, it was because they started from scratch. In Windows Phone 8, it seems to be due to the time required to get everything up and running on the new kernel. I'm hoping the new kernel and technology stack allow for more frequent OS updates, and there's a "Mango" style update in the hopper already.

Hopefully the sync software gets better, and Microsoft can fill in the gaps to match an experience similar to the one the Zune software provided, because this really isn't enjoyable at all, and the features aimed at having everything content wise in the cloud are buggy at best, and broken at worst.

UPDATE 3/6/2013:

I've had the phone for about 4 months now, and honestly, not much has changed.

Sync apps have gotten more stable, but none of the feature gaps between WP7/Zune and WP8 have been addressed at all. People I've talked to privately at Microsoft have expressed unhappiness with the current music/video/podcast experience on WP8, but so far we really haven't seen any major effort to fix it. Xbox video is STILL incompatible with WP8. Xbox Music is still a mess.

WP8 is getting more apps, although honestly I attribute that more to Nokia than anything that Microsoft has done. We still are missing a number of high profile apps from other platforms, and many others lag behind other platforms in terms of features, etc. I also haven't seen much in the way of apps utilizing any features specific to WP8, such as the wallet, etc.

The speed of updates for WP8 hasn't really changed much from WP7. We got Portico, which fixed some bugs and added a few features, but Microsoft has been largely silent on any future plans. Hopefully we don't end up waiting until Holiday 2013 for the next big update. To their credit, Nokia has been responsive, and been fixing/updating their apps frequently. It seems like in general, they're a lot more excited about the platform than Microsoft is.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2012 9:58:27 AM PST
J. Hurst says:
Use MediaMonkey, it's free and works great.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 10:06:29 AM PST
But I don't want to switch over to using MediaMonkey or use Windows Media Player or any of the other random things people have tried to get their stuff to copy. Honestly, Microsoft just dropped the ball on this one, and the desktop software, even when it does work, doesn't actually sync anything (like podcast position, etc) between the pc/phone, it just seems to be designed to transfer content from pc -> phone.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012 10:16:32 AM PST
Aaron says:
I actually really love that WP8 is now just recognized as a USB drive. It makes my 32GB of space much more useful to me. But I'm not a music guy, so I can understand if you have issues with it. The only content I'm concerned with syncing are photos, videos, and documents/notes. The integration with SkyDrive handles those perfectly. I do agree though that there seems to be a lack of apps that take advantage of WP8. I expected a special place in the marketplace to explore apps that showed off the new features.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012 11:24:14 AM PST
W. Dillon says:
Syncing is the one thing I don't look forward to with WP8. Let's hope Microsoft can get moving and update it so it doesn't suck. They should've just updated Zune since it was already so good.

Posted on Nov 18, 2012 9:25:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 9:28:28 AM PST
Hazim says:
There are two helpful sync options that you missed. You can use Windows Media Player to sync your music. You can also set the wp8 desktop application to automatically sync certain folders or everything on the pc. I think wireless sync was removed because it had many problems. I could not get it to work because of some firewall that I could never seem to find. instead you can use skydrive. Skydrive is amazing because you can access any media files throuh the media player now. For example, if I add a folder that says "2012 music" to my skydrive I can access those songs in x-box music. The only problem is they wont be organized according to those files. All you have to do is select the songs list and on the top where it says "all" touch it and select skydrive. All mixes both your phone music and skydrive music.
Overall sync was simple for me because I selected the option where I wanted everything to sync, so all I have to do is connect my phone to the computer.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 4:13:21 PM PST
Yeah, Windows Media Player works, but its just a workaround to the bad state of the sync process that currently exists. I did mention syncing with windows libraries, but that's still missing a lot of features compared to the Zune software or even iTunes sync.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 8:29:38 AM PST
Xiaolin Li says:
It actually would be much better if come with meego system except the number of softwares.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 9:07:51 AM PST
W. Dillon says:
Windows Phone is better than Meego. We don't need another iOS look alike.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 10:17:46 PM PST
Danark81 says:
I honestly feel the WP8 would be an awsome phone if they just stuck to Zune.

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 9:12:24 AM PST
Rick Courrau says:
Great review! Balanced and I like the way you shared your experience with both the hardware and the software.
Thanks for taking the time to write this comprehensive review.
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