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MS and Nokia got this one right--best phone I've used
on February 6, 2012
Earlier Windows phones were not well received. When I read the early reviews on this one, I was intrigued enough to consider it. After seeing a coworker with one, I decided to give it a shot. T-Mobile had a great deal that made this one too good to pass up, even if I had to go back and get a different phone in six months. Since receiving it, I've had no disappointments. In fact, it has exceeded my expectations in almost every way!
Prior to the Nokia Lumia 710, I had been a long time BlackBerry user, as well as a user of a couple of different Android phones (a T-Mobile Comet and a Samsung Galaxy S). In addition, as a support tech, I've had to handle and configure many different devices over the years, including Apple's revered iPhone. What can I say? Microsoft and Nokia got it right. This is--hands down--the best smartphone I've ever used!
A BlackBerry was my companion for many years. It had long passed the exciting phase, but was a dependible little tool. When I first moved to an Android phone after my BlackBerry, I was astounded by the abundance of features and the ease of use. I never imagined I would feel the same way when I switched to a Windows phone, but that really is the case. The leap from Android to this Windows 7.5 phone felt just like leaving my BlackBerry behind for Android!
The controls are easy to use and intuitive. The touch response is absolutely fantastic. While flipping through a long list, a single touch stops the list, but does not automatically open the item beneath my finer (something that did happen quite frequently under Android). That prevents a lot of unintentionally opened contacts and apps. The only tactile experience similar to it is on an iPhone, but I think the Nokia Lumia 710 even one-ups them there. I can't fully express how easy it is to handle and navigte--it's a real pleasure.
A REAL BENEFIT: IT KNOWS OFFICE
One advantage Microsoft has off the bat with its Windows 7.5 mobile OS is how well it works with Microsoft Office. Compatibility with Word, Powerpoint, and Excel are there from day one. For anyone working in a MS environment, that's a big plus--no third party apps or conversion issues.
WHAT ABOUT THE WINDOWS MARKETPLACE?
The place where both Apple and Android have had an upper hand has been in their app stores. I wondered if Microsoft's Marketplace would have enough of a selection to meet my immediate needs. Thus far, I've been very pleased with the depth of the Microsoft Marketplace. Barcode scanner app (RedLaser)? Check. QR code generator? Check. Specialty apps, created for my hobbies? Check! The Marketplace also connects with XBox Live, for access to many games. My wife was excited to find a trial of Angry Birds on her phone. Thus far, my only disappointment in the Marketplace is that there's no official Scrabble app--one of my favorites.
If you're familiar with a standard BlackBerry (e.g., Curve), then this will sum it up for you: it's as wide as a BlackBerry about a quarter taller. It has a nice hand feel--enough heft to feel substantive, but not enough to make it seem heavy. If you're looking for an ultra-trim, svelte phone, this is not the one for you, but it fits both my large hands, and my wife's smaller hands very well.
NAVIGATION AND CUSTOMIZATION
Navigation on this phone is easy. In fact, it was so easy that my six year old daughter was able to pick up and use the phone on her own after seeing me download a coloring app for her. No other instruction was required!
The home page contains tiles (think "shortcuts") for various apps, each pinned in place. Each page holds four rows, and by default the phone came with two pages of tiles. Just flick (up/down) to move between pages. By holding a finger on an app, it unpins, allowing you to move it elsewhere on the list. Within a few moments, I had all the tiles I wanted on the first page, and arranged just the way I wanted them.
Moving between pages relies on flicks. A really nice feature for when you have multiple programs open is to hold the left navigation button (the "back" button) down for about a second and a half. It shrinks the active app to a smaller size and then lets you flick through any open apps, greatly easing navigation. It's a great feature.
The customization options for background and colors are, sadly, limited. You may choose either a light (white) or dark (black) background, and your tiles may be one of eleven colors, each of which stands in stark contrast to either background. Personally, I like a dark background with largely dark tiles, since it takes less energy to keep a screen dark than it does to make it light (translating to longer battery life). There are instructions online intended to let you specify your own preferred color(s) by modifying the HEX value for the color in a configuration file, but I've not had a chance to try that yet. If they would let users pick their tiles' background colors from a custom pallet, I'd be even happier.
Battery life has been decent for a smartphone. If not using any data, and just standing by, it will go days and days without a charge. With periodic data use (e.g., checking email, FB status) and a few calls throughout the day, I might be able to go a day and a half. If doing a lot of browsing, or watching movies/video, you'll be charging nightly. The phone has a battery saver option that is not enabled by default. I recommend turning it on right away (it lets the phone shut down unnecessary services to conserve power). And, as is true with any smartphone, leave the WiFi and Bluetooth services off unless you are actively using them.
Very few, and all minor:
- limited ability to customize tile colors
- batter saver is not on by default
- people will keep asking if it is any good, and then will want to try it
- The data/charging cord connects at the top of the handset, rather than the bottom. That makes it harder to use the phone to make a call while it is on a charging cable. That configuration is annoying, but affects me less than 1% of the time I'm using it, so its tolerable.
- as an early adopter, I had a hard time finding accessories when it was first released (likely true for many other smartphones, though)
Overall, it's the best mobile phone I've ever used. Microsoft really got things right in Windows 7.5 mobile, and with their partnership with Nokia. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better smartphone experience.