It is strange for me to review Windows 8 Phone OS when our app is not even present in Windows store. Majikal currently is iPhone only app and work for Android version is in progress. We have no definitive dates for Windows version of the app but still I was tempted enough to give Windows OS a try.
I have been using iPhone (3G, 4G & 4GS) since 2008 and 2nd generation iPad. After using iOS for more than five years, I was bored of static screens in iOS and array of app icons and folders. I’m an old Nokia fan and was sad to see them suffering. Nokia and Apple are among the very few companies that takes technology and design a step further. Other companies just copy a successful product with little or no variations and rarely bring out game changing products. This is reason I wanted to give Nokia another chance. As matter of fact if it was not for Nokia I wouldn’t have given Windows 8 OS a chance this early :).
Here is my review of Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows 8 Mobile OS.
Review of Nokia Lumia as a Phone
The first thing you notice about the phone is that it has a very solid feel in hand. The curved screen which flow seamlessly into the polycarbonate body of the phone give you a superior experience. On the whole this phone looks beautiful and is definitely one of the best smartphone right now in the market. Few things worth mentioning are:
- Camera: Carl Zeiss floating lens for image stabilization, double flash, awesome low light photos, tap to focus and click and also Nokia apps like Smart shoot and Cinemagraph.
- Rock solid: I won’t say anything on this just watch the below video (drop test and hammer & knife test). This phone is true son of the legendary Nokia 3310 – “the indestructible“!
- Smart Nokia Apps: Nokia music (in few words: it is Spotify will offline listening capabilities), Nokia City Lens (an awesome augmented reality app – though not sure how practical are augmented reality apps but it is still cool to show off the app ;)).
- Equalizer + Dolby: You can access equalizer only when you headset and the presets are good to have. Also the Dolby Headphone playback is quite good.
- Wireless charging & NFC: Wireless charging and NFC are like icing on the cake and are present for more of a novelty factor.
- Battery saver mode: The phone automatically turns off non-essential services once the battery charge goes below a certain threshold and save battery for core phone services.
- Nokia Maps: You will be surprised to know that Nokia maps powers most of the maps in the world and due to their acquisition of Navteq in 2011 now Nokia owns all the maps data and brings turn by turn direction and transit maps right onto your phone for free. Nokia has bigger plans for their maps services and they tout to have the best mapping info among all mapping services.
- High sensitive touch screen: You can use phone even when you are wearing a thin gloves. You can also use any metal (read keys) to operate the phone instead of bare hands.
- and many more features such as awesome display, good battery life (with some tricks), etc
Review of Windows 8 Phone
Windows 8 mobile OS is a refreshing approach to a mobile OS. The OS is very smooth and snappy, I cannot see any lags in scrolling or swiping.
Things I Like in Windows OS:
- Live Tiles: Live tiles are the best thing about the OS. Basically it functions like a widgets (like one supported by Android) and you no longer have an array of boring icons sitting on your phone screen. Currently the OS support three size of tiles: smallest is the static icon, next is half width live tile and last is full width tile. From an app developers’ point of view, tiles gives you a large area to exploit and further differentiate and showcase their app.
- Lock Screen: The OS supports customizable lock screen and it also allows some apps to make changes to lock screen background. Such as Facebook, CNN or the default Bing (I prefer Bing because of their awesome daily pictures). You can also customize lock screen to show you details status of an app and them quick status of few more apps (as shown in the pictures).
- Me:When you link up all your social network and other account, the OS integrates the experience into one and now you can update status on various social network from one place. It also pulls all notifications and updates related to you into one place (see screenshots below).
- Linked Profiles: When you connect you phone with various networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc) the OS automatically links all the related profile. You can also manually unlink and link different profiles.
- MS Office: Now you can not just read but also edit word docs and presentations right on your phone. Office provide basic tool-set to edit and reformat the docs.
- Local Scout: It is an app built in Windows OS which finds local places to eat and drink, things to see & do and shopping outlets.
- Skydrive: It is just like iCloud and Google drive, I won’t go into any details here.
Things that needs improvement in Windows Phone 8:
- No unified inbox – I have currently manage 7 email inboxes on my phone which includes personal emails and emails I use for businesses. Even though adding emails was fairly simple but there is lack of unified inbox (iPhone does it best) and it is a hassle to open up all the emails separately and keep track of unread and un-replied emails. Also, in the live tile it shows count of only new emails and the count is set to zero once you open the inbox, I prefer count of unread emails and that way I can estimate my work for the day.
Update: Thanks to Arun to point out the linked inbox option: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/how-to/wp7/people/link-my-email-accounts
- Notification center not clickable: The notification on the lock screen is not clickable and there isn’t any one central notification center for all the apps.
- List of apps: All the apps in Windows phone are listed in an alphabetical order and it gives unfair advantage to app names starting with ‘A‘ since they get the most eyeball and ultimately when you have more 30-40 apps in your phone it become hassle to go through the list and find names (it is difficult to remember all app names when you have hundreds of apps and specially ones you use very infrequently). The easy solution to fix this is having three more sorting order for the app list: most recently installed, most recently used and most frequently used.
- No AirPrint/CloudPrint: There is no option of printing in Windows phone which in my opinion is a big shame! They added Office support but seems like they forgot that people generally need to print those documents, presentations, spreadsheets? Hopefully Microsoft add this in next update.
- No favorite call list: It is again a shame that there is no way to create a favorite call list. You can pin person’s profile to your first screen in mobile but again it is no single touch operation. Also, if I have a list ten favorite people then I don’t want to clutter my screen-space with ten different icons representing those people. This is much-needed in the next update (Microsoft are you listening).
- Bing is the default search engine: Though am not sure if Bing is bad or good but when I need to find some info on web I still say “Google it” not “Bing it” :). Sorry Microsoft!
- Apps are not mature: Apps in Windows phone are not mature enough, it looks like most of the app were made in hurry and most probably will improve upon couple of iterations. I do understand that iPhone and Android app have gone to quite a few iterations before being perfect but still you don’t expect users to jump from the mature platforms like iOS and Android to Windows.
- Facebook App Sucks:It is again a shame for Microsoft that being one of the biggest and earliest stakeholder in Facebook cannot a get a decent Facebook app. When more than a billion people on this planet are using Facebook you cannot afford to screw that app.. PERIOD!!! Go fix it or get it fixed X-(!!!
- Other apps I wish was available in Windows Phone: A proper Facebook app, Pulse News Reader, Google+ (for hangout), Amex, Flipboard, Saavn (for Bollywood music), Starbucks, Pinterest, ….. and of course last but not the least our own awesome Majikal :).
Conclusion: Nokia excels in making an awesome phone, but Microsoft needs to fix some smaller kinks (as mentioned above) in their OS. Microsoft we are waiting for service pack -2 ;-).