Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Nokia Lumia 820 - 2 week review

Lumia Resurrected
Lumia Resurrected (Photo credit: Irish Typepad)

It took some time to decide on a new Smartphone. There are so many leading phones out there and each one has their own pros and con's. My decision was ultimately made for me by the availability of my shortlisted phones from the service provider. I had narrowed my choice down to the Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia range and on the day I went to the store the new Sony Xperia J.

Yes, the Apple iPhone was not on my shortlist. There are many reasons for this but let’s just leave it there. As it turned out my Blackberry 9800 started to give me issues and eventually stopped working so I was forced to go with what was available at the time. What was available was a Nokia Lumia 820.

I had been a fan of Nokia for many years and it was a big move away from Nokia to Blackberry for me. However moving from Blackberry back to Nokia was not that difficult. I have now had my Lumia 820 for a little over two weeks and have gotten to know it quite well.

The first thing that I noticed is the weight of the phone, due to the wireless charging cover the phone is slightly heavier than you would expect for a modern day Smartphone. It actually feels comfortable though, like you are holding something of substance. It is also good to note that Nokia's build quality is still as good as it always was. Wireless charging is very impressive and the Lumia charges quickly wirelessly. Just place the phone the wireless charge pad and it starts charging, no more looking for cables and ensuring the connection is made.

The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is starting to pay off; the biggest draw card for me was the integration with my Microsoft account. Once the details were put in the phone was setup and all my contacts were synced. Likewise with other accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn etc...

It is unfortunately quite a surprise at the lack of integration with a Windows computer and the software available. The Nokia Ovi suite was a powerful piece of software that allowed to you basically control your phone from your pc. Now there is no such thing.

If you are not using an Exchange server it seems like Microsoft don't care about you. Calendar integration with your non-Exchange mailbox is non-existent. There is always a work-around of course but surely being a Microsoft to Microsoft device you would expect better.

Using the phone is very easy and the home screen is extremely customisable. Although there are only two screens to flick through, at first I thought this was very limiting. Now two weeks in I find it very useful. If the app I need is used often I just pin it to my home-screen. Else I flick one screen over and find it there, no need to scroll through five, six screens. What you need is there at your fingertips, and what you don't need at your tips is a flick away.

Sure the home screen can be boring with the colour blocking (one colour) for most apps, but the live tiled apps have constantly changing images and notifications popping up. Again when you have used the phone these minor things don't bother you that much.

A minor bug bear that I do have is that to make a call you have to perform at least three actions. It doesn't sound like much but when you need to phone a lot of people this does waste time. Messaging people is also as cumbersome to text someone. The redeeming feature though is the predictive text is really good and often selects the next word in your sentence before you have even typed the first letter. Something I would like to see though is if you hold down the letter, it should make it a capital letter, it is a nuisance holding shift and the letter.

Internet Explorer on the phone is slick and you can view the original websites almost as easily as mobile websites. You can't configure much though and as such your Internet always opens to the last page browsed and there is no setting for a homepage. Again though you can pin a page to the home screen and use that.

The features that made Nokia phones of old really well have been carried over to the Lumia range. Nokia Maps, Navigation which is free for life are really great tools to have and so far have been 100% accurate. The camera is good and with the now default Carl Zeiss optics you almost expect the camera to be decent for a happy snapper like me.

The new Nokia City Lens is an awesome tool; it has wowed many friends and family and will be of much use on travels to cities that you are not familiar with. The ability to hold the phone and turn around and select where you want to go makes life easier when you need to find the closest Italian restaurant or grocery store.

Nokia Music is really impressive and although I have not upgraded my account to the plus account I still get a lot of music out of this default app. The ability to play a song, purchase it or even take it offline for later listening pleasure is decent. Mix Radio is a great feature if you can’t make your mind up and wish to listen to specific genre of music. Select your genre and hit play.

The benefit of Nokia partnering with Microsoft is seen and felt with Skydive - with 7GB off cloud storage made available for free you can store your Office documents and access them on the phone or pc. Using OneNote helps you make those quick notes that was once reserved for those pesky yellow sticky notes. These features have come in very handy over the last few weeks.

The other integrations that I like is the Xbox integration and games. My Xbox is linked to my phone and with extra apps installed I can basically control my Xbox from my phone. The games available are awesome and the quality of the games that run on the phone is incredible.

The main drawback so far is that you cannot attach documents to e-mails sent from your phone. Maybe Microsoft are trying to drive people to use SkyDrive and share a link to the file from there? Either way it is very limiting and painful that you can only e-mail pictures.

If there was a feature I wish the phone had, which it presently doesn't is the ability to have profiles. To quickly change between silent and other settings would be nice. You are only limited to vibrate and vibrate + ring. If on vibrate other sounds still play which when you have just got your six month old to sleep is not good.

The much debated App store is not that bad. I think Nokia and Microsoft have gone for a quality over quantity approach on this front. There are some really brilliant apps and the apps that have made a name of themselves on other phone systems like Android and iPhone can be found on the Windows Store. Granted not all the apps but then again Windows 8 phone is the relative new comer to the market and the app store will get bigger over time.

Overall the phone is good. It does have a number of shortcoming that's I hope will be addressed in later updates and with Nokia taking a progressive step in setting up a site dedicated solely to suggestions to make the phones better I think they may well be on the way back, albeit against very tough competition.

I would give the phone a 7.5 out of 10 rating. It is still early days though so I look forward to playing with it more and will let you all know in about six months time if things have gotten better or worse.

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  1. eye fink tha eyefone is maaach bettir than this.
    eye laik mai eyefone beecoz eat cann hav a appil froot on va bak of va fown.

  2. to get caps just press shift then the letter dude.
    don't need to hold shift down.

    holding each letter down gives you alternatives for that letter - try it out to see what I mean.

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