| | 11-10-2012, 12:15 AM #1
I wanted to start a thread about first impressions now that the phone is available to the masses", as well as share my time I had spent with the phone. I got an unusually large amount of use out of the phone for the day (the thing was literally always doing SOMETHING as I spent the day driving up and down the Massachusetts coast. It has been in my possession for thirteen hours now, of which at least eleven have been in us, no exaggeration here.
Let's start out with my trip to AT&T
The first store I went to said they didn't have them, even though online said they did. I figured I would try another store a short fie miles away since online clearly had strange information about "limited stock", etc. They also said they had none, so I decided to mention seeing them in stock at this location online. The girls said she would check in back. A few short minutes later she came out with two boxes, one containing a red 920, the other the black. I opted for the black. * It seems the rumors of no Cyan or Yellow in store are true. This is yet another mystery to me. The two FLAGHSIP colors of the device not available in store. * As she was opening the phone and trying to make awkward smalltalk (and trying to sell me overpriced AT&T branded accessories) I mentioned the wireless charger. At this point my current sim was deactivated and the phone was on my account awaiting payment. She pointed to the NFC chip paper inside the box asking me if that was what I was referring to (I am NOT MAKING THIS UP!!!) "No", I said, "there was a press release a few days ago stating that there would be a black cordless charger given out to purchasers of the 920". She called her manager over, eventually went back into the storage area, and said they had none left. She said they could ship it to my house. I wanted to just grab one from another store, but she said they would have to do a return here, and I would be billed the restocking fee... great. I could have made more of a stink, but I had been there far too long at that point, so I opted to have it shipped to my house. I got a paper receipt showing me the order was processed and that I owed no additional money, and was on my way. A few hours ago I got the email stating that AT&T had shipped it, and I should be expecting the package around Monday or Tuesday, so good news there.
Did I mention that all of the employees in the store were wearing Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8 shirts? I also overheard the manager talking about the Windows 8 RT tablet they got in. "What does RT stand for anyway, Really Tacky!?" I told him that it was a way to distinguish between the version of 8 that runs on an ARM processor versus an x86. I actually didn't know what RT stands for (and a Google search didn't help me since, does anyone know?), but I knew that much information was accurate, and I was quite irritated at this point. I went in the store completely excited and came out feeling pretty bummed. AT&T has, IMO, botched so much with this launch that, while I realize my single experience at a single (well, I guess we can say two) AT&T store is anecdotal, my hopes are not high for WP8 starting off with the bang I hoped it would.
Before I go further into my experience with the phone, let me just point out that I feel Microsoft is to blame here. They shouldn't leave the selling up to AT&T, because they have always been terrible. As far as I am concerned, the two companies that do sales best are Samsung and Apple, the latter clearly being the king of the show. Apple did start out their US iPhone launch with nearly four years of AT&T, but very few of those sales likely had anything to do with AT&T, as a carrier. Apple marketed, Apple laid down their conditions, and Apple won big. I feel like Nokia struck a fantastic deal in terms of pricing the phone, but price is not enough when you are considering a product as the tool you use most for the next two years. Plenty of people will pick Apple or even Samsung by merit of having heard of it before. Nokia hasn't been a staple in our lives for over a decade. They need to show us that they matter, and I feel they have not done that.
My use of the phone
As my sig shows, Windows Phone is not new to me. I had a Lumia 900 for a few weeks, but what ultimately did me in at the time was the lack of apps. There were quite a few apps missing (some still are) that I use on a daily or weekly business that didn't have a convenient alternative for me. That is not to say there are necessarily glaring things WP couldn't do, just things it couldn't do as well or as intuitively. Admittedly, part of it has to do with my knowledge of iOS and Android; I know may way around those OS's. Learning something new, especially when I am only doing it for the sake of learning something new got tiresome. At the time, it was a bit like learning some ambiguous language on the side, let's say Hungarian (I am Hungarian, so I can say that; it's a largely useless language when considering how many people on the globe speak it). Window Phone 8, on the other hand, did not feel that way, hence my excitement for the platform.
The first thing I did with my phone (after logging into all of my accounts) is start Nokia Music. I stream a lot of music while I drive, be it iTunes Mach, Google Music, or Pandora, the latter being the one I use the most. I compare Nokia music to a free unlimited use Pandora with no ads. I would say the sound quality is better, though there is no rating system, at least that I am aware of. The on the fly mixes were really good though, so that may not bother me in the future.
The second thing I did was fire up the GPS. I drop from northern Mass (literally five miles from the NH border) to Southern Mass (RI border) and then to cape code. Granted, Nokia drive 3.0 (I think that's the version) is in beta, but it was pretty glitchy for me. It had a lot of trouble finding me, often seemed to lose signal as it would show me as not moving even though I was traveling along the interstate at around 70mph, and it would decide to tell me every few minutes to "continue on this road for X miles". It also seems a little counterintuitive to not be able to jump straight from Nokia maps to nokia drive. Nokia maps seems the most like Google Maps was on iPhone prior to iOS 6, while Nokia drive seems more like a navigation only tool. Why are these two separate apps? Why not build them together, or at least make them easily talk to one another? I found myself searching for things in Nokia Maps and then hopping over to drive to get there. Bottom line is that maps needs work. While it didn't take me to the wrong place (ahem... Apple maps :dry ) it did have trouble getting me there in the first place. Not so bad when you are on a highway, but not so good when you are navigating through the city and it decides to have a series of brain farts. I am hoping the issue is software and not hardware here. Google Maps is the clear winner here. I'd say Apple Maps and Nokia Maps are at a tie, with Nokia being maybe a hair ahead, though I expected Nokia maps to be a clear winner, at least between the two.
The feel of the OS is silky smooth (though it really always was so). The changes to the live tiles are clutch. I literally have everything I need at my fingertips. For those that care, I have things like messaging, maps, etc. as small tiles in two columns on the right. On the left I have phone and weather (also small tiles) under which I have people, me, and calendar. I am big on groupon, but haven't decided how I want that ordered. Maybe as the lock screen, though I keep a picture of Botond, my dog, there. This UI layout is, IMO, superior to any of the other mobile OS's. I view it as a literal marriage between iOS icons and Android's widgets. Best of both worlds. The drawback? Well, if I had to pick one it might be that the tiles are a little bland, especially if they aren't live. I'd love to be able to spice up the colors. But I get it. It is the look MS was/is going for. That is perfectly fair. It is not enough to REALLY bother me, but I can see it bothering some.
I did have the dreaded freezing bug occur a whopping three times. It may be too early to tell if this is an issue specific to Windows Phone 8, or if it is an issue specific to the Lumia(s) running that OS. For those that are unaware, the phone basically locks up and requires a hard reset to get it going again. One time I was texting, the other time I was getting back in the car and it was pairing with bluetooth, and the other time it was just sitting there on the passenger's seat streaming music when the music went dead. As far as I can tell, bluetooth being on and connected was the only thing in common here, but that is based on less than an ounce of science. :lol: I will say that this is a potential deal breaker for me if it doesn't get fixed before my two weeks is up. I use rely on my phones too much for me to sit around waiting for an update that may never come.
As far as the camera is concerned, I took a few shots. Nothing really intense. I did find that pics tend to blur out big time if you have an unsteady hand just before the shutter snaps. Possibly a really slow shutter issue? I was able to get some nice shots when I actually worked at it, but part of the fun is just pulling out the phone and snapping a pic. These are just ultra super duper preliminary opinions, but the camera seems to take great pics if you work at it, but if not, other smart phone cameras, including the 900 will do you better. Again, don't bite my head off. I am not a photographer. Just giving a first impression.
Will I keep the phone? It's a possibility. There were enough issues that I personally noticed that I will have to wait and see what Nokia's response is. As I mentioned before, I have a sneaking suspicion that Nokia/MS are aware of at least some of these problems. Nothing else can explain the utterly abysmal launch of Windows Phone 8, the OS that was widely touted to solve all the problems of WP7.