After trying to fend off the desire to purchase a new cell phone with an open upgrade option for nearly half a year, I gave in. I gave in hard. Like a Trekkie at a Tribble shelter, I upgraded. This time however I wanted to try something new. I have been an iPhone jockey for a while now and wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side. So after much thought, reviews, spec sheets, and discussion I tried the Windows phone, Nokia’s Lumia 928.
Just to note, I’m not afraid of trying out new phones either. I was a full-time project manager and quality controller for mobile device software. I have personally handled many types of phones, emulators, and the like with ease. I feel pretty comfortable with about any phone I have been handed whether it was Android, Blackberry, or iPhone.
The first thing that struck me was that the cost at $0.99. By the time it arrive it had gone down to free with a two-year contract. I clawed into the package. It was a gorgeous simple red container with the hulking black rectangle inside. A very shiny black rectangle.
The screen is not flat, but slightly rounded with dimples for the earpiece and microphone. All the buttons for volume, camera, and power are along the righthand side. It is sleek and smooth to the touch with hard pointy corners. Its body is hard plastic with a gorilla glass front. In a word, “sex-licious.”
Starting it up there was the usual password inputs, setup, and what have you. Having had everything on iCloud it was a bit of a pain to get logged in and get things like my email working. Everything is accomplished through ‘live-tiles’ that float around and change if setup to do so. Navigating can be tricky especially if you are used to iOS’s straight and simple layout.
“Whateves!” I said, “I can figure out how to use ‘em!”
Playing around I figured out that all your apps live in a swipe to the left list. It is by alpha-numeric order so as long as you know what your app is called you can find it. After you download it you can make the tile take you a banner across big section of the screen, a window of a little less, or just a tile like the iPhone. Changing this is simple, point and hold the icon till the background changes color and drag it where you want it.
The first thing I needed was to set up my email, Google Drive, and a sweet game. First problem; there is no native email app that I saw. Second problem; the only app published by Google directly is Google Search. Third problem; there must be exactly ZERO oversight to what can be placed in their marketplace.
I saw this when every email app was published by ‘l&&T h@ckz0rz!’ and the ilk. Seriously guys, have some respect. Call your fake software company something like Honest Bob’s Software Shack or something. I knew for sure this was how it was when I found “Wolf” which is a first person shooter made with 2D pixel animation where you escape a Nazi castle prison. Seriously–a straight up no-nonsense Wolfenstein rip that was even offering to sell “Wolf II; the Spear of Destiny” which is exactly the second Wolfenstein.
“Whatever, I can deal with a bad app market,” I said.
So I went to work. However with no email I was a little more tied to my desk. This was because Google updated their certifications for signing into mobile and so none of my Google logins (read as everything I use for work) would work. This was weird since Android apps usually update before those kinds of updates hit the market. So business-wise I was carrying my Blackberry rip off from the early 2000’s. Sweet sweet tech-no-stalgia.
I pressed on. *BR-RING! BRRR_RING* “Dear sweet mother of cthulhu?! Oh… It’s my phone… and it’s really loud. I should put that on silent… How do I do that?”
Turns out you can lower the sound with the volume button and then use the on-screen buttons to put it on vibrate for calls or texts… emails, notifications, tweets, and other apps have to be silenced by application from within the sound options. I did that. *BR-RINGG!* No good, some apps didn’t seem to want to be quiet. So I went online to the Windows OS Help Guide. Typed in ‘Sound’ and got back a big stack of nothing.
Yeah, a cell phone help guide that doesn’t know where to send you for the keyword ‘Sound.’ So I tried ‘Mute’ and ‘Volume’ and got nothing. I read through tips and tricks and nothing. I couldn’t find reviews, or tutorials, or anything resembling help for the issue after a quick search. To be fair I have this problem with most Microsoft “Help” pages though.
It was about then I went to my local Verizon store and checked the return policy. They said I had fourteen days to decide and return or keep. So I gave it another day.
I went ahead and downloaded some sweet games. Everything looks great on the screen. 3D art in high-definition with easy/responsive controls even in the free games. With extended use the battery never gave out quick or got too hot. Gaming is great on this phone. Also with 32GB of storage you can do a lot of gaming.
One odd thing about the phone was turning apps off. You don’t double click and swipe away like an iPhone but rather do a swipe command on the home button and then “X” out of each one. If you don’t do that then the phone will shut them off for you after enough time. You can adjust this option with ‘Battery Saver’ built in apps. Combine with their data usage app to keep you from going over your limit and the battery life I was getting was around sixteen hours between charges. So about one whole day while working and gaming. Not bad.
Tragically the camera isn’t great. Nearly all the ads for the phone talk about how great the pictures are. The app market is filled to the gills with photo apps. There is literally some famous camera guy’s name on the back (Zeiss) and yet the photos just aren’t amazing. I took a shot of some office toys I had and compared it to my iPhone. The Lumia’s looks like a CSI crime scene and the iPhone’s just looks normal. Maybe there were smudges my special smart phone wipe didn’t get. Maybe I chose wrong from the list of six photography applications that came with the phone. However I did it–the picture was not great.
Then I tried to load it to my computer. I thought, “Finally pictures and videos will load super quick since it is a Windows phone and I run a Windows desktop.” ‘Error: Windows does not recognize file.’ Seriously? So I Googled the issue. Turns out Windows phones shoot in a format called ‘.jpegLARGE’ which is supposed to have more DPI. On a Windows 7 machine you can’t read these files natively and have to manually rename them to convert them as there wasn’t a program that I saw at first Googling.
Issues like this just kept coming up. You cannot ‘scrub’ through a YouTube video. Instead you press and release the fast forward button and the phone decides how far into the clip to advance. If you want to turn down the brightness you have to go to Menu>Settings>Brightness and choose from a drop down if you want light, medium or high. While the auto-brightness is actually really good it could never be dim enough to read comfortably in bed with the lights off.
A great feature is that Xbox Live is your game center. So my Live character would pop around the screen and wave. All my games were profiled there along with a store. It was actually really nice. Being that I am heavily into Destiny I thought I would download its app though… it isn’t on Windows OS… so that’s another bummer.
Last straw: I decided to hit the magnifying glass symbol at the bottom of the screen. It only uses Bing search. From the homepage. You cannot delete Bing search. There is nothing short of losing any warranties you had to get rid of Bing search…. WHY BING?!?!
I guess what I just kept asking was “Did someone seriously let this make it to the market without any testing, plan for support, or backing?” The hardware is awesome and beats even some newer phones out of the park. The OS, marketplace, and support are just terrible. Especially considering that you want to try to drag people away from their phones. If I had only known ‘dumb’ phones or Blackberry (same thing am I right?) then sure. Android or Apple? Please–I like having a phone that works.
What I want emphasis is that the Lumia is a great phone but until Microsoft decides to back it up the software just is not there to support how great of a phone it is. The news says that Windows 10 will be cross-platform enabled and your phone will be like an extension of your desktop–if so I’ll be back. However it’s just not ready yet.
End of story, I went back to the Verizon store and exchanged it (with a shelving fee) for an iPhone 5S. Order has been restored to life. I can again browse Feedly and prance through fields of yellow flowers to poppy 70’s tunes. “Siri, is it raining?”
Have you ever regretted a phone purchase? Tell me in the comments below!