The Nokia Lumia 920 – two months on

Now close to two months on and the Lumia is still going strong. My honeymoon period with it is not yet over; there are a few challenges, but as of now the freshness of the WP8 weighs the scales to the positive quite comfortably. Things look up at the moment, with rumors of as many as 3 updates from Microsoft (and also to a lesser extent Nokia) this year. As in my last post, I ll simply be categorizing my notes – I ll keep the headers the same. If any point that I noted the last time has changed or if the situation that led me to make such a note has changed, I ll include them here with comments. The old observation is within quotes.

Things I love:

  • Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive+ are true life savers with their offline capabilities.  On a recent trip with no data connectivity I was pleasantly surprised to see that driving directions and places of interest work in offline mode. Maps were generally very accurate and I had no trouble getting a quick GPS lock while outside on the street.
  • The loudspeakers are fantastic, much improved from my old iPhone 4S. The microphone is very good too, with recorded videos having a much better audio profile(purely subjective) than those from the 4S.
  • The screen is fantastic – readability in the sun is extremely good. There is an option for improving legibility under sunlight and it works well giving slight halos to edges. Nokia advertises the screen as Puremotion+ which to me seems to be just a buzz word. There is no tangible improvement that I can spot while moving things around on screen.
  • The camera is in low light nothing short of fantastic – OIS does a marvelous job in keeping the shutter open for that much longer. When light is not a problem, then it is no better than most of the competition – in some cases its worse with slightly fuzzy details and an off white-balance.

Things I need to adjust to:

  • “Keyboard with its narrow keys; I make quite a few mistakes and miss the spacebar too often” – I’ve pretty much adjusted to the keyboard and type almost as fast as I used to on my iphone. WP8s dictionary also seems to have adapted well to my patterns with its suggestions having a pretty high hit rate.
  • “Sometimes the UI can get too swipe-heavy – both horizontal and vertical – especially inside hubs” – the apps certainly havent changed but I’ve warmed to this. Instead of tapping to switch tabs on iOS, I swipe. Its no big deal now.
  • “The cursor to choose letters between words is not as intuitive as the magnifying glass in iPhone. The cursor starts hovering a line or two above the one I’m pointing at” – I’ve mastered this now.

Things I don’t like and wish Microsoft changes soon:

  • “Keyboard autocorrect is not as good as that of the iPhone – seems to suggest based on first key typed, not on the relative position of keys all the time” – It is different yes, but not worse. The keyboards hit-rate is much improved now – easily on par with the iPhone.
  • “No smart dial in the number pad” – I don’t miss it much now; I almost always call from the Peoples app. Besides I’ve got different groups for the people I’m in touch with often, so calling them from a hub isn’t too many more steps.
  • “Background tasks settings are not very intuitive – I’m still not clear whether blocking an app in Settings>Applications>Background Tasks prevents its live tile from updating every 30 min” – This whole concept is unnecessarily complex! After some quality time online, I think I’ve figured it out.  Live Tiles can be updated in two ways – either by the apps background task which lets it update the tile once every 30 min  or by the system when the app has registered for a push notification service. Nevertheless, the whole thing is far from intuitive. Take for example Screen>Applications>Background Tasks>Advanced – this takes me to a screen with no settings I can change. The text here is equally ambiguous – “These apps can run in the background, and you may not be able to block all of them”. Nuts!
  • “get by reasonably without a notification center simply because most of the apps I use on a regular basis have Live Tiles which are quite informative.” – Now that I’ve used the phone for some time and have quite a lot of apps on it I need a notification center.
  • Overall the battery life is quite poor. I have to ration my usage very carefully to get a full day of use. It is the cellular radio which sucks battery(my network has a pretty weak signal where I stay adding to my woes) – verified this on a recent trip where I switched to flight mode and turned on the WiFi when required(almost all the time) and got incredible battery life. Dropped approx. 20% in 24 hrs!
  • WP8 should allow pinning of individual settings
  • The Store is not very good at figuring out when my apps have updates available. On several occasions, I’ve read about a released update and have had to open it up on the Store and then trigger an update installation. Also sometimes Store updates are not very reliable. Updating the Kindle app to version 2 broke it; simply wouldn’t open! Had to uninstall it and redownload it
  • Calendar needs a week view(a 5 workdays view should be fine)
  • Internet Explorer is fast, but compatibility with several sites and webapps is an issue. To add to it, Readability/Instapaper are unusable on it – fonts, font size etc can’t be changed since ‘hovering’ isn’t possible over drop down menus, Safari used to automatically convert hovers into clicks.
  • IE10 doesn’t have an option to open links in a new tab. The way I read heavily referenced articles, open in new tab is a mandatory option for IE to be useful. Hope Microsoft adds this real soon. While they are at it, perhaps they could add a ‘Reader’ option to present only the required text in a good reflowable format.
  • I cant upload/backup full resolution pics from my camera roll to Skydrive1. This is a huge downer. All photos from the camera roll get backed up at a resolution of 1278×720 only, plainly too low. Microsoft should let me decide what resolution to upload the pics in! After researching this a bit more, turns out US customers get this ability. Switching the region in phone settings to US has worked, it changes my app store to the US one as well.

Things I dont like and hope App developers notice:

    • Google support is abysmal! Look at the screenshot to get an idea of how google+ albums are rendered in IE. Terrible!

wp_ss_20130203_0001

  • Page scrolling in webviews inside of apps like Baconit is choppy. Opening the same page in IE results in a smoother experience. Surprisingly, the website renders differently between the two. Not quite sure why(page width is the same).

Things I miss:

  • “Not being able to use controls on existing headsets – this is an adoption issue and should get better over time; still it is irritating that Nokia didn’t follow the iPhone standard here” – turns out the double tap works fine(from my Bose headphones). The triple tap doesn’t.

Dealbreakers:

  • None yet.

 

Updates

  1. Yay, Microsoft has enabled full resolution pic backups to all regions around the globe. Now, the only reason thats still making me keep my region set to the US is Bing (look at the pic in this post, I miss such spotfacts about the daily picture in India).

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