I wanted to like Windows Phone, I really did

Back in August 2010, I purchased a brand new iPhone 4. I loved the thing. It did everything I wanted it to do without complaining about it. 2 years later, it was time to replace it with something new. iOS is boring, there’s no denying that, so I decided to try something different and went down the Windows Phone route with a yellow Nokia Lumia 920.

{<1>}

From day one there were issues – the camera was blurry during the day, dates and times were all incorrect, there was no Spotify, there’s still no Instagram and the battery life was, well, rubbish. I decided to put up with them though and make this work. A few months on, some of those issues are fixed, but there’s still the biggest issue: The whole thing is very half arsed. Nothing is polished. And it’s really starting to get to me.

The hardware itself is decent, don’t get me wrong – the screen on the thing is incredible, as is the camera. It’s no slouch either, everything happens quickly. But that’s kind of where it stops. It may just be my particular phone, but when it vibrates the whole thing rattles. The back has also become quite scratched after only a few months, and I look after my phones. There’s also the “feel” of the thing, I can’t quite describe why, but it feels cheap or something. And the sim-card tray, what were they thinking? It’s horrible. It’s not square.

{<2>}

I could forgive all of these things though if the software made up for it, but as time is going on, I’m finding it more and more frustrating. The software the phone comes with is pretty good, as are the Nokia apps. They all seem to work well and are of an acceptable standard. It’s the apps you download that have the issues, here’s a few examples.

Facebook

The Facebook app is very half baked. You don’t get access to your pages or your lists of people. When you’re sending someone a message, the keyboard covers the textbox where you’re typing. Yeah, I don’t know either. I’ve found it crashes frequently when you click on a link that opens in the browser. If I lock the phone while Facebook is open, it gives me a black screen once it’s resumed. And to get it back, I have to close the app and start again. It also lacks a large number of features available in the other platforms apps.

Spotify

I love Spotify. I have it installed on all my machines and happily pay my $12 a month for mobile access. After waiting what felt like forever (it was probably only a month) the Spotify app for Windows Phone 8 was released. Oh what a happy day! That was until I actually tried using it. Now every time I open it, I feel sad. It supports only the most basic of functions. There’s no radio, no top lists, and it stutters frequently whilst buffering, which was never a problem on iOS. The UI itself is very fiddly – if you’re playing a song in a playlist and want to open that artist, you have to tap some tiny text.

Internet Explorer (or more importantly, the back button)

Internet Explorer on it works most of the time, there’s the occasional site that doesn’t, and you frequently miss out on the nice UI’s, but it works. Right up ‘till you have to deal with the back button. If you’re browsing around and staying in the IE app, it’s sweet. If you say, open a PDF in the PDF reader then go back to the browser, say goodbye to common sense. If you press the back button to view the previous page, you’ll be taken back to the PDF. In what world is that a good idea? Seriously Microsoft, fix it.

Other bits and pieces

  • The search button is miss leading. I still press it now even when I want to search in an app. Instead I get Bing.
  • I automatically upload my photos to Skydrive, which is cool, except that they’re not the full resolution. Why? I don’t want to plug my phone in just to get my photos of it.
  • Needs a hardware silent button – having to turn the volume all the way down sucks.
  • The general quality of apps is poor. Some have gotten better, the Twitter app is a good example of that, but overall they’re poor.
  • Nothing works with Windows Phone. Nokia have a cool ecosystem of things, yes, but I can’t plug it into my car via USB. I can’t use AirPlay.
  • My Lumia randomly locks up. Will sit on the Nokia screen for an hour or so before coming back to life, albeit the date resetting to January 1st, 2010, which breaks the world.

I like Windows Phone, I really do. I wanted to rave about it and convert everyone, but I can’t, I’m pretty much at the point where I’m ready to go down to Vodafone and purchase an iPhone 5… Yes, it’s boring, but it works.