Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From iPhone to Nokia Lumia 920

"Woah. This is heavy" - Marty McFly

This week I upgraded from Apple iPhone 4 to Nokia Lumia 920. Nokia was my first mobile back in 1999. I've been using the iPhone since '08. It was time to go back to the future. And here's the highlights:

Fresh. That's my immediate feeling. Everything about the Windows 8 interface just feels fresh. Responsive. Animations are quick. The live tiles transition through various states, enough to feel 'alive' but not so much that it's distracting. It all makes sense. Live weather on your weather tile, upcoming meetings on the calendar tile, artist image on the music tile. No longer are you inundated with push notifications + alerts.

Bigger, badder. The phone is big, really big. Holding the phone takes some getting used to. Button position, with power on to the middle right, is smart. Some options are a stretch or, more commonly, a contortion of the thumb, when attempting to hit the back button in the lower left (I miss the Apple back swipe here). These thumb-aerobics are made all the worth while with a stunning screen and an interface that makes good use of those pixels.

Social at the core. Spend 10 minutes adding your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Gmail accounts, then see it seamlessly integrate into your experience. The People section pulls in the latest status updates, relationships, birthdays and addresses linked to maps. You can create sub-sets of friends as 'groups' and pin these to your homescreen. Select your Facebook cover photo as your lock screen image. It feels ingrained, not tacked on.

Mixed bag o'apps. I only need a few apps. And with Windows 8 you don't get a lot of choice.. but all the right apps are there for me - sans Spotify. Twitter, Zite, Chase, all benefit from smart use of the horizontal scrolling that Windows 8 does so well. They all look sharp.. literally. Hard to find a bevel or rounded corner round here. But quality is inconsistent, and without the depth of choice in apps, you're left with a few bad eggs - like the ad-supported and installed Weather Channel, or Stock Pickers that use pixelated images. They stick out badly. AT&T have included a suite of subscription-based apps. They stand up on their own, particularly the navigation, but with so many, I wish there were a folder to file them away for later.

Camera. They've talked up this camera a lot. And understandably so. Pictures look.. amazing. I have no need for a compact camera with this. Here's a photo I took today from Time Square:

Different strokes. Many times I've experience a minor 'wha?' moment as I navigate through the interface. It's not easy to distinguish whether it's a getting-used-to-a-new-interface moment vs something that is genuinely annoying. Time will tell. But I sense the interaction principles just aren't as consistent as they are on iOS. There are load times when you don't expect load times. Popup notifications aren't always clear. There are also times I feel they made compromises. The decision to include XBox Music with Nokia Music is one of those times. Neither team surrendered (I wish Nokia did). And for a such a progressive package - my wireless charging pad is on its way - it's odd to still see a panel in the Music app encouraging you to 'plug into your computer to add stuff'. Those days are gone.

But I love it. It's interface inspires me. With my social networks so well integrated it just feels more cohesive, one unit. The idea of piling on countless apps just seems less important. It's fast. It gets things done. And I don't have any feelings of regret in giving up the iPhone. I thought I would. How times have changed. Welcome back Nokia.