Ok...So I went on a leap of faith and ended up buying a 920 from Best Buy. I'm still waiting for my ST sim to come in tomorrow. I've only had about 4 hours of "hands on" to set up some basic stuff over Wifi so here's a very basic review of my initial hands on.
1) Reasons I bought...
- Price was right. After a technical issue with Best Buy I ended up getting an off contract 920 in black for $399. Plus I had $250 in gift/reward zone points so my total out of pocket was $150 + tax. No contract, activation fee, ect. Just the phone. I'll be breaking my Verizon contract to move over to prepaid. Hoping that the AT&T 3G/HSPA is an improvement over Big Reds cruddy 3G access.
- I'm on the edge of "good" reception for AT&T and hoping that the reputation of Nokia pays off and gets the most out of that.
- Phone felt well built and solid. This thing feels like a military grade instrument. The black matte finish is kind of menacing and it just has a comforting heft to it. Plus I like having a physical camera button (if for no other reason than opening the app for it).
- I was getting kind of bored with iOS and wanted something different. I like the live tiles and am a bit of a caveman when it comes to my phones. I just like simple. I love that I can actually see my calendar items on the lock screen, active weather updates on the home screen, email previews on the home screen, ect. It's more information available, but no real added complexity. I was really looking at a Galaxay Note II and just overwhelmed with the options, setup, screens, ect. I just mainly use my phone to text, call, browse the web, get quick information, email, ect. Simple stuff and the way WP is setup really caters to that.
- Nokia has some unique things that others didn't. Offline music caching was a big one. That way I could cut another $15 and stop my slacker offline cacheing service. Plus offline mapping/GPS was nice. Nokia was also the only one to offer a Fantasy Football app for ESPN?? (WTF really?). Plus I wanted to give the camera an honest effort
2) Pro's on limited use
- Love the live tiles and the information they provide. A great change from the largely static information provided in iOS. Weather, news, email, calendar items, ect. It's a welcome change.
- Customization and flexability of home screen. Like I said earlier, I'm a caveman when it comes to phones and just like things easy. I've got a giant "PHONE" button on my home screen I can hit to make calls. Plus a big one for the flashlight app that I don't have to fumble for (although my Jailbroke phone with activator access to hardware buttons was better).
- Sound quality through headphones is EXCELLENT! Much better than my iPhone4
- OS is fast and fluid. Checking email is...different...but easy. Still working on getting things setup and integrated for the people hubs and more social networking integration. Like what I see so far though.
- Like how the OS selects the whole word immediately when trying to edit text. That was somethign I always fought with iOS on. Trying to get it to select a word was a pain. I do miss the "select all" function that iOS had though.
I'm not seeing that as an option.
- The predictive text option works well as does the autocorrect. I hated that under iOS. WP8 does it better.
- Camera...sort of. The low light is excellent and beats the crap out of my iPhone4. Video is also excellent. However the rest I'll cover in the "cons".
- Screen is similar to the camera. Pros for it are crisp, nicely saturated colors. It scrolls fast and is easy on the eyes. Outdoor reading is also excellent. I tried it with gloves this morning (it was 25 degrees F out) and it sort of worked. The lock screen seemed to freak out not knowing what to do, but once you got past that it seemed okay. Rest I'll cover in the cons.
- Kids zone is a nice touch and another big reason I looked at WP8. But more on that in "Cons".
3) Cons...okay....here's where stuff gets real....
Where to start?
- Lets just get to the chase with the camera. This thing was hyped as the second coming of the Purevue hotness. Yes the low light smokes anything else. The video is great. But anything else? Oh boy. It's just a softened, DNR'ed disaster. When you preview the screen it's a super sharp, great looking image. Then you either tap the screen or the shutter button and it goes from sharp and nice to a blurred, softened mess. I'm *HOPING* an update comes out before my 30 day return period is up. I'm not sure this is something I can live with. It's better than my iPHone 4 in 2/3 things but normal outside shots are just a hot mess compared to a 3 year old phone. Seriously Nokia...HTF did this pass QA?
- It gets hot. Really hot. The top left is smouldering hot after using wifi for an hour. I hope this isn't something to be concerned about for long term life of the device.
- Not totally amped about the keyboard. I'm sure there's an adjustment period so I'll reserve some judgement there.
- "Multitasking" like it's 1980. Somebody help me out there...I'm used to iOS being able to download an app in the background and still be able to use the phone. It doesn't appear that this works that way in WP8. If I'm downloading an app and I leave that page it stops downloading. When I come back I have to resume. Really? We have dual cores and it's 2012 and this is how thing work? Somebody please tell me if I'm doing something wrong. Same thing with the music caching in Nokia Music. If I'm downloading a station and I leave the app it stops downloading. Major swing and a miss there.
- The screen. It just isn't as smart as iOS. When I'm in a full desktop mode for a site it might take 2-3 taps for the phone to recognize that I'm actually trying to click a link. I never had that issue in iOS. Even though my iPHone4 screen is much smaller, it's "accuracy" on what I was hitting was night and day better. When browsing forums I can't tell you how many threads it unsubscribed me from instead of entering the thread itself from the user panel. It's just no where as refined and user friendly as the iPhone interface. Sorry.
- Apps. I knew going into the deal that this was the shortcoming. But you just don't realize how bad it is until you dive in. Like I said earlier I liked the kid zone function. Which is great if there was anything actually enjoyable for my kids. Seriously the app choices for young kids is terrible. Absolutely terrible. I can't find hardly anything even remotely close to the educational apps that I've got on my iPhone and iPad. When it comes to other things that I actually use you can only get the ESPN fantasy football app if you have a Nokia phone. Seriously..you want to talk fragmentation then look no further than that. WTF? If you want to improve the market share of an OS that has none...you CANNOT do something like that. There wasn't even an official Yahoo! fantasy football app. There's just a bottomless abyss of a gap between WP and iOS. I've got some reserved faith that as Windows 8 and the tablet market starts to ramp up that will hopefull improve. But right now...yikes. It's a pretty dire situation. This needs a serious kick in the ass in a lot of areas.
I'm really mixed in how I feel about the phone/ecosystem. There's lots of pieces that I like. The OS works well for how I typically use the device. It's not going to wow people and make them convert. It's just not setup like that. The camera has potential but it's a serious software upgrade away from being taken serious. The App environment has potential but again it's just a hurry up and wait for the developers to show up and start writing decent stuff.
I've got 30 days for a return period. The Galaxy Note 2 was my other option but it would have been another $250+ and it wasn't released yet. I love the screen size, the added utility of the S-Pen and the battery and SD life as well as the app situation of the Android market. But I just can't take a shine to the Android experience. I just like my phones simple. Plus I can't even fit the Note 2 in a cupholder in my car
that sounds like a trivial thing but it's just one of those daily things of living with a phone that size.
I'll give the phone a few more days for me to adjust to. Get a better feel for battery life. Wait for the SIM card to actually come in see how well call quality is (a concern I have with the Samsung phone). Plus I'll give the GPS a bit of a workout too.
Right now I'm on the fence and would have a hard time recommending to anyone (either the phone or the OS) unless they truely wanted a different experience.
And before anyone calls me a fanboy of any device...I own an iPhone, just bought a WP8 device, and am considering returning it for an Android one. That pretty much makes me OS neutral.