After buying this phone and using it for a week or so, I decided to send the phone back for a refund. Whilst its by no means a bad handset (far from it), there were some annoying bugs that affected how I used my phone which will be explained as follows.
Context: I have been an Android user for a long time. Did have a Nexus 4 pre-ordered but my trusty HTC Desire died on me so I needed a phone and quick. I have had my eye on this WP8 handset for a while and thought seen as though this will probably be a stopgap handset, I would give WP8 a try. As my usage doesn't extend beyond texting, the odd call, music, social networking and checking email on the fly, I went for the more budget friendly 8S as opposed to the 8X as it does what I need it to do. Here are a few thoughts based on my usage so far.
Build Quality: Build quality is good, very solid. Have no complaints here so far.
Specs: On first glance, and when compared to other phones the specs don't look fantastic. But the following points need to be considered.
- This is an entry level handset (albeit a high end entry level handset) and needs to be compared to other entry level handsets, not high end handsets that are £200 + more expensive.
- This is Windows Phone 8, not Android. Acknowledged, if you put Android on a phone with similar specs to this it would probably chug. Not Windows Phone 8. Putting other frustrations aside with the OS, although it does stutter at times, it runs much smoother than any Android phone I have played with of the same specs.
Battery Life: so far this has been quite strong. Again putting things into context, yes it is only a 1700mAh battery, but it is only powering a 1ghz dual core processor, 512mb ram and a 4inch 800 x 400 screen. Comparatively, the battery in my HTC Desire, which has a screen of the same resolution and .2 inches smaller, and that only has a 1250mAh battery. So in this context, for a device this size, the battery is pretty big. Today took it off charge at 7am this morning, left for manchester at 10am so took it off wifi then, listened to music half an hour each way, checked email and sent a few texts en route. Got back about 1 and the battery was still in the high 80's. Will revisit this section after I put it through its paces more, but I don't think I will have too many problems getting through a day with moderate to heavy use.
Music: In some ways, the handset excels as a walkman, beats audio definitely makes a difference here regarding sound quality. And unlike some of the higher end handsets, the phone has a slot for a micro SD card so memory can easily be expanded to 32GB. But other bugs in the software ruin this experience, as I will explain below.
Screen: Considering the resolution is only 480 x 800 the screen is very good. colour's are bright, text is sharp and easy to read. For entry level handsets they won't get much better than this.
Windows Phone 8: This will not be to everyones taste so I would advise that people go into a shop and try it before they buy. But in a nutshell:
- It offers something different to Android and iOS's app based interface and probably lies somewhere in between the two. It is much more customisable than iOS although not as customisable as Android.
- Its smooth as butter, even on the modest specs of this handset.
- It is nothing short of fantastic for social networking, especially Facebook.
- Excellent integration with Skydrive for backing up photos.
Cons (and pet hates, as some of these really should have been sorted before launch):
- Nowhere near as many apps as the other two. This wasn't such a big deal for me as it had all the apps I needed but it could be for others. And considering the OS is new, this isn't something that can be helped. Can only hope that this number increases.
- Volume for media is not independent from volume of the ringer - As I used my phone as my main music player I found this a massive inconvenience. This is something I hope is fixed in a future software update.
- Vibration: It is either on or off. On my Android I can set it so for certain notifications I get a sound and vibrations, others I get just a sound, and others stay silent. With WP8 I couldn't work out how to disable vibration for one type of notification but not another without completely disabling the notification all together. On WP8 if you have notifications enabled, and vibrations enables, then the phone will vibrate for all notifications. During my time with the phone I did not find a way of disabling vibrations for one type of notification and enabling it for another.
- A notable bug in the OS that affected my usage - The volume often locks at a set volume if you have been listening for a while. Whilst this doesnt crash the device, the volume will remain locked unless you quit the app and go back into it. As I use my phone as a walkman alot this was a big factor in my decision to send the phone back.
Conclusion: So far, I am impressed with this handset and would happily recommend it to anyone who isn't after a sizable handset such as the Nokia Lumia 920 or Samsung Galaxy S3, and doesn't use their phone as their music player. The flaws which affected this was ultimately the reason I sent the phone back.
Whilst this may not be a deal-breaker for everyone it was for me because I used my phone as my music player and found these problems highly annoying. If these were fixed in a future software update then I would be more than willing to give WP8 another crack somewhere down the line.