Top positive review
108 people found this helpful
Beautiful hardware and software
on 6 December 2012
This is a fantastic phone and much more. The Windows Phone 8 interface is incredibly fluid, natural, practical and attractive. The phone itself looks good, feels good and performs very well.
Windows Phone 8 review:
* Great interface, with a custom-made home screen of "live tiles". You choose the size of the tile - the bigger it is, the more info you get.
* 90% of the functionality that you would want from day to day is built into the "basic" operating system, without the need for additional apps: excellent contact and calendar management with automatic pairing of contacts across different accounts e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Skype; Facebook; Twitter; Microsoft Office; Xbox Music/Video player.
* It's incredibly fluid, intuitive and fast.
* App selection is good, and as noted most of what you "need" is already built in, especially when you include Nokia's own apps (more below). No app I've really needed that not's there but if you're mad about certain apps, check whether they are available or coming soon. There are likely to be loads more coming soon since Microsoft have made it quite easy to develop apps for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. A few apps I'd suggest: BBC News Reader, The Times, Weave, My Stocks Portfolio, Amazing Weather, Rail Planner, London Travel, Buses Due, eBay, Engadget, Amazon Mobile, Amazon Kindle, Ocado, SkyDrive, Skype.
* Lock screen gives you a snapshot of notifications such as missed calls, new emails/texts; some apps also allow themselves to be integrated into the lock screen e.g. if you have a turn notification for a game, or want to have news images update on your lock screen.
* Kids corner is a stroke of simple genius for those with young kids. If you're thinking why on earth would you entrust a toddler with such an expensive toy, you'd be sensible, but then again you probably don't have young kids. Enable Kids Corner with a sideswipe from the lock screen, hand it to your child of choice and they have their very own home screen customised by you, although they can move and resize tiles themselves. So add a few child friendly apps and everyone is happy. They'll be able to follow any weblinks from the apps you provide but won't have any further web access.
* Nokia have a bunch of their own apps as well as some temporary exclusives.
* Must haves, included when you get the phone:
-- Nokia Drive, which gives you full blown voice guided GPS with offline maps covering 116 countries
-- Nokia Maps, also allows offline maps (shared with Nokia Drive)
-- Nokia Music, similar to Pandora but allows you to download playlists for offline use
-- Nokia Transit, covers public transport in many cities and a great interface giving all sorts of interactive journey options
* Nice to haves:
-- Nokia City Lens, augmented reality that shows info about points of interest in the vicinity
-- App Highlights, does what it says on the tin
-- Photo apps including Panorama, Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, Smart Shoot
These Nokia apps give the phone a massive advantage over the likes of the HTC 8X, which does not ship with turn by turn voice guided GPS. Nokia have allowed other companies to use Nokia Drive, I guess HTC and others can't bring themselves to using a Nokia branded app.
The phone itself:
* 4G LTE connectivity
* Even better than 4G in my opinion (at the moment, given EE's expensive 4G tariffs), is DC-HSPA, which is noticeably faster than 3G and can be accessed with a standard non-4G tariff
* Battery life is good; if you use the phone fairly intensively you'll probably need to charge it by mid evening, if you don't use data heavy apps much then it can last a lot longer
* Wireless charging is a nice bonus
* The camera needs to be seen to be believed. For example, indoors with no flash and relatively low lighting you can still get some good quality pictures.
* The audio/phone quality is excellent. The loudspeaker quality is also top notch.
* The screen is huge and perfectly sharp. It also works fine with gloves as advertised. Very clear in daylight.
* Size/weight: I turned my nose up at phones of this size for a long time, but now that I have one I find the increased screen size a real bonus for many functions, and I haven't noticed I being too heavy at all.
So what are the downsides?
* For anyone upgrading from Windows Phone 7, the sync software is currently in beta and is a huge downgrade from Zune. On the plus side you can now drag and drop files to the phone. But no wireless sync, no automatic music compression, clumsy software. Bring Zune back!
* Nokia Maps is set as the default mapping software (although see tips below). Why does it take 2-3 seconds to open the app? The standard Maps software in Windows Phone 7 was instant. Also if you're using City Lens and tap on a point of interest, you get sent over to Nokia Maps and have the 2-3 second delay.
* Navigation/location isn't sufficiently tightly integrated. Searching for a business or local point of interest using Bing brings an "About" page with address, phone no. etc. Click on the address and you get taken to Windows Phone maps rather than Nokia maps. Click Drive and you get taken to Nokia Drive. But if you want a list of directions by car, foot or public transport, this will require multiple clicks.
* There are very small signs that WP8 has been a fresh build rather than an update to WP7, things that will no doubt get tidied up over time as they did with WP7, but they were already tidy with WP7.5.
* Nokia Drive can't give you a list of directions for your current route, you just get an overview map at the start then one direction at a time.
It's worth noting that Microsoft and Nokia have a very good history of pushing out updates, so I fully expect the above list to shrink with time.
* Download an app called "Maps" to unlock the Microsoft mapping software, which opens instantly unlike Nokia Maps
* Buy a 12 month Xbox Music pass off eBay in the US for about $50-70. It will work in the UK and will give you 12 months unlimited access to the Xbox Music store, including the ability to download particular songs/albums at good quality for offline use. Nokia Music only lets you do this for playlists and you can't choose to listen to individual songs, plus you have a limited number of "skips" per hour.
* To enable Gmail server search, when you set up Gmail tell it that you want to sync calendar/contacts as well as email rather than email only. You can always remove the calendar/contacts sync later and still have the ability to search the server.
* Turn NFC off to improve battery life.