Posts Tagged ‘windows phone’

A Tale of Two Phones

For the last few months I’ve been using a HTC Windows Phone 8X. It’s an incredible phone. Yesterday I got a Nokia Lumia 920. I haven’t had a long time to play with it, but I feel I’ve used the phone enough to make an accurate comparison.

There has been some debate over which phone is better. The Lumia 920 was a long awaited phone, and the 8X was a surprise entry which has been known as the "signature" windows phone. Both of these phones are amazing, and both in my view, are the best phones available.

Hardware Design

Both of these phones are beautiful. Before I got the 920 I expected the 8X to win this category. I liked the addition of having the grill match the phone colour, it’s lighter, thinner, and a touch smaller (though if you want a small phone you really should be looking at the HTC 8S or Lumia 820).

Two small problems with the 8X is I found the windows button touch area was too small. When I first got it I was constant hitting it and nothing happened. But you do get use to it and it might just be a small defect with my phone, so I think of it as a small problem. The other is the USB port is the wrong way. I found this with the trophy too. Companies seem to have all standardised with The USB logo faces up. Except for HTC which face it down.

These small problems don’t exist with the Lumia 920. But it also has some big advantages. First the screen. I thought the 8X screen was beautiful. But then I did a direct comparison to the Lumia 920. There was no comparison, the Lumia screen was significantly better.

The biggest design problem with the 8X is the buttons. The are barely there. It’s meant to make it all look much more consistent, but the result is the buttons feel cheap and tacky. They can be hard to press. While the Lumia uses Beautiful metal buttons, it looks great & gives it extra quality.

A big difference with Lumia phones is the power button is on the right side with the volume and camera button. At first this is weird, it goes against all other phone design that keeps it at the top. And worse, there’s nothing to indicate that it’s the power button. BUT – it works. Especially for large phones where it can be hard to press the top button with one hand.

While on the topic of the power button another annoyance about the 8X is when you turn the phone off, a simple press of the power button turns it back on. This means that you could  accidently turn it back on, and if it’s off, how do you know it’s off and not just on standby? You have to hold the camera button down and if that turns the screen on then it was on standby – not exactly intuitive. Compare that to the 920. To turn it back on you must hold the power button for a few seconds – so it’s harder to accidently turn it back on, and by pressing the power button  you can tell if it’s off or on standby – much more intuitive.

So to my surprise I give the best design to the Lumia 920 for its screen and buttons.

Software

Both phones run Windows Phone 8. It’s beautiful, smooth and fast on both. Manufacturers have to add value to the OS with apps. Of the HTC apps, there’s only one worth mentioning – the flashlight. It’s simple wouldn’t have taken them long to write – but it’s useful. There is a similar app available for all phones in the marketplace, but my understanding is it’s a bit of a hack, so it may not be as efficient.

On the other hand Nokia phones come with a heap of amazing apps. Maps, navigation, music. They’re great. Also there’s some apps you normally have to pay for which you can download for free with a Lumia.

There’s no contest here – The Lumia 920 wins hands down.

Camera

I quite liked the 8X’s camera. I’ve barely used the Lumia 920 camera so I’m not going to declare a winner. But online sources seem to confirm the 920 has the best camera in a smartphone.

Conclusion

Both these phones are incredible. But if given the choice take the 920.

Windows Phone Mango Beta impressions

I’ve had the mango beta on my phone for a few days now and here’s my impressions.

What to love:

  • Multitasking – integrated well, fast and it’s not the stupid Android design that has the potential to kill your battery life.
  • Conversations in the mail client – Very gmail-ish. If I could archive from the client it would be perfect.
  • Facebook chat – Treated as a First class citizen. Given absolute equality as SMS, from what I’ve seen of Android’s, Mango’s puts it to shame.
  • Internet Explorer 9 – Fast, renders better but I don’t like the new UI. Too stream lined. so you don’t get fast enough access to tabs or favourites. Before they had buttons on the page, now you have to click expand and choose them from a list.
  • Calendars – Much better than before, integration with Facebook’s events and birthdays is perfect, don’t know why this wasn’t from the start.
  • Maps – Recommends restaurants/events. Haven’t tried out turn by turn but from what I’ve heard it’s average.
  • Groups – When you first install Mango it makes a Family group and puts suggestions based on people sharing your surname. Very cool, but could be extended so it makes suggestions as you make other groups, like gmail’s recommendations when sending emails.
  • Animations are really nice. They were great before but there are very small improvements which are pretty cool

What needs to be improved:

  • Facebook check in: Using the integrated option you can only check yourself in, which makes it pretty useless. Of course the Facebook app supports check in with others and now that IE is location aware, you can do it on Facebook’s touch website too.
  • Facebook notifications: Not "glance and go enough" instead of telling you how many notifications you’ve got, the tile will *sometimes* pop down and give you the start of the notification. I’d much prefer a number which always is on the tile.
  • Call history screen still sucks. Instead of providing a distinct list of recently contacted people it repeats the person for every call to or from them. Simplest screen to fix and they haven’t done it.
  • The tile colours still aren’t fully customisable you can only pick from its limited list.
  • Groups are made by adding one person at a time. It’s a bit annoying. Suggestions and restoring the selection list to where you left off would help
  • Facebook chat setup sucks. Spent ages trying to figure it out, gave up and then it just started to work hours later. From what I’ve read online lots of people have had problems setting it up, if they want people to use this feature they must make it easier setup.
  • There’s a few cool things they showed off that are US only. Unfair.
Return top

INFORMATION

The occasionally interesting thoughts & insights of a software developer