Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lumia 920 win

My Samsung Focus rather unceremoniously bit the bucket today - it decided suddenly to stop accepting a battery charge. Thankfully, this occurred to the day of my upgrade cycle with AT&T, so I decided to upgrade to the Nokia Lumia 920 (black), one of the new Windows Phone 8 devices.

Admittedly it's hard to say I'm unbiased, but Windows Phone 8 is truly a work of genius. Ecosystem be damned, this thing is way better than even the mighty iPhone.  Nokia also adds a respectable amount of value.

A short list of why the Lumia 920 (and Windows Phone in general) is the best phone ever:
  • Nokia Drive. FREE MAPS, and not the crappy homebrew ones from Apple, but proper Navteq. Of course, with voice turn-by-turn. The big surprise - OFFLINE maps - now I can finally navigate in Canada! Did I also mention "completely free"?
  • Free ringtones. None of this charging for ringtone nonsense from iTunes; just drag a song from your computer to "Ringtones".
  • Forget re-buying all the accessories (*cough* iPhone 5 *cough*), my Lumia plugs in with *gasp*.... micro-USB. Wherever will I find a cord that fits?
  • Skydrive sync. Zune was always behind iTunes in terms of phone syncing... but now it's irrelevant. Windows Phone 8 just does away with Zune entirely. Your texts and app list are backed up, and your photos back up directly to SkyDrive.
  • Uberscreen. 4.5" of HD, with jet black blacks (both bigger and higher resolution than iPhone 5).
  • Really fast - noticeably faster than the Focus.
  • Childproof. Now with a "Kids Corner", a mode where kids can access games or apps you choose, but not dial Russian sex lines.
  • Resizable tiles. Yes, it may sound like a dumb thing to get excited about, but once you start customizing your start screen, you realize how satisfying it is to turn your start screen into a proper information hub.
  • Ready for business. Mobile Office pre-installed; automagic sync to both SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro (didn't even have to set them up). Email and calendaring to Exchange (and Google, and Hotmail) retains the utter perfection achieved in Windows Phone 7.
... and I haven't even tried some of the best stuff yet, like the "Lens" feature (or the camera in general), tap-sync, or the legendary pillow charger. I suspect the next few days will be fun.

While I'm disappointed with the loss of Zune sync support, the fact that you can simply copy stuff with Explorer or a variety of other sync apps more than makes up for it. While the new Windows 8 "Windows Phone" app is obviously primitive and feature-anemic, it did copy media to the phone as advertised with no issues.

For my token negative comments... seriously, AT&T, is the crapware really necessary? Why would I pay monthly for your navigation, TV or music, when it's given away for free by apps built in to the phone? You cost me entire minutes deleting it all!

UPDATE 1/23:
More cool stuff discovered while using the phone.
  • Separate volume for each Bluetooth device. This was a complaint I had with WinPhone 7.0, and its resolution makes my morning commute way easier.
  • Visual voicemail. About time!
  • Emotion added in text-to-speech! It's pretty minor, but you can hear that the 8.0 voice actually sounds happy that you've received a text message, while the 7.5 voice is carefully neutral.
  • Nokia Music. Actually pretty good - perhaps redundant to Zune Pass holders, but you can offline your "mixes" with less effort than Xbox Music.

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