Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8 trial: Day 1

Katoomba railway station: click to embiggenSetting up the Nokia Lumia 925 was straightforward, and I’m impressed with the smartphone itself. But while there’s plenty to like about Windows Phone 8, I was also struck by the lack of key applications and a few rough edges.

These are my bullet-point observations from Day 1 of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial. You can also follow it live on Twitter, where I’m using the hashtag #LumiaWP8trial.

  1. My initial impression is the same as last week. The Lumia is a bit heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S III that I normally use, but feels good in the hand.
  2. The Lumia 925’s power button turns it on too easily. Expect in-purse phones to hit something, turn themselves on, and disrupt your theatre experience.
  3. The SIM tray feels fragile, and the “Welcome” guide needs a bigger drawing so it’s more obvious which way things go. Not everyone’s eyesight is youthful-perfect!
  4. Other than that, getting it powered up, online and working as a Wi-Fi hotspot was quick and straightforward. And so it should be these days.
  5. Setting up Windows Phone 8 for the first time was a clear reminder of how much “configuring a phone” really means “let us monitor all of your movements and activities”. In Microsoft’s favour, even though all the “send us your data” options were pre-checked, they were also clearly marked. I turned them all off. However I couldn’t download any apps until I’d created a Microsoft account, and to do that, they wanted an email address, my date of birth and my postcode. Since none of that is exactly a secret — my physical and email addresses are known, and I have celebrated my birthday with others — I complied. However Microsoft’s explanations of why this was necessary leave a lot to be desired, especially given recent news about NSA surveillance. Microsoft isn’t alone here, of course, but seeing their version of the process was a fresh experience.
  6. Windows Phone lacks some key application that I use almost every day, including Dropbox and Instagram. In the case of Dropbox, I’m not sure that I want to extend the trust to a third party. In the case of Instagram, I was told about Instance, but it currently doesn’t work. Apparently Instagram deleted the photos. Seriously not impressed.
  7. Installing Flickr for Windows Phone 7, I was told “Flickr needs to know your location to work correctly.” Um, no, Microsoft. Flickr just asked for that data. This wording seems purpose-designed to talk users out of protecting their privacy. Not impressed.
  8. Nick Maher’s TripView Sydney app looks rather schmick on Windows Phone 8, although it doesn’t (yet) display real-time data. Soon, I’m told. Great work, Nick.
  9. Westpac Banking Corporation has a Windows Phone app for their subsidiaries St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne, but not Westpac itself. The bank has told me a Westpac app is in their roadmap, but there’s no release date set yet.
  10. I started taking photos around Katoomba railway station, and was impressed at their sharpness. My initial impression is that Nokia’s camera is indeed significantly sharper than Samsung’s. I’ll post some side-by-side comparisons at a later date. Meanwhile, here’s the trial’s Flick set.
  11. I’m starting to get the feeling that if I handle the phone while it’s acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot, the client devices can lose their connection. I’ll check that out properly at some point.

I’ll be expanding on some these points in the coming days, exploring each aspect as I come to it in the normal course of my day-to-day activities.

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[Photo: Katoomba railway station, photographed yesterday using the Nokia Lumia 925 on default settings. Download full-sized image (2.5MB).]