I traded iPhone 4 for Lumia 900
I recently purchased the much-hyped Nokia Lumia 900 and no longer have cellular service on my iPhone 4 and this is my story. (VH-1’s "Behind the Music" dramatic sound effects here).
Reason for switching: My 8 year old accidentally dripped water on my iPhone 4, and the Apple geniuses said there was nothing I could do to fix it. Everything worked but the volume -- wouldn’t ring and Netflix just isn’t the same without any sound. Of course I never have to tell my kids to turn down the weird sounds coming from Angry Birds as they hurl to their impending doom.
The other reason for switching was to experience the Windows Phone 7.5 interface first-hand. I know we’ve yammered about it at length but nothing beats actually putting the device through daily use.
The buying experience was very painless. No waiting in long lines getting served bottles of water and striking up awkward conversations with fellow Apple people that you’ll never see again. I simply pre-ordered the Lumia 900 (on my iPhone), and FedEx showed up with it a few days later.
Black is boring, so I opted for Cyan and now think that people might not take me as serious. Is this a bad thing?
The weight and feel of it is sturdy enough, and the phone slides easily into a pocket. The larger screen is nice, BTW. Have you held the Galaxy note? That thing is huge! And holding it up to your ear makes me feel like the 15th clown climbing out of a Volkswagen Beetle.
I seem to be doing a lot more swiping versus clicking icons. The Metro interface seems to be built for mobile use with larger buttons and tiles, but I'm not sure if swiping to the left to access more content makes the most sense and gets tedious quickly.
Things I Love
Affordable. The $99 price, or one cent if you’re new to AT&T, makes experimenting inexpensive and almost a throw away if the interface novelty wears off.
Display. The large screen is nice as we continue to do more and more on our phones and optimized websites provide an even better experience. The AMOLED display has great contrast with rich blacks, and the typeface is very sharp. Also love the ‘physical’ button to always back out of where you were -- a fundamental UX principal.
Live tiles. I’ve seen pictures of the home page display but it’s not the same until you see your own Facebook and LinkedIn people rotate, flip and swivel -- makes it fun to pull out your phone to check the time. I love the Ken Burns effects of your camera roll appearing as a double-wide tile.
Having the temperature available immediately without clicking makes sense and having your custom Xbox avatar animate and pop up is better than static icons. Without a doubt, these kinds of things make it more personal and goes beyond a simple utilitarian device used to make calls.
Performance. There’s been a lot of talk about the use of a single core processor, but I don’t see a negative. Lumia 900 is much faster and responsive to gestures than my iPhone and the LTE is blazingly fast.
It seems to stream Netflix faster than my wireless connection, and downloading a 25 MB app takes a few seconds. Call quality is about the same as before and the speaker phone is nice and loud without sounding tinny.
Battery life seems good -- makes it through a whole day with normal to heavy use on one charge (brightness is set to medium).
Things I Hate!
Being new to Windows Phone, please reply/comment if you have answers to some of my problems.
Hardware. The button placement simply blows. I find it very difficult to turn the thing on without looking at it. With an iPhone, you simply press any button. Nokia for some reason wants to confuse you with the power on button and the camera button every time!
While the back button is very useful (see things I love), the design of the phone makes it impossible to tell the top from the bottom and therefore you are fumbling in the dark to press the back button.
The search button becomes annoying as you type in a web address and instead of being brought to the page, you are brought to a list of results forcing you to tap again to go to the website. Plus, I’m not a fan of Bing and wish it was customizable for Google.
User interface. While I want to be a big proponent of Metro, it still has a lot of growing up to do. The three little dots to tell you there are more options make for a fun guessing game. I so badly want it to present choices that I expect to see, but too often feel a big letdown when all it does is present the text labels for the icons I already see. (Usually has more to do with the applications themselves than with the framework that supports them).
While I enjoy the large live tiles on the home page, more than 14 causes more swiping and I’m constantly having to swipe to the left to see all of the applications. I currently have 32 and there will be many more to come, which will only mean more swiping instead of seeing many at once or in folders like iOS. The home page/start screen is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone, and I would like more customization here.
I enjoy being able to text via WiFi to other iPhones because of my poor reception at my home and can’t do that now without installing a third-party app.
The inability to take screengrabs is very frustrating. There are many reasons (some fun, some for work) when screengrabs are necessary and not providing a way to do this seems like a big omission on Microsoft’s part. I couldn’t find any third-party apps that provide this functionality. Speaking of apps…
Applications/Marketplace. The big titles are in there and Gameloft has a nice selection (Let’s Golf 2 is a fav), but like many others who’ve complained about the lack of apps, the one app that’s missing for me is Hulu Plus. I have it on my iPhone, my laptop, my Xbox, my DVD player but not on my shiny new gadget.
Also, most of the apps seem only half-baked using icons so ugly that I won’t let them go near my clean user interface. A colleague of mine once stated that he doesn’t install apps based on this, and I thought it odd at the time but now I’m the one who’s an icon racist.
I’ve had the Lumia 900 for four full days, and it’s too early to declare a clear winner. As you can see there are pluses and minuses for each device but I’m excited to experience something new. Now when iPhone 5 shows up or Windows Phone 8, I’ll have another dilemma to look forward to.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below. Did you recently make the switch too? Do you plan on making it soon; or are you waiting for something else?
Jeff Flahaven, MBA, is a senior User Experience designer for Magenic Technologies, a Microsoft consulting firm. He is an avid proponent for great mobile user experiences creating applications for clients like Best Buy, General Mills, Wells Fargo, NASA and others. His other passion is SharePoint.