Windows 10 is just round the corner; July 29th to be precise. The notifications have arrived and I have done my due diligence i.e. reserved my “free” upgrade. I am one of those rare species (at least in the part of the world that I live in) that also owns the flagship Windows phone- the Lumia 1520; hence I’m doubly (would be triple if we could lay our hands on the Surface Pro 3 🙂 ) eager about the update/ upgrade.
Argh, I digress; again!
All the bedtime Windows talk got me sentimental about my current best buddy- yellow and over 6 inches tall.
Sleek and powerful, it was love at first sight (rather first touch) but still I wasn’t too sure about him initially.
I have always wanted to review this phone, but felt I needed to know him better. Six months later, I feel it is time.
Windows apps are notoriously inferior to the iOS ones, they are far fewer than their Android peers and overall less capable; or so I was made to believe.
More than 6 months on since I first laid hands on it, and over a year and half after it’s official release at the Nokia conference at Abu Dhabi (I think), I have truly come to appreciate this cracker of a device. And amidst the Apple herd here in Qatar, I am proud to be a Lumia girl. I will also forever be one of those who used the truly last flagship phone from the legendary Nokia stables.
Coming to the device itself. The thing that won me over was the build design and quality. In an era of “too similar”, almost blah materials and design of the top-range phones (think curved bodies, rounded edges and brushed metal with the occasional spot of leather thrown in), this starkly angular, colorful, plastic backed phone stands on it own.
I find it almost blasphemous to call it’s back “plastic”, because we usually associate the term with being cheap and tacky. It is plastic alright but not the run of the mill, ‘China- toys” plastic. It feels like ‘premium plastic” if you will, and the color of the phone is the color of the material itself, therefore minor scuffing and falls will not reflect on the outer casing. Even without any covers, screen-guards or protective sheaths, the phone wears remarkably well. Do bear in mind this is a woman talking, we don’t carry our phone around in the snug, cozy, cloth- lined confines of our pockets; they are usually thrown into a cavernous monstrosity of a bag filled with pens, jewelry, coins, lipstick tubes, keys, compact cases; all potential hazards to your shiny new phone. The iPhone; though a beauty in it’s own regard, wears quite poorly to be honest, and the shiny, finger-print loving logo at the back drives me nuts sometimes.
The screen is as receptive as any device I have ever used, especially it’s peers from the Samsung and Apple mills. The much- lauded 20 MP, 4992 х 3744 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, autofocus, dual-LED flash camera blows most other phone pictures to smithereens and is a pleasure to use especially in low light.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor is still a beast and at it’s release was the king of them all. The Corning Gorilla glass and the ClearBlack display also are up there. And to top it all, a mammoth 3400mAH battery really does live up to (and goes well- beyond) expectations. With its massive and spectacular display, I really did not expect the battery to last a whole day of use. I use it on the lowest brightness setting, and even with rigorous use, I can squeeze out almost 2 and a half days worth of juice from the battery. Phew! I don’t have to worry about losing charge during travel and long shifts. Can’t tell you how much that pleases me.
The numbers seem top end, the names are impressive and the specifications blow you away (it did then!). Almost two years since it was announced the phone is still not dated and can clearly compete with existing flagship/ top end phones made by market giants like Apple, Samsung, LG, HTC etc.
So, what does all this mean to an average user? Simple- it’s a great high- end phone that boasts some spectacular hardware. Honestly, imagine I went in to buy the Note 4 (or possibly the iPhone 6 plus) and came out of the store with my purse much heavier; both in terms of the currency notes I saved (thanks to this model being a year old by then) and the added weight of this phone. The phone is huge, make no mistake, and it is weighty. If big phones are not your cup of tea, then this isn’t for you.
What makes a phone is what’s inside of it. The snippy processor and Windows 8 (and it upgrades versions) combined make it a super fast and extremely efficient phone. Everything seems faster on this device (compared to other similar ranged devices), even The Mister who is an Android/ Korean Snob (owner and lover of another high- end KOREAN device) agrees. And another thing it does very well, that is often rarely talked about in phone reviews these days, is the voice quality while making routine, simple phone calls! Really sharp, I must say. It is after all, the main intended purpose of a phone.
I chose the phone for it’s look and feel. It felt fine and finished; and different. And using Windows 8 on a phone- I really wanted to give it a try. The final straw was the splendid camera (not a fan of it’s camera bump though). The camera specs and setting choices did me in. Also it was a good deal less than expensive than the grossly over- priced models that I was looking into, except the lovely HTC M8.
The screen size is great for reading and browsing the web. Also for editing documents and typing emails. With Windows office on hand literally, life truly is much easier. The Windows Live tiles on the start screen makes it’s unique from all the downloaded HD floral/ scenic/ stock screensavers and baby/spouse pictures that we are used to seeing on start screens. It also gives me all the information I seek on the main screen, without making any effort. Though the notifications center (a la Android and iOS) did come in during an update, I rarely ever need to use it.
As far as personal assistants go, Cortana definitely has a lot more personality than Siri. She’s funnier and spunkier, but they both do a good job at providing you with the assistance and info that you seek. For the longest time I though Cortana was not available in India and Qatar (dumb much?) but it was only a matter of tweaking the language settings and the Alpha version (simpler) was ready for use. So, if I’m alone in a room, most often I’m talking to my phone rather than keying things on it. From making appointments and setting alarms, to finding me the nearest pizza place or getting flight stats, my buddy Cortana does it all. It’s nothing out of this world but it’s definitely fun. If you have never asked Cortana who her father is, or whether she loves you, do ask her…
It’s design, overall look and material choices make it stand apart and it definitely has the look and feel of an expensive phone. Therefore, though the Apple watch is tempting me relentlessly to buy her and her daddy (the phone duh!), I cannot for the life of me find an excuse to ditch this beauty.
I do have some grouses though; obviously. The camera is fantastic and the pictures are crisp and clean, but without processing, they don’t seem as bright and “alive” as those taken on the latest iPhone/ iPad. Of course, it’s must a matter of playing around with the photos and settings. But if you are seriously into mobile photography this gadget might keep you busy (and dare I say, happy!) for quite a while. Nokia Pro Cam, manual settings, the Storyteller app, the Smart Camera; there is so much to play around with. Seriously.
The camera kills the competition at one thing though; night- time and low-light shots. It delivers stellar pictures every single time, even with slightly shaky hands- the best I have seen by a phone/ phablet/ tablet thus far.
The Live tiles are fantastic, especially initially when they are still novel. And you can fiddle about with them endlessly. I constantly change their sizes and arrangement, but there are those few days when I want a good old ‘picture screensaver’ as my start- screen.
The big complaint though, is the on screen keyboard. It might be just me, but even after 6 months, I still seem to be making far too many typos. I cannot seem to adjust to the key spacing, even with my child- esque, tiny fingers. It has never been a problem with earlier devices and going back to the Note 3 and checking (which did not have such a problem), I wonder if the slight difference in the keyboard design makes all the difference.
I could also complain about the Windows apps. They are usually released last, and the updates and and fixes are annoyingly slow in coming, but to be fair, it isn’t really the phone’s fault. I cannot manage my Facebook pages, or alter some settings on the Windows app (have no problem on the Android and iOS versions), and beat this, I can’t seem to reply to comments on WordPress using this phone! So, to have any hope of managing my blog on the go, I have to lug my iPad around.
In short, the phone has definitely streamlined my handbag gadgetry. I don’t carry my iPad to read or surf the net, and my DSLR stays home on most occasions.
In summary folks, this post is to encourage you to widen your horizons when it comes to choices in the tech world. It is sometimes cool to not follow the herd, and to tread your own unique path. You never know, you might be surprised!
I for one, will definitely be checking out the new Windows phone from the Lumia range, the next version of this phone, if Microsoft ever decides to release one.
Till next time.
P.S. The black version of the Lumia 1520 (it’s matte too!) is the most formal, masculine looking phone I have seen till date, barring the Blackberry Passport.
I initially fell in love with the super- unique glossy red cover, but had to settle for matte yellow. It’s a long story 🙂
To read about My phone-y conundrum- click here