Why I Adore my Lumia 920

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Windows Phone. I was one of the maybe six people on Earth who were actually optimistic for Windows Phone 7.8. But when I realized my pre-paid T-Mobile plan was going to expire days after the Lumia 920 launch, and that the 920 would only cost $100 on a 2-year term, I decided to pick one up.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The Lumia 920 is a phone made by Nokia, running Windows Phone 8. It was released last Friday, but I’ve only had mine for about three hours. I already completely adore it. Here are five reasons why:

1: Nokia Maps is incredible.

I hated Bing Maps in Windows Phone 7.

I remember searching for Westfield one time, because there are a bunch of Westfield malls in San Jose and I guess I wanted to get my shopping on.

It found nothing. This is completely typical of Bing Maps. Coming from iPhone back when it had Google Maps, this was a huge let down. I often cited it as the only thing I genuinely disliked about WP7.

Nokia Maps is leaps and bounds better. I searched for Westfield and it focused on the closest Westfield mall, highlighted the rest with little shopping bag icons, and when I scrolled down from the map, it gave me a text-based list of all the results.

It’s beautiful. Sometimes jabbing at tiny pin drops in a moving car (in the passenger seat, of course!) is really ineffective. Having a list of text results is great because they’re easier to tap, and you can see in plain text what all the results are, without having to tap on each one.

This is a huge win for UX, and it’s indicative of Nokia’s commitment to making sure WP8 succeeds.

2: Built-in GPS is about to be very helpful.

Nokia has a really slick Drive app, which is your basic 3D voice-navigating GPS. The brilliant feature in this app is that it lets you download maps of specific areas in 100MB or so chunks, so that you can navigate those regions while offline.

I’m going to Las Vegas with the wife and some friends this weekend, and one of the things we’re going to do is drive to the grand canyon. I just downloaded the maps for Nevada, so now we’ll have GPS despite driving through areas with bad or no reception. When we get back, I can delete the Nevada maps to free up the 90MB they’re currently taking up. Excellent!

3: Smaller live tiles are awesome!

Live tiles in Windows Phone 7 came in two sizes: big, and really big. Really big tiles stretched the full width of the home screen, and were half as tall as they were wide. Big tiles were the same height as really big, but square-shaped.

This means if you used all big tiles — the smallest available option — you could see about eight on screen at one time.

Windows Phone 8 offers a smaller size, which is 1/4 the size of big tiles. If I put all small tiles on my Lumia, I can fit 24 on screen at a time.

This is incredible!

I still have a really big tile for my calendar, and a big tile for my social network notification app, but that leaves me space for twelve additional icons, which is great when you have three email addresses, two blogs, two messaging apps, and of course a phone icon, and you like to have them all above the fold so you can see all your notifications at once.

4: The camera is superb.

I don’t know a whole lot about cameras, but this Carl Zeiss thing takes great pictures. It also records HD+ video, but I don’t know what that means. I guess it’s more pixels than HD?

Looking at comparisons online, the vote seems to be split on whether it’s better or worse than the iPhone 5 (my money’s on worse; it’s amazing what people can do with an iPhone these days).

All I care about is that the pictures aren’t blurry. You should see what came out of my last phone; it’s like the lens was part Jell-O. Glad to put those days behind me.

5: I’m digging the large screen.

One of the things I was a little concerned about with the 920 is its size. It’s a little bigger than my last phone, which was itself slightly bigger than the iPhone I had switched from.

It turns out the larger form factor is pretty sweet. It fits nicely in my hand, and thankfully the power button is on the side; I would struggle to reach it if it was on top like every other phone I’ve ever used.

My new Lumia sports a 4.5 inch screen, at a resolution of 720×1280. This is really nice for content that generally feels a little cramped on a mobile screen. Calendar events and non-mobile-optimized websites, I’m looking at you — and you look great!

Overall, I’m pretty psyched.

This is the first time since the iPhone launched in Canada (2008), that I’ve owned a just-released phone. This thing has features that I don’t even know how to use (NFC), and some that just seem like overkill (inductive charging).

I think I’m in for a swell two years :)

It’s good to be back, by the way. My last post was four months ago — ouch! — but I’ve been working on a little secret something in my time away. I’ll fill you in soon, but it’s going to be especially good news if you’re into serious Javascript development…

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10 Responses to “Why I Adore my Lumia 920”

  1. Frank Says:

    Congrats on the new phone. How is the battery life issue?

  2. dan Says:

    Battery seems fine. Charged it overnight, and from the time I woke up this morning until now (about 16 hours) it’s half full. Today was pretty moderate usage, too; I was still setting up apps and showing it off to lots of people, and that was on top of my normal email/Twitter/RSS usage.

    This weekend will be the real test. Several hours of GPS usage will be especially interesting :)

  3. Frank Says:

    Sounds good. Have you tried Skype on your phone yet? The Telecos must be scared that everyone will be making free long distance calls in the future.

    I myself am waiting for Blackberry 10. They used to have problems with their browser but RIM has made great improvements. In fact, the early BlackBerry 10 browser looks to soon be the top dog. The Ring 1 HTML5 Test gives it a whopping score of 447. This is a higher score than iOS 5 (324), higher still than Android 4 (273), and even slightly higher than the top desktop browser score (Chrome Canary with 442).

    The Blackberry London is expected to sport a dual-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM for added performance, 16GB of internal storage, microSD support for added storage space, and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera.

    RIM has gotten a lot of bad press but I think BB10 will put them back in the game.

  4. Jef Says:

    Up here in Canadia, I had a good laugh at Ayesha’s trials to get a Nokia 920, apparently it was for sale the day it was release but not physically stocked anywhere with Rogers or Telus. You could only order on online and you required an account to buy one.

    I got the Nexus 4 on release day but I’m stuck waiting 3 weeks for it to be delivered. I just couldn’t leave my Google citizenship behind for my what I perceive as slight improvements to UX Window phone.

  5. dan Says:

    Frank:

    I haven’t used Skype on this phone yet, but I did on on my previous one. I don’t think the telcos are too worried about long distance. I would guess that people don’t call as much now as they did before the internet, and long distance as a concept is kind of going away; I can call anywhere in the US for free on my phone, and that’s the norm for American carriers.

    I heard about the BB10 browser! I love that companies like RIM and Microsoft are finally taking web browsing very seriously. I’m still a little concerned about Blackberry’s future, though; very few people will notice that the BB10 browser is better than Safari on iOS, and there are already phones with multiple cores and a gig of RAM and expandable storage and high-res cameras. RIM isn’t going to turn any heads unless they can come up with something truly new.

    I guess we’ll find out in Q1 2013. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a successful launch; it would be really nice to see RIM get back on their feet :)

  6. Chris Says:

    Hey Dan:

    A good friend of mine picked up the Lumia 920 after having the 710 and loving it. I got to play with a bit on Friday, and it really is a gorgeous phone.

    He’s getting more than a bit frustrated with it, though, as it seems to lock up regularly after he connects it over wifi with his old router. How’s the stability been for you, and have you received any of the reboot issues that have also been reported?

    Hopefully MS will be quicker patching WP8 than they were with WP7.

  7. dan Says:

    Hey Chris!

    Stability has been good so far. It did lock up once, and I have no idea how or what I was doing at the time (it happened in the airport while I was on my way back from Vegas, so I was pretty tuned out).

    Part of the reason there are so many issues is that the Lumia 920 is the first really popular Windows Phone. I think MS could get by with a little less quality control when their devices were a little lower profile.

    That said, MS does have a history of rectifying these things; when the first patch for WP7 (NoDo) was released, a lot of people had issues getting it from their carrier. I remember the head of Windows Phone keynoting Mix 2010, and promising they would sort out all carrier issues in time for the next big update (Mango). The Mango release went off without a hitch, and I’ve never had an issue getting updates on either of the WP devices I’ve owned.

  8. Chris Says:

    Dan:

    I’m glad to hear it’s been pretty stable for you. I really want to see WP8 do well, if for no other reason that to maintain the variety of phone OS’s that will breed proper contribution. Plus I really feel better recommending someone get a WP8 phone than the horror that is iOS.

  9. Frank Says:

    I know this is off topic but why does Netflix Canada only have 1/4 the movies of Netflix USA? The total number of entries for Canada is currently 2687 movies/shows . The total number of entries for USA is currently 10407 movies/shows. Same price, one quarter the movies.
    source:
    http://netflixcanadavsusa.blogspot.ca/

  10. Chris Says:

    Frank:

    That’s Rogers/Bell using their near-monopoly powers to screw over not only their customers, but the entire Canadian market.

    Luckily, through the fine art of using a US VPN, we can bypass these issues, and access both sets of media.

    Still a pain in the butt, though.

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