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Thoughts on Windows Phone (using a Lumia 1020 for a month)
I cannot ever see myself moving away from the iPhone anytime soon, but when I saw that a Lumia 1020 had a 41 megapixel pureview camera I had to take the plunge and see for myself just how good the camera was and what Windows Phone was all about.
I knew going in, I was never going to have as many apps on the Windows Phone as I had on my iPhones, but it turned out the difference in experience is far greater than just the apps. The User interface of Windows Phone was so much different than I had imagined. You no longer have app drawers on every home screen page, but a singular row of apps all arranged alphabetically on the right side, reachable with a single user interface button or just a swipe to the left that pushes the live tiles you have placed, in any sequence you deem necessary, on your main home screen.
Sometimes if I have too many live tiles on the home screen, it really scrolls down a long way, and since when you exit an app and go back to the home screen you go back to the top of the live tiles, nowhere else, you are forced to scroll down to the live tile that you really want to get to again, which is a pain. The app list actually helps me in the end to get to the app I want, which actually provides a faster way of navigation than I thought I would have, but I cannot help thinking there could be a better system being made for getting to the apps I really want to get to.
That said, getting to the apps I want on Windows Phone proved to be faster than on iOS on more occasions than I expected and the interface does look prettier with the customizable color themes and the live tiles, if the apps you happen to use support putting pretty looking pictures and text for updates on the tiles, which is admittedly the majority of the apps I have used on there.
I have used a ton of the apps on there, and largely if you choose the free versions, you are going to get a ton of apps, so beware of that very annoying Android-esque advertising thing going on in the apps. However, I did find most of the Windows Phone apps to be better designed compared to Android ones, but don't expect iOS polish. Apple does take great pains to get app developers on the same page with design and with APIs, and far reduced fragmentation.
Windows Phone apps still impresses on many occasions where, like in Tapatalk, the sleek design actually made me want to use them more, which really got me thinking of how in a year or so Windows Phone could very well be like Apple in terms of getting a good design ethic among developers to push for more unified, and better graphical interfaces across the board. That is something I think Windows Phone has that Android sadly still doesn't have, which is a very impressive plus point for Windows Phone.
With the Lumia 1020 I had, I did expect things to be far more optimized for the screen size. I have heard stories about the six inch 1520 really not utilizing the scaling on the keyboard in proportion to the rest of the screen space, but I was lucky to have the smaller device in the 1020, which has a 4.5 inch Amoled screen.
You would expect the 1020 to have a better battery life because of the Amoled screen as opposed to an iPhone 5c, but sadly I still feel the iPhone 5c, or 5s for that matter, is still going to be better with both visual quality and battery life. As sharp as the photos I could take on the 1020, I never thought the photos looked better viewed on the 1020 screen than the photos I took on an iPhone 5c or 5s and viewed on those screens. Pentile technology on the 1020 was not going to help much to improve the comparison and the LCD was going to be better on photography based viewing.
Do not go rejoicing just yet, because I do think the 1020's camera is far better in terms of both resolution and visual quality. The pro camera app on Nokia's offerings really do offer far more customizations with the ISO settings and more, and I have to disagree with people who said the speed of the photography is far slower than on an iPhone. That is true, but not that much. Photos taken on average on a 1020 average about 5-8 seconds per shot, which isn't all that bad when you see the actual pixels being produced on those photos. In addition, you get to crop those glorious 41 megapixel photos to really sharp looking ones suitable for Instagram sharing, which to me is a big selling point. The iPhones still do much better for mainstream photo sharing, but the 1020 actually impresses on times when you feel a little more energy to work for your shots and tweaking them to get some really amazing shots even iPhones cannot produce, I think.
I fear for the battery life on the 1020 still, although I have been getting easy 16 hours days on the phone. I still think the iOS battery optimizations are more reliable going into the end of the day, however, and I still think the battery saving options I have on Lumia made me feel like I was back in Android zone. I absolutely loathe things like the ultra battery saving mode on the Galaxy S5s, and the battery saver mode on this Lumia reminded me on those things. My personal opinion on these things is that if the operating system has good battery optimizations built in right from conception, and not as afterthoughts by way of add-in modes, iOS is always going to be having the upper hand in terms of battery, no matter what people say.
The 1020 is a polycarbonate phone, and has a much sturdier heft and build to it than the iPhone 5c, so I would give it the nod in terms of build durability, but it really isn't a phone that looks as ugly as a Samsung phone, which to me is the greatest seller of Windows Phone for people like me who wants a second device that's not Android. It is a good phone, and I think with Windows Phone 8.1 it could finally give iOS and Android a run for the money.
The edge still goes to iOS for battery life and apps, I think...which is a pity for Windows Phone. They really do deserve some credit for putting good devices out there...