A few thoughts on the Lumia 920
This post has been kicking around in my mind for a few weeks now, but I've not really been sure what to write down exactly. Consider it a collection of notes.
I've been trialing the Lumia 920 since December, and have been giving it a fair go. The more I use it, the less I'm convinced that Microsoft/Nokia understand anything about the mobile market.
I'm sure this drum has been beat on many times, but the Lumia 920 is so heavy that it's a joke. It's not the kind of nice heavy that the iPhone 4 was when it came out, nor is it the nice heavy that you know is well deserved because of some special feature. It's just plain old heavy.
After using the device for a few weeks, I was assured by Microsoft lovers abound that I would get used to it, but I did not. Every time I picked up the device, I resented the weight. I think this is partially thanks to the fact that the outside of the device isn't wrapped in some nice feeling glass or aluminium that may have justified the weight, no, it's just chunky plastic.
I don't care what any of you say, but the design is lazy. Compare the design to that of the Lumia 800 or even the N9 and it's a joke. The elements that made those devices great have been ripped out and the device was stretched and made heavier. The design of the device had been modified to disguise just how thick and big it really is. I really don't understand what could have been added to make the device weigh this much, and regardless, it doesn't even compete in this area with the rest of the market.
The thing that makes this even more apparent is the fact that Nokia actually seems to know that the Lumia 920 was stupidly heavy and is already working on a “new version” that will be lighter. If I had spent my own money on this, I'd be pissed off.
That Pureview thing
I don't get the Pureview thing. Photos just look ridiculously software over-sharpened compared to that of the iPhone . Sure, it works better than other phones at night, but I didn't find myself using it that often at night anyway.
Pureview was supposed to blow us all away with how great a phone camera can be. That didn't happen, and it looks like they've tried to overcompensate for that by sharpening images post-snap to look better. It's good, but it's not phenomenal.
The OS conundrum
I've been torn on this one for a while. I've generally loved that Microsoft is doing something new in the mobile space and how well live tiles are working for them, but I'm beginning to realize that there's something missing. I think I've finally figured out what that is, though. Windows Phone is missing substance beyond the live tiles.
I'm talking about the substance that the company developed on their own devices. The Nokia N9 featured things we'd not really seen before. Gesture based actions, edge to edge touchscreens, tap to wake and a passive notification mode. Windows Phone doesn't really feature anything new or exciting past the live tiles, hell, it still doesn't even have an official Facebook application. There's no innovation, nothing that really sets them apart. I don't know about most people, but live tiles aren't enough to get my wallet out and throw it around.
This low power standby mode on the N9 was on when the screen was turned off and allowed for at a glance notifications
As for Windows Phone applications themselves, the design style seems to make them all just look the same. The beauty of iOS and Android is that developers are given this loose set of guidelines, and they have to go away and build something beautiful with the space. With Windows Phone, it's a very common layout procession that gets old very quickly.
There's not too much more I can say on this, but it's just a lack of depth and innovation. It's nothing special, they're all just applications that scroll and have a different icon/background. Hey, it's cool if you're into that.
It gets much worse when you wade into the marketplace. It's uh, empty in there. Have a look for yourself.
Where to from here?
Windows Phone 8 is a great step forward from the last version. There aren't any more weird teething issues that will drive anyone crazy, but it still doesn't feel finished yet. I don't know what it is, but it feels empty. I like the concept, but it doesn't feel like Windows Phone 8 has gone anywhere significant from the initial premise of Windows Phone.
We're two years in, and nothing that's happened since launch is revolutionary or anything we can't get elsewhere. What's the play? Why would I want to buy a Lumia over a Nexus 4 or iPhone? Especially considering the fact that Nokia knows they rushed the 920.
I don't think there's enough here for Microsoft/Nokia to pull themselves out of third place. Live tiles are cute enough, but is that it?