Something very weird happened to me two weeks ago. The Microsoft PR team reached out to me to ask if I’d like to take their Windows Phone 8 “switching challenge.” This is part of their new program to convince people to dump their iPhones and Android phones in favor of a Windows 8 model. They asked me which phone I wanted to try and my response was: Send me the best phone you have. They sent over a beautiful blue ATT Nokia Lumia 920.
I’m an iPhone user, not because I like it, but because I’m heavily invested in iOS Apps. Also I do think iOS is a smoother operating system than Android. The Microsoft PR rep told me that the folks on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough show had just taken the challenge and had glowing things to say about it. I primarily use my iPhone for video, music, and to record audio interviews. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8 handle these “basic” tasks.
The phone comes in a very simple cardboard box and has very minimal packaging. When you open the box you have to go through some pamphlets to get to your new “precious.” The package includes the phone and power cable. While I have plenty of headphones/earbuds, I still get annoyed when phone companies cheap out and don’t include a pair.
The Lumia 920 has received numerous accolades including Engadget’s users’ choice for the best smartphone of 2012. There is no doubt about it: This phone looks unique and beautiful. The real joy is when you see it turned on and the display – 332-ppi sculpted 2.5 D Corning Gorilla Glass 2.0, with color-boosting technology, Sunlight Readability Enhancement, and High Brightness Mode – makes the colors just pop off the screen. On first blush, I really love the colorful Windows Phone 8 tiles on the beautiful 4.5-inch PureMotion HD and ClearBlack display. So far in very limited testing the screen looks good in direct sunlight.
One feature everyone raves about is the Lumia’s camera. The eight-megapixel camera has autofocus, a dual-LED flash, and an image-processing chip. There is also a front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera with f2.0 aperture and a 26-millimeter lens for easy self-portraits. Video play and capture is available with Carl Zeiss optics and HD 1080p. With up to 32 GB of internal memory and SkyDrive cloud storage available, there’s enough memory to keep all your photos and video.
After just a few days with this phone, I can say the sound quality of voice calls and audio blows away the muddled sound of my iPhone 4s.
I love that this phone includes several nice-sized buttons – Camera, Volume, and Power/Lock – that are clearly labeled on the back with nice whimsical icons.
The Lumia comes loaded with a lot, and I mean a lot, of preinstalled software. It is equipped with Facebook, Twitter, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, Nokia Music, ATT radio, ATT Code Scanner, Creative Studio, and more. Other features include NFC technology, integrated wireless charging, optical image stabilization, and three microphones.
Microsoft gave me a choice of networks. As a longtime user of AT&T’s crummy service, I did not want to venture too far out of my comfort zone, so I decided to stick with the devil I know. In retrospect I should have gone with T-Mobile. I did a couple of direct comparisons between T-Mobile (using a Galaxy SII) and AT&T, and T-Mobile was rock solid throughout most of my trip – while I rarely had an LTE Signal. When AT&T LTE did work, T-Mobile was usually a great deal faster (10 mbps average on AT&T vs. 20-30 on T-Mobile). The average consumer probably won’t really notice the difference in speed. I’m in Washington, DC so my initial network tests were conducted taking a day trip between DC and NYC.
Will Windows Phone 8 win me over? Stay tuned to this space. From a hardware standpoint, there is a strong possibility. Next week I’ll go in-depth on my experiences with Windows Phone 8.