Windows Phone 7.5 – The good, the bad.

I’ve had a lot of mobile phones over the years, ranging from an analogue Nokia 100, through to a microsized piece of industrial design mastery in the Ericsson T39, Motorola’s flip (before they adopted the more trendy Razr tag), Sony Ericsson’s of different types (T610, K600) than smart phones across different platforms like O2 Atom (Windows 6), Blackberry’s (OS4, OS5 & OS6) Samsung Androids (1.5 & 2.1) and most recently an iPhone 4s.

Apps are cool. Apps are fun. The platforms evolving from an operating system perspective with bright clear screens and mobile carrier technology enabling mapping, video streaming and music serving are also cool.

But things were problematic with the iPhone 4s. Battery life. Reception. Call Quality. Feeling like a clone and “play it safe” conformist, next to the other 40 passengers on the tram. iCloud having a trashed sync with Microsoft Exchange and deleting a third of my contacts. And the worst part, its a known problem that to this day is still unresolved. Go look up the Apple forums around failed iCloud services and Exchange. Lucky I had a CSV backup. I’m not a Mac hater or Mac lover – rather chosing the best platform, equipment and aesthetic that suits my needs at the time. I’ve had a Macbook Air 11″. I’ve replaced it with a Toshiba Ultranote. I’ve had a iPhone 4S. In June this year, I replaced it with a Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone. Windows 7.5 Mango to be precise.

What a cracker of a phone. There has been lots of articles covering the phone and its build quality. Also under consideration is the extra lengths Microsoft has taken to ensure overall quality. Microsoft’s approach of vetting hardware and working closely with manufacturers before the hardware is released to the public so that the finished result meets their benchmark standards is paying dividends. This phone rocks.

So, the good list and the bad list. And there is bad on this phone, as with any phone, because, lets not forget, this is the first of the Windows 7.5 to Windows 8 devices in the market. 1st Generation if you will.

The Good

  • Speed. It’s FAST. Blazingly fast. Whilst the phone might not have the latest of snappy processors from a hardware perspective, Windows 7.5 is smooth, loads quickly, transitions seemlessly between apps and functionality and responds quickly to screen touches and inputs. At no time ever, have I felt impatient or that I’m waiting for the phone to catch up with me. Friends who have played with the phone for a brief period all note how blindingly quick everything happens. 9/10
  • Contacts. Sorted. Contacts management is exceptional. The best of any phone/smart device, I’ve used, including Apple iOS5, Blackberry 6.X and Android 2.3 & Android 4.1 ICS on Tablet and iPad. Linked Contacts can be aggregated from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Phone Native, Gmail, Windows Live, Yahoo! and any other source you care to import. It keeps each source properly tagged and linked, not merging, but presenting them into a unified view that collates all the information into one space. The only place it will merge them is with Windows Live, which considering that’s Microsoft, makes sense. When you go to call someone, it aggregates all the activity they have scattered onto the web – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Emails into a linear timeline that allows you to sift back through time to quickly come up to speed with what they have been thinking about and posting. Really, really helpful if you contact alot of people, alot. 9/10.
  • Apps. I like Apps, but I tend to stay to the mainstream ones, rather than the edge cases. I don’t really play all that many games either. The following list is what is available on the Microsoft Marketplace and what I use regularly. These Apps are all written by the vendor of the service itself and also available on both Android and iOS platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, WordPress, NAB Banking, IMDB, Flixster, Australia Post, Huffington Post, Pulse, News 360, Drive, CNN, RealEstate.com.au, Domain, Foxtel Guide, Dropbox & Skydrive. 8/10.
  • Sounds Ring tones & alarms sound glorious. The sounds are so NON Apple or Android, that in itself is refreshing. And to be clear, it’s nothing like Microsoft has done before with buzzy, strident tones blaring at you. So many people have commented what a great sounding bunch of ring toes and alarms emanate from the phone. 9/10
  • Vision The screen. It’s fantastic.The slight curve in its physical design makes it a joy to touch. The image brightness and clarity is outstanding. Works fine in direct sunlight. Rendering of photos is great. 9/10.
  • The build quality. That’s out there there too. People pick up the phone and comment how “organic” the phone feels – no sharp edges, no flat angular planes. Nokia have totally excelled themselves in the build quality of this phone. 9/10.


The Bad

  • No tilt lock. So the auto tilting screen which you can lock on Android and iPhone – There’s no lock in Microsoft’s Windows 7.5 world. The guys from Redmond mustn’t lie on the couch or lie in bed with their phones. I find myself multiple times a day wishing that I could lock the screen. 1/10.
  • Signal Strength. Persistent Phone Signal and Time on the home screen. You have to tap the top of the screen to show the phone signal and phone. I’d much rather it be there all the time. Because I commute on the train, the signal dips in and out, so I need to know where the “strong signal” is. 1/10.
  • Power Cover. The little cover on the top of the USB Charging port on the phone. Whilst I appreciate Nokia had in mind a minimalist, clean aesthetic, the little door that covers the charging port is really fragile. I’m worried it will break with poor handling from one of my kids. 4/10.
  • Charger. It’s a nice small, minimalist design – a simple cylinder, that is very nicely finished and great for travel. But the USB cable for the power charger – WAY too short. it bare makes it from the power board on my floor to the top of my bedroom side table. Call me a purist too – the wall plug is white, where as the cable is black. Huh? White+White or Black+Black please. 6/10.
  • Zune. Zune Software on the Windows Desktop – sorry to say, whilst its nice and aesthetically minimalist, it’s a pain in the ass to use. It’s counter intuitive the way you navigate and the way it displays information, whilst funky looking, gets annoying after 10 minutes use. Unlike the phone, the desktop software slows me down and the way it renders things on the screen, the focus on typography for typography’s sake has compromised the usability. 5/10.
  • The Camera. Yes, it’s got a Carl Zeiss Tessar Lens, continuing the nod to this long term partnership, but in low light photography, the codec behind it is total rubbish. It over compensates the white balance and as a consequence you get a bunch of photos that have a grey hue to them. In bright sunlight, outside, the photos continue to have a grainy and soft feel to them. In this the Lumia’s camera is nothing compared to the Apple 4S. 6/10.
  • Music playback. Apple need not fear – it’s nothing on iTunes. Annoying to navigate around. Also the sound amplifier that is onboard the phone gives all my music a really odd, distant resonance quality. This is both the stock Nokia supplied speaker/earbud set and a set of high end AKG earbuds, which I have separately purchased. 4/10
  • Screen Capture. You sometimes don’t know you’re using something until it’s removed. The iPhone has a neat feature where it can take a complete screen capture. Can’t do that on the Windows phone. That’s annoying. 3/10.
  • Network Time. Every phone I’ve had previously syncs its time off the mobile network. You can’t do that with the Windows Phone. 2/10
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