Testing Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 520

Windows Phone and its innovative user interface are quite fascinating. I’ve tried it out for a few quick sessions, in show rooms and borrowing a friend’s phone in one-minute sessions, but I was interested in a first-hand user experience. So I made a full switch for a week, with a Nokia Lumia 520. It’s the cheapest Windows Phone out there, and the most popular one at the moment.

This my quick review.

GOOD

  • This is a solid device, a true smartphone not a cheap excuse.
  • Setting up a Gmail account is straight forward. It’s one of the things I was worries about, but it’s not concern. The account setup works a lot like it does on Android, with a system-wide management of all the services attached to it, i.e. email, calendar, contacts.
  • Impressive sound quality, both receiving and sending, as reported by different people I talked to.

BAD

  • When using IMAP, including Gmail, there is no no way to Flag or Star messages. There is an Urgent section, but there is nothing there. That’s a deal breaker, a reminder of iOS up to version 5.
  • Microsoft just loves terms of use and security warnings. Every app has at least one one them. You seem to get one at installation, on first run and sometimes when you upgrade an app. It’s just tedious.
  • No real-time app notifications? It seems that apps can only get updates only once every 30 minutes at most. This is a deal breaker for someone using Pingdom or other monitoring tools.

CONCLUSION

For 160€, one would expect something barely usable, but instead you get a full-featured smartphone. The design is elegant, the build solid, the interface quite snappy and the whole thing quite reliable and enjoyable. And not just “for a cheap phone”, but on its own. If you are using your phone for calls, web and mail, but not so much for apps, this is the device to get.

PS: Nokia announced a new and improved version of this device, the Nokia Lumia 525.