I’ve had a mobile phone since the early 90’s when they were the size of a house brick. Over the years have replaced these with relatively useable phones. When work started to supply me with mobiles, I never really had a need to then replace my own phone. I’ve always had BlackBerry’s supplied to me and its never been that great an experience, but then, I don’t use Facebook or Twitter, etc on the phone.
Mid last year I decided to get myself a cheap “smart-phone” to play around with and to also enable me to switch the work phone off outside of work hours. This was a cheap Android phone which served my needs up until Christmas. For Christmas my wife bought me a Google Nexus 7 tablet which is a cracking bit of kit. I started to use this for all sorts of things, including Facebook and Twitter (before the tablet I used the good old PC!). I’m not a big Facebook user, so only give this a quick look maybe once a day, but I am quite a big user of Twitter and more recently Instagram. Whilst the tablet was great for this, it didn’t enable me to grab pictures or tweet anything on the go. The Android phone I had was slow and the camera, etc was not of great quality. Time for a new phone!!
My wife has a Samsung Galaxy S3 which is a brilliant phone, but I didn’t want to go for a contract that was going to cost the earth per month, so things like the S3, etc were out of the window. I also wanted to just be a little different and try something that the majority won’t, Windows Phone 8. Looking around I found the Nokia Lumia 520, which had some great reviews, so for a contract of £7.50 per month, I ordered one up.
Whats the Lumia 520 Like?
I have to say I’m impressed with this phone, I’ve been using it for a month now and have had no problems with it. Its light, responsive and feels like a quality phone. The screen size is 4 inches which is more than enough for my needs, picture quality is fine as well. I can’t comment on anything to do with music, as this is a side of the phone I will not be using. One gripe I do have is that the screen can get full of finger prints pretty quickly compared to say the S3 or even my cheap old Android, but a quick clean soon sorts this out.
The camera is also good. At 5MP the quality won’t blow you away, but its fine for capturing that priceless family moment. Battery life is ok, I wouldn’t mind a little bit longer, but then I do use it quite a bit. A charge over night sorts this out, and I certainly don’t want to be using the phone overnight!
In all, I’m pleased with the phone, it looks nice and feels like a quality phone.
Windows 8 Phone
So now we move on to Windows Phone 8, do I like it, is it any good? Well, the first thing to say is, it looks nice! That in itself isn’t a reason to use it, but I have to say, I do like it. Its a big departure from Android, but it has an intuitive interface and its easy to find your way around. As with everything Microsoft, you do need to have a Microsoft account (formerly a Live ID), I’ve had this for ages now, so upon switching on the phone, I entered my credentials and away I went. Well, not quite away I went. I generally have mobile data disabled on my phone and switch it on as and when I need it, so I did have to connect up to my router, but thats easy.
As I’ve already mentioned, I am a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram user, so my first port of call was to download the Twitter and Facebook apps. The Twitter app is not vastly different to the Android offering, so I felt at home. The Facebook app, whilst it works, isn’t particularly nice experience (nor is the Android one to be honest!), but it does its job.
Integration with SkyDrive is tight. Before having this phone, I was a SkyDrive user, so its nice that the integration is there (well you would expect it to be!!!). You can configure the camera app to automatically save pictures to your SkyDrive so there is no risk losing them from your phone. Obviously you will need a data connection to be able to do this (and it would soon eat into your allowance should you not be using WiFi), but its a very simple exercise to upload them to SkyDrive later on when you can use WiFi.
Thats right, there isn’t an official Instagram app for Windows Phone 8, but there are some third party apps that will do the job. After a quick search around and a comparison between the offerings, I settled on the Instance app. There is a free and paid for version, I’ve gone for the free version, which shows a small advert at the bottom of the UI, which I can live with. It does everything I want and will fill the gap until an official Instagram app is released (maybe one day!!).
Managing contacts is a breeze using the People app. It allows you to integrate with Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, etc, and will import your contacts should you wish. I have imported my Facebook and Twitter contacts (as well as my contacts from my previous phone) and this is where I spend most of my time. Through the People app, I can look at all posts on Twitter and Facebook and allows you to tweet or post to a contacts Facebook wall, nice and easy. You could do away with Facebook and Twitter and just use People should you want to. I have removed the Facebook app and check all of this through People, but I have kept Twitter installed.
Apart from looking nice, these are very useful. For example, from People, I have pinned my wife to my start screen, so I can pull up her details, call, text or contact her in any way available simply by using her tile. As the tile is live, it does also display any tweets, Facebook posts, etc she has last made, very useful. Integration to your email is very simple and again with a live tile, I get info on emails that have come in at a glance, very useful.
Was it worth it?
I have to say that I am very pleased with the phone and the operating system. Whilst I do like Windows Phone 8, it doesn’t do anything you can’t do with Android and I dare say the Apple offering (I’ve never used that so wouldn’t know). I am far from a power user of smartphones, and the phone and more importantly operating system does everything I need and I really do like the look and feel of it.
If you wanted to take the plunge and try something different like Windows Phone 8, I would recommend checking out the app store to ensure that everything is available that you currently use. For me pretty much everything is (come on Instagram!!!) from news apps to the social networking tools.
In all, very pleased with my purchase and its nice to be a little different sometimes!!