My two week #LumiaChallenge

Those who know me will be aware of the fact that I’m a big Nokia fan. The first phone I ever got was a second hand 5110 and I owned six or seven Nokia’s until I got an iPhone in 2007. While supporters had to suffer through the brand insisting on using Symbian for their operating system about two years back they ditched Symbian for Windows Phone and the Lumia range. Since then there’s been a lot of uproar about Windows Phone not having the same level of apps that iPhone and Android and while this is true, the reality is that living with a Lumia isn’t as crippling as one would think. As an experiment I decided to use a Nokia Lumia 925 and use it as my primary phone for two weeks. I’m not going to speak about the phone (despite it being great) but focus specifically on the operating system.¬†Before I go into the phone I’ll quickly describe my general use case.

A day in the life of Saul:

I use the following apps on my phone:

  1. Mail (I have three email addresses using Google Apps)
  2. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)
  3. Sport tracking (I run and cycle)
  4. Messaging (Wechat, iMessage, Whatsapp)
  5. Web browsing (minimal amounts since I use my iPad for major browsing)

I use my phone a fair almost exclusively for those purposes and obviously  for calling as a major business tool.

My two weeks of Lumia:

I must be honest, I was pretty worried I’d be running back to my iPhone rapidly. With some trepidation I took the sim out of my iPhone, put it in a sim adaptor (nano sim to micro sim) and turned on the Lumia. So first off the bat I need to mention I have a Windows account due to using Windows 8 on a desktop. It has my Gmail account built in meaning I got all my contacts immediately. So far, so good but that’s obviously because I had already setup the account.

I left the phone to sync my contacts and perform some updates. 30 minutes later I went back to take a look and everything was there.

When using a new phone the first port of call is always the local app store. First up, compared to the iPhone and Android app stores the Windows Phone Store pales in comparison. Not because it’s lacking in apps (it is to some extent) but because it’s quite difficult to navigate. Two major issues here:

  1. You can’t see apps you’ve installed without going into the individual app page. This is mildly annoying
  2. If you install an app it takes you to the phone menu where you see all your apps. When you go back to the app store you’re taken back to the first menu meaning if you’re browsing a list you have to scroll all the way back to where you were before.

That said, there are plenty of apps that will do what you need. So to talk to my daily needs:

  1. Mail: The built in mail app is perfectly fine. If anything it handles Gmail threads really well
  2. Social media: You can get Twitter, Facebook and for Instagram there’s an app called “6Tag”. Instagram will apparently be available natively for Windows Phone soon.
  3. Sport tracking: Endomondo works perfectly for this purpose.
  4. Messaging: You can get Whatsapp and Wechat for Windows Phone so those boxes are ticked. Obviously you can’t get iMessage but that’s an issue with any non Apple phone.
  5. Web browsing: So this is where the Lumia probably falls down the most. Web browsing isn’t amazing but it’s tolerable for the basics. I tried Twitter in the browser and went running back to the app quickly.

Much like iOS the cool thing about Windows Phone: you get notifications on the lock screen which is obviously useful. I also use Skype quite a bit on my phone as well as Shazam and those are both available. The built in Nokia apps such as “Pro Camera” are great and take excellent pictures.

So to get to the conclusion: the point of the matter was to see if I could survive without an iPhone. The reality is I missed certain apps such as Nike+ for running and Strava for Cycling but if Apple had to dissapear tomorrow I’d be a Windows Phone user in a heartbeat and I’d miss nothing. Windows Phone has a bad reputation of not having apps for reasons unknown to me.

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