Windows Phone 8 & the Nokia Lumia 822 – first impressions

By | December 28, 2012

Fast. Fluid. Flexible.

Coming from my antiquated HTC Trophy, the 822 is amazing. If it was my first time Windows Phone, I would be crazy impressed. But remember, I’ve had my Trophy since it was available, and was developing (so experiencing WP7 via emulator) since day 1 of the Windows Phone SDK release. So I’m not coming from the ground level. I’ve been IN this.

That being said, Windows Phone 8 is what Windows Phone was meant to be. But don’t think that coming from your WP7 will be a great experience.
I can’t emphasize enough how much the dev community needs to get on board with using SkyDrive as a settings/config backup & restore solution. Or at least SOMETHING. I’m now re-setting up all but 2 or 3 of my apps and games. What a pain. If you want an example of a great app that uses SkyDrive to backup & restore, check out ConnectMe – an RDP client for Windows Phone.
Microsoft also needs to do something about this kind of scenario. I’ve been reinstalling apps from my old phone since yesterday. The purchase history online was incomplete. The “reinstaller” apps we all saw before the store was revamped no longer work. So what was I left doing? Glance and go. Look at the old one, search the store, install to the new one… All. Day. This needs improving.

So let’s talk about the Operating System and its experience first because, honestly, that’s where my heart’s at.

  • I’m still a bit annoyed that I can’t have multiple OS-level Twitter accounts, but oh well this isn’t anything I’m not already dealing with so I can let it slide. It was something I wished would’ve been added though.
  • Crossing one thing off my wish list, you can finally ‘Share’ an app from your app list, no more having to re-search for it in the Store, then sharing from there. Well done.
  • The new “split” between Office and OneNote was a bit confusing at first. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the OneNote Notebook that my wife and I use to list groceries, etc, until I launched OneNote and not the Office app. To be honest, I’m not even sure how often I’ll use ‘Office’ – I unpinned it and pinned OneNote instead.
  • It takes quite the re-thinking to design your new home screen. For a mild-OCD sufferer like myself, having half-aligned tiles is not acceptable. Nor are incomplete rows. So I had to work pretty hard to come up w/ something I’m happy with. The ability to shrink or grow tiles (if the app supports it) is pretty badass, and does give you quite a bit of flexibility.
    • Devs, if you implement these small and large tiles, make them useful. For example, I pinned an Excel file to the start screen from Office, and when I shrunk it it no longer shows me the filename. Now, hopefully I’ll always remember this is the one, but imagine if I pinned two Excel files to the home screen? Could easily get confusing.
    • The biggest bangs here for me are the Store (used to be Marketplace) tile to show me when I have updates. No need to have that be a “mid” or “large” tile, keep it small. E-mail, Messaging, Settings, all other ones I’ve set to be small.
  • Hot damn it’s fast. Everything is faster than WP7. Or at least WP7 on my HTC Trophy. Now, this could be the OS, or it could be that we’ve got new hardware to play with as well. Whatever it is, it makes the experience freaking great.
  • I’m not going to go over all the new features of the WP8 OS because there are tons of articles out there on those. But suffice it to say that they all seem like they’re going to be immensely useful. I’m going to continue to hammer on my Wife just how useful “Rooms” would be for her and I to keep in sync w/ each other.
  • Why didn’t my Internet Explorer favorites show up on my new phone??
  • I don’t know why, but my WP7 is showing updates for apps that don’t show up in the Store for my WP8. Today, it was my favorite Youtube client, MetroTube. I got an update for it, but it doesn’t show anywhere in the WP store. To get around this, I found the app on my WP7, shared it to myself via e-mail, and followed that link. Got me to the store and was able to install it no problem. Quite odd.
  • I am curious to know how I could use NFC on this phone w/ my current debit and credit card to NFC-enable them and use my phone at Tap & Pay locations. Thus far I haven’t seen anything that I’m doing wrong, wondering if this just isn’t possible or what.
  • If you were a big on using “Post Message” from your ‘Me’ tile, you’ll also notice you don’t get to post to Windows Live anymore. Not sure what the motive here is, but I have a feeling it might have to do w/ the new integration between Messenger and Skype; perhaps we just don’t get to do this, or they’re going to be taking it away…
  • Skype integration in to the OS really is good, but keep in mind this isn’t nearly OS-level integration; they’re simply taking advantage of the new VOIP APIs that anybody can use. So if you have an idea you think would be equally impressive, don’t hold back thinking the Skype is all OS-integrated!
  • If you enjoy typing in landscape mode, prepare to be annoyed. They’ve removed this from multiple areas, not the least of which is the Post new Update from w/in the ‘Me’ tile. In a Room, you can’t hold it in Landscape mode to read messages in chat, it only flips when text input is entered. I have no idea what they were thinking on these points… Posting in landscape worked fine in WP7.
  • In addition to the above, the keyboard input in landscape mode is severely worse than on my WP7 handset, I constantly have to go back and look over what I’ve typed and perform multiple corrections.. I am hoping that over time this will improve. After all, my WP7’s been learning for almost 2 years. #fingersCrossed. I’m told that typing in portrait mode (have no idea how people do this) is much better.

Now let’s talk about this Lumia 822, shall we?

#lastWp7tweet :)

  • One of the things I do like is that all the buttons for controlling the phone are on the same side. While it’s going to take some getting used to from my Trophy, they definitely seem to make sense. I do think, however, that the camera button could be a bit better engineered to more blatantly give the 2-press feeling. The Trophy does a better job at this.
  • The screen is incredible. Of course, I’m coming from a standard LCD, and now have an AMOLED screen so you can imagine. The blacks are blacker, the fonts are bolder. It looks great.
  • The “soft key” buttons on the bottom have a yellowish tint to them that annoys me. It reminds me of the old beige keyboards. They’re not crisp & white like I’d expect from backlit keys. The Trophy’s look better.
  • It’s a very light-feeling unit. To some, like my wife, this makes the phone feel “cheap” but I appreciate it.
  • I added the wireless charging plate and a Fatboy to mine, though admittedly I’ve not yet used it but am excited for the possibilities. The Lumia 822 has expandable storage as well, so when you look at it like that, the only way the 920 beats it is in the PureView camera. I’m not too concerned w/ that because, let’s face it, the Trophy’s camera is a pile of crap so this thing already kicks its ass.
  • Software-wise, Nokia and Windows Phone have an identity crisis to solve:
    • What do I use for directions? Nokia Drive or Nokia Maps? Both provide me directions listing. I don’t even know if Maps will read them to me or act like the old Bing Maps.
    • Similarly, I added favorites for my office, home, day care, and pre-schools so that I can quickly get directions. These favorites did not show up in Nokia Drive. So I had to set them all up there as well. Likewise, they also don’t show up w/in Bing Maps.
    • If you do a Bing search and click a local listing, you’ll launch Bing Maps to see it. You cannot access Bing Maps anywhere else in the OS. Make up your mind… either sever all ties or keep the OEM stuff. Super confusing.
    • Where is this My Commute I read so much about shortly before WP8 was coming out? Haven’t seen anywhere to find it as it’s been shown in the videos & examples I’ve found.
  • Battery life seems ridiculously awesome.
  • LTE is blazingly fast on Verizon. Can’t wait to use it more.

Anyway, I’m definitely a happy camper to finally have a Windows Phone 8 device. I look forward to what the future holds for Microsoft’s new platforms.