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Nokia Lumia 820
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Nokia Lumia 820
Date: 02/12/12, updated on 02/12/12 (158 review reads)
Advantages: Windows! Office! Super fast, snazzy, customizable design
Disadvantages: Larger than many phones, impossible to get the back cover off
The Lumia is a big phone. It's bigger than my old one, even with its slide out keyboard. It's bigger than an iPhone (I kidnapped one off one of my reception team to check. As a side note: the Lumia's screen is also much more, well, luminous). For a while my phones were getting smaller, almost to the stage you could conceal one in your hand, but this one is a big old brick. Except it's not like the bricks of days gone by. This one is cool. It's heavy but it's flat, stylish and shiny. It won't fit in my pocket (and if it did you might mistakenly think I was VERY happy to see you) but it slides easily into my bag (though not the phone-shaped compartments designers now think we all need). It's probably teetering on the edge of what could be called a phone rather than a tablet, but it's definitely far more portable than, say, a mini iPad. And here's the kicker: it does a hell of a lot of things a tablet might do, despite its compact size.
The Lumia 820 runs Windows, which is just rather cool, isn't it? I've been a fan since the days of 3.0, and despite a few misadventures with NT and XP, I now rock Windows 7 on most of my computers, and do so happily. I'm definitely a Windows girl rather than an Apple one, and proudly so, so it's fantastic to be able to have Windows on my phone and make the world jealous. (Random drunk man in a bar last Friday: "Wow you have a Windows 8 phone! That's so cool! Can I have a look?" Me: "No, now go away").
What would Windows be without Office? you might ask but with this phone you never need find out because it comes with Word and Excel and Powerpoint preloaded which means you can work on things on your phone and then email or transfer them via USB to a computer to finish off and print, or vice versa. I also downloaded Adobe, for free, so I can view PDFs. The attention to detail of the Office elements is magnificent - there's a special icon to start the slide show for example - and because the screen is so big and so clear, it makes working on documents on the go a doddle. The keyboard (a touchscreen affair) means I wouldn't want to trade my laptop in permanently, and I might not want to write a full policy on my phone, but you can certainly make notes or amend an existing document with no trouble.
The downside to this operating system? It's not as established for phones as Android or iOS are. Some of the apps aren't quite as stable (Facebook often 'has trouble getting data' even when Twitter is updating just fine). Usually this resolves itself, but sometimes it requires the old standard switch-it-off-and-back-on-again.
I previously preferred physical QWERTY keyboards, like on my LG or my work Blackberry, but I was pleasantly surprised with this and have had no trouble typing quickly and accurately with the touchscreen. It's just the right amount of sensitive so it picks up movements you want it to, without spiralling out of control if someone sneezes nearby, and though it took me a while to find my ë or the _ in my email address, they are sensibly located once you know where to look, and also make typing in a foreign language quite straight forward. Which is good for those of us who tweet in German and Spanish, y'know?
The camera has a high spec and takes remarkably clear photos much to the aggravation of the doctors I was showing it to at a training session last week. I used to have a separate digital camera but with this phone I genuinely cannot see the point of carrying two devices round with me when this takes such good photos and does so much more. The video is great too, and I like being able to have photos on my start screen, but I'm not really sure I'll use the 'albums' feature rather than keep them in the 'Camera roll' where they all go by default. The option to search by date is highly useful though, or I imagine it will be once I've had it for longer. For those cool (ahem) outstretched arm poses, the phone features a front facing camera so you can see the shot before you shoot, and the extra features (flash, adjustable aspect ratio and exposures, crop, rotate and autofix) all make it feel like a proper camera rather than 'just' a camera on a phone.
One of the key features of the Lumia is the ability to 'tile' different apps to your start screen, enabling you to customise your phone completely. You can not only rearrange the tiles, but you can resize them too depending on how often you use them, so I've kept Internet Explorer and the Store ones, but shrunk them down a bit to make room for massive Facebook and Twitter as these are ones I use more frequently. They also allow me to keep up to date without having to click into the various apps as those two flash most recent updates to you from this screen - Twitter tells me the latest action from others (who has followed me or mentioned me) while Facebook likes to tell me my latest status, perhaps in a subtle nudge to update it. You can sync email accounts too - I added my Yahoo mail in a matter of seconds, and this refreshes regularly to let you know when mail comes in, even when your phone is on standby.
Something else I find quite entertaining is the language predictor which goes beyond predictive text to predict the next words in your sentence. So I'll type in 'what' and it will suggest 'is' before I've even hit the letter 'i'. After 'what is' it suggests 'the' or 'it'. It's polite, as well. Text someone 'Can you' and it will suggest 'please' as the next word, ahead of 'get', 'send' or 'do'. What's more, it also learns from what you tell it. I trained at a certain Olympian's gym in Liverpool last week, and it now seems to think 'The Tweddle' is an appropriate word combination because that's exactly what I tweeted last week. The language engineer in me thinks this is amazing, and I quite want the job of putting together the most common collocations, though I imagine even that has been outsourced to corpus scanning machines.
The Lumia 820 is a thoughtfully and intuitively designed phone and in keeping with the Windows aspect, seems to have been designed with the computer literate in mind. I like the way you can adjust the volume on the side of the phone, or switch to the camera with the other button on the side, without having to navigate through menus. The search button on the front means you can whizz straight onto the internet without bothering with the IE icon and the back button, also on the front, is exactly what has been missing from all the internet-ready phones I've used before. The phone has everything you need from a smartphone, and more. It's like having a mini computer on hand at all times, and the fact that it interfaces with my home and work Windows machines is a brilliant bonus.
There's so much going on I've not even bothered to seek out the ringtones yet, and pass a careless hour or so playing them all, repeatedly, to find the best one. I could ramble on for days without covering everything. For example, I've not mentioned the music player, or the ingenious Mix Radio that lets you instantly play or download, free of charge, pre-selected tracks with themes from Christmas to 70s Disco, 80s Dance and 90s RnB plus the UK and US Singles Charts. There's Nokia City Lens with tips on where to eat, stay, shop, wherever you are. It knows I'm in Manchester now, but I'm excited to try it out when on the Continent in a few weeks and in need of more local recommendations. There's a built in map app, and there's Sat Nav too.
This is by far the most exciting phone I've ever played with. It has everything you could possibly need but keeps the items accessible so you don't have to go ferretting, and it's so lovely and fast you never feel they've scrimped on the memory. I find the battery life quite good and it's only fully died on me once, which was a day of particularly heavy usage. I would previously turn my internet on and off throughout a day, and rarely had my GPS on, but even leaving both on permanently on my Lumia it lasts a full day with sporadic internet use instigated me, and constant FB and Twitter updates instigated by itself.
Best features in a nutshell:
- Attractive and intuitively designed
- Inbuilt Microsoft Office
- Great camera
- Innovative music features
- A bit bulky (though still smaller than the Lumia 920)
- Some of the apps a little unstable
- Not much grip as the entire phone is smooth and ridge free - I keep worrying I'll drop it, especially when I'm using it at the gym
- That darned back cover!
This phone comes in lots of colours, and I expect other manufacturers may bring out custom covers soon which I'll happily trade my plain white in for, assuming, that is, I can ever get the back off again...
I received my Lumia 820 for free as part of a Ciao User Test. So thanks to the lovely folks at Nokia (and Ciao) for making Christmas come a bit early this year. I'm thrilled and know I've barely scratched the surface of what's on offer (while of course not having physically scratch the surface - I'm far too careful with it for that!)
Summary: A big phone with a bright screen
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