The Big Switch

Nokia Lumia 920 (left) and iPhone 4 (Photo by D.J. Peters)After more than five years as an iPhone user (since the original), I've decided to give Windows Phone 8 a try. 

First off, the headline is this: Live tiles are a big deal.

(Begin rant)

Having content dynamically delivered to your home screen is a fundamental shift in mobile. It’s as big a deal as when web pages evolved from static to dynamic. Want to know how cold it is outside? No need to launch an app, the temp is on your home screen. In iOS land it’s always 73 degrees outside because that is what the programmers put on their static icon... back in 2007. It’s been 73 degrees outside for five and a half years now, according to Apple.

Android’s already on board with widgets. Apple is utterly lacking in this regard. Notifications on iOS are weak at best.  I realize Apple is a bit busy at the moment counting their piles of cash, but they might want to lift their heads up and see the train coming at them. It’s called dynamically delivered content. Or they can stick with Ye Olde Rolling Grid of Static Icons and eventually get run over.

(End rant)

I decided to go with the Nokia Lumia 920 over the HTC 8X. Both are nicely designed handsets.

But the Nokia phone comes with Nokia maps which I definitely wanted.  It also feels well made much like all the iPhones I've purchased in the past.

The Lumia 920 is a bit on the weighty side as others have noted, but I like it. It feels sturdy and solid. I don't even use a case and I don't worry about it. This is a complete shift from the way I felt about my iPhones. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my iPhone 4. But it always felt so fragile to me and not practical to carry around without a case.

Yesterday, I was in a Starbucks and the guy in front of me paid for his coffee with an app on his Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 920). Seeing as we both had the same newly released handset, I struck up a conversation with him. To demonstrate how tough his phone is, he started whacking it onto the counter, screen-side down. It was a bit startling to see. (And slightly embarrassing as well). But his phone held up to the punishment. He was really smacking the thing down. I was half expecting to see shards of glass everywhere. (No way I’m going to do that to mine, though.)

The biggest problem I expected in making the switch was lack of apps. But  so far, so good. I’ve been able to download everything I need, but not everything I want. (No HBOGo, no official GoogleVoice app, no official Yahoo Fantasy Football app).

However, a quick look at my start screen shows: 1Password, Twitter, Netflix, TWC app, YouTube, CNN, ESPN, Amazon Kindle, etc… You get the idea.

If Windows Phone didn’t have a 1Password app, that would have been a deal breaker for me. It was that important to me.

One surpise so far is how much I miss having iMessage. With so many iPhone users out there, being able to text with them for free right out of the box is not to be underestimated. Now that iMessage is not longer available to me, it's going to be an adjustment.

Another surprise is how well Windows Phone integrates with my Mac. There's a Windows Phone app in the Mac App Store (what a shocker) that makes getting your DRM-free iTunes content into your new phone pretty seemless. Hats off to the dev.

That’s about it for now. I will post more as my thoughts and observations percolate to the surface.