After twenty-four hours with Nokia’s beautiful Lumia 800 smartphone, I’m starting to realise Android isn’t a great phone operating system. That isn’t the lesson I expected to learn.
The Lumia 800 is, for now, the flagship smartphone running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software. It is a make-or-break product for both companies. If Lumia sales take off, Nokia and Microsoft survive to the next round of the mobile phone boom. If the phone flops, both companies face irrelevance.
From the two companies’ point of view the phone is the best smartphone I’ve used to date. For me, it trumps everything that has gone before. On this showing it should sell and restore two reputations.
Should isn’t the same word as will. Whether the Lumia succeeds depends on more than just being a terrific phone. There are things like marketing, sales channels, pricing and the competitive response to take into account – and that’s just for a start.
A brilliant phone OS
You don’t need to spend much time with Windows Phone 7 to realise Microsoft’s smartphone operating system offers a smoother user experience than Android. Windows Phone 7 is clean and tidy. It looks good. I don’t agree with using the word intuitive to describe software, it never is, but WP7 obeys a logic where Android is something of a mess.
That’s not all. Allowing phone makers to overlay Android seems like a good idea, but it doesn’t always work well. There are umpteen versions of Android in circulation at any moment; compatibility between versions is a mixed bag.
Moment of revelation
Until I spent time with Nokia’s beautiful Lumia 800 phone I was a happy Android user. Now, I’m not so sure. My phone now feels clumsy and disorganised. I never felt this when comparing Android with an iPhone, but after two years using Android, a year of using an iPad and 24 hours with the Lumia 800 I’m feeling disillusioned with Android.
Forget all the talk elsewhere about Microsoft’s app store being limited compared with Google Play or iTunes. Unless you need a specific missing app, this is not important. Sure there are a million plus apps in the other stores, but the sad truth is 99% of apps are rubbish, useless or simply not needed.
And anyway, the fragmented nature of Android and the appalling update distribution process– or more accurately updates are not distributed – means Android owners can’t use everything in the Google Play store.
Good, not perfect
I plan to write another piece specifically about the Lumia 800 later, but my first impressions of WP7 is good. The Internet Explorer browser is OK, but not as good as browsers on Android or Apple phones. The browser is also noticeably slower. That’s the only negative I’ve found so far.