Experiments with Windows Phone
November 12, 2015
4 minute read
I posted recently about what was holding me back from going “full Microsoft”. Those conditions still apply, but recently I’ve discovered how easy it is to drop them or avoid the issues altogether.
I bought a Lumia 640 at Best Buy for $60 and I’m really liking it. It doesn’t have Windows 10 yet but it will soon, and I’ve been really impressed with Windows Phone 8.1. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do, seeing as I bought it as a backup phone during the hours-long downtime my 1+1 experiences while I play with ROMs to fix the problems with it.
For starters, everything feels so fluid. Android recently went crazy with animations, but I honestly like Windows Phone a lot better in that regard. And it’s not just the animations, everything feels natural. Windows Phone follows the “it just works” philosophy, but it does it in a way that doesn’t grate like sand on a flat surface you just set your phone screen-down on. *cough* iOS.
I start the camera app and it quickly and automatically focuses. The pictures come out pretty good too despite the 8MP sensor:
Though I think I’m just used to my 1+1’s very slow camera experience that tends to be blurry far too easily. I do notice a very subtle difference in quality between the above photos and the ones my 1+1 takes on a good day, but it’s workable.
To be fair though, the above pic from my 1+1 is a really good shot compared to work pics from my 640.
The phone also figured out MMS APN settings correctly for my carrier (cricket, att) without me having to do anything. Can’t say the same for my 1+1, where even with the correct APN settings MMS refuses to work unless I specify the correct APN settings again in a third-party texting app, Textra. That’s a real pain.
And I’ve gotten over the Groove issue for now until Microsoft figures out how to do music streaming right, I’m using Spotify. Finally decided to switch over from Google Play Music for good, Spotify works on more platforms and Spotify Connect is really cool (although that doesn’t work on Windows Phone).
Sure, poor Pebble support (Pebble CEO’s fault, not Microsoft) is disappointing, because I use my Pebble a lot for controlling music and podcast playback/volume. But it’s manageable.
I used my 640 as my daily driver for a day and I lived, the battery life was good and I got through the day without getting pissed off at my phone. It’s a smaller, lighter phone than my 1+1, so that is a welcome break. At the end of the day after some average usage I was at 30% battery, which isn’t bad. It does take a while to charge on my powerful 1+1 charger though, so I don’t think it has anything that boosts charge times, or it could just be it doesn’t like my charger. I like how Microsoft seems geared to saving you as much data as possible, with Wifi Sense’s awesomeness and how Bing Maps has open access points pinned all over.
Pinning contacts to my tiled homescreen is cool too, so I have quick access to them. You can pin just about any page to the homescreen if the app supports it, which is awesome.
Spotify isn’t a good experience on Windows Phone, but it’s better than nothing. They really need to give their app more attention, but that may happen with Windows 10 Mobile is released.
Everything seems to sync better too, I reset the phone and signed in again and all my wifi passwords were synced (unlike Android for some unexplainable reason, I’ve never been able to sync them).
I also love the dark UI on Windows Phone, it’s a very nice change from garish white backgrounds in Android. There’s still apps though that don’t adhere to that standard however.
Definitely like what I see in Windows Phone 8.1 and hope Windows 10 Mobile makes it even more awesome.