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Windows Phone 8 And Nokia Software Tour

Nokia Lumia Icon & Lumia 930 Review: Windows Phone, Premium
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It's surprising to me how often other reviewers draw inaccurate, assumptive, and negative conclusions about Microsoft's mobile operating system. To be clear, I'm no iOS or Android hater, and when I first decided to give Windows Phone 8 a try more than a year ago, I was disappointed by the absence of important apps. The OS certainly had its shortcomings.

Fast forward to 2014, though, and I couldn't be happier with Windows Phone. Microsoft addressed its most irritating limitations (the screen orientation lock, the option to close apps manually, and support for Google accounts, for instance) over three major updates, demonstrating real commitment to the platform.

The soon-to-arrive Windows Phone 8.1 update promises even more functionality, such as the ability to install apps on an SD card. Speaking of Windows Phone 8.1, it will be the only operating system available for the upcoming Lumia 930. The Lumia Icon will probably be one of the first phones to get the OS upgrade, but for now it's a Windows Phone 8 device.

The apps themselves have improved substantially, and Microsoft's Windows Phone Store now boasts over 140,000 entries. But more important, glaring omissions like Instagram are finally available. In addition, Microsoft purchased the rights to distribute Nokia's excellent HERE suite of maps and turn-by-turn navigation applications to all Windows Phone users. The offline map download option is glorious if you're going off the grid or into roaming territory.

Windows Phone offers a middle ground between the Draconian restrictions of iOS and Android's Wild West. Unlike Google's operating environment, every model of Windows Phone you log in to delivers a similar experience, with no substantial interface customizations or surprises. Unlike iOS, file management and applications aren't as tightly restricted. That's a nice balance for folks who appreciate tight integration with Microsoft's accounts and services. As an enthusiast using all three operating systems on a day-to-day basis, I prefer the simplicity of Windows Phone 8's interface over either competitor.

For now, the only real exclusive software you'll find on the Icon is Verizon Tones and VZ Navigator, since the device is still limited to one carrier. Tones lets you choose from a catalog of ringtones, and also ringback tones (the sound people hear when they call you). VZ Navigator is turn-by-turn navigation software with some extra social, event, and point-of-interest functionality built-in. Unfortunately, I'm outside of Verizon's service area, and can't test either value-added app.

Otherwise, the Lumia Icon and 930 both have access to Nokia's proprietary software, so if you're coming from another manufacturer's platform, you may be surprised at the volume of extras. I do like that not all of Nokia's apps are pre-installed on the Icon. Rather, you have access to them through the Windows Phone Store. For example, Nokia MixRadio (formerly Nokia Music) has an excellent reputation as a music delivery service, although its importance is diminished with the availability of apps from Songza and Pandora.

Of course, you get Nokia's excellent camera app (more on that later), along with a plethora of associated software, such as Creative Studio (to add effects to pictures), Storyteller (an automatic timeline app for photos), Cinemagraph (a curious app that takes short animations from the camera instead of pictures or video), Video Trimmer, Care (a useful Windows Phone help resource), and Beamer (an app that streams screen shots of your phone's display over the Web).

One of my favorite discoveries is Nokia App Social, which gives you a way to post the Windows Phone apps you recommend. It's a valuable resource for tracking down hidden gems in Microsoft's store.

Finally, Nokia's App Folder adds functionality that should have come with Windows Phone in the first place: the ability to put a customized tile in the home screen that contains shortcuts to related apps.

That's the important stuff. The one glaring omission is a lack of support for Nokia's Glance app, which lets the phone display the time, even when it's turned off. Apparently, this feature is not yet compatible with the Icon, and it remains unclear if this will be remedied in the future.

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  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , April 27, 2014 11:00 PM
    We took Nokia's Lumia Icon for a month-long test to really experience life with the company's flagship Windows Phone 8-based platform. Some of the benchmark results from this Snapdragon 800-powered powerhouse may surprise you.

    Nokia Lumia Icon & Lumia 930 Review: Windows Phone, Premium : Read more
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , April 27, 2014 11:12 PM
    only problem on this phone is (verizon)... if you wanna spend 150us and a 1000 years contract. =) is right that numbers on benchies ? direct 3d working?
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , April 28, 2014 12:24 AM
    Sorry for the possible double post, but this comments section is bugged to hell, so...

    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.
  • 1 Hide
    jasonelmore , April 28, 2014 5:31 AM
    why the hell does Verizon think they must put their logo on the phone? my god i would never buy a phone that had carrier branding on the front or back of the phone. Plus Verizon's logo is Fugly
  • -1 Hide
    vaughn2k , April 28, 2014 12:33 AM
    I have a Lumia 925. I will wait for the Windows Phone 8.1 update, that it seems promising... So the question if I will switch from IOS/Android to WP, then I guess I did, the 925 seems also a great phone, and the 'Store' has already a quite considerable amount of programs (or Apps)....
  • 2 Hide
    cknobman , April 28, 2014 7:21 AM
    My comment sucks. (Happy to edit out unnecessarily hostile sentiments for you. Keep it a little more pleasant or the comment will disappear entirely. :) 

    You did not even mention one of the coolest and most useful features that this phone offers that no other on the market does.

    The icon/930 comes with software that adapts every element on screen to the lighting conditions it is exposed to. Whether picture, text, or video it will analyze every pixel displayed and either lighten/darken/change contrast to make it perfectly view-able in any lighting condition.

    I saw this feature in person against my own GS4 and an iPhone 5s and it absolutely annihilates the other phones. I took a picture with my own GS4, sent it to the other phones (iphone, nokia) and then compared side by side. In shade the picture was visible. In bright light both the GS4 and iPhone 5S the picture was washed out and darker parts not visible. The 930 software detected the light, analyzed the picture, and dynamically adjusted the picture to make it look the exact same in bright light as it did in the shade.

    Hands down the coolest and most useful feature I have seen on a phone in the last couple of years.
  • 0 Hide
    aldaia , April 28, 2014 1:00 AM
    Wait, a "flagship Windows phone" powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Intel push into the smartphone market is certainly doomed.
  • -1 Hide
    shaun_shaun , April 28, 2014 8:03 AM
    still Windows Phone has long way to go. windows apps store still needs lots of improvements with official app support from big developers, optimized apps and regular updates.
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , April 28, 2014 1:36 AM
    We just need Lumia 1020 sucessor = Lumia 1030 with snapdragon 800 to handle the 40MP picture. A 40MP Lumia 1030 with snapdragon 800 CPU + 2GB RAM + 32GB storage + SD card expansion + a 3000mah battery will be the killer phone that no one is able beat it. Photography takes a lot of battery drain, since thats how Lumia 1020 good at, I just hope Nokia/Microsoft put a much bigger battery inside for successor.
  • 1 Hide
    RedJaron , April 28, 2014 11:08 AM
    Quote:
    Wait, a "flagship Windows phone" powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Intel push into the smartphone market is certainly doomed.

    Um, because Intel and MS are supposed to be attached at the hip? So, just because Intel isn't in the newest WP product, it's doomed? Surely that means nVidia is also screwed since their Tegra didn't make it into the 930.


    Quote:
    why the hell does Verizon think they must put their logo on the phone? my god i would never buy a phone that had carrier branding on the front or back of the phone. Plus Verizon's logo is Fugly

    Nearly every carrier puts it's logo on all its phones. Verizon is no different here.


    Quote:
    You did not even mention one of the coolest and most useful features that this phone offers that no other on the market does.

    The icon/930 comes with software that adapts every element on screen to the lighting conditions it is exposed to. Whether picture, text, or video it will analyze every pixel displayed and either lighten/darken/change contrast to make it perfectly view-able in any lighting condition.

    This has been in most Lumia phones, and I'm a fan of it. The auto-brightness setting works very well regardless of the lighting situation you're in. My 925 is perfectly legible in just about any conditions.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanxtreme , April 28, 2014 2:28 AM
    All is well, I still got my Lumia 1520, and it still reigns the king. 920/930 with bigger screen, for the win.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , April 28, 2014 11:26 AM
    Quote:
    Yeah, nice toys. About what the reviewer wanted, by the looks of it. But using these things as tools rather than toys for consuming media and maybe reading mail? No way.

    (I had been using Lumia 920 before I returned to 808 PureView. I still have it for testing purposes)

    Quote:
    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.


    Most of that is the OS itself.


    My original post was wrong; on my 1020, there's 29 of the 32 available to start with, of which 2.82GB is taken up by the system. Assuming a couple of gigs of apps and data, that still seems a bit better than what you get on the Icon. I suppose the lack of O2 bloat on my phone is because I didn't get it directly from them, though had I done so, it would've been the 64GB version... :|
  • 0 Hide
    cknobman , April 28, 2014 1:26 PM
    Quote:
    This has been in most Lumia phones, and I'm a fan of it. The auto-brightness setting works very well regardless of the lighting situation you're in. My 925 is perfectly legible in just about any conditions.


    You are in for a treat then because they have enhanced it and it is even better for the 930.

    They had a 920 and 925 on display there as well and while they did a decent job of auto adjusting it was 10x better on the 930. The representative said they reworked the software's algorithms to do a better job.
  • -1 Hide
    Aoyagi , April 28, 2014 3:02 AM
    Yeah, nice toys. About what the reviewer wanted, by the looks of it. But using these things as tools rather than toys for consuming media and maybe reading mail? No way.

    (I had been using Lumia 920 before I returned to 808 PureView. I still have it for testing purposes)

    Quote:
    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.


    Most of that is the OS itself.
  • 0 Hide
    BranFlake5 , April 28, 2014 2:08 PM
    What's the appeal of a windows phone over an android counter part?
  • 0 Hide
    satish12321 , April 28, 2014 3:59 AM
    Dude, how could you forget LIVE TILES. This single handedly put Lumia ahead of its competitors. Especially the new updates that will make it more informative.
    Android and iOs are like a graveyard of dead icons. If they font adapt, their fingerprint sensor, eye recognition and waterproofing wont be able to protect it.
  • 0 Hide
    Cryio , April 28, 2014 3:08 PM
    Quote:
    What's the appeal of a windows phone over an android counter part?


    In the case of this device: Perfectly smooth performance no matter what you do. You can forge the phone all the time and with how many apps you want, this thing will not slow down, compared to Android. Plus the scrolling is butter smooth. Flawless 100% of the time.

    It's also easier and in my opinion more fun to use.

    Also, like iOS, you can't screw you device installing/running too many apps.
  • 1 Hide
    Au_equus , April 28, 2014 5:21 AM
    Don, the specs listed in the table (first page) do not match the description given in the article.
  • -1 Hide
    shaun_shaun , April 28, 2014 3:38 PM
    too many Windows fanboys talking nonsense about Android. just try a custom ROM like CyanogenMod without bloatware if you think Android is slowing down in mulch-tasking. I'm sure Win Phone 8.1's notification center and other improvements will bring much more improvement in the near future. but as I said before you cant deny the fact that windows phone store still lags far behind compared to the competition. yes there are some good apps but overall its like a deserted island.
  • 0 Hide
    KungMagnus , April 28, 2014 4:02 PM
    Very sad about this review. Was looking for a reason to replace my 4s which I was never very happy with, not yet I guess.
  • -1 Hide
    nebun , April 28, 2014 4:13 PM
    this phone has so much junk on it...this is one reason why i love my iphone 5s, clean and junk free
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