Nokia Lumia 920 Day One

Earlier this week, Nokia Connects invited people to Trial a Nokia. I’ve not used Windows Phone 8 or the new Lumia devices, so I eagerly volunteered. Here’s what I pitched:

My idea is simply to live with Windows Phone as my primary handset, and to honestly and openly blog about it – like I did for the TouchPad and the Nokia N95 (part onepart two).

I’ll install apps. I’ll run my life from the phone. I’ll take the opportunity to try out the Windows Phone SDKs to get my simple proof-of-concept Tube Status app up and running. I’ll throw an Apache Cordova app together.

But first and foremost, I’ll see if this is finally the phone to bring me back to Nokia. It’s been six years since my N95. I’d like to see what’s changed since then.

The phone arrived yesterday – an incredibly fast turnaround by the Nokia folks. Here’s my first impressions, as they happened, stream-of-consciousness style.

Box is … meh. Same as every other mobile phone box. Nothing to judge, nothing to see here, move along. Opening it up…


Nokia Lumia 920


Actually, I love the metallic yellow plastic finish. It reminds me of a die-cast toy car.

OMG HEAVY. Actually not that heavy, similar to iPhone 4S, but the length of the phone makes it feel disproportionately top-heavy. I’ve also been using a Galaxy SIII recently, 

Plugged in to charge. Turned on! Weird. Powered off by holding down power off button. I like the visual style of the “goodbye”.

Oh, it’s on again.

I tested my other phones. The Samsung stays off when turned off whilst plugged in, but keeps a battery indicator on screen. The iPhone will stays off when turned off whilst plugged in.

I admit to reading about the phone that won’t stay off. Moving on.

Ok, time to do setup. Open up with the handy SIM removal tool. Take a deep breath. Turn off the iPhone. Remove the SIM. Stick it in the Lumia. Power on. Picked up network – good, this Lumia is not network-locked.

I’m not getting the full “first run” experience. That’s a shame – Nokia, you might want to ship these factory-reset.

While searching for “Lumia Factory Reset” I get a text from o2:

“O2: If you’d like to use Wap or Mms on this phone we’ll need to help, so please call us free on 08448090202.”

Urgh. Why, o2? Why not push the configs automatically, provide a URL with handy info, or “text HELP and we’ll call you“?


So, how to reset a Lumia:

  • On the start screen, swipe in from the right-hand edge. Scroll down to Settings and select.
  • In Settings, scroll to about Windows Phone and select.
  • Scroll down and tap reset your phone, then confirm by tapping yes.

It took a minute or so to reset. I noticed curiously the phone settings aren’t alphabetical. Since they are a text list, it feels like they should be.

Windows Phone Let's get started

Ok, that’s better. “Let’s get started” – well, alright then! (Minus one point to the Microsoft designers for repetition of Windows Phone on that screen.)

Terms of use. Does anyone actually click on them? Did anyone notice it starts with “Thank you for choosing Windows Phone!“? Aww, the lawyers love me!

I’m on the Setup screen.

Nokia Lumia 920 set up

There’s lots of information on the “recommended” configuration, but not so much info on “custom”. What does custom mean? It would be nice to have some examples.

Given the dearth of information on the alternative, I select “recommended”.

Next is the Windows Live (or whatever it’s called this week) account page.

There’s a bit of a bug that on the signup page there’s no way to hide the keyboard (unless I missed it). Much scrolling of the remains of the screen to see checkboxes (which, when clicked, hide the keyboard). I had this same problem with Windows 8 on a tablet. Major design flaw. Astounding this hasn’t been picked up in user experience testing.

It’s funny to start with signing in to Windows Live and not setting up WiFi. I feel this will bite me later.

Ok, it’s later. Signing in didn’t work, it seems my mobile data connection isn’t working, so I had to skip adding my account and will then add it afterwards.

I want to fix my mobile data settings. Some googling shows up settings: It’s as easy as texting o2!

Nokia Lumia 920 o2 settings

Nope: that’s iPhone only. Strike two for o2.

I find some o2 apn settings online, but decide to contact o2 instead, on the number they texted me. Remember, they said “If you’d like to use Wap or Mms on this phone we’ll need to help” so they should be able to assist. I dial the number. Wait, it’s a generic number. I’m in a menu (“press one for accounts, …”). That’s appalling service. o2 know why I am calling, why don’t they have a custom number that jumps straight to someone handing out APN details?

I’m recording the call (for quality and training purposes), so it’s on speakerphone. I notice the speakerphone is quieter than the S3.

o2 manage to help me by switching my APN from one o2 setting to another.

While I’m in settings, I set up wifi.

So time to add accounts. I add hotmail, google, Facebook, twitter … but then I notice I get an error:

Nokia Lumia 920 problem with twitter

It’s a rather disingenuous error! If you were to read it without thinking, you might assume there is a problem with twitter. There’s not – what it actually means is Windows Phone has a problem connecting to twitter. It’s pretty ugly behaviour to blame a third party service rather than being honest.

The design language of the phone feels familiar … very xbox.

I’m not sure I like the phone network status disappearing from the top-left. I’m too used to having permanent status indicators – the menu bar on my Mac has more than a dozen indicators.

I decide to make sure I’m on the latest and greatest version of Windows Phone. I go into Settings, and click on updates.

Nokia Lumia 920 updates

Checking for updates … takes … forever … and I lost patience. Time to try something else.

Time to add some apps.

The problem with a search button is it gets confusing when an app has search – like the Windows store.

Nokia Lumia 920 search search

There’s a big search button on-screen, but then another hardware search bottom-right. The on-screen search is for the store, the hardware search is for Bing. Since it’s always there, I want to use the hardware search in a context-sensitive fashion.

I install apps based on which ones I use on my iPhone.

Foursquare, British Airways, authenticator, Flickr, Flixster, Tesco, Ocado,, Netflix, RedLaser, The Guardian, Tube Map, Weather: boom. Found it, installed it.

Cyclemeter: suggests endomondo or runkeeper. I grab both.

As I’m searching for apps, I’m abruptly interrupted by software update. Very abruptly: I’m taken out of the app store and confronted with an update button. I didn’t even know updates had been found.

Nokia Lumia Updates installed

During the update (which worked, and was painless), I’m shown two reminders of the Windows legacy:

Nokia Lumia update completed!Nokia Lumia restart required

This is rubbish.

Update completed! Update completed! Update completed! Update completed!

Someone at Microsoft should be hanging their head in shame.

Back to the app install.

I’m pleasantly surprised: my bank has an app. It works just as nicely as the iPhone app – maybe even better, as the extra screen real estate allows more information on-screen at once.

Foursquare works, but I don’t get the icons. I miss the textual cues from Android and iOS.

As I’m installing apps, I notice this:

C:\Data\Programs\" width=

That’s right – the app name isn’t available so the list of apps shows @C:\Data\Programs\….

Muscle memory says the bottom middle of the phone turns it on. I don’t like the switch on the side.

End of day one summary

Key points:

  • I don’t hate the phone. I’m actually finding it usable. I haven’t done much with it yet though, so time will tell. It feels like a confident interpretation of what a phone should be. Between iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone it seems there’s now a real opportunity for innovation and differentiation.
  • Having said that, so far I haven’t seen any real wow! differentiator over iOS or Android.
  • Interestingly, the biggest problems with the Nokia experience so far are the network operator and the operating system provider.
  • I’m happy with the smooth and responsive UI (better than Android, though I haven’t tried a stock Jelly Bean device without OEM/Operator cruft), not quite as smooth as iOS, but really incredible when you think this is Windows.
  • I don’t like the bad practices carried over from Windows. Poorly-designed software updates.
  • I quite like the hardware – great screen, and I love the curved shape.
  • I’m puzzled by the UI:
    • why is my corporate mail account the very bottom tile on the home screen, while there are other tiles that I’ve never used further up? This is a smart phone … shouldn’t it figure out what’s important to me?
    • why hasn’t the phone picked up the photo attached to my account, and used it everywhere to personalise the experience?
    • why doesn’t it automatically pull stuff from my xbox account? scratch that – it got the xbox stuff, presumably after the software update.

I think I need to give this phone more time to grow on me.

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