January 25, 2014

Phone Review - Issues with Nokia Lumia phones

It looks glamorous! It looks sleek! The screen is all colorful and bright! And are you wondering if you should buy that Nokia Lumia smiling at you from the demo table of the mobile store? The answer is a big, emphatic 'NO"! Do not even think about it! Why?

Do you remember Steve Jobs' quip about smartphones of yore, as he was launching the first ever iPhone seven years ago? He famously said,  the problem with those smartphones were "that they (were) not so smart and they (were) not so easy to use." That is exactly the problem with Nokia Lumia too. It looks like a smartphone because it has a touchscreen and all that. But it is hardly what you can call a smartphone. Samsung's feature phone Corby (Do you remember that svelte handsome kid who took India by storm five years ago and changed the mobile game for Samsung forever?) was 100 times smarter than Lumia!

Let us look at why I think Nokia Lumia is a an insult to the word "smartphone"! What I will do is, categorize my reasons under two headings, taking from where Steve Jobs left with his one-liner about smartphones - Not so smart! Not so easy to use!

Not so smart!

A Proximity Sensor that has no sense! 
Touchscreen phones come with what they call a proximity sensor so that your cheek, hair or earrings does not end up doing funny things with the screen when you are talking to someone on the phone. Nokia Lumia's proximity sensor does not know when to work and when not to work. Sometimes in the middle of a call, you have your 'cheek' putting the person you are talking to on hold or muting yourself. The one I am using went to the extend of accidentally putting someone else who was not supposed to be part of a conversation on a conference call with someone I was talking to! Can you beat it - a conference call!!

A notification system that works to keep you un-notified! 
Smartphones are all about never missing any of your notifications. Lumia takes the idea of notifications 10 years backward! Yes, there is a lock screen which you can configure to display notifications from up to six applications. If you are someone who does a hell lot of social networking, mailing and messaging using a wide range of apps like I do, you are going to be doomed if you have a Lumia. I kind of workaround this handicap by pinning the applications I need to be notified about to the start screen. But then how often should you keep opening the phone to see if you have got a mail or a message or a location reminder.

Toast Notifications that can toast you!
I know what you are thinking - there is toast notification on Lumia! Ya, right! The toast notification goes for a toss the moment you have more than one notification coming in. It goes all over the place not knowing which notification to display. And it is so senselessly designed that sometimes the notification that appears on the top corner of your screen stays there forever, causing you enough embarrassment, especially if someone else is looking at your phone! Lumia does not give you the option to decide if you want the full text of a notification to be displayed or if you want just the notification! Choice and privacy of the user are not healthy for people at Microsoft.

A screen that keeps rotating! 
The user's ability to control screen orientation is the key to a good smartphone experience. But Nokia does not seem to think so. You can change the screen orientation for many of the applications. However, the problem is when you do not want the screen to change orientation. Lumia  has no option that allows you to decide if you want the screen to rotate or not. (Note: I am told this is only a problem specific to Lumia 520. The higher versions of Lumia do have a screen orientation manager!)

The 'baby' internet! 
Nobody likes Internet Explorer! By putting the stripped down, skinny version of Internet Explorer (IE) on Lumia, Nokia and their partner Microsoft have pushed innovation in mobile technology back by, like I said earlier, 10 years! Like Steve Jobs said, 'they say it is the internet! But it is the Baby Internet!' There is nothing you can do on the browser in Lumia that you can usually do on a browser in a smartphone. Load a website on your browser that is a little heavy for the poor IE to handle, the browser will crash. There are alternative browsers available. But I suspect they are all different versions of the browser that comes preinstalled on Lumia. Websites load in funny ways you cannot even imagine. Downloading files using the browser is a pain. And last but not the least, Windows Phone 8 does not even know what html5 is!

A navigation app that will take you nowhere! 
There is this joke of a navigation app they call Here Drive on Nokia Lumia. Are you the kind of person who depends on Maps and Navigation Systems to reach where you want to go? Then, the first thing you will learn if you buy a Nokia Lumia is, Microsoft wants you to kick that habit and get back to the good old way of finding the place you want to go by asking the first person you meet on the street. Here Drive will never take you anywhere or it will take you where you never want to go. The locations on the map are all messed up or wrong. And searching for a location is nothing short of a shame! It never gets the location right. It gives you all those locations you never want that you finally get confused about where you want to go when you search on Here Drive. Nokia should realize that they live in a world where even Apple could not beat Google in the game called 'Maps'!

Files that don't exist! 
The first and best thing that makes a smartphone smart is the way in which you can manage files on your phone. But for Nokia Lumia files do not exist! Therefore, they do not have a file management system on the phone. Yes, you have a gallery to access your photos. You have a music player to access your music files. You have a video player to access your video files. And you have Microsoft Office to access your documents! But if you want to see all your files in one place and manage them, copy them, rename them, delete them or do what you want to do with them, there is no way you can do that on Lumia. The result? You record something using an application and want to mail it to someone, unless the application is designed to do that, you cannot. You want to delete files because there is no space in your phone memory, you cannot. Nokia does not want you to see all your files in one place and then decide what to delete and what not to!

Apps that die if you use them! 
 Lumia is designed so that you do not use your applications for a long time. Keep using an application for sometime and you will notice that it will stop functioning! And there is no way you can delete the temporary files or clear the cache like you can do on Android and save your app from  throwing you off the hook when you are in the middle of something. If your app stops working, the only way you can save the day is by rebooting the phone. The worst part is, sometimes you cannot even reboot the phone the normal way. You need to kick open your phone, remove the battery and put it back again to reboot.

A phone that keeps fiddling around with the ringtone volume!
Lumia has a mind of its own when it comes to ringtone volume. You can never say when the ringtone volume will increase or decrease! If you buy a Lumia, be sure you will miss important calls because the phone decides when it is in your pocket that noise pollution is a big concern and decreases the volume. And sometimes it will increase the volume and cause you big time goosebumps, with people staring at you for being this new-generation brat who does not know the basics of mobile etiquette to be followed in a public place.

A decapitated ringtone system!
You want to make that sweet song that you are listening to now the ringtone when your girlfriend calls? You are out of luck if you are using Lumia. There is no way you can directly assign a song as a ringtone. If you want to do something like that, you have to connect your Lumia to a computer, find the song you want to use as ringtone, then copy it to the ringtone folder, go to the ringtone settings on your phone and assign it as ringtone. Do you see what a pain life can be this way?

Fonts that you can do nothing about!
You are browsing or reading news or using a messaging application. And the fonts are too small for your eyes. There is no way you can increase the size. Small is beautiful for Microsoft. And Nokia thinks that you do not deserve to use their phone if you do not have a perfect 20:20 vision. And by the way, do not even think about text wrapping on that useless browser! And you need a magnifying glass to see your entire 30 day calendar!

A sync system that never notices password change!
Let us say you recently changed your password for some account and you forgot to update it on your phone. The sync system on Lumia never notices it. It never alerts you to the fact that your password is wrong and you need to change it. It will just sit there tight with the old password and never sync. And you will be left wondering why you are not getting those important mails.

A message system that never lets you 'search'!
You want to quickly search a message from your phone. There is no way you can do it because the fact that people sometime search stuff that is stored on the phone has never occurred to anyone at Microsoft.

A call log that you can never delete!
This is going to be a big turn off for all you girls out there who have too many boyfriends to manage. Beware, if you buy a Nokia Lumia you are going to be screwed sooner or later by one of your suspicious boyfriends. You cannot delete your frequently called people list. Worst, the list of calls and messages you have sent is going to be right there under history of each number you have. There is no way you can delete them. Even if you factory reset the phone, the moment you sign back in using your Nokia or Microsoft Account that long list of impending doom is going to come back to haunt you.

There is no App for that!
Smartness of Lumia is about less or no choice at all when it comes to Applications. Like Android or iPhone users are used to, there is no way you can do anything digital you want to do if you are using a Lumia. There is no way you can use different apps for the same functionality. There are replications of many of the Android and iOS favorites on Windows Phone 8. But they are what you can easily call 'cheap imitations' and do not have the kind of functionality their real counterparts have. The idea of alternate applications does not figure if you are using Lumia. And there is no way Nokia is going to let you choose your default apps on your own. You are stuck with the same app for the rest of your life to do what ever you want to do.

 Not so easy to use! 

Software is considered good when it makes your life simple and easy! It does not look like Microsoft has understood this key aspect of designing software. What you can do in two steps on a normal smartphone, you need to take six steps if you are using Windows Phone 8. The best example is saving a contact. It takes you five to six steps to save a contact on your phone. Ease of use is not a good thing for Lumia and Microsoft. Looks like for their own sense of work-satisfaction, they need to step-tease people through their software!

The settings on Lumia is a mess. You have an unending list of badly organized settings, so thoughtlessly designed that by the time you figure out what to do to get what done, you are going to become old. Or at least you are going to die young trying! There is no way you can quickly change or toggle a setting because Microsoft wants you to admire their innovative setting vocabulary by swiping through the entire list,

1 comment:

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