Last year I finally tried out an iPhone. It was the first time that I had used a so called ‘smart phone’ and I suppose I was late to try one compared to the rest of the world, but I couldn’t quite see how I needed to use one. Was it important for me to be able to take a picture when travelling about and then immediately share it with my social networks? Or let my online friends know where I was at any particular moment in time? All I seemed to be using a mobile for was calls and messages. I have enjoyed using the iPhone, but I didn’t feel the need to download all that many applications to it, nor did I feel that I had to have it constantly by my side all the time. I didn’t feel the need to use most of its features apart from receiving/making calls or texting my family and friends. At the end of last year, I decided to upgrade to a Nokia Lumia 800 Windows phone and for me, its the best thing I have ever done.
Why? Well, I have always liked the look of the Metro tiled interface, and the Nokia Lumia certainly looks the part. Strangely enough I’ve never been a big Nokia fan, in fact this is the first Nokia phone I’ve ever owned and I love it! Its roughly exactly the same size as the iPhone 4 and it sits comfortably in my hand, feels very sturdy and well made and although I did want the cyan backed version which unfortunately Orange didn’t have available online, I plan to solve that little problem by buying some of the coloured back covers that are available on Amazon for this model. I can then swap and change the back colour to my hearts content and change the colour of the tiles on the home screen to match as I do so!
Getting used to using the phone has been a cinch. Once you have logged into your Windows Live account (don’t worry if you don’t have one, its easy to set one up) you can set up any social networks that you tend to frequent such as Facebook, Twitter etc, and also set up any email accounts you may have such as Gmail or Hotmail for example. Those people that you keep in touch with on any of your social networks or via any email accounts you have, and any updates and posts they make will be available to read and interact with via ‘What’s New’ under the People tile on your phone. The people tile is a so called ‘live’ tile in that it changes all the time on the Home screen showing small avatars of your contacts and friends that constantly flip and change. There is also a Me tile as well which shows your own avatar and which when pressed will allow you to send an update to Facebook, Twitter or Windows Live (or all three if you prefer) by simply entering your message that you wish to share. You can also ‘Check In’ as well as long as you have ‘location’ enabled on the phone, and the resulting message sent will include where you are at that given time using Bing Maps.
I think that one of the most useful tiles if you have location turned on is the Local Scout tile. No matter where you happen to be at any given time, this tile when accessed provides the following useful info , Eat + Drink, See + Do, Shop and Highlights. (The latter consisting in my neighbourhood of, for example the National Media Museum and the Kingsgate Shopping Centre.) I will find this tile very useful when in an area that I haven’t visited before as it will enable me to find the nearest places to eat, visit or yes, even shop! For those users who own a car there is Nokia Drive, which acts as a talking navigation aid similar to a ‘TomTom’ As I don’t own a car, I can’t really report on how good this is or how well it works, as I am not sure if it would work with a walking user such as myself!
You can pin any tile to the front Home screen as you wish and easily remove it again, so for example, you could pin your family group or a certain group of people that you tend to contact the most often so that they are immediately available with just one press. Similarly you can unpin any tile by simply pressing on it and then pressing on the pin. It will then be removed from the Home screen and be placed in the right hand side list of tiles. You can also change the colour of the tiles to suit your style or mood in the settings tile. Moving a tile up to the top, or further down simply requires a held down press, and then a move with your finger to the desired location. It all works really smoothly, enabling you to quickly customise the entire Home screen to suit yourself. You can also easily choose your own wallpaper for the Start screen. Its all so easy to personalise the phone to suit your tastes and how you use it. Being able to choose which tiles are presented to you on the Home screen means that all of your most used features are near to hand and quickly accessed. In fact the entire phone is a joy to use. Its very fast both when scrolling back and forth or swiping left or right. You’ll also find the hard ‘back’ button very useful as well.
In the same way that the iPhone uses iTunes on your PC, the Nokia uses Zune and once an initial connection has been made via the USB cable to your computer, is very easily set up ready for syncing. You can choose to download music, videos or apps to Zune and then sync them to your phone using the USB connection, or alternatively you can use your own home Wi-fi network instead. The phone can also sync via Bluetooth with either other phones or other equipment which is Bluetooth enabled. Of course, you can also access apps directly on the phone via either Marketplace or Nokia’s own App Highlights tile. I have encountered no problems whatsoever using any of these methods to access any of the apps to try out on the phone. Its all worked faultlessly.
Because the Nokia Lumia 800 is a Windows phone, it makes use of SkyDrive for storage of your photos and/or documents which will become especially useful if you tend to take quite a lot of photos on your phone. For those of you who might not be familiar with SkyDrive, think of it as an extra ‘hard drive’ online ( in the cloud) for storing your photos and/or documents. As soon as you create a Windows Live ID you are given access to you own personal SkyDrive and you are allocated a massive 25GB of storage for free! If you already have used SkyDrive for storing your photo albums in the past, they will now be all available to you on your phone. When you take a photo with the phone you are given the choice of where to share your photo’s, either to Facebook, Twitter, via you email accounts, or via SkyDrive, and you can also set the phone up to upload any photo as you take it automatically to your SkyDrive for storage. So SkyDrive can be very useful because it gives you a vast amount of storage in addition to that available on the phone itself. As I have quite a few photo albums already stored over the years, its a really nice touch to be able to see and access all of them directly on the phone.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I wondered why I would ever need to use a ‘smart phone’ at all, now thanks to the Nokia Lumia 800 I am finding myself taking it everywhere I go and I absolutely love using it. I can keep in touch now with everyone and see exactly what they are doing as I travel about and I fully recommend it, especially to those of you who haven’t yet decided to try out using a smart phone and are wondering what all the fuss is about. If your also on Facebook or use Twitter, you’ll love how those social networks are ‘inbuilt’ into the phone. So keep in touch with everyone whilst your on the move with the Nokia Lumia 800! Enjoy!