Saturday, August 17, 2013

NOKIA Tries To Save Face. MicroSoft Could Not Care Less.

I have been a loyal Nokia customer ever since my first cell phone, the legendary 6110 (and what a great phone that was!). Over the years I have upgraded or simply replaced a number of Nokias and my loyalty may have been tested at times but it was never scorned. Until recently.
My latest 6500s was at its last of its nine lives (after its second battery replacement and numerous drops) so I decided to bite the bullet and go shopping for a smartphone. I have always refused to submit to Apple's fascism whereas I judged Android's deep waters too dragon-rich for me, so a WindowsPhone seemed to be my best option. Or so I thought.

If I were to review the LUMIA 800 device itself, it would give it an almost perfect score (and my past experience with Nokia products would had made me round it up to full marks). Other than the flimsy USB door (that, in my case, I predict will not survive long enough to see the first snow) and the (cheap) plastic feel of the silver side buttons, the phone is perfect. Reception is good and sound quality (both sending and receiving) is excellent. Unfortunately, no matter how good the hardware may be,a smartphone is as good as its operating system. And the list of my grievances regarding the software is long...

I know all about Apps, free and paid, and how they are supposed to enrich and personalize the experience smartphones get to offer. And after spending several afternoons raking the Windows Phone Marketplace I can tell you this: once a basic function gets yanked out, there is no getting it back intact! No reminders, no appointment book, no presenter - no Golf!

It took me three days to find a CountDown Timer that is able to work after the screen saver lock kicks in. No such luck with the Alarm though. The Alarm will not work unless the phone is turned on. I have tried every suggested Alarm clock app and this problem remains. Apparently this is a well known problem. For over 2 years now!
Think about it for a moment. Either at home or on a trip, you want to set the alarm before going to bed, turn the phone off (not only to preserve the precious battery juice but also to get some hours of privacy as well) and expect your phone to wake you up the next morning. But this is not allowed on a Windows phone! I have updated mine to WP7.8 but this function (as well as all that follow) is missing from the latest WP8 as well.
Just because the iPhone does it this way, Microsoft, it does not mean it is the right way. Wake up! (apparently your alarm clocks did not go off either...)

When I bought my new LUMIA 800 I went to my cell phone service provider and requested a twin (micro)SIM card. Since I kept my old 6500s, I tried charging my LUMIA while it was switched off (the provider does not allow both SIM cards to be active at the same time). Surprisingly, the Windows Phone either switched back on or (if turned off while connected to the charger) it simply refused to charge!
Again, to appreciate the problem, keep in mind that a smartphone will need to be charged every single day for 2-3 hours.

With my old phones if I wanted to use any sound or song as a ringtone, wakeup music, SMS sound or eMail alert, I could just choose one from the phone folders. Any mp3 or wma file would do. And I could transfer them there using a simple USB connection and Nokia's Suite. Well, if MicroSoft has its way, those days are over.
First off, you have to use a PC to install their own suite, Zune. You have to use this interface to transfer and synchronize files between your PC and your Windows Phone. So far, no foul, Zune works fine. And then you decide that the generic chimes provided by Microsoft are crap and want to customize how your phone sounds. No go.
Nokia tried to fix this by releasing a free RingTone Maker (only available for Nokia Windows Phones) but that too comes with ridiculous limitations: only sound files less than 2MB can be used and even then, only a 30 sec soundbyte can be made into a ringtone! Why do we even have 16GB phones if such 1990's limitations are to be in place?

Smartphones have much larger screens than our old phones. Why can we not choose the size of the font and strain to discern the phone numbers of our contacts? (There is a Big Phonebook App but it has to import all your contacts and it does not auto-update every time it is used).
Smartphones have far greater processing power. Why can we no longer switch our contacts between a list and card format? In the much larger screen I can see less information about each of my contacts than I did with my 6500s.
Smartphones can now project 16,000,000 colours. Why can we not choose to change the colour of each individual tile?
Swiping from the right edge will take you to the Apps list. Why is swapping in the opposite direction not allowed? It is not reserved for anything, so why yet another counter-intuitive limitation?
Finally, where are our easy to use and trusted Profiles!? The movie is about to start, am I to go through the damn menu to silence my phone?

The lack of Applications for the N9 made me choose the LUMIA 800. As the days go by, I start to realize that I did not chose the lesser of two evils. And I have now seen the face of Evil. And its number was 7.8.

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