Monday, July 6, 2015

The Lumia 640XL

Over the long weekend I got a Nokia Lumia 640XL phone. I decided to graduate to the new ridiculously large screen size phone after sticking with the more manageable screen sizes of the iPhone 5 and its predecessors. I would have stayed within the iOS/Android eco-systems, but I wanted to give a Windows phone a try, and see why the platform has not been successful in the past.

The phone is nice and relatively inexpensive ($240 without a contract), with a ridiculous screen size, great graphics and battery life. The screen size is a blessing when reading emails, Kindle books, and surfing the Internet, and I believe my usage has increased accordingly. The screen is sharp, and the sound quality of calls is great. With heavy email and web browsing the battery lasted 2 days. The phone comes with crippled memory though (8GB which used be good, but after years of using iOS phones, it is not enough). Luckily the phone is expandable through Micro SD cards, and a 128 GB MicroSD would set you back around$70 from Amazon.

Windows phones have some usability idiosyncrasies compared with their iOS counterparts, and I am not sure if these are because of patents, or design choices. One is killing applications in the app center, where instead of swiping up as in iOS, you swipe down, and the other is the excessive reliance on the back button instead of swiping left to go back except in Internet Explorer. I also found that loading up web sites in IE takes a longer time unlike Safari or Chrome.

And despite the minimal set of apps that I use, I was surprised to see that a few of them were not available for Windows. For the platform to become successful, the Windows store has to attract a whole lot of developers than it has done so far, and perhaps that's the plan in Windows 10. For now since I rely a lot on my phone for work, I'll stick with the official 8.2 builds instead of trying a preview one until I hear what other people's experiences are.