Living with the Nokia Lumia 920 – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Living with the Nokia Lumia 920 - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

A few weeks OK I bought a shiny new Red Nokia Lumia 920.  Generally, I love it, although I am STILL waiting for my wireless charging base to show up.  It’s not perfect, in some ways far from it, but the overall approach the OS takes to delivering apps and services is a good one for the way that I want to work – most of the time.  But the journey has been a little bumpy with things needing some serious attention from Microsoft, Nokia, or both.

I have most recently been an iPhone user, and a Lumia 900 (Windows 7.5) user.  I mention both, because I tended to flip back and forth between the two because I like both for different reasons.  When the 920 came out, I switched to it full-time.  It became my daily driver.

The Lumia 920 runs the Windows Phone 8 OS.  Windows Phone 8 is a ground-up re-write of the Windows Phone OS essentially using a Windows NT core (like Windows 8 and Windows RT) rather than Windows CE which is what was the heart of Windows Phone 7.5 and before.  Doing this means that all apps had to be recompiled to work on it, some with greater success than others.  Core services had to be reworked and/or re-written as well.  End result?  A big of a mixed bag, I’m afraid.


The Good
MS Added additional keyboard languages since Windows Phone 7.5.  For me, this is great since I sometimes need to write in foreign languages.  The updated interface gives a lot more flexibility than it’s predecessor and more apps seem to be taking advantage of it.

The Windows Phone 8 flavor of Nokia Drive offers the ability to keep running in the background.  This is very cool and something the platform needed.  Unfortunately, the app isn’t without issues.  I’ll talk about those shortly.


The Bad
Many of the apps I like and use on my iPhone are still missing under Windows Phone 8.  Additionally, some Windows Phone 7.5 apps didn’t make it to the Windows Phone 8 platform (especially some games titles).  Many specialty apps, like banking apps and retail apps, are still not ported to the platform (but some are).  None of this is necessarily a show stopper because you can always go to the websites of these banks and retailers.

Continuing in the “bad” category – for me – is the lack of anyway to send things to a printer.  There are no print services available in the OS, unlike Apple iOS or Android.  Why would they forget an important feature like that?  Odd.

Continuing along, apps sometimes burp and pause.  Words with Friends had a number of issues, including the chat only working one-way, but an update in the past few days seems to have dramatically improved the performance and functionality of the app.  This problem is improving as manufactures fix their quickly ported apps and stabilize them.

As I mentioned earlier, the new version of Nokia Drive offers the ability to keep running in the background.  Unfortunately, it has the habit of having the map display freeze up regularly – especially if you need to switch apps and switch back.  It’s still technically a beta though, so I don’t expect perfection – yet.

A bit more annoying, is the task handling during a phone call.  Lets say you get a call and are talking, but then you need to check you email for a piece of info you need to give to the caller.  Normally, you could press the Home key, then the email app (tile) all while you continue talking.  Currently, however, the phone app will sometimes (about 50% of the time in my experience) try to regain control of the screen meaning you have difficulty doing anything other than staying in the phone app!  The silly thing keeps trying to switch back!

I have also noticed that, while plugged in, the touch display starts responding oddly.  It’s like there is some kind of interference going on.  It becomes very hit or miss. Unplug it and the problem goes away.  Hmmm.


The Ugly
A major OS rewrite does not happen without a few bumps.  This one is no exception.  Random stops, freezes, and reboots are widely reported on the net for this device.  Some people seem to see them frequently, some rarely, some never.  It seems MS is aware of the issue and indicates we should expect improvements soon, possibly as early as this month.  That would be great news.

Now here’s the deal:  I need this to function as my daily driver.  I can live with occasional random reboots, but then the 920 did something really bad –  it did a random shut down the other night while I was sleeping.  What does that mean?  It meant no alarm in the morning.  That, for me, is a show stopper.  If I can’t rely on the device enough to manage my alarms and alerts, especially since the shutdown occurred overnight, rather than when the device was under significant use, then it can’t be my daily driver until those issues are fixed.  Period.

So there I was, or so I thought, at the point where I was gong to have to abandon my Lumia 920 until this problem was fixed.  But I’m nothing if not persistent.  I kept hunting the Internet for feedback from other people who experienced similar issues.  Finally, I ran across a posting that seemed promising.  It indicated that an application, Skype, seemed to be at the root of a lot of the stability problems people were seeing and that removing it seemed clear up the problems for many people.

Really?  An app taking down the whole system?  Didn’t MS learn anything about sandboxing apps like Apple does?  Apparently not, because removing the app did as advertised – it stabilized my phone – a lot!  I still see the phone app trying to control the screen, but I haven’t experienced a device lockup, freeze. or reboot since removing Skype from my phone (going on 3 days now).  Wow.

The moral of the story?  When experiencing issues doing a lot of research on the net can actually help!  Hearing from other people who have the same problems as you can often yield useful results!  And with my “showstopper” problem resolved, I can now afford to be patient and continue to use my shiny red Lumia 920 while watching the platform improve and mature, and the apps I want slowly make their way to the platform.  The world is once again good.

Now if only my shiny red charging base would finally arrive….


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About the Author

Christopher Gavula
Chris has been a COBOL programmer, a desktop support technician, network engineer, telecommunications manager, and even a professional musician. Currently, he is focused on deploying Voice over IP technologies in a large, corporate setting. He started working full-time at the tender age of 14, even before there were PCs, and will probably be working and trying to finish “just one more project” as he’s lowered into the grave.

3 Comments on "Living with the Nokia Lumia 920 – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly"

  1. Wayne Schulz | December 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

    Let me know if your charging base is red – the one they sent me is black though it has a picture on the front of the red base….

    On the plus side – the charging base works pretty well despite having what must be the worlds largest AC plug…

    My 920 has been stable though I took Skype off pretty quickly when I read others were having problems. I do feel like I can get to apps and perform tasks much quicker on Windows Phone 8 .

    • I’m finding that, despite some limitations and flaws, some of which you pointed out in the past, I am really very productive on this phone. As I mentioned, it works well for the way that I want to work. Some apps clearly were ported/recompiled with no improvements or optimizations, but I expect that situation to improve over time.

      Other than the phone app not always letting me get to other apps while in a call (especially email, for some reason), the phone has been stable since I removed Skype.

      And I’ll let you know what color base they finally send when it finally arrives!

  2. That really is a very clever tool, unfortunately it can’t make up for the fact that many of the apps that I (and other people) need are simply not on Windows Phone yet, and there are not good equivalents for them either. As a result, the suggestions it makes are often not very good. Yet.

    For example, I want an app for accessing my bank account, and it’s response was to show me apps for a lot of other banks. That doesn’t really solve the problem for me. I wanted a particular multi-language (44 language) phrasebook, and it suggested a multi language dictionary (close, but not nearly as extensive only about 5 languages and not a phrasebook) and a bunch of online translation apps. Again – not what I was looking for.

    Eventually, however, I do think the apps will be there and when that happens a tool like that will do a much better job helping people convert, so I definitely plan to keep a link for it even if it isn’t terribly helpful to me right now! Thanks for pointing it out!

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