Windows Phone 8 Revisited – January 2014

Lumia 920 820

Since it’s official release in August 2012, yes 2012, Windows Phone 8 really has come far, when we received our Lumia 920 on September 2012 we could hardly say no to a 2 year Contract, even if it was with then exclusive UK Carrier EE … don’t get us started on them, the Lumia 920, like the 820 at the time, is now available on multiple/any Carrier. Overall, we were rather impressed with the Lumia 920. After previously reviewing the HTC Windows Phone 8X, we were very excited to check out Nokia’s offerings, and that’s exactly what we did, and then soon after out popped our Nokia Lumia 920 review.

But, this is 2014, how does Windows Phone 8 fair today?

The Devices over time?

Lumia 920

Turning on a Lumia 920 in 2014 is just as refreshing of an experience as it was at launch, you’ve still got access to all the vast content now in the Windows Phone Store, which has seen very healthy growth in the 1 and a half years of the 920/820s debut. But, unlike an Android device, the version of software we’re running is still current, and Lumia Black is rolling out very soon for all Windows Phone 8 devices, which really is the difference between Windows Phone and Android in that space. The screen still looks as crystal clear, and the Camera is still an incredible one, despite not interesting and cropped, the image at the top of this article was taken on a Lumia 920.

As the time has passed by and more Windows Phones have come out, give it a month or two we’re feeling the advantages, after the Lumia 925 launch we later gained Smart Cam etc it was promoted with, which is now Nokia Camera (previous Nokia Pro Cam) which we’ve now got after its debut on the 41megapixel Lumia 1020, and all the exclusive Software enhancements from the 1320 and 1520 launch, yes you guessed it, will be coming in an update too!

When people say you don’t need Software Updates I ask them “what Android phone have you got?” … but seriously you’re mad if you don’t think you need updates, we’re in the days of the Smartphone and being up to date! If the paragraph before didn’t show you, keeping up to date with software updates and enhancements keeps your device fresh, without them your left with something that simply never changes and will obviously get boring over time. Of course you can install new apps and do things that way, but you could use every app in any App Store, the OS is what they run on, and its that you use as your phone, updates in that regard quickly become much more than simple bug fixes or security assurance, they become the best way to keep your device current and feeling new, which is just what the Lumia 920, and many other Windows Phones are experiencing with every update.

UPDATE A FEW HOURS LATER: Speaking of updates, Lumia Black is here for our 920!

GDR + Nokia Enhancements

In the Cons section of our HTC Windows Phone 8X review, we simply had to mention the Nokia advantage on Windows Phone, something we’d even more than found when using our Nokia Lumia 800 back in the day on Windows Phone 7, and that stands today. Don’t get us wrong, both Samsung and HTC have delivered their own mix of enhancements and things to the plate, but it simply just doesn’t compare, which makes it pretty easy to see why Nokia has its massive Windows Phone dominance.

General Distribution Release

Microsoft

Microsoft maybe expected to unravel the next major version of Windows Phone 8, expectly 8.1, at Build in April 2014, but since then, as well as general bug and security fixes, Microsoft have been releasing updates titled GDR updates. Sort of similar to the old Service Pack days of Windows on the Desktop, GDR, or General Distribution Release, updates are a collection of user feature and hardware support advantages to keep Windows Phone 8 moving forward. Unlike Service Packs, which was a collection of previous updates plus further minor fixes, GDR updates have brought full features and user enhancements to the table. The most recent GDR update, GDR3 brought support for Quad-Core hardware and the new 3-stage Start Screen found on 1080p devices such as the new Lumia 1520. One thing that made GDR updates confusing was in the GDR3 stage where Microsoft actually released two versions, Update 1 and Update 2, Update 2 was released to coincide with Nokia’s latest build of their enhancements titled Black, more on that now!

Nokia Colour Updates

NOKIABeing so close to Microsoft as they are, even more so since the partnership with Nokia’s Mobile Division, Nokia has had exclusive advantages well beyond what apps they’ve brought the platform, apps at which are Nokia Lumia only for 90 days of publication and only then available to devices from the likes of HTC, Samsung or Huawei. But the colour named updates are what set Nokia apart from the rest. Since Microsoft released GDR2, OEMs have been able to step a little, a lot in Nokia’s case, extra in to deeper levels of the Windows Phone operating system. It isn’t just Nokia who’s took advantage of this, HTC added some enhancements including fixing (only on 8X, 8S, 8XT) one annoyance on Windows Phone by allowing HTC devices to charge when switched off, which to this day no other OEM has included.

Since GDR2, Nokia unveiled Lumia Amber, as well as a bunch of in-Settings applications to vastly improve the way Windows Phone works in general, on top of applications Nokia have brought to the Windows Phone Store. Apps including Extras+Info, Glance, Touch, Access Point, Network+, Feedback to Nokia, Display, Call+SMS Filter, Audio, Accessories, are just a few of the exclusive Nokia extras that have brought so many more user features on Lumia devices, you’d almost be mad to buy anything other than Nokia for Windows Phone 8.

With the release of the Lumia 1320 and 1520, Nokia releases Lumia Black with GDR3 Update 2. The update combined provides even more to the list of things people have been wanting feature wise including the following;

  • Screen Rotation Lock
  • Close apps in Multitasking View
  • Further Accessibility Features
  • Custom Notification Sounds (SMS, etc)
  • Vastly improved storage management, manually delete temporary or unneeded files
  • Glance Updates with Notification Access
  • Further enhancements to Nokia Camera, available only to 920, 925, 928, 1020, 1320, 1520
  • Nokia Beamer (Only on 1GB RAM Devices – Screen mirroring over WiFi or Internet TVs)

Windows Phone 8 in 2014

WindowsPhone8.svg

Windows Phone has come along way since the days of Windows Phone 7, and despite no major OS update since August 2012, for one thing one is coming April 2014, but it’s not like it’s stood still, from GDR2/GDR3r1/GDR3r2 releases to Nokia Amber and Lumia Black, plus important apps for the Windows Phone platform are now here such as Pandora, Instagram, Vine, as well as now receiving high profile Games simultaneously with other platforms such as iOS and Android, things really are coming on with Windows Phone.

And, let’s be honest it’s been a pretty good 2013 for Windows Phone, I mean let’s just look back on the highlights;

925Nokia release the incredible looking Lumia 925, the same Lumia 920 PureView technology in a thin and light package made from aluminium and glass. Of course this started the whole, you need an extra cover to use Wireless Charging debacle, but still an incredible phone and that remains today.

520The Lumia 520 ended up being more important of a device than many could have imagined, a lower cost version of the moderately successful Lumia 620, the 520 kept most of the features in a lower cost package and helped leapfrogged Windows Phone in emerging markets and beyond, and is now used by over 25% of Windows Phone 8 users. Plus, now with the Lumia 525 hitting Stores with double the RAM and higher quality glossy plastic, there’s more to be said from the lower cost Windows Phone.

1020If the Lumia 520 entered the headlines for its value, the 1020 definitely made the headlines for its hardware, Windows Phone finally saw a 808 PureView they were waiting for, a 41megapixel behemoth that is the Lumia 1020. Following on from the Lumia 920, the 1020 kept its design, lost a few pounds and included easily the best Camera in a Smartphone today, bar none!

1520The new star of the show, the latest flagship from Nokia, the Lumia 1520. This 6 inch device has a lot of firsts for Windows Phone, and they are certainly good firsts, 1080p display, new 3-way Start screen, Quad-Core 2.29GHz SnapDragon 800 to boot, the most powerful Windows Phone with 16/32GB internal Storage with a Card Slot to expand that even further, what more do you want? A Camera, well how about a 20megapixel Xeiss Optics Camera, this is Windows Phone with the hardware it deserves. Here’s hoping a slimmer device with a smaller screen for us normal folk though.

What’s to come…

Microsoft have already confirmed that Windows Phone 8 devices will be able to update the new Windows Phone version expected to launch at Build 2014 in April, which is also expected to see the next update to the desktop Windows platform see an update too, there’s a lot to come, but it’s all good!

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