Lumia 620: The Parent Experiment
The third Windows Phone 8 device to be launched by Nokia, the Lumia 620, is quite possibly the most interesting. CJ and Scott have already reviewed the 620, and Alvin has posted his opinion of the device too. As they say, ‘Three Is Company But Four Is A Crowd’, so I decided to refrain from doing a post on my thoughts on the 620. Instead, I decided to get the opinion of someone with different expectations from a mobile phone than me, or the average power user: my mother. Having used a mid-range Android device (the XPERIA Ray, to be precise) before, she is pretty much the exact target market Nokia seem to be looking at with the Lumia 620: someone who may have used a smartphone before but not a very good one.
In keeping with the title of this post, “Parent Experiment”, we will be referring to the parent in question as the Subject. Here are some observations of the Subject about the Lumia 620, after spending a couple of weeks using it as her primary device:
- -Subject was pleasantly surprised to be back on a Nokia phone after several years. Most people still seem to have an emotional connection with Nokia, something that is hard to find for other brands of phones.
- -Subject really enjoyed how lag-free the device was in day to day use. Being able to know that you can press the Home button no matter what you are doing and be able to see your live tiles is a reassuring feel. Compared to the subject’s previous phone, where pressing the Home button meant 1.5-2 seconds of stuttery animation before reaching the homescreen, this was refreshing.
- -Subject appreciated the ability to color the accents of the Live Tiles, but wished that the accents would apply too all the apps, not just first party Windows Phone apps.
- -Subject really enjoyed the Facebook experience on the device. While initially confused that the News Feed had to be accessed from the People App, while Notifications had to be accessed from the Me app, this was quickly learnt.
- -Subject enjoyed being able to browse through the People App and see Facebook activity of her contacts right there. Also liked being able to browse her Facebook albums right from the Gallery of the phone.
- -Subject found the default font a bit too small to read without reading glasses, but was happy that she could increase Font Size throughout the phone from Settings, without having to resort to a 3rd party app.
- -Subject had trouble understanding why the phone just showed half the text of a title rather than the entire title or nothing.
- -Subject found the phone to have a nice grippy feel to it, that felt sturdy enough to not ask to put it in a case for protection.
- -Subject found the lack of Smart Dialling in the stock dialler to be puzzling, having been able to use Smart Dialling in her previous Nokia phones. However, the ability to pin contacts to Home Screen was well received.
- -Once introduced to Cinemagraph, subject enjoyed giving it a go and trying it out in different places. However, found it a bit too complex to have picked it up without assistance. A well explained tutorial on first starting the app would have been welcome.
- -Subject liked the fact that Music Player could be controlled by the popup on pressing the Volume Up or Down button from any screen.
- -Subject didn’t like the Music Player app, since it took way too many clicks to get a song playing. Five clicks after opening the music player if you keep clicking through.
- -Subject appreciated the Call Quality of the device, something that has always been Nokia’s strong card. While call quality on her previous device was acceptably good, this one was a noticeably more pleasant device to talk on.
- -Subject didn’t like the Live Tiles confusing her for no reason. For example, she would have already read a message on Whatsapp, but the Live Tile would still show a number, causing her to open the Whatsapp app again and see no new messages.
- -The Whatsapp App really was a big deal. Whatsapp being one of the most used functions on the phone for her, it quickly began to get on Subject’s nerves. Subject had a large 2×2 Whatsapp live tile on the homescreen. The fact that the “Loading…” screen appeared for 3-4 seconds every time she started it was frustrating. I had to show her the workaround of long pressing the Back button and resuming Whatsapp from the Recent Apps list, using which the Whatsapp app loads faster, but that was found to be too long a way instead of just clicking the Live Tile. Also, the inability of Whatsapp to remember her position in long conversations like Group Chats was found to be particularly frustrating, as she would have to manually scroll back and see where she last read.
- -Text input was a mixed bag to the Subject. The size of the on screen keyboard meant it was easy for her to pick up typing on it. Subject also really liked the animation of the keyboard when switching between landscape and portrait. However, subject missed being able to use Gesture Typing, like Swype on her previous phone, and sorely wished it would be available on this device.
- -Despite using Yash’s handy tips to save power on WP8, battery life was quite disappointing on the whole. Subject had to to keep a charger handy to top it up once in the middle of the day, or before leaving the house. Subject was surprised to find a Nokia device with non stellar battery life.
All in all, three major issues were found by the subject, due to which she was unwilling to switch to the Lumia 620 as her daily device: the horrible Whatsapp experience, the lacklustre battery life and the lack of Gesture Typing. I could probably get her a spare battery to swap into her phone to counter the battery life issue. Hopefully, Whatsapp will one day use their own Windows Phone 8 app and realize how badly it sucks and fix it. However, it is highly unlikely that WP8 devices will ever get the ability to install your own keyboard on it, so that’s an issue with no solution. That means that as of now, the Lumia 620 is not a viable upgrade option in the specific case of my mother.
That being said, there was so much good about the phone that it is bound to do well. For folks who aren’t heavy Whatsapp users I would whole heartedly recommend the Lumia 620. It launched in India for Rs. 15,000 and currently is available for substantially less as a Holi (not Diwali) offer. With the Lumia 520 around the corner for two third the price of the 520, the Android devices in the Rs. 10-15,000 range finally have worthy competitors. I’m quite eager to see how the Indian market reacts to the Lumia 520 and 620 in the coming months.