It is the cutest-looking phone on the market today. Hardware and sexyness gets a full 10 out of 10. The rest is bad. Very bad.
After unpacking the box I spent 6 solid hours trying to get it going, and I am deeply disappointed. I feel like a Groom on the first honeymoon night when the Bride tells him she is very willing but sorry, she doesn’t have all the important parts yet. Yes, it is that serious.
This Windows 8 phone is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an upgrade from anything. It is too low on the scale.
For example, it has maps. OK. But not turn-by-turn voice directions. I found that out on my way to an important appointment.
Then there is the total lack of storage management. The phone itself leaves the user with just over a Gig or memory – and that is no problem. I inserted a 4Gb micro SD card and guess what – I can still not manage my storage my way.
Then there is the really interesting story of syncing your data. The new syncing situation is this with WP8.
1) You cannot sync over WiFi. WP7/Zune users enjoyed this feature from day one of the release. Even Zune 8 and Zune HD users had this ability. In Windows Phone 8, on both Win7 and Win8, you now are restricted to a wired sync.
2) You cannot sync Podcasts at all. The Windows Phone App on both Win8 and Win7 does not support podcasts. The only podcast support is via OTA updates on WP8 and they do not sync at all. You wrote a column yourself on this topic recommending iTunes of all things to work around this.
3) You cannot sync playlists to WP8 from Xbox Music. There seems to be a bug in the WP App that doesn’t recognize Playlists in Xbox Music. There is no way that I can find to create a playlist in the WP App.
4) WP8 uses different DRM than Zune making downloaded content incompatible.
5) WP8 supports fewer file formats than WP7 and there is no feature to convert content when syncing.
These are just a few of the biggest and most obvious issues. XBox Music loses a lot of the functionality that existed in Zune Music meaning that many of the Syncing features that depended on them are gone, specifically the concept of Dynamic playlists and auto-fill. The file browser in the WP App is really terrible and without filtering it’s really painful to get through music catalogs that are thousands of songs long. Organizing photos is no better.
The PC syncing situation with WP8 is nothing short of a disaster.
Did I mention that I cannot update my DropBox directly with my critical notes? Oops.
No MS, I think you have to go back to the drawing board. This phone is cute but useless.
I’ve been on Symbian for a few years (my favourite is a Nokia E72) and all my apps and contacts and mail simply works. I don’t have to waste time on technology, I can focus on getting the job done. Even if I lose a phone completely I could take (and have taken!) a brand new phone from the box (or a spare from the cupboard) and be fully operational in a few minutes. That is called peace of mind.
But as we all know, technology doesn’t stand still. Nokia sold out to Microsoft and their new technology is not very robust right now. iPhone is an option as a phone, but a few apps didn’t quite work together and so my iPhone went to one of the children. The remaining option is Android. But this is a big jump, changing your platform is a commitment for 3 or 4 years to get return on investment on all the time wasted transporting things across to the new world.
Nevertheless I decided to give the new Motorola RAZR a try. Note that this is not my first foray into the world of Android, I’ve played extensively with Froyo 2.2 and I have tons of experience on a Galaxy tablet. What I need is just that little bit extra in speed and future upgrade possibilities. Looking back, I made exactly the right decision.
My Motorola RAZR has been a pleasure to use, generally. I had a small problem with sending MMS pictures, which turned out to be a Vodacom problem but the folks at Motorola kept me constantly updated and they made sure the guys at Vodacom were aware of their responsibilities to deliver a working network. I love the RAZR form factor, I really like the software skin and Motorola customizations, and all my apps work exactly as they should. For staying in contact I use a cloud-based approach mostly based on Google. The RAZR excels at this task. I’m very cautious about exposing my contacts in the cloud, and my notes too, and I use a strong encryption layer. Encrypting files are a pleasure on the RAZR, it has more than enough power in the dual-core processor. I’m still toying with some minor utilities to do better backups of SMS messages, but there are tons of nice apps in the Marketplace to help me.
Back home I quickly set up a media centre and I can now stream any of my movies or music to the RAZR, something I wasn’t able to do previously. Clearly the guys at Motorola is pushing the envelope of what a simple hand-held device can do.
I’ll keep you informed of any new developments, but as of today I can confidently say that I am transitioning my lifeline (as a project manager) from Nokia/Symbian to Motorola/Android for the next few years, and I’m looking forward to the journey. Well done, Motorola!
We wish you a blessed Christmas, and many happy returns for 2012.
See you next year!
A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get pissed off and buy another product instead.
Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external Consultant to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.
The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.
A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That’s some money well spent!” – he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.
It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should’ve been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren’t picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.
Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed. A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin.
“Oh, that,” says one of the workers – “one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang”.
I don’t know if this is a true story, but it certainly raised a smile …