After almost a full year with the Nokia Lumia 1020, I started looking at the newer options that Nokia/Microsoft had to offer. Why? Well, it wasn’t like my 1020 was broken, but it was starting to show signs of slowing down, even after fresh factory resets. The camera is still amazing, no doubt about it, and the photos I have obtained via the 41MP sensor are the best I’ve taken, but for a little while I’ve been more than a tiny bit curious about the newer Lumias with better chipsets and newer software. There’s also the future-proofing issue; Microsoft has quite clearly displayed their mild disdain for the 1020 by informing us all that Lumia Denim will pretty much bypass the 1020. All of the camera enhancements in Denim that will benefit the Lumia 1520, 830 and 930 will most likely not come to the 1020. The 1020 just doesn’t have the up-to-date internals that will be able to cope – heck, it can’t even deal with the apps Storyteller or Living Images, so anything new just won’t be released for it.
Cortana is also set to be updated in a big way soon, too; “Hey Cortana”, very similar to the way Google’s virtual assistant can be summoned by simply saying, “OK Google” will not come to the 1020. But it will come to the 930.
With this in mind, and with my missing built-in Qi wireless charging that I so enjoyed with my older 920, the temptation to get hold of a 930 was immense. Add in a beautiful full HD 1080 screen, with huge 441 PPI, plus gorgeous design, bright colours (orange has always turned my eye) and a 20MP camera unit that isn’t that far off the 1020’s, and it was bound to happen.
And it happened.
After one week using the Nokia Lumia 930 as my main device, purchased from Amazon here in the US, I can honestly state that I absolutely love it. I love it, but with the odd caveat. The 930 isn’t available here in the US through the usual channels; the Lumia Icon, an exclusive handset through Verizon is the same phone pretty much, but Verizon won’t upgrade it past Lumia Black. Ridiculous. It’s also not available in either of the bright green or orange options, and while it’s unlocked for basic GSM use, no other global LTE bands are included apart from Verizon’s own, of course. Verizon, put simply, you suck.
So an unlocked, international version landed on my desk last week, bright orange and ready to go on AT&T’s network at H+ speeds, and man does it look lovely. Smooth orange polycarbonate back that has a premium feel to it despite being plastic; fabulous ultra-smooth curved glass screen that just oozes gorgeousness; a smart, handsome aluminium band that just sets off the whole thing and gives you that ‘cold metal quality’ feel when you pick it up. Just a really, really, gorgeous-looking phone.
Premium all the way.
It feels just absolutely perfect in my hand. It has a bit of weight to it, but it’s a reassuring heft, not a ‘too-heavy’ feel. Just right. And it’s a pleasure to hold. Is it too big though? Not anywhere near the Goliath that is the 1520 (I just couldn’t!) and no, it’s not. I don’t have overly-large hands, and I can still manage to touch thumb and index finger if I wrap the phone in my hand. My thumb can touch the tiles furthest away from it, even if I have to balance it on my little finger (I tad precarious, but I am very careful with my phones!) I think a phone slightly larger than this would be over what I could manage comfortably with one hand.
I think the overall speed can be summed up in one word: slick. While my 1020 causes my eyes to roll with the dot-dot-dot and ‘resuming’, the 930’s dot-dot-dot and ‘resuming’ are still present but much less prevalent and are seen for much shorter periods of time. I have noticed this in opening apps and returning to the Start screen, certainly, but the area in which I have really noticed it is when I’ve been editing photos on the device. Whereas on my 1020, use of Fhotoroom or AfterLight (or even Reframing) would take a fair number of seconds to process, these activities take about half as long on the 930. Of course, one might think, well, with half the size of the sensor, that would be about right. But I don’t think the maths works like that. After all, most of the photos I tinker with are the 5MP shots that both phones produce for editing and sharing immediately. I just think the 930 has a bigger and better processor (a Quad-core Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz Krait 400, compared with the 1020’s Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz Krait) and that counts (in a major way) for getting stuff done without lag and stutter.
How is the data speed without LTE? “H+” gives me an average of 4 Mbps download out and about, although I managed an impressive 10 Mbps in a local pub on Friday evening. A paltry 1 Mbps is all I get at home though, but wi-fi takes care of data while I’m there. Still, I used to appreciate the crazy speeds I was getting on AT&T’s LTE speeds on my 1020 (averaging 15-25 MBps) but I haven’t yet found 4 MBps a real issue when web browsing, Twittering or Facebooking. Even uploading photos is fine, as is streaming music via Spotify and MixRadio+.
Speaking of listening to tunes, I have also noticed much better audio quality while listening to music via MixRadio+ on my 930 compared with the 1020. I’m unaware of any differences in audio hardware between the two devices, (both have Dolby Digital Plus) but I can tell you that I’m impressed with the way songs sound on my 930, more so than on my 1020.
Glance. Yeah, that’s a real bummer. I love Glance. I’m now feeling a tad envious when I see my wife’s 1020 lying around, showing off its time and battery status; my 930 shows nowt. It could be switched off for all I know. For (literally) years I’ve been harping on about how brilliant Glance is, ever since it was called Sleeping Screen on my Nokia E7 and N9. I would look at friends’ iPhones and Galaxies in the pub, as they lay on the table, looking lifeless, their owners occasionally physically picking them up to check for any missed texts. Me, with my Glance screen calmly informing me that I have two texts, an email and my battery is at 76%, oh, and by the way, it’s 9:45pm, and no physical interaction needed at all.
Not anymore. It’s a big loss, but I’m learning to live without it after living with it for so long. But as a tiny consolation, double-tap-to-wake (in another tip of the hat to the brilliant and innovative N9) works 100% better than on my 1020, perhaps another benefit of newer hardware and software?
There is, of course, the prestige factor. Not only am I sporting a truly beautifully-made phone, I am sporting a real rarity in New York City. The Lumia 930 is only available here via resellers such as Amazon, Expansys, or eBay. So there’s the fuzzy warm glow of knowing that (pretty much) nobody else on my subway train has the same phone as me. I like to stand out, be a bit different: I’ve lived in NYC with an E7, N9, 808 – none of which were available through the US networks, so I’ve always been (and enjoyed being) a bit of an oddball. “Hey, what phone is that?” is a question I’ve been getting quite a lot the past few years, and I enjoy getting it. My brain says, “Not the same as yours, because I’m not afraid to do my research and break the US phone-consumer mould,” but I always take a deep breath and tell them the name and model and wait for the look of bewilderment on their faces.
That’s OK. I own a Nokia.
I just know better, that’s all. ;^)