When you think about getting a new smart phone, usually the big decision is between iOS and Android. But there is a third option and no, I’m not talking about Blackberry. For a while now, I’ve been hearing good (and sometimes surprising) things about Windows Phone. On a recent episode of This Week in Tech, VentureBeat managing editor Jolie O’dell that she liked Windows Phone because, compared to other phones, “it’s pretty and twirly and sparkly. It’s the Disney princess of smart phones.”
The new Nokia Lumia Icon is a really interesting phone. With a screen size a full inch smaller than the Lumia 1520, it is still both taller and wider than a iPhone 5S. And similar to how the 1520 was only available for AT&T users, the Lumia Icon is only available for Verizon customers.
Available in both black and white, the Icon like other Windows Phone devices comes with three controls/buttons down the right side. First from the top is the volume control. Then, about in the middle, there is the Power/Lock button and finally lower down, the camera button. After using iOS and Android phones, it took a while to get used to the Power/Lock button to be on the side. The audio/headset jack is on the top and the USB/charging port in on the bottom.
The lock screen is customizable, of course, but it seemed harder to find photos that fit the aspect ratio. As you can see, both time and date are displayed as well as the next event on your calendar. Calendars and contacts can be easily imported from Gmail or Facebook.
All of the tiles on the home screen can be changed, moved around and re-sized. When you have new messages or notifications, the tile flips between the app icon and the new message like the Facebook tile in the two screen shots above. The People tile in the upper right hand corner also flips between profile images of your contacts.
If you want to access apps that aren’t on your home screen, just swipe to the left to see the list of all of the applications you have installed. Of all of the ones listed in the screenshot above, Facebook was the only one I added.
To find new apps to install, you have to go to AppSocial. The set up is a bit different than the iOs App Store or the Android Google Play store. As you can see in the screenshot above on the left, when you search for an app, the first view you get is of app lists that other Windows Phone users have created that include the app you searched for. You have to select the Apps view to see the search results for your search. With a name like AppSocial, I get why they did that, but it can be confusing at first.
So what about the 20-megapixel PureView camera that the Icon comes with? It is pretty spectacular. Just be warned that you’re probably going to need to adjust the flash. I left all of the settings as it shipped and the flash startled both cats plus you can see the results were a bit harsh.
The Icon comes with Nokia Creative Studio installed. When you open a photo in the app, you’re first given a series of filters to chose from. You swipe up and down to see the effects of each one and then tap to select the one you want. Then you tap the Edit icon at the bottom (it looks like a pencil in a circle) and you have the edit options like fix, adjust, blur, play and so on. My first effort on Dunkel’s photo was only okay.
However, this one of Porter came out great. It’s definitely a keeper. I can see me getting better with the editing capabilities as I got used to it.
All in all, I have to say I’m intrigued by the Nokia Lumia Icon and look forward to taking other Windows Phones out for a spin in the future. I’m really curious to see what a Windows Phone tablet is like. I’m not sure it’s the Disney princess of smart phones, but it certainly is sparkly.