4GEE Testmodo Challenge #3: Three Readers Move to WinPho Using the Nokia Lumia 1320

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Moving to Windows Phone from Android or iOS can be scary, but with rising sales of Microsoft's platform eating away at the iOS pie, more people are discovering how easy WinPho actually is to use. But how did our three Testmodo readers fare testing the platform on the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1320, using EE's 4G network?

The Nokia Lumia 1320 may be my first phone to break the 6-inch mark but in regards to using a Windows Phone, this ain't my first rodeo (an old HTC HD2 was the first horse I rode there).

A seamless transition from Android largely depends upon how well WinPho can integrate with Google's services as that is where most of "my stuff" lives. Google and Microsoft are pretty vocal about hating each other and the two companies really don't play nicely. There's a great sadness in how these political decisions between companies affect end users.

To access my contacts, email and calendar, I need to add a Google account to the device. While it isn't immediately clear how to do this, I eventually remember the Settings app which brings up a menu of things to configure. The settings menu has a list of 39 items! How in the hell are you supposed to find what you want to do quickly with a menu that size? When adding an account, there are a variety of accounts which you can add and, thankfully, Google is present.

At this point, I've done the bare minimum needed to start exploring the phone. The initial sight of all those unfamiliar tiles on the start screen with a variety of animations can be quite an eyeful. Resizing and adding tiles to your homepage is nothing like the customisation you can achieve in Android, but it helps to make it your own.

Having spent the last few months converting my family to using Google Hangouts I now find myself at a bit of a loss at the lack of a Hangouts app. For now, I'm forced to either use SMS (in this day and age!) or a product from a company which cares about cross-platform support. Despite feeling a bit dirty about it after the recent acquisition, I decided to go with WhatsApp.

Access to my media is another tricky issue; I exclusively use Google Music for streaming. I mean, I have 4-freaking-G from EE, why wouldn't I stream? As well as streaming my own music back to me, I also pay the monthly subscription so that I can stream any song I like. With WinPho, however, there is a lack of support from Google. There is at least one third-party alternative if you don't mind paying a small amount and handing over your Google credentials: CloudMuzik works really well at streaming your own music back to you, but lacks support for accessing the play-what-you-want subscription service.

With a lack of native streaming support, there had better be an easy way to copy music to the device locally then. Thankfully it is very easy. Unlike the previous versions of WinPho, there is no longer the need to download Zune, connect your phone, look baffled, restart every device in your postcode, remain baffled, sacrifice a goat and plead allegiances to gods you only knew existed because you ended up in the underbelly of the internet trying to work out how to get the damn phone recognised by your computer. Hephaestus is probably your best shout if you do need a new god to help with technology.

The easiest way, in fact, is to simply access the device from Windows Explorer (or your OS equivalent). It shows up as a device to which you can navigate. Inside, there are a variety of folders already made for documents, ringtones, music, videos and pictures. Simply copying my Calvin Harris folder to the music folder was enough for the device to now know about his album. This is very easy for accessing your own music but in a world where everything is in the cloud, and when networks like EE make it so easy to pull from said cloud, it does feel rather primitive. Out of the box, I have 2.68GB used space on the phone leaving 4.60GB free space. That's pretty limited but you can add a microSD card to that at least.

Netflix has made an app for Windows Phone which takes care of my video-streaming needs, and thankfully it allows streaming over the fast 4G, as well as Wi-Fi.

While there's no official Dropbox app (notice a theme?) there is a rather well-implemented alternative called CloudSix for Dropbox which even includes an ability to upload all of my photos to Dropbox. I rely on Dropbox for this functionality in Android so it is good to see third parties stepping up to the plate to plug these gaps.

If you're coming into the smartphone market for the first time, a Windows Phone makes a lot of sense. You probably wouldn't be so heavily invested in Google or Apple services and, as such, could easily start using Microsoft's services instead. Windows Phones are smartphones but they don't come with the learning curve needed for Androids or the price-tag needed for iPhones.

Craig Russell is an Edinburgh-based software engineer working in mobile app development. Read his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

Moving to the third most-popular mobile OS platform (behind iOS and Android), Windows Phone 8, on the biggest mobile "phone" I've ever had my hands on -- the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1320 -- shouldn't be too difficult, right?

First impressions of Windows Phone 8 is that it's actually a very clean, colourful and fast interface with everything in neat little boxes, or "Live Tiles" as Microsoft likes to call them. Live Tiles are little square/rectangular icons representing your apps and can surface little snippets of info automatically on your home-screen, so the screen is "live". For example, the "Me" Live Tile can provide updates from any social services you decide to connect such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The amount of data these tiles use is tiny, so this shouldn't really eat into your data allowance or battery life, but you can turn this functionality off on a per-tile basis if you wish. This is one of the unique features of this OS that I really like, and which Android does its best to replicate using widgets.

The initial setup process is straightforward, although it helps if you already have some form of Microsoft account such as an Outlook.com email address, as this is used to save and synchronise device settings between all of your Windows 8 devices (for example your work PC and your mobile phone) and up into the Cloud on Microsoft's OneDrive service. If you haven't got any of these accounts, you can sign up for a free OneDrive account and get 7GB of free storage here. This space can also be used to automatically back up any photos you take on the phone, similar to Apple's iCloud service.

The next thing you'll probably want to do is get your music, photos, contacts and email over to it the Windows Phone 8 platform. The easiest way to do this, assuming you have a Nokia Windows Phone, is to use a program that's been made to help -0 you can find a good one here. This will allow you to pull all the data off your old phone and then transfer it your new Windows Phone (via your laptop/PC). Alternatively, you can upload photos from your PC to the OneDrive website (for backup purposes) and these can then be synced back down to your Windows Phone, an easy challenge with the likes of EE's fast 4G network. You might find the 7GB free space is insufficient for this purpose however, but you can always buy additional space fairly inexpensively.

Since I'm a bit of an IT geek, I like to do things a bit more manually. I have a Windows 8 laptop at home and I keep my music on my laptop in MP3 format, so I just manually copied the songs I wanted onto the Lumia 1320 by physically connecting the phone to the laptop. This can be done via an app, or you can just drag and drop using Windows Explorer. If you have all of your music in iTunes, you can transfer the whole library to your WinPho fairly easily using the Windows Phone for Desktop app, more details on that here.

Contacts and email transfer is pretty easy regardless of which email platform you use as you can add a Microsoft, Gmail or other email account in Settings and these then sync up. You can use the People hub to add multiple accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Outlook and filter the contacts you wish to appear in your address book.

Setting up the Nokia 1320 was less of a challenge than I thought it would be, but it was still a minor shock trying to figure out how to get all the apps on it that I wanted, but more on that in the next challenge.

London-based Baij Patel is the IT Director at Twentieth Century Fox, and reviews movies and gadgets in his spare time on his blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

For our first challenge on the new Nokia Lumia 1320, we were tasked with just "getting to know" the phone and setting ourselves up on the Windows Phone platform. "How simple", I declared to myself. How hard could it possibly be?

In the last few months, I'd already made the jump from iPhone back to the Android platform, and it had been incredibly enjoyable, with the exception of missing a handful of iOS-only apps. Since I'm an everyday Google user,the deep Google integration on an Android phone meant that most things synced up perfectly. I was excited to get to grips with Window Phones' interesting "sliding tiles" interface and the completely different ecosystem.

However, things got off to a rocky start. When booting up the Lumia 1320 for the first time, I was asked to provide a Microsoft email. Oh dear. I do have a severely-disused Outlook email, so I guess I'll provide that one?

Since I couldn't transfer over my contacts using a SIM card, I decided to use "Welcome Home to Windows Phone", a desktop app which promised to make transferring my contacts and media a breeze. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get the programme to actually work, and so my frustration only mounted.

"Nevermind," I thought. "I don't need my contacts, I'll just have to suck it up and add them the old-fashioned way!" Although annoyed that my phone wasn't integrated with my Apple or Google contacts, but was integrated with a disused email, I set up my Gmail account on the downloaded Gmail app and set along my merry way.

Next, it was time to get some media on my phone. Now since I don't own a PC (who knew Zune was still a thing?!), I attempted to do my usual set-up using third party apps. You see, I don't actually have a lot of "media" to transfer, just media that I want to "access". On my main handset, my iPhone, I auto-upload all of my photos and videos to Flickr (hello, free terabyte of cloud storage!) and Dropbox. All of my music comes from synced playlists on the Spotify app, as I stopped actually buying music a few years ago. Although not a huge fan of eBooks, the few I do buy are usually on the Google Play store.

Considering how much of a bad rap the Windows App Store gets, it wasn't that bad. Spotify and Flickr were both available, and I had my pick of great third-party apps for Pocket and Dropbox. Unsurprisingly, Google Apps weren't available, but at least Kindle has a WinPho app?

Verdict? Incredibly frustrating to transfer contacts and establish that deep integration I'm accustomed to on other platforms, but surprisingly possible to use all the apps I had before.

As it was with my Note 3, I enjoyed the large screen and the fast EE download speeds, but the 1320 itself was a tad heavy for my taste. Would I make the switch to Windows Phone as my main smartphone though? Probably not.

Canadian Amanda Foley lives in North London, working as a community manager at the Government Digital Service. Follow her on Twitter here.

 

Check back for the next Testmodo challenge on the 10th of April, and follow our Testmodo winners' tweets using the hashtag #testmodo4GEE.



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