I am not a great telephonic communicator. As a general rule, I hate talking to anyone on the ‘phone, much preferring a carefully-crafted email. Thus I came very late to the world of smartphones: my first was obtained just over 1 year ago… a Samsung Galaxy S2 (it was already a version behind the times when I got it).
The magic of Android and Samsung’s hardware didn’t make my phonophobia dissipate any, but I have used it a lot for web browsing, email and the like. It’s been very competent at those sorts of things, and I’ve had no complaints.
But one of our large department stores (which I wouldn’t normally go near) has recently been selling the Nokia 520 (pictured) for the miserly sum of $168 (unlocked). At that price, I couldn’t resist: it’s not really a whole lot more expensive than the ‘disposable’ phones you can buy at a local supermarket. So I figured that it would (a) give me the chance to know Windows Phone 8 first-hand and (b) provide a cheap ‘spare’ phone should I ever drop/lose/submerge or otherwise screw up my Samsung.
Just as the Samsung S2 is not exactly at the bleeding edge of Android phones available these days, so the Nokia 520 is pretty much entry-level when it comes to Windows Phones. Sometimes it shows: there are noticeable pauses when switching back to an application (like a web browser) that you switched away from earlier. That aside, the phone is pretty responsive, feels ‘quality’ and looks quite striking -sufficient to make three people mention it in the two days I’ve had it, anyway.
Everyone bags Windows Phone 8 because of the lack of apps: I won’t disagree with that (though I’ve barely had time to look). I’d just say, instead, that this is probably a bonus for me. I want a phone to be a phone, not a substitute Games console. So Lastpass is there; Kindle books can be read on it; the thing plays music and browses the Internet just fine… I don’t need much else. Certainly, the phone is a lot less customizable than any Android phone you care to mention… but a few years back, in the days of Symbian, phones being un-customizable was considered perfectly normal. The lack of distractions and fiddling is a bonus for me in this particular respect, anyway.
On the definite plus side, the Nokia call quality is superb. I’ve thought some calls made with the Samsung have sounded like they were using a slightly dodgy scrambler phone, but the Nokia sounds perfect.
The other huge plus is that the Nokia will remain charged for nearly two days at a time: I now have to break the habit my Samsung forced me into of leaving the ‘phone plugged in permanently to my PC’s USB port. This thing simply doesn’t need to be treated that way.
One big drawback (for me, anyway) is that it uses the microSIM format SIM card, whereas the Samsung S2 uses a standard SIM. Whilst there are (hair-raising!) videos on YouTube about how you can use a pair of scissors to transform one style of SIM into the other, it’s really not required: a trip to the nearest Vodafone store saw me given a suitable microSIM for nothing -and the whole thing was sorted in less than 5 minutes. The real problem, though, is that you’re not allowed two live SIMs at the same time… so activating the microSIM meant de-activating the old SIM. And thus it is that the Nokia is now my day-to-day phone of choice and the Samsung sits in the drawer, spare and unloved.
I will confess to some surprise at the turn of events… but I like the ‘phone a lot, and the O/S is not bad, either.