WINDOWS PHONE 8
This has been a massive couple of weeks for Microsoft with Windows 8 and the Surface tablet launching to much fanfare (and not to mention an awesome advert). They say all good things come in three’s, so to round it off, Windows Phone 8 arrives this coming weekend. We went down to the launch party to get the lowdown on how Microsoft attempt to dethrone Google & Apple.
Personalisation over customisation
Windows Phone 8 is all about making your home screen all about you. Live updates from your favourite apps, the ability to make the app tiles larger or smaller, and changeable colours mean your phone can be as unique as you want. If Android is the king of customising, then Windows Phone 8 is the queen of personality.
Flagship devices come from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung in the UK and will be the key factor in determining whether Windows Phone 8 will succeed or fail. Microsoft boasts that they have worked closely with the major phone manufacturers to offer phones for all segments of the market.
By far the most impressive device comes from Nokia with the Lumia 920. Highlights include wireless charging, super sensitive HD screen which allows you to use the touch screen with gloves on, and an 8MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens that has expert image stabilisation technology. Nokia have also managed to secure exclusive collaborations with Monster headphones (makers of Beats by Dre), and JBL have created a speaker that will play music and charge your phone just by placing it on top of the device. I have been one of Nokia’s biggest critics in recent years but I am truly impressed by this latest Smartphone effort. As well as the Lumia 920, Nokia will also be launching the smaller Lumia 820 aimed at the mid range market.
HTC have brought their signature Beats by Dre audio over to Windows for the first time with the Windows Phone 8X and its smaller brother the Windows Phone 8S. The 8X also offers a unique ultra wide front facing camera, making group video calls easy as we were able to fit 5 people in the camera’s gaze.
The Samsung Ativ S is best described as a Windows Phone 8 version of the S3 as it’s a similar size, features a Super AMOLED HD screen, and has an equally impressive 8MP camera.
Integration with other Microsoft Devices
Unlike previous efforts, Windows Phone 8 is fully integrated with Windows 8 PCs, Notebooks, and the Surface tablet all thanks to SkyDrive. Most people with a Hotmail account will be aware of SkyDrive, and is effectively Microsoft’s version of iCloud, and offers 7GB free cloud storage. Any media stored on your PC, tablet, or phone will be made available instantaneously on all of your other devices. There is also some compatibility with the Xbox360 and have used the Xbox branding to launch an iTunes rivalling music and video service.
Kid’s Corner & Rooms
Kid’s Corner is a cool feature of Windows Phone 8 which acts as a parent lock, allowing children (or mischievous friends) to only have access to the features you want them to see. This will be handy as my 5 year old nephew has a fixation for downloading expensive apps- and then telling me with a proud smile on his face.
Rooms is a Whatsapp style group chat function which is compatible with iPhone and Android devices (However, features will be limited for non Windows Phone users). Apple and Google have failed to create a native messaging app which has the appeal of Whatsapp, so if Windows can pull it off then this could be a major coup.
The Android and iPhone grip on the market is strong and they will not give up their market share easily. However, Windows Phone 8 has launched at the right time as the Samsung Galaxy S3 shows that consumers are willing and ready to switch allegiance if the tech is impressive enough. The Nokia Lumia 920 falls into the category of awesome, and if the public and media take to Windows Phone 8, then they have a fighting chance of succeeding.
Windows Phone 8 launches in the UK on Friday 2nd November. Available on all major networks.