I’ve been in Phone Hell the last week or so. It all started with Blizzcon. At kind of the last minute, I decided to get the virtual ticket for Blizzcon. Unfortunately, there is no support fro the live streams on Windows phone, so I swapped my SIM card into my old Galaxy S3, problem solved (solved-ish, Blizz still had capacity issues). Later I swapped my SIM card back since my S3 has audio issues on phone calls. This was when my problems started…
For no explainable reason, my Lumia 520 stopped keeping powered. It could be fully charged or even on the charger, laying on my desk and it would just randomly power off. It happened constantly making the phone unreliable and unusable. When this happened it also wouldn’t easily turn back on, I often had to open the phone and remove the battery. Other times, simply pressing power would fix it. i ordered a fresh battery which solved nothing. I did a factory reset which fixed nothing. Eventually I did a check and the phone is still under warranty, so off to Microsoft it went.
This left me stranded on my GS3, which isn’t a bad phone and I do like Android, except it’s damaged and the audio doesn’t work for calls. This means I have to try to get my wife (whom 99% of my calls are to/from) to call my work phone, which is “ok” to do but possibly frowned upon if done too much. Also getting her to remember this and juggle two phone numbers for me (for texting vs calling) is kind of a nightmare.
On Black Friday, I found that the Lumia 635, which is the spiritual successor tot he 520 was on sale for $40. I went ahead and bit the bullet and just ordered one. I don’t know if they will even actually fix my 520 yet an this GS3 is simply not usable.
Honestly just needing a new phone wasn’t my only reason for ordering the 635, it really wasn’t even a huge factor. The 635 has a slightly better processor, possibly a mildly better camera (the 520 has an AWFUL camera), and it has the new “sensor core” technology which gives more functionality to some apps. It was kind of a no brainer upgrade really. Migrating to it was also an extremely painless experience.
Initial Set Up
After receiving the phone, I have been pretty impressed with moving to it from my old phone. The initial couple of screens are some “Welcome to Windows Phone” screens, but after putting in my Microsoft account, the phone automatically downloaded all my data and settings including setting up and downloading all my apps. It even synced my old Alarm settings, which seems trivial but it’s still pretty impressive.
The biggest hassle, aside from waiting for the downloads, was rearranging the home screen. I spent a lot of time fiddling with my 520 home screen getting it just right, and now it seems I may have to do it again.
This was hindered a bit by needing some system updates. Oddly, out of the box, the phone was “up to date”. I knew this wasn’t the case because the newer versions of Windows Phone 8.1 add support for folders on the home screen, which wasn’t active on this phone. I had to re-enable the “Preview for Developers” app which tells Microsoft you are a WP dev and want/need the latest updates. In reality, it’s just a secret backdoor end around designed by Microsoft to get around the slow carrier updates. Technically I’ve made a simple app with the Touch Developer App, so I’m kind of sort of not really a “WP Developer”. Several system updates later, my folder functionality was restored and the home screen was in an acceptable state.
The Phone Itself
The Phone itself is pretty decent. It’s a bit larger and has a different feel from the 520, but it still feels pretty solid. I imagine part of this is that it’s definitely heavier than the 520. The back feels possibly a bit cheaper, it’s definitely more plastickey than the 520. Not necessarily cheap, just not quite as nice. The back also fits on a lot more solidly than the 520, which seems like a good thing, but my (probably mistaken) belief has been that the looser back on the 520 actually protects the phone from drop damage since the back flies off if dropped dissipating the falling energy.
A few quick tests shots with the camera siggest it’s definitely better than the 520 camera. If/when I get my 520 back I may do some side by sides, for now I just have one sample from the 635. Still no flash, still no front facing camera. I don’t really need either since I find the flash tends to wash everything out and make too many hard shadows, especially with a phone camera, and I don’t really do selfies or video calls so no need for a front camera. Oddly, there is an app pre loaded called Limia Selfie, not so useful without a front facing camera.
There also isn’t a hardware camera button, which I know is a big complaint but it seems to be policy going forward on Windows Phones. I honestly never really used the hardware button on my 520, so I don’t really care that it’s gone. I can see where it was convenient though.
I don’t have much else to say about the phone just yet. I have not used it too much, though it seems to be about the same as the 520 experience. I am having some configuration issues with getting my email working but I also haven’t really looked into that much yet. I also can’t find the Pinterest App at all, which I know I had on my 520, but seems non existent in the store and my app history.