Saturday, 4 March 2017

Being the Bitter-Sweet Tale of How I Became Briefly a Lumia 950 XL Owner...and then an ex-Owner

My Confession - I am a Windows Mobile Fan

As a long time fan of Windows Mobile, a vanishing breed we are too, my aim has always been to own and use a Lumia 950 XL. Despite reservations about its plastic design and Microsoft's bewildering but apparent aim to be number 3 (or 4!) in the mobile phone world its renowned camera persuaded me finally, having saved up to pay its now mid-ranged phone price, to buy it.

Owner of a Lonely Heart Lumia 640 XL

I am the owner of a Lumia 640 XL and have always liked it. Moving up to the 950 XL (and that's dual sim, by the way) should have brought a top-of-the-tree experience but it didn't and these few words which will be unread by the 99.9999% recurring of the world's population who are not phone geeks will, I hope, explain why.

The best camera on any mobile phone anywhere, that on the 950 XL

Firstly, let me deal with that camera. The camera on the 950 XL is superlative. The few shots I took showed off its wonderful colour-rendering and sharpness and at the time I took them the thought of returning this phone to the shop never occurred to me.

Windows 10

It was Windows 10 and the deadly experience of Groove Music dying and I mean dying and crashing to an unrecoverable nothing that finally swayed me.

The Windows 10 Interface

Where to begin? 
I'll try the beginning.

The interface on Windows 10 is a good OK. The user interface on the Lumia 640 XL running Windows 8.1 is superbly and showily lovely with big chunky bold text on the lock screen which looks better than the weedy lock screen text on the 950 XL. It's a personal preference thing and I haven't even got the English to explain why 8.1 looks better so I'll leave it at that.

Funny ol' weather we've been 'aving

Where to next? Well, the native weather app on Windows 10 just isn't as good as that on Windows 8.1 with its gorgeously designed graphics. The format is just better on 8.1. The 10 native weather app is not bad but I was rather hoping for better than 'not bad'.

Health and Fitness

Microsoft Health and Fitness is still working, albeit in unsupported form, with all its little graphs and nonsense on 8.1 but has been cruelly put to death in Windows 10. Hmmm.

And now for something (a bit more important and) completely different - Blocking "Private" Numbers

Some Lumia phones enjoy the Nokia Lumia legacy feature of blocking calls if the caller has withheld his/her number. This is a great, great, great, really great feature. All the plonkers and irritants who ring you without wanting to reveal their number can ring away to their heart's content. There's even a little switch for you to turn off the notifications that you've had a withheld-number call if you want. 

Withheld number callers get all the rich oblivion they truly deserve.

And what is Microsoft's attitude to this truly useful feature?

Ahhh. Dat ain't fair. ALL WINDOWS PHONES no matter who their manufacturer is should have this legacy blocking withheld number callers "Lumia" feature so... in Windows 10 we'll take the Private Number Blocking feature away for everyone so no one has it any more.

I am not joking. 

In Windows 10 Mobile you cannot block 'number withheld' calls. You have the same lack of capability I understand exists in iOS and Android. Oh, Microsoft why did you do that? Please. Why?

I have the feeling that it isn't a licensing thing, in case you're thinking that. I have the feeling it's the hardware manufacturer-neutral posturing MS is determined to adopt these days whatever the ruddy cost. However, I could have lived with this useful feature being removed in Windows 10. Annoying but I could have lived with the loss then about 2 days after I bought the phone came the killer crash.

The Killer Crash

Before I describe what happened let me quote the words of a MS EMPLOYEE working in support (please note not a MVP or anything like that) who was kind enough to reply to my request for help after it happened,

"....This is an absurd bug, and we never should have shipped it."

What was "shipped" was an update to Groove Music that killed the app stone dead. No replay of mp3's. Nothing. Not a sausage. Pas du tout. The work-round that is current (and just posted at time of writing) is to hard reset your Windows 10 phone. Yup. Hard reset then update your phone so in the process you re-download Groove Music with its update from the Store. It's that simple and if you have a spare couple of hours to reinstall the OS then you're good to go.

I have no doubt that a more elegant solution will appear at some stage but hey.

And next.

What have they done to my maps, Ma?

In a commercial and understandable huff Nokia, currently flogging Here Drive to other companies, removed it from Windows 10 and as a result MS have to ship the unattractive if functional turn-by-turn utilitarian-looking app they came up with, Here Drive's ugly sister, called, I believe, Maps. Here Drive though no longer updated on Windows 8.1 is beautiful on a Lumia 640 XL; just stunning looking and its loss is noticeable.

The Final Thing is NOT the Lumia 950 XL's Fault

The battery driving the more modestly pixelled screen on the Lumia 640 XL spoils you for all other phones and you can get an easy ride through the day no matter what you get up to on it. Even with all the updates the Lumia 950 XL's battery life is no better or worse than that on everyone else's phones.

Living in the Past

So, I'm back to the Lumia 640 XL and it's lovely and I am still a Microsoft Mobile fan because of this superb and unfairly un-famous smart phone.

Thanks for reading this far if you did.

No comments:

Post a Comment