How does Windows Phone 8.1 on the Lumia 930 stack up against previous iterations of Microsoft's mobile operating system? And against the competition? Read on to find out...

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We’ve loaned some of the Vodafone eForum’s most prolific contributors – its Community Champions – a Nokia Lumia 930 each to try out. Why? To see what our volunteer mobile experts think of the latest Windows Phone flagship.

 

nokia-lumia-930-thumbNokia Lumia 930 available now!
The next iteration of Microsoft’s mobile operating system is here, and it’s being ushered in by a brand new flagship device: the beautiful Nokia Lumia 930…
Click here for all the details…

 

We’ve already had some top tips for squeezing the best out of the Lumia 930’s camera from TheSoupDragon, but now it’s time for a different take. Enter Nabs, our resident Android aficionado, for a look at what’s changed between Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 930’s newer version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system – Windows Phone 8.1. Is it enough to sway a die hard Android fan?

Smoothing over the cracks

nabs“I spent some time with a Lumia 925 last year,” Nabs begins, “and it highlighted a few issues with the Windows Phone operating system. With that in mind, it’s good to see Microsoft has made attempts at addressing many of these with the release of Windows Phone 8.1.” For Nabs, Windows Phone 8.1 is all about bringing in features that smooth over the cracks he felt there were in earlier versions and making it much more well-rounded when compared to rival operating systems:

“The biggest shortfall with Windows Phone in the past for me was the lack of a unified place to see all your notifications, but luckily Windows Phone 8.1 introduces the Action Centre to address this. In simple terms,” Nabs explains, “it’s an area that is dragged down from the top of the screen, showing your notifications and allowing you to perform simple tasks like switching WiFi and Bluetooth on or off. While there’s still room for improvements here (as there always is with these things), it’s a huge leap in the right directions from the older version of the OS, where this functionality was completely missing.”

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The tweaks don’t start and end there, though: there are loads of new additions to the Windows Phone experience that Nabs thinks help make it a really strong overall offering…

“The search has been improved too, and now includes content from inside the phone [like your apps, contacts and calendar events] as well as the web. This makes finding content a whole lot easier,” he says, “and saves scrolling through a potentially long page of apps or people. The process has been made really simple and is completely integrated with the system and user interface [with the search button] – it works really well.

Small changes, big difference

As well as a couple of big additions, Nabs suggests that a lot of the more minor additions add up to much better whole:

“There are a lot of other small changes here that, by themselves, perhaps aren’t make or break – but that do make a huge difference to the usability of the system as a whole. Built in apps like Calendar, Email and Internet Explorer have all been tweaked to fix bugs and improve the experience, for example.

“It’s definitely a big step in the right direction…Microsoft is definitely on the right track.”

“Other simple things like being able to customise the tiles to show an image from your camera roll, and the ability to set individual volume levels for ringtones, notifications and apps are small but beneficial changes. The introduction of the Swype-style ‘Word Flow’ keyboard is another such change; it’s a subtle tweak, but one that makes a big difference to the overall experience.”

So, having used the Lumia 930 for a few weeks now, how does Nabs think it stacks up against the Samsungs, Sonys and other Android devices he usually sticks to?

“Whilst there are still some things I’d personally like Microsoft to add into Windows Phone 8.1, it’s definitely a big step in the right direction, and shows that Microsoft is definitely on the right track.”

What do you think? If you’ve got a Lumia 930 in your hand right now, let us know what you think of Windows Phone 8.1 in the comments section below. You can pick up a Lumia 930 on a Red 4G plan from vodafone.co.uk now.