Verizon Wireless recently introduced Windows Phone 8 with offerings such as the Nokia Lumia 822, a speedy, stylish phone running on Verizon's fast 4G LTE mobile service and allowing simultaneous voice and data.
Windows Phone 8 provides an attractive interface that would probably seem familiar to Windows computer users. The scrolling side to side or up and down is different than other smart phones, but it's easy to get used to.
Windows phones offer something you won't find with any other type of phone - tight integration with Microsoft's other properties, such as SkyDrive, Xbox, OneNote and Office 365.
Dropbox doesn't offer a Windows phone client, but Windows Phone 8 comes already configured with SkyDrive. It's ready to sync your phone's documents, photos and videos to the cloud, where they're accessible from other devices, such as your home and office computers. You can also easily create and modify Office 365 files, and you can create shortcuts on your home screen to OneNote items.
Xbox users can purchase phone versions of their favorite Xbox games, such as Kinectimals. The Windows Phone Store, while smaller than the Android Play Store, does offer more than 120,000 apps.
However, you won't find free versions of Angry Birds games, only paid ones. While another popular game, Words With Friends, is available for Windows Phone now, it doesn't play as well as the Android version, rejecting some words that the game would normally accept.
Words By Post actually plays better on Windows Phone than on Android. It's faster and allows for easy minimizing and maximizing of the play area.
Microsoft seems to have, for better or for worse, bet the farm on a mobile-looking Windows, marrying phone, tablet and computer environments into a uniform interface that works similarly across devices. This means that Windows computer users can expect their future computers to look a lot like Windows Phone 8.
In addition to the Windows Phone 8 environment, the Nokia Lumia 822 sports top-line features such as an 8 MP camera with wide-angle Carl Zeiss Tessar® lens. Its dual-detentes feature means you press the button once to focus and again to take the picture.
It also has a 1.2 MP front-facing camera along with a 1080p rear-facing HD camcorder and 720p front-facing HD video recording. Smart shoot, panorama and Cinemagraph lenses are available from the Windows Phone Store.
The Lumia 822 has an outstanding display, though you're somewhat limited in what you can play, since there's no HBOGO or other mainstream video playing app outside of Microsoft's own movies and videos. Even YouTube runs from an Internet Explorer 10 shortcut rather than through an actual app.
Nokia includes its sophisticated Music and Mix Radio that gives you subscription-free streaming and offline listening in a user-friendly app.
The onscreen keypad works well, though it doesn't have the multi-purpose keys that many newer smart phones offer. However, the phone's voice recognition works quite impressively, both for commands and in documents. You can hold in the Window/Home button briefly to activate voice commands, such as "Text Bob" to send a text message to a contact person named Bob.
If you let little kids use your phone, you may appreciate the Kid's Corner feature, which limits what the youngsters can access on the phone to what you choose for them. You can also use Data Sense to make sure you don't go over your monthly data allowance and also find open Wi-Fi hotspots when you're away from home.
The Lumia 822 comes with 16 GB of onboard memory and very little bloatware, so you have plenty of space, though you can optionally add a microSD card up to 64 GB in size. It runs on a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM, measures 5.03" by 2.69" by .42" and weighs just under 5 ounces. It has a simple, refined shape that fits neatly in a pocket yet has a large enough screen (4.3") to make reading messages and articles easy on the eyes.
If you haven't tried Verizon's service in your area, give it a try on a friend's phone before switching, but Verizon most likely has you covered. There aren't many places you can hide from Verizon's reliable signal. Verizon even covers most of the U.S. with their speedy 4G LTE service now.
The Lumia 822 is a bargain for a high-end phone at only $49.99 with two-year agreement. If you don't feel obligated follow the crowd and get a phone similar to what most of your friends have, the Lumia 822 is worth a look, especially if you use other Microsoft products like OneNote or SkyDrive.