The race for the best high end smartphone has been heating up since the beginning of 2014. The two biggest releases have been the HTC One (M8) (my personal favorite) and the Samsung Galaxy S5. You would think that between those new models and the iPhone 5s, all the possible iterations of the high end smartphone would be covered but Nokia wants to make their own footprint on the beach of innovation. They’ve chosen to call their newest phone the Icon with the intent of securing a truly unique position in the market and they really have succeeded. The Windows Phone has truly grown up.
Iconic and Brilliant
The Icon is beautiful but it’s not an immediately apparent beauty that is easy to recognize like on the HTC One (M8). After a few minutes of examining the Icon, you get the sense that while it may not be the most impressive looking phone at first glance, it will be a wonderful phone to use on a daily basis. It’s balance between the plastic of the S5 and the metal of the M8 and you get a very solid feeling plastic that feels much more premium than the S5. The design with the subtle curves and slim profile are just enough to make the Icon truly stand out.
The specs leave nothing to be desired, the top of the line Snapdragon processor, 20 megapixel camera, a 5 inch 1080p display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and 2420mAh battery are all enough to compete with the big guns. You get a beautiful display, plenty of processing power, a good bit of storage and a battery that will certainly last you all day. In this regard, the Icon competes but does not outshine, it sits dead even with the other top smartphones. So why should you consider the Icon over any other smartphone?
The most prominent feature is the screen. An AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 results in a pixel density of 441 ppi which places it in direct competition for the top spot in the smartphone rule, tied with the M8 at the absolute top of the category. The thin bezels belie an even bigger screen and I appreciate the deception, I like that the majority of possible real estate on the front of the phone is being used. A nice little feature that comes with the Icon is the addition of the Qi module to support wireless charging. I wish all phones would support these feature out of the box, it makes life easier and the Icon proves it can be done in a high end phone without sacrificing the form factor.
The next biggest difference is the software. Windows Phone 8 has been growing up fast and with the new 8.1 update now out with the Cortana personal assistant, Microsoft is working really hard to make the Windows Phone a viable competitor against iOS and Android and I’m inclined to say that they have finally managed to succeed with the 8.1 update. More apps continue to flow into the Windows Store plus the Live Tiles make the Windows Phone experience unique and efficient. The Cortana assistant seems to be the best of Google Now and Siri, providing reliable information while also providing a bit of whimsy with silly questions if you ever get bored.
The Icon is definitely the best Windows Phone available. With competitive specs in every department, the choice comes down to the OS you prefer. My personal experience with the Windows 8 (the 8.1 update is in beta, although you can download the developer version now) has been reliably effective. The Live Tiles are one of my favorite mobile innovations on any operating system, I love being able to have a quick glance at my home screen and get information without actually opening any apps. In the end, it’s your decision. Just remember to give the Icon a chance, it may just win you over.