Windows Phone 7.8 review

After many months of waiting impatiently, the Windows Phone 7.8 update for my Nokia Lumia 900 (and many other 7.x devices) has finally been released. I installed the update as soon as I was able to and have been playing with it for the past few days.

The Good

First impressions were good. The new start screen mimics what the Windows Phone 8 OS can do. Tiles can now be re-sized and the gutter on the right side of the start screen has been removed, allowing for more tile real-estate. I probably spent a good hour or two updating the layout of my start screen. The amount of customization you can do here is great.

Many more theme colors have also been included. This gives you even more customizing options. Unfortunately though, I have the cyan Lumia 900 which means only the blueish colored themes look good (at least to me). The other colors look great but don’t really match my cyan-colored chassis at which point my O.C.D. kicks in.

A few other minor improvements were added, including an enhanced lock-screen and updated icons for certain Microsoft apps, like games and Office.

The Bad

The only downside to this upgrade is that it doesn’t really enhance anything else. As I mentioned above, first impressions were good, but those feelings quickly wear off when you start to realize that there’s no other new or improved features included. I wasn’t expecting to get all the features of the Windows Phone 8 OS, but some additional features would have been nice (like the ability to take screenshots).

The Ugly

There’s only one thing so far that has really irked me with this update. The music controls on the lock-screen have been changed. I listen to music on my phone quite often. Before the update the music controls were imprinted onto the lock-screen, which made them easily accessible. The update changed this. Now these controls will only show when the volume rocker is pressed. There are a few problems with this setup.

First, when you first wake up the phone, the volume and music controls are displayed (which is good). But those controls are then quickly hidden and you’re left looking at your now nonfunctional lock-screen. Hitting the volume rocker brings the controls back, but it’s an additional step that I didn’t have to perform in the past.

Second, the volume and music controls are now in the way of notifications. If I’m listening to music while the phone’s screen is off and a text message comes in, then the screen turns on with the music controls at the top of the screen. These controls are now overlapping the text message notification. I have to wait for the music controls to minimize before I can see the notification. This wasn’t an issue before the update, but now it is.

Thankfully though, this is the only real issue with the 7.8 update. The way I see it, this update has essentially reduced the ease of controlling your music. Why they did this I do not know. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it has definitely left a sour taste in my mouth.

Overall it’s nice to finally have this update for my phone. The new and mostly cosmetic enhancements have helped make the phone feel new again, albeit only for a short time.

Nick Villescas

I'm an IT professional, musician, and PC gamer with a particular fondness of all things tech-related. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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