Many weeks have passed since I spoke of the horrid experience of WhatsApp on WP 8.1. Well, I am glad to say that after 2 updates to the preview for developers and 2 updates to WhatsApp, things are looking much better.
Windows Phone is now on version 8.10.12393.890 while WhatsApp is on version 2.11.494.
Finally, battery drain isnt as bad, the phone doesn’t heat as much, entering and exiting conversations is back to how it was in WP 8, and lastly we can set chat wallpapers!
On Microsoft’s side, it seems that the lack of optimizations for the Lumia 1520 chipset in WP 8.1 were holding it back before. These updates have fixed many performance issues and the coming Cyan update in the end of June is beginning to look promising.
I have used Whatsapp on many different platforms: Symbian, iOS, BBOS, BB 10, and Android. Never have I seen it run with such a lack of optimization and as slow as on Windows Phone. It was a horrible experience 2 years ago on the Lumia 800 and it has improved greatly since. This improvement is mostly due to the faster hardware. Still, it is no where near the speed it should be. The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a Snapdragon 800 on an operating system that is known for its efficiency, yet the second I open whatsapp, heavy battery drain and lag are instantly present. I have read that big updates are on the way but none have showed up yet.
While using the WP 8.1 Preview, Whatsapp was on average 3-5 times slower than when on WP 8. Opening chats took several seconds and sometimes didn’t even open. It was the main reason I went back to WP 8 as it was just unbearable for an app that I use constantly day in and day out.
I am curious though if on sub 1080p devices such as the Lumia 1020 whether or not Whatsapp runs better as it may be optimized for 480p and 720p screens. The icons on the Lumia 1520 within the app are grainy and it is clear that the app is not made for 1080p devices.
I will just put up with it for now and hope for future updates to address the many issues, especially in 8.1 for its release is nearing.
Feature wise, 8.1 has been a pleasure and joy to use. It looks great and feels great as you can see below. That is the end of the good.
Battery wise, there have been times where it drains randomly and slightly heats up on top and there are other times where it lasts decently at best. Last night, from 1:30 AM to 7:30 AM it drained from 100% to 91% while on wifi which is unacceptable for the so called GSM Arena battery king. The standby time has been cut significantly with this update and I really hope that with the official Nokia Firmware, things return to the way they were.
On top of random battery drains throughout the day where it would heat up and drain around 5% every time, performance has also taken a hit. The majority of apps run slightly slower after the update and the new Music and Videos apps are horrible too. I have faith that Microsoft will update these apps as they are standalone now but overall system performance needs to be fixed too. I am not sure if it is an optimization issue that Nokia can fix on their hardware or if it is a system wide issue that Microsoft needs to address, but while using the phone for extended periods of time, weird things begin to happen…
The start screen gets stuck in a loading or resuming state
The notification bar gets stuck and freezes the phone
The phone heats above the camera on the back while in my pocket
The UI lags sometimes which is unacceptable as a lag free experience is the reason I switched to Windows
The Music, Videos and Games apps are slow and always loading something
The volume would not get lower even though it showed it was getting lower
The power button works when it feels like it, even when the device is already on and unlocked sometimes it doesn’t work
Some apps such as viber barely work in the background
Random reboots (very rare but they happen)
All in all, these are only a start to all of the issues there are in the current build of 8.1 on the Lumia 1520. I must say though, I am still enjoying it and I am still getting through a full day without charging it. I would however like to go back to reaching almost 2 days without charging it.