That's right, no deceptions here, no sneaky iPhone or Android gadget in my pocket. Just the 8.1-running Lumia 1020 (or indeed the 920, since I'm mainly testing the OS and applications here) alone.
And not just any 24 hours, but my busiest of the year. From a drive to a pub meet in the next county to a train and tube journey to East London to attend the Honor 10 launch event, I was trying to do all my comms, all my searches, all my navigation from this 2013 phone running a 2012 OS. Just in the interests of science and taking one for the AAWP team, you understand.
Perhaps the archetypal Windows Phone 8.1 phone, the 920... though I needed the extra camera prowess of the 1020 for my needs!
I'll present my findings graphically, in screenshot pairs by way of illustration, with comments - it's around 60% positive, though prepare yourself for some disappointments (most of which are solved by going to Windows 10 Mobile, though with the savage slowdown mentioned in the original article).
As mentioned in my previous article, the HERE suite is the star of the 8.1 show for me still. Updates coming in super-regularly still, plus speed limit and traffic awareness, arguably as good as Google Maps on Android. Note the colour-coded traffic ahead, the red speed limit warning, and the indication of 3 minutes delay due to traffic.
Being a podcast fan, I noted that Microsoft's 8.1 Podcasts app still works after a fashion, but only for feeds that you built up years ago - all searches for new shows fail now - presumably the queried server is now offline.
Lumia Camera is as good as ever, of course, aside from speed (on the 1020) almost the best phone camera experience ever?
Twitter is one of my staples, and Windows Phone 8.1 starts to struggle here. Tweetium (left) is fully featured but not terribly fast and is still limited to 140 characters per tweet; (right) the official Twitter client is also limited. How did we ever live with 'only' 140 characters?(!)
Late at night, I missed Windows 10's 'Flashlight' toggle, so had to resort to 2013's staple - the flashlight utility! There are several in the Store and they all do the same thing, starting the camera and overriding the video capture light; (right) in terms of entertainment, Windows Phone 8.1 is still well sorted. Netflix still works (amazingly), and there are plenty of YouTube clients, plus Videos handles any side-loaded footage and movies.
Happily, quite a few dedicated store and service applications are still working - in this case, keeping an eye on my remaining Three UK data allowance...
Heading into London on public transport, I was very pleased by HERE Transit still working at about 99%, guiding me round tube routes. The missing 1% is shown above, right: the 'buy tickets' links are now broken and over-verbose! Still, a huge pass again for the HERE software and data.
Keeping me going through the madness of London travel was podcasts, and by this time I'd loaded up old favourite Podcast Lounge and a load of newer but tasty podcasts.
Loving the usual Windows Phone 8.1/W10M way that Calendar status makes its way to the lockscreen - an excellent reminder every time the phone is turned on; (right) my Start screen under 8.1 - or at least the first pane of it! The cylinder icon is KeePassWin, by the way, with all my essential secret 'stuff', for emergencies.
Heading into towards the launch venue, again hugely impressed by HERE Transit, it never skipped a beat. From A to B, it always showed the alternative ways of getting around; (right) the London Underground utility, presenting live status and a pannable and zoomable map (sadly not cached, so once the app is closed you need to be online again to get it back!)
Some frustration followed - trying to access the PDF file with the right QR codes for access to the event. Outlook under 8.1 sulked at attachments on a Google account, with menu options greyed out and no joy at actually getting at my attachments anymore. (Happily, I made it into the event because I'd taken the precaution of grabbing the QR code as an image the previous day - phew!); (right) struggling again to post 280 character tweets, I found a way through the mobile web site, but the experience is so terrible in 2018 that I can't imagine anyone using it.
Heading home, this is in the excellent National Rail app for WP8.1, which still works very well; (right) entertainment on the way home in the Xbox Music app - fast and fluid, playing preloaded music from my device.
More frustrations - trying to check on my crypto, Internet Explorer is really showing its age when rendering modern web sites, many are borderline unusable now; (right) and for some reason, the entire 24 hours, I was locked out of my Outlook email, with this message. I tried restarting the phone, everything - I suspect that I might need another full device reset and rebuild to sort this - and I'm not prepared to do this right now!
Overall though, there was more that Windows Phone 8.1 got right than got wrong - I couldn't fault my 1020's photos and what I did with them; and (right) Whatsapp kept me in touch with family and friends throughout.
On the whole I think the plucky little S4-powered Lumia 1020 did rather well in terms of keeping me - and my schedule - on track, though it was something of a relief to break out my pretty modern Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9+ combination at the end of the 24 hour experiment.
If your needs are relatively simple in terms of what you expect a phone to do - so Whatsapp, telephony, navigation, Facebook and a few games - then Windows Phone 8.1 can still suffice. But even with my paid-up Lumia 1020 fan club hat on and even allowing for its imaging prowess it's hard to declare Windows Phone 8.1 as fully fit for purpose for what most 2018 users might demand. Yes, the interface is still fluid and responsive by Windows 10 Mobile standards, but it's still slower ('resuming...') than the vast majority of Android and iOS smartphones. And it pains me to say that.
So, if you have a Lumia 820, 920 or 1020 and you love it to bits then by all means hang onto it. Use it as needed, cherish it - you certainly don't need to sell it, since it's unlikely you'll make enough money to soften the blow of its loss*. Just don't kid yourself that it can do everything that's needed in 2018.
* I learned this lesson the hard way, selling my original Nokia N93 for a paltry cash sum back in 2008 and then regretting it ever since!