I had recently written a post about the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 in another thread which has since been archived. It was an interesting thread. Anyway 3 weeks and 4 days after that post, I made an order today for a Samsung Note 2 phone. I did lots of research into this topic, made a huge spreadsheet in MS excel comparing it with the Lumia 820/920 and iphone 5. For anyone who is interested, I'll just share some part of what I learnt in the past three weeks. Bear in mind that what I say is not 100% accurate so please be gentle. I am happy to stand corrected. Also, I will only list out points which I researched into which is important to me - apologies from me if things which are important to you (such as camera quality) are not mentioned below.
I won't list out all the top level hardware and software specs. They can be found on the internet.
Basic apps (OS / firmware): The performance of the core apps such as browser, notepad, calender, tasks list, emails, social apps (FB etc), phone calling, SMS and contacts are generally good for all three. Assuming one makes the effort (and a huge one for me) to migrate to that OS i.e. from MS to Google for me (from Outlook/Hotmail to Gmail), then all three OS is fine.
Synchronisation to desktop (lets assume Window 8 = W8):
Here, none of them did well. I initially thought that Window Phone 8 (WP8) would do best in this area but actually Android and iOS does better. For photos, videos and documents, WP8 sync to W8 default to the Microsoft Skydrive. A user uses the Lumia phone, create these files, save to Skydrive by default, and the files will automatically be added to a skydrive folder (skydrive app) in W8. So far so good. The same is not true going the other way. A new file added to Skydrive from a W8 desktop will not be automatically pushed to WP8. This works the same as google drive and icloud I believe - the rationale is that as a phone's capacity is usually smaller than a desktop skydrive folder, an automatic push of new file to the phone will blow up the phone's storage capacity. However, in the case of google drive and icloud for example a file change will be sync'd to the phone, but W8's Skydrive will not.
I do note that the above issue can be resolved with say dropbox as an example, so there is still a solution on WP8.
One thing I noted in my previous post was the sync of broswer bookmarks. It turns out the WP8 and W8 is the only one of the three OS which misses out on this feature. This is because IE10 on WP8 does not support this feature and AFAIK IE10 is the only browser available on WP8.
I originally thought that being an MS person (use MS outlook for contact and email) I can keep using MS Outlook when I move to iphone 5 or android phone, but sync of contacts, tasks, calendar is actually quite difficult and has risk of duplicate entries and data losses. It is still possible with either native or third party app though. I thought that WP8 will do better here but in fact it does worse. There is no automatic synchronisation between Outlook 2010 and Outlook.com. Surprising as it may seem, Android and iOS actually sync better with Outlook 2010 (my desktop outlook program) than WP8. Sync between Outlook 2010 and Outlook.com can only be done manually using export/import. I'd expect this to be automatic.
Backup of data to desktop or to cloud:
This point is mainly to serve as backup in the event of a catastrophic phone device failure. Here, icloud does best as it promises to back up 100% of everything. Android will only back up down to the individual apps level but apps data is not guaranteed. However there are Android apps out there which will back up even the apps data for you automatically. WP8 is the same as Android i.e. will only back up down to the individual apps level but apps data is not guaranteed. Unlike Android however, WP8 currently has no 3rd party apps which will back up the apps data. Therefore, here WP8 does worst.
Obviously the primary mean of user input for all 3 phones is the touchscreen input. However, WP8 here actually does worst because whilst the Nokia Lumia 820/920 has a very good touchscreen, iOS and Android both have third party apps which will enhance the input interface beyond the default. For example, there are 3rd party keyboard apps which will allow a keyboard with a row of numbers on top. This is important to me because I often need to type a mixture of numbers and letters. The SG N2 has a pen of course which adds another dimension to user interfacing. The pen will be important for me as I know I like writing using a pen to make notes and I am looking forward to using it to make both drawings and (more importantly) handwriting-recognition notes.
Initially, when I saw the adverts for SGN2 where they write drawings on their notepad and scribbles I immediately had an afterthought on how the phone is going to save and backup these drawings and scribbles. It turns out that they can be saved in either pdf or jpeg format. For me, I'll most likely skip these formats and use MS Onenote for Android which will allow some form of searchability and forward compatibility.
SGN2 can handle copy and paste best of the three. This is a feature which I will use often mainly when using the inbuilt office apps and also copying text off web browser and into another application.
File explorer and security:
File explorer is available in Android natively, iOS via third party app only and not available at all in WP8. I must note that this is neither a good or bad point as programmers will consider the presence of file manager programs in any OS a major source of security risk and it gives too much power to the user to do things which are not intended. As many will recognise, this is a result of the 'walled-garden' approach which WP8+iOS have versus Android. It is thoroughly possible that Android will in time proves itself to be the most unstable OS amongst the three in terms of security but right now it is not my main concern yet simply because I don't know how it will bites me in the future.
After sale services:
I have read a few bad stories of long turnaround time for phone maintenance services for Samsung versus Apple and Nokia. However, from reading the web forums the reliability of SGN2 is not bad and probably no worse than iphone5 and Lumia
I have read some bad stories of battery drain on both iphone5 and SGN2 but they mostly seem to be related to the 4G network of individual cell services provider. A step down to 3G will resolve the issues.
Finally, I noted that a number of people said that the S Pen on the SGN2 can cause many small issues. Usually it can be resolved by pen replacement.
I also note a long turnaround time by Samsung to release Android version update for their phones. However, I do not see it as a showstopper right now.
Up to this point, I am still quite ambivalent towards all three. The main deciding point then for me are the apps, which leads me to iOS and Android. The 4 inch screen on the iphone 5 then became a sticking point for me as I wanted a phone with a bigger screen, and so I choose the SGN2.
To me the Lumia 820/920 would have done best if outlook.com and outlook 2010 can sync between themselves. I am not prepared to stop using my desktop outlook program yet and if there is no sync between the two then the most important benefit I can get from the Lumia disappears. I am happy that it has MS Office natively but Office 365 (which is the version Lumia has) doesn't offer any major advantage to iWork or Doc to go as long as I do not use pivot tables or VBA on the spreadsheets (in any case features like these are not compatible with Office 365 either). At a high level, WP8 and W8 are not any closer together in terms of sync than iOS to W8 or Android to W8. A closer bond between my W8 desktop and WP8 will be much appreciated. To conclude a lot more needs to be added to WP8 before I can start using it. As far as hardware is concerned, Lumia 820/920 is definitely up there with iphone5 and SGN2.