Thanks to the good folks at Nokia & Nokia Connects, we got our hands on the Nokia Lumia 900 to take it out for a spin quite a while back. We have to apologize for not getting this review out to you sooner, but we just got held up with a lot of other things which have been keeping us busy. Here’s our much delayed review of the phone.
The White Lumia 900 is quite a looker, and feels quite sleek. Having used the Nokia Lumia 800 which also has a polycarbonate body, but the White Lumia 900’s body feels much more slicker that the 800’s.
The Lumia 900 is the third phone in the Lumia series after the 710 and the 800. All 3 phones come with the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system. We have had the opportunity to use all 3 phones extensively. The Lumia 900 is Nokia’s flagship device and will be launched in India in Q3 2012. Let’s get a quick look at the specs before heading out in to the review.
Nokia Lumia 900 Specifications
- 4.3″ AMOLED Clear Black Gorilla Glass Display
- Display resolution – 800 x 480 px
- 8 Megapixel rear camera, with Carl Zeiss Optics and a 1 Megapixel front facing camera
- Video Capture at 720p
- Dual LED Flash
- 3G / WiFi / DLNA / Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity
- 3.5 mm Audio connection & MicroUSB wired connection
- FM Radio
- Windows Phone 7.5, upgradable to 7.8
The Lumia 900 stays true to the Nokia’s of old and has excellent build quality and a solid polycarbonate shell. There were absolutely no creaks or deflections during our time with it. We put it through some rough use and there wasn’t a single mark of our abuse at the end. It is one of the most solidly built devices I’ve ever used. All this solidity has a downside which is weight. It weighs in at 160 grams which is by today’s standards, quite a bit. Just for the sake of comparison, both the new Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X weigh 130 grams. Its 11.5mm thick compared to S III and the One X’s 8.6mm and 8.9mm respectively.
It has a Qualcomm APQ8055 Snapdragon chipset with a 1.4 GHz Scorpion CPU which is the same clock speed as the Lumia 800 and the Samsung Omnia W. The 710 has 16 Gb of internal storage with 512 Mb of ram and an Adreno 205 GPU. I
t comes with the usual array of sensors and A-GPS with GLONASS. Being a windows phone based device has the usual 3 buttons at the bottom which are the back button on the extreme left, the home key in the centre and the search key on the right. There is no micro SD slot (like other WP phones) which could be a problem for some. The display is a 4.3” capacitive Nokia ClearBlack unit protected by Corning Gorilla glass.
The Lumia has around ~217 ppi. The 3.5mm headphone jack, noise cancellation mic, micro USB slot for charging/data sync, and the micro sim slot are at the top of the phone. The right hand side has the volume up/down buttons, a, power button and dedicated camera shutter button. The back has an 8 megapixel autofocus camera with Carl Zeiss lens and dual LED flash. There are no buttons on the left hand side of the phone. The bottom has the speaker grille that’s beautifully drilled through the polycarbonate.
The Lumia 900 uses the Windows Phone Mango operating system which pretty much says it all but we’ll elaborate as much as possible on the interface and its advantages and disadvantages.
After slotting in the micro SIM card and the device is switched ON for the first time, you need to enter or create a Live ID. Without a live id, you cant download apps through the marketplace. After that’s done, you can go ahead and setup as many Email IDs as you like from the usual options like Gmail, Yahoo mail, MS Exchange and so on. Facebook and Twitter are fully integrated into WP and also can be added during the initial setup. Contacts can also be synced through your online accounts or from your PC using the Zune software which is freely downloadable.
Windows Phone has a user interface called Metro. There is never a want for more processing power or memory. The response is extremely fluid and I was never left waiting for anything. It basically replaces the icons found in android and IOS with live square tiles. Just like you would add a shortcut icon in android phones, you can add tiles of your most commonly used apps, contacts etc. Live tiles are really easy to use and visually pleasing especially if you’re used to the boring icons in other operating systems. You can create live tiles for apps or for particular contacts. That live tile will then display that contact’s profile picture and any Facebook and twitter updates. You could have individual live tiles for each of your email ID’s or you could link all of them to create one linked inbox. The email in all WP phones is really good and I didn’t see the grouping errors seen previously on the other WP phones.
All windows phones have universal volume and you cannot change volume for specific apps or events. For example, you cannot change media volume without also affecting the ringer volume. I really liked this change because it meant I could reduce volume before music or videos started.
Windows phone has the PEOPLE live tile which can be use to access your People hub which has Phone contacts, your contacts’ Facebook and twitter updates on one page and live tiles of your frequently used contacts. There is also a ME live tile which can be used to update your Facebook and twitter status, view any notifications and updates.
Messaging on WP phones is integrated with Facebook messaging. Provided you are logged into Facebook, you will receive all your Facebook messages and phone messages in the same inbox which is a nice touch. Windows marketplace is quite good and is growing everyday. There are thousands of apps that can be downloaded. The marketplace is still not as evolved as IOS and Android but it’ll get there eventually. The quality of apps is still not up there. There are some inherent flaws in the WP operating system. For example, new mails and missed calls show up on the lock screen but any other notification from any application will not show up on the lock screen. This will only show up on a live tile. So, if you don’t have a live tile for that application, seconds after it goes bleep bleep, there is no further notification. This is a problem with apps like Whatsapp, Meedoh (twitter app) and so on. The other problem is the only way you can receive mails instantly is through MS Exchange. If you set up the email account as well standard account, you’ll have to set it to poll for email at predefined intervals. All in all, i do not think these are major problems, but they are problems none the less.
As stated earlier, the Lumia 900’s display is a 4.3” capacitive Nokia ClearBlack unit protected by Corning Gorilla glass with ~217 ppi. This is quite low because all 3 Lumia series phones have the same 480 x 800 resolution and the same number of pixels have been stretched to fit this screen. If you compare this to the S3 and the One X which have 720 x 1280 pixels side by side, you can definitely make out the lower resolution. The iPhone 4S which was released last October has a resolution of 640 x 960 (on a smaller screen) just as a comparison. But, although the ppi count is low, the pixels are not that easily visible, so it’s not that much a problem during everyday use. It has decent sunlight viewing ability and extremely good touch response.
All aspects with respect to the telephony on the phone were subpar. Most voices were muddled and it was difficult to comprehend many sentences. I also found it quite uncomfortable to hold at my ear and during a long call and i ended up with really warm ears after some reasonably long calls. The in-call volume is also quite low. The signal also suddenly dropped to zero from 3-4 bars many times and it gets back the signal in 5-10 seconds. The volume on speaker is also compartively lower.
In our camera tests, we did notice a pink or purplish hue on some of the day-time snaps which we took on the Lumia 900. As you can see above, the snap on the left is from the Lumia 900 and the right from a Galaxy S3. Notice the difference?
Apart from the stock camera app on the phone, you can also now use Camera Extras app from the Windows Marketplace, which extends your phone’s camera to take Panorama photos and the Smart Group shot feature. In the Smart Group shot feature, you can take up to 5 photos of your group and choose the best poses of your friends across these photos and create a single “Perfect” shot!
Here’s a video of the Camera Extras available for the Lumia phones:
The Nokia Lumia 900 was the first of the Lumia range of phones to get the Wifi Hotspot feature. You can turn you phone’s 3G connection into a Wifi access point, and allow other devices to use your phone’s Internet connection. This is a useful feature for people travelling around with a lot of Wifi gadgets, but just one 3G connection on their phone.
Nokia Music & Nokia Mix Radio
Nokia Music and Mix Radio allow people using the Lumia 900 to get access to ‘free’ legal music from Nokia. Nokia Music subscription service in India is free for the first few months, with DRM music downloads, which is yours to keep even after the subscription period ends.
If you don’t feel like searching for new music to listen to, Mix Radio is just what you need. Select a music genre on Mix Radio, and you get streaming music based on that genre of music. You can also take the your Mix music on the move, by downloading them for offline use. Of course, tracks on Mix Radio cannot be copied off the device. For that, there’s Nokia Music.
Nokia specific Apps
As with other Lumia phones, the Lumia 900 comes with your favorite Nokia apps as well like Nokia Drive, Maps and Contact transfers among others. The list is becoming bigger as time progresses.
What do we think?
The phone is generally good. We did face some issues with call and signal drops, but the device being a review piece this could be attributed to the pre-release quirks of the device. The camera’s pink splotches need a firmware fix to fix that. Apart from these quirks, we just loved the large screen on this phone. Nokia should make more devices with larger screens like this. It makes using the phone and apps so much more enjoyable. The build quality has the usual Nokia goodness, and is quite the looker!
Number one on the list is the late introduction of the Lumia 900 in India. Q3 is way too late in the game to release a phone like this in the Indian market, especially in the light of Microsoft’s latest announcement that the current Lumia range wouldn’t get a bump up to Windows Phone 8, but rather an intermediate 7.8 only. This should have been out in the market months back!
For more information about the Nokia Lumia 900, head out to Nokia’s Lumia 900 product page.
Vinu Thomas contributed to this review.