Model name: Nokia Lumia 900
Body: Unibody polycarbonate
OS: Windows 7.5
Processor: Single-core 1.4Ghz Snapdragon
Storage: 16GB (No additional card slot)
Display: 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack
Camera: 8MP Carl Zeiss AF with LED Flash (Video: 720p), 1MP front-facing camera
Colours: White, Black, Cyan, Pink
Battery life: Up to 8 hours talk time, up to 400 hours standby
Price: Approximately 49,000 rupees
Imagine a world where there are more Windows phones than iPhones. Seems highly unlikely, right? But that’s what Gartner predicted for the year 2015 in one of its reports last year. And this is precisely how Nokia backed its claim about eventual smartphone market dominance at a ‘sneak preview’ for the Lumia 900 phone series.
Nokia (as always) was more than fashionably late in “officially” releasing the phone in Pakistan as less than a month later they launched the upgraded 920 globally. To see whether the speculations about the phone were far-fetched or spot-on, I took the phone for a ride to see what was in store – and mind you, I got a few surprises, of both the good and the bad kind.
Design, finish and feel
The phone comes with a sleek outer look and feel. With its colourful unibody polycarbonate design, Lumia 900 looks quite unlike other phones on the market.
Measuring 2.7 inches across by 5.03 inches vertically and 0.45 inches thick, it’s not the smallest or thinnest device in the market. The speaker is located at the bottom of the phone, with the headphone jack, microUSB port and SIM slot at the top. Along the right side are the device’s volume, power /sleep, and the dedicated camera buttons.
The polycarbonate material feels great in your palm, and the phone looks bold and funky in the available colours.
Compared to other devices in the category, the Lumia 900 lacks the specifications on paper to make it worth a long-term investment. With only a single-core Snapdragon processor clocked in at 1.4Ghz, the device doesn’t do much to catch up with the increasing computing power requirements. And with just 512MB of RAM on board, it doesn’t help much. Also, an un-upgradable 16GB of on-board storage make matters worse for the user.
Display and camera
Although the ClearBlack 4.3-inch AMOLED display impressed me at first boot, it failed miserably to please me further after a few hours of video. The Lumia 900 manages a resolution of only 800x480p, while other competing phones deliver up to 1280×720 pixels. The physical Gorilla Glass screen is slightly bulged at the top to go with the phone’s design. Also, I found that the colours were not as vibrant as expected.
Lumia 900 comes with an adequate 1MP front-facing and an eight megapixel primary camera with Carl Zeiss optics. However, despite the Carl Zeiss optics, shots from the Lumia’s camera fell a mile short of outstanding photo results. My Samsung Galaxy delivers more appealing shots, even though it’s ‘only’ 5MP.
Performance, stability and user experience
As far as stability issues are concerned, Lumia 900 outdid its Android counterparts. It was most noticeable when I streamed videos – very smooth and fast, with no glitches or hiccups. Although the stock video player left a lot to be desired, as far as smooth video is concerned, the 900 beats any other phone with similar hardware specifications.
Typing on the phone was a delight. The keyboard is fluid and responsive, and I was quite pleased as my fingers glided over the keys like butter. Be it texting, posting on Facebook, or using the browser, the keyboard delivered a really smooth typing experience.
I found the Windows 7.5 user interface quite minimalistic. Easy to operate and navigate around, you don’t really need a manual to learn how to get around the software. All you need to do is pick up the phone and simply start using it.
One thing that did bug me though was the accessibility of menus. It takes you a few minutes, and several clicks, to figure out how you can change the preferences on the People hub app, for example.
Social features and App market
This brings us to what we believe is the most striking feature: the People hub app. Believe me when I say this – and I was quite surprised too – it took less than 30 seconds for the phone to fetch and setup all my social media contacts on the phone, and integrate it with the phone’s built-in social feature. All I had to do was enter my Facebook login details, and all my friends were automatically integrated as contacts into the phone, ready to be accessible directly from the People Hub app.
Not only does it integrate your social media contacts, even the phone’s Gallery automatically downloads and syncs with your Facebook pictures. You don’t have to even open Facebook to browse through your friends’ photos – you can do it right through the Pictures Gallery.
A conveniently-placed ‘Me’ app tile brings you your notifications from all your social media accounts combined in one place. If all this integration sounds useless to you (it shouldn’t by the way, if you prefer innovation) you can always use the Facebook app from the marketplace rather than integrating your account with the phone’s social features.
This brings us to the burning issue that may make or break things for Windows phones: the App Market. The sheer number of applications available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play is simply far ahead of what Microsoft has been able to offer on its Marketplace.
Although the 900 is a good phone, Nokia still has a long way to go to dominate the smartphone arena. Compared to its newborn cousin, the 900 lacks NFC functionality, wireless charging capabilities, improved computing power, and most importantly, an update to Windows 8.
Though the Lumia 900 is not at all a bad toy to play with if you’re the impatient geek, I would suggest waiting for the 920 to be made available in Pakistan before you make the plunge for a Windows Phone.