Converting from Apple iPhone to Nokia Lumia 900

Having used the Apple iPhone for many years, I decided to switch over to the Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone to see what the new kid on the block has to offer.

The Nokia Lumia 900 Windows 7.5 smartphone, fresh out of the box.

The Nokia Lumia 900 Windows 7.5 smartphone, fresh out of the box.

I was given a Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone when it arrived in Singapore, so I’ve been using it for a while now, and I’m still with it.

First released in the US during CES 2012 in January this year, and then announced during MWC 2012 in February for markets outside the US, Nokia’s third Lumia smartphone has been available in Singapore since 26 May and retails for S$849.

I find the physical design of the Lumia 900 handsome and masculine. More importantly, the user interface is intuitive and smooth, while web-surfing and mail-checking performance is excellent. Social networking with the People Hub is also convenient and hassle-free.
To sum up, I ended up using my 7” tablet much less often than before.

What I like

Firstly, the design. I know the striking colour is the cyan, but I’m glad I had the black version. It’s a solid slab of masculinity.

If you need turn-by-turn navigation especially when travelling overseas, the Lumia 900 already pays for itself.

If you need turn-by-turn navigation especially when travelling overseas, the Lumia 900 already pays for itself.

At 11.5mm thick, the Lumia 900 is definitely not the most svelte model on the scene. If thin is your thing, go for the HTC One S instead.

I like the solid feel and heft when I hold the Lumia 900 in my palm.

The solid unibody and glass is really robust, despite the rough handling – like throwing the car keys and the Lumia in the same trousers pocket, and dropping it a coupla times – it’s got nary a scratch on body nor screen.

Display is bright and clear, even under strong sunlight.

The blacks are really black. Fonts are so clear that sometimes the red text appear receded below the other-coloured fonts (it’s an optical illusion).

Photos and video appear really vivid on the phone’s screen.

Photos taken tend to look a little washed out. Click to view original JPEG.

Photos taken tend to look a little washed out. Click to view original JPEG.

What I like best is the People tile – an organic app that consolidates updates from all my social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and displays them in a single time-line – so I don’t have to check multiple accounts to stay updated.

“… the Lumia 900 is bigger, faster and more powerful than its predecessors,” Nokia Lumia 900 for Singapore, tech4tea.com

Granted some features of each of the individual social networks are not available in this People app – for that, you still have to go into the individual Facebook and Twitter apps that you install separately from the Windows Marketplace..

But most of the time, I just want to glance through the People app for updates, so I find it most convenient and apt.

Another organic app is the Me tile. It’s another place where notifications of various social networks are displayed. I still can’t understand why the People and Me apps can’t be combined into one though.

Nokia Lumia 900
OS Windows Phone 7.5
Screen 4.3″
Resolution 800 x 480, WVGA
Battery 1,830 mAh
Processor 1.4 GHz Single Core Snapdragon APQ8055 + MDM9200
Camera Rear: 8mp (F2.2)
Front: 1.3mp (f2.4)
Video 720p @ 30 fps
Memory Int: 16 GB
Ext: Nil
Size /mm 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5
Weight 160 g
Price S$849

A very useful feature of the Me app is the “post a message” function, which allows me to post a single message to update multiple social networks – such as Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, you can’t post pictures or videos using this function.

You have to share your pictures or videos from from the camera roll within the Pictures tile – and you can only share them to one network at a time.

In the Pictures app, you’ll find photos from your Facebook account downloaded so you can easily browse through them.

I find this rather pleasant because I do that once in awhile. In fact, it also allows you to browse the photo albums of your friends on Facebook from within the Pictures app.

Like other OS’es, you can channel mail from several email accounts into a combined mailbox, so you don’t have to check a few different accounts one at a time separately.

Nokia Lumia 900 in the box.

Nokia Lumia 900 in the box.

For contacts, you can also group a few individual contacts into a Group. So you can just type an email or SMS once and send it out to multiple parties.

The display remains bright and viewable under bright sunlight and through reflective plastic.

The display remains bright and viewable under bright sunlight and through reflective plastic.

But the messages are still sent out as individual and separate messages to the respective members of the Group. And replies come one-on-one rather than broadcast within the whole group.

If you want group chat, you can download Whatsapp from the Marketplace. It’s free for Windows Phone.

Taking photos or videos? A dedicated button brings you straight into the camera app from standby – just hold down the button.

There’s no need to swipe the standby screen and then activate the camera app.

Recorded Videos (at 720p/30fps) are pretty okay while photos were decent with its 8-megapixel camera which comes with a large aperture of f/2.2 and wide angle of 28mm. It uses a Carl Zeiss lens and has dual LED flash.

用了几年 iPhone,今年中换了手机,开始试用 Nokia 的 Lumia 900。发觉这部 Windows 7.5 Mango 手机还可真不错。尤其是 Nokia Drive 运用程式 — 如果你常在国外驾驶,能够利用它帮忙导航,不需要花钱租购当地地图,也不必担忧数据电话费。” – 科技点心(微薄)

The organic Creative Studio app has enough adjustments and special effects for photos.

Unlike its predecessors, the Lumia 900 now has a front-facing 1-megapixel camera for video calls. It has an f/2.4 lens and records at 30fps.

The preloaded cross-platform Tango video-call app works smoothly with iPhones, Android phones and PCs/laptops as well.

Prefer to use your Skype account? Download it from the Marketplace.

As a Nokia phone, the Lumia 900 comes with Nokia Drive (see photo above), which provides turn-by-turn voice navigation to help you drive from one location to another.

Though it does not have as many options as dedicated portable navigation devices (such as choices for fastest route, cheapest route etc), it is good enough to get me around when I drive.

Its strongest point is that you can download, for free, maps for any country in the world.

The maps are downloaded so you won’t incur data roaming charges when using the app in another country.

That is very useful for me because we usually self-drive during our family holidays.

For entertainment, Nokia Music and Mix Radio apps are great for listening to music – whether you’re purchasing songs within the app, or listening to the radio channels for free.

What I dislike

I hate Zune, the PC software for syncing photos and video between the phone and the computer.

For the longest time, I was lost trying to figure out where each photo/video was residing and worried sick whether deleting a photo/video on the computer would get it deleted on the phone through synching.

The phone ships with only an app for an alarm clock, which does not have a stop-watch or timer.

I’m so used to these basic but useful functionalities on the iPhone and Android phones that I’ve come to expect it as given.

So you can imagine my indignation when I found I couldn’t time my jog and my wife couldn’t time her baking using the Lumia. Ridiculous!

I’m sure they have apps for those on the Marketplace. But you know, having to download an app for a basic functionality …

The next grouse is search. There is no universal search on the phone! To search your contacts, you need to be in your contacts list to use the contact list search button there.

There is a dedicated Search button on the phone, alongside the very useful Home and Back buttons. But this Search button only brings you to Bing search which does a web search.

I can do a web search by typing my search term in the address bar in the browser. In fact, that button is a nuisance.

Many times, I’ve pressed it accidentally – and then I had to back out to continue what I was doing.

What I need is for that Search button to do a search based on whatever I’m doing on the screen.

If I’m reading a web-page, pressing that Search button should allow me to do an in-page search (Yes – you can’t do that at the moment, not even as an Internet Explorer option).

If you’re in the Phone app, pressing that Search button should allow me to search my contact list, without having to go into the contact list in the People Hub.

And yes – may I have the universal search PLEASE!

I know many people feel that the tiles are too big and each tile takes up too much space, so you have to scroll a few screen before you get to the app you’re looking for (if you have many app tiles to display).

The Nokia Lumia 900 can last you the next 1-2 years even without a Windows 8 upgrade.

The Nokia Lumia 900 can last you the next 1-2 years even without a Windows 8 upgrade.

Well the Windows 7.8 update that’s coming up will provide a new tile-size – a quarter the size of the current square tile, so that’ll allow more apps to be squeezed onto each screen. Oh and you will be able to decide how big the tile to use for each app.

Bottom-line

So you’ve read my completely honest low-down on what I like and dislike about the Lumia 900. The question is – in the balance – would I choose the Lumia 900 over other smartphones?

Having given this much thought and having had the privilege of trying out numerous different makes and models (many of which I love), my conclusion is that I would.

In fact, I’m sticking with it for the long haul, because, despite all the dislikes (which other smartphones have their fair share of), it’s still a phone to love. It looks cool and it works great, and it kind of grows on you as you use it.

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