Layman’s Take on Nokia Lumia 900–Bigger sibling or a new character?


A little bit late than rest of the world but finally Nokia Lumia 900 is introduced to Indian Market in a rather silent way than Nokia India had launched other Lumia siblings in past. A bit less buzz about this handset might be due to proximity of Nokia Lumia 820/920 around the corner. When it paid a visit to Layman’s Take, then there were some harsh questions to be asked.

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While it was the most prettiest Nokia handset ever that would have came to my hands, the questions were still fierce:

  1. Is Nokia Lumia 900 is just an enlarged Nokia Lumia 800?
  2. Does the biggest screen from Nokia till date makes it hard to handle?
  3. How the different build feels better than Nokia Lumia 800 or Nokia N8 likes?
  4. The new display in Lumia 900 any different than Lumia 800? For good or for bad?
  5. Is it worth to buy Nokia Lumia 900 when you can get a Lumia 800 for cheap?
  6. Is it worth to buy a high end Nokia Lumia 900 when Nokia Lumia 820/920?

So, let’s read ahead to know that how I found out this beautiful Nokia Lumia 900?


Nokia Lumia 900 – The unboxing

When the review unit is as tempting as Nokia Lumia 900, its hard to contain self from opening it and the same was the reason that I needed to do a simulated unboxing for your pleasure.

 

 

The white beauty contains the following contents inside Indian Retail Package:

  • Nokia Lumia 900 Handset
  • Nokia Fast USB Charger (AC-16U) (My box had UK charger I guess)
  • Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD
  • Nokia Stereo Headset WH-902
  • Quick Guide, User Guide and Product information leaflet
  • SIM Door Key

The Indian Retail package also adds up Nokia J Bluetooth headset as festival gift.

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One thing that is missing here is the cover for the device as it been part of package with Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia N9.

One thing that I would like to convey about the retail package that Nokia should try to match the accessories with the device itself in color as well means white cables, white headsets and white charger and white leaflets with white handset and similarly for other colors. May be they already doing it but it was not the case with my review unit.


Nokia Lumia 900 – The Exteriors, the legacy

One tragedy with Nokia is, people often miss to give them their due credits. Let’s revisit some of the things which been heritage to Handset industry by Nokia. The things which would have been probably separate industries if Nokia didn’t took them as philosophy.

  • Internet to mobiles which led the foundation stone of what we call smartphone.
  • Making Camera Phones mainstream (Nokia actually is responsible of making Kodak go bankrupt).
  • Bringing Maps to Smartphones at Zero cost & adding another dimension in Smart.
  • Continuous enhancement & innovation around build quality of phones starting from first Internal Antenna to uni-body builds to wireless charging capable back.

While here I am not mentioning about the R&D in GSM Tech that led foundation stone of entire industry and still ongoing research about NFC Tech. Apple is always credited for making Touch phones as main stream, bringing simplicity & world of apps to mobiles, but is only that aspect defines a Smart phone? Think about it while I am ending this short rant here.

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Coming over the build quality, then look at the handset in white and remember how rest of the world is fighting over Square/ Rectangles and launching flagship handsets with “elastic” back panel.

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You will say that we have seen the same build with Nokia N9/ Lumia 800 already and its just enlarged version of it. But trust me, you have see both the devices from the front of believe that what difference the bigger size makes.

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Little noticed fact but this is the biggest screen that Nokia has ever bring to their Mobile Phones market till date (820 & 920 are not in market yet). Even though there are even more bigger screen phones around (some of which even elephants can operate), I was curious that how it would feel like in hands with that bigger screen and not that negligible weight (160g). Trust me, it feels divine. Neither too light like my Galaxy S nor way heavy like Nokia Pureview 808. Smaller bezels around and 5:3 aspect ratio along with very well  balanced weight fits perfectly into hands. Initially I didn’t expected this to go well with one handed operations but compactness of this device surprised me.

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So, one of the question get answered that its not hard in handling and can be used easily with one hand. If the weight was a little more then it would have been an issue to slippery ends.

Now, the other question, is it just an enlarged Lumia 800?

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In a way, yes, it is an enlarged Lumia 800. I am not saying this on the basis of design cues otherwise all of iPhones would be termed as the same. But saying this on the basis of no differentiator between the two expect the size. We have a better screen tech here and a front camera, but that’s a mere enhancement and not some separate identity. It would have been so if Microsoft\Nokia at least would have integrated Skype within or would have promised a WP8 update for the same device or something that sort of.

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Despite of similar looks, there are difference on the top side of the devices and I would say Lumia 900 stands on rather negative side due to absurd mechanism of opening the SIM slot and open MicroUSB slot despite of having a valid alternative presented by the precedent.

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Apart from the difference in top and visible screen bump, rest of the device looks exactly same in shapes and placement though the large screen definitely changes entire experience which can be believed only when a Lumia 800 takes the device in hand for a while. I already seen lots of envy users in my office as we recently distributed around 20 Nokia Lumia 800 handsets to some employees. Nokia Lumia 800 actually pales down badly when stands next to Nokia Lumia 900.

So, yes! its an enlarged but the extra size and better screen tech makes the experience go way better, either it be typing or viewing pictures/movies or reading web.

Now the next question, How the different build feels better than Nokia Lumia 800 or Nokia N8 likes?

Its convincing that Nokia couldn’t have used the metal for uni-body construction & probably we won’t see full uni-body metallic builds for more than 4” handset due to the weight, it would have added. So, only solution for current generation handsets is to go with hardened plastic or to use some other durable materials which don’t interfere with signals.

While rest of the colors come with same matte finish as was of Nokia Lumia 800, the glossy ceramic finish is with the white model only and that too for a reason. The matte finish with White color would have been hard to keep clean.

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Now coming over the new display, despite of having lower ppi than Nokia Lumia 800 due to a bigger size and still the same resolution, the display looks better over its smaller sibling due to the change in screen tech. In place of PenTile, now it uses full RGB and hence the real pixels. Also the colors are 24bit now in comparison to 16 bit of Nokia Lumia 800 means more vivid colors.

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The people who have sharp eyes can see that what difference that does make in the above picture.

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Also the other difference is, the glasses are not curved anymore like Nokia N9 or Lumia 800 as you can see from the above picture, means not that seamless when it slips through your hands which been prime attraction about Nokia N9 and Lumia 800. But on the other hand, Windows Phone OS wasn’t making any profit from that either, in the way MeeGo was pulling. Still, some of people who might have hands on the Nokia Lumia 800, will feel a little sad as it was one of the attraction.

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The other difference from Nokia Lumia 800 is the front camera. We have a 1MP camera in the front of the device that is capable of capturing 720p video at 30fps. Gone those Nokia days of insisting on a VGA camera only.

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We still have the buttons at one side of the device.

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The top is no more push and pop out kind of but you need a pin to pull it out in a weird way. Obviously, I hate this because one definitely can’t be carrying that pin with him all the time and what if he needs to change the SIM in emergency somewhere?

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The bottom of the device remains the same as Nokia Lumia 800.

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Coming over the back, we have a DUEL LED Flash and an 8MP Carl Zeiss camera at the back in the similar ways as it been on Nokia Lumia 800. The camera is exactly the same specs by specs.


Nokia Lumia 900 – The Interior, the bumped up specs

Nokia Lumia 900 is quite an upgrade from Nokia Lumia 800 if we compare the specs:

  • Dimensions: 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5 mm, 90 cc,160 g (slimmer than Nokia Lumia 800, 12.1mm)
  • Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh a.k.a. Tango (OS version 7.10.8779.8)
  • 4.3” AMOLED, ClearBlack Corning Gorilla Glass Screen with a WVGA resolution of 800×480 pixels, 24 bit RGB Display (Lumia 800 had 16 bit colors and also PenTile display)
  • 1.4 GHz Single Core CPU, APQ8055 Snapdragon S2 chipset, Adreno 205 GPU
  • 512 MB RAM, 16 GB Mass Memory (Plus 25GB SkyDrive), no Micro SD Card support though
  • HSDPA+ Dual Carrier Cat24 42 Mbps, HSUPA Cat6 5.76 Mbps, WLAN IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • It got Penta band connectivity while Nokia Lumia 800 had Quad Band connectivity. LTE in AT & T variant
  • 3D Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Gyroscope and Compass
  • 8.0 Megapixels Carl Zeiss AF camera with an aperture  f/2.2
  • 720p video recording resolution with 30fps
  • 1.0 MP front camera with capability of 30fps 720p recording
  • FM Radio (with a very simplistic UI)
  • 2 Microphone inside, one serving purpose of active noise cancellation
  • Micro SIM Support only
  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR (without capability of Dial up connection or Data Transfer)
  • BP-6EW 3.7V 1830mAh removable battery

Not only processor and display are upgraded but also the addition of front camera and Gyroscope fills the gaps that were remained with Nokia Lumia 800. We also got the first of 720p front camera from Nokia finally. Higher speed connectivity and for AT & T, its been first Nokia LTE device.

We have a bigger battery though the bigger display compensate for the same and screen on time is not exactly more than Nokia Lumia 800, not less than that either. Though the standby battery is definitely superb, better than any of other Lumia device.

So, the flagship device now ticks all the boxes except NFC that is obviously untouchable due to lack of OS support as of now. Finally we can do the Skype video calls in the way, it should be. Let’s see if Integration of Skype reaches to first generation Lumia devices like Nokia Lumia 900.


Nokia Lumia 900 – Software Impressions

As I covered Windows Phone OS extensively in my giant Nokia Lumia 800 post, so not much is left to talk about that side. Only difference, now we have a bigger space to play with, little bit larger keyboard means easy to slide the fingers, more room for viewing movies and pictures and that too with much better vividness.

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Its easy to spot the difference in picture quality if you keep both the handsets side by side.

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More room for keys keeping the same one handed use ability.

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Can be felt more easily when you use it in landscape mode.

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With Gyroscope, now the phone can be utilized in some more ways and games can be more interactive. Like the above app checks the inclination of the car while driving.

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The biggest beneficiary of Nokia Lumia 900 is Skype, which now can do video calls utilizing the front camera, which is more natural with 720p recording.

Also there are some fun new apps, but which look good over bigger screen only, like the above SilveOS. Not much productive but very much fun.

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The Offline Nokia is great fun with the bigger screen.

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You get the information about the next coming turn, information about the expected time to reach and the current speed. Only thing that is missing with Nokia Drive is estimation of traffic in correct sense which would make this thing much more awesome.

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Some of the features like My Commute which automatically learns your daily driving habits and suggest accordingly is not available in India right now. Also somehow my review unit couldn’t enable Nokia Music Unlimited though that should be available with retail units.

The disappointment from the OS to me still been some of following mainly:

  • No central notification system.
  • Flicking through apps is not that simple if you use too many apps.
  • No smart Dial in Dialer. You need to go to contact or type complete number.
  • It didn’t sync to my car’s Bluetooth, otherwise it would have been a flawless companion.
  • Awesome Mail experience but only pictures can be attached to mails not docs, which is a cruel joke.

Update:

As confirmed by Juan Donis,

  • We can have Tiles for notifications and prioritize the notifications.
  • The jump search may help a little though yes it’s a new paradigm to flick through apps.
  • We have a number of apps to replace the Dialer. Just install the app and pin it to the Tile.
  • Car BT Sync issue might be with individual models as Juan reports that it works with FIAT.
  • Docs can be attached via Office App though no doc attachment (only pictures) from the Mail App itself.

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Nokia Lumia 900 – Front and Main Camera skills

While the Main Camera has the same skills as Nokia Lumia 800, the front camera left me very impressed about it.

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Do you feel that the above picture is taken by the front camera of Nokia Lumia 900?

Check out the video sample as well which is again taken from the front camera only. Impressed?

Now coming over Main Camera, rather than describing anything from my side, I leave it to readers to check out the pictures and judge themselves.

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The above is a shot taken from front camera of Nokia Lumia 900 with use of Dual LED Flash.

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The above shot is taken in proper light. Not sure but I always found Windows Phone shots a little bit over-processed about colors if I compare them with Nokia N8 or Nokia N9.

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The above is a low light shot from the Main Camera of Nokia Lumia 900.

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A macro shot from Nokia Lumia 900 focusing over the object and blurring the rest.

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One more Macro Shot from Nokia Lumia 900.

A rough video sample from Main Camera of Nokia Lumia 900.


Nokia Lumia 900 stands a best companion for travelling

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While there might be differences about other aspect but one thing that no one can deny is, Nokia Lumia 900 stands as one of the best travel companion. Here is why?

  1. Head turner: It is a head turner for sure. People are bound to notice you with this beautiful device which stands out due to its unique design than other phones. Its something that might help people to start communicating with you in trips and what’s better to find like minded friends at new places while travelling?
  2. Awesome navigation experience: First day of the device and I didn’t had the MicroSIM with me. I connected the phone with Laptop, updated it with latest maps of my region and in the evening, I was able to search the nearby Landmark to my home even though phone was in offline mode. Opened Nokia Drive and the phone was perfectly guiding me through all the way back to home without a single glitch.

    No accented voice for navigation, I was using Hindi as language and literally no need for any Data link (no SIM in phone, no Wifi). The same thing saved me once I was to drive around 45km in night on an unknown route and neither its feasible nor safe to ask strangers about the route in that much night. Only thing that it lacks as of now, is Real time Traffic info merged seamlessly into the Nokia Drive app otherwise, it would have been flawless and must have for this thing alone.

  3. Nokia City Lens: Nokia City Lens represents the Nokia Tagline in true sense that its not the technology, but its what one does with it. Nokia had the excellent maps, Nokia had the information related to various venues and had interesting UI with Windows Phone, all it was needed to utilize the same for the community. This was how Nokia City Lens born.

    Just open the app, point over any direction and you know that where your point of interests lie. Nearby restaurants, nearby movie theaters or historical monuments. You can check which malls are nearby and for what they are famous for. You can check nearby Restaurant and know in advance that what you should ask them from their menu. A stranger city suddenly becomes too familiar and you start behaving like locals. Don’t tell me that a service like this wasn’t in your wild dreams.

  4. Carl Zeiss Camera: Nothing accompany you better in travelling places than a proper camera always in your pocket. Nice pictures and fastest phone to share them to your network with Tags and all. A physical camera key to fire up the Camera Interface from anywhere (lock screen or from some app) means you are always ready to capture a moment without missing anything. What else you need from your travel companion?
  5. People Hub keeps you updated without much efforts: People hub keeps you updated with whatever happening around without even flicking through various social networks as it brings all those notifications and updates at one place to make the information compact. What’s important to you, which Social Network your friend is on or what he is doing? Nokia Lumia 900 with its large clear black screen concentrate over the later only.
  6. Nokia Music Unlimited: Features like Nokia Music means lakhs of songs are always available at your disposal and you just have to search them and download for free if don’t want to stream. Music always been the best companion to travel (only if Car Bluetooth Sync was available then it was more fun).
  7. Internet Sharing: Many a time we travel with multiple gadgets and even though your phone does it all for you in simplest ways, one definitely might feel the need of Laptop for some of tasks etc. Internet Sharing by your phone might be a bliss in such situations.

Conclusions:

Its no hidden fact that change to Windows Phone from Symbian been a big transition for Nokia and Lumia 710/800/610 been early place holder products of the same despite of all their attractiveness. Nokia Lumia 900 can be called somewhat the first proper flagship for Nokia Windows Phones, but somehow, this beauty didn’t got its due because of being caught in a time when winds are blowing against it and a big wave of change is about to come from Microsoft-Nokia that is Windows 8.

Nokia Lumia 900 will be remembered for its position in holding the transition, a warrior who fought the wind when nothing seemed to be going in favor of its king, but yes! its days are numbered because once Windows Phone 8 devices will hit the market with a big bang, Lumia 900 will be left for living in mid range only. This phone has lived with its glory but soon will require to leave the place for a storm.

If one wants to buy this, then it is a worthy product for the things that it does, the way it looks, but yes! the equation will be changed in few weeks.

Author: Nitish Kumar

I love to write and raising voice, sharing thought and heated debate is a kind of passion for me. Jobwise I am just another Computer professional handling Infra and designing solutions for a big Indian Media house but I love to write, sketch, photography and a lot more.

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