Nokia Lumia 900 – A Reivew

Prior to writing this review on Nokia Lumia 900, I have started a discussion in Google+.  The interaction turns out to be constructive and insightful.  Some have used this model for months.  Google+ truly melts away geographic boundary and brings people of common interest in one virtual space.  This entry is dedicated to my new and old friends over in Google+.  You guys rock!

The major difference between Lumia 800 and Lumia 900, as far as I can see, is size and size only.

A little bit of background here.  I have reviewed Lumia 800 back in March this year.  Since then, my wife Cynthia has been using the phone.  I have heard some of the feedback in Google+.  Nokia has sent me a Lumia 900 review unit for me to try out, like before.

To cut a long story short, Lumia 900 is a super-sized Lumia 800.  Since there is little value in copy-and-pasting my previous content here, if you are serious in purchasing a Noka Lumia, I urge you to read that review first.  All that works and doesn’t, it is in that article.  I have verified the entry and found that as of today, it is still valid.  Except the form factor section, the entire entry is relevant to Lumia 900.

Assuming that you have caught up on Lumia 800, the rest of this article focuses on the difference between the two.

Form Factor

Nokia Lumia 900 is huge.  With a dimension of 127.8mm x 68.5mm x 11.5mm, it weights a solid 160g.  With a display size of 4.3″, the screen-to-body ratio is under 60%.  Compare to my 4.2″ Android phone’s ratio of 70%, no wonder Lumia 900 feels so much bigger although the display size is similar.  For those who have large hands or prefer a sturdy phone, this may work.  Also, due to the wider margin, it is less likely that you may accidentally touch the screen as you flip the phone from portrait to landscape and vice versa.  Like I often do with my Android.

Unlike its little brother, USB port is now exposed in Lumia 900.  No longer do you require to flip the flimsy latch opened every time you charge the phone.  Personally, I prefer a concealed USB port.  Lumia 800 looks more elegant that way.  But I can understand why others may prefer not to mess with that latch on a daily basis.

Also unlike Lumia 800, Lumia 900’s AMOLED Gorilla glass does not curve and flow through the phone’s rounded edges, which is a shame.  Gone is the scratch resistance mat color back cover found in Lumia 800.  Lumia 900 uses shiny plastic cover.  The white color review unit I have got has already collected quite a fair bit of scratches, grease, and stains.  I have no issue with shiny plastic phone cover.  Just that Lumia 800 seems so much better in terms of form factor.

Lumia 900 comes with a 1MB front-facing camera.  Lumia 800 does not.  Now, if only Google Hangouts works on a Window Phone.

What About That Bigger Display Size?

Lumia 800 has a 3.7″ display size.  Web browsing can be a pain.  As you can imagine, I have high anticipation with Lumia 900.

4.3″ is not large in today’s standard.  While iPhone still stucks in the past, Android has pushed the display size to 4.8″ in the phone category.  As you may already know, display size is only one side of the story.  Resolution is what makes a display looks good on a phone.  That is why people still don’t mind iPhone’s small display size.  And that is why web browsing is more enjoyable on my 4.2″ Android phone than the 4.3″ Lumia 900 (800mm x 480mm resolution with ~217 ppi pixel density).

I wish Lumia 900 has alternative browsers (maybe there is one, but I can’t seem to find it at Marketplace).  The double tap zooming is not consistent.  Depending on where you tap on the page, the browser may zoom in nicely for you.  Or the zooming result may still be too tiny for the naked eyes.  At times first double tap is to zoom in, second double tap is to zoom out.  Other times, there are two levels of zooming in, i.e. 2 taps to zoom right in and 2 taps to zoom right out.  I regularly visit online forums.  Putting the Lumia 900 4.3″ side-by-side with my Andoid 4.2″, the zoom feature of the Lumia browser does not seem right.  The words are still too small to see.  Fortunately, there is manual pinch zoom mode.

My friend from Google+ shared with me that his Lumia 900 has problem loading some websites, such as Mashable.com.  I too have problem using Google+ web version on photo upload (there is still no Google+ app for Windows phones) as well as other websites.  I have noticed the browser issues back in March when I reviewed Lumia 800.  Looks like the issues persist.

Web browsing aside, a larger screen size is a joy to use.  The virtual keyboard is more user friendly.  The font size is bigger.  If you feel that Lumia 800 is too straining to your eyes, Lumia 900 may be the answer.

Will Lumia 900 Get Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ Upgrade?

Some of you have asked the question on Lumia’s next OS upgrade.  Here is an unofficial respond I have received from one of my contacts working with Nokia.

The Lumia 900 along with the Lumia 800, Lumia 710 and Lumia 610 will receive an update with new Windows Phone 8 features, including the new start screen.  They will also receive a pattern of updates from Nokia that will deliver new features like WiFi tethering, flip-to-silence and media content streaming.  Nokia is also introducing new applications like Camera Extras exclusively for our Lumia range, games coming from Zynga, the makers of Farmville, as well as updates to Drive and other signature experiences.

The question would be: Are these new features Nokia bringing over to Lumia series be sufficient for you?  One friend of mine at Google+ has shared with me a list items on why Windows Phone 7.5 is still lacking.  I have gone through the list and found most of the items appears to be valid.  Perhaps that is why fans are crying for Windows Phone 8?

Ecosystems Revisit

A review should be read with the current state of affair.  Early this year, all eyes were on Nokia on their maiden foray into a new operating system.  It was an exciting time.  Because time and time again, we see commercial miracles, like that year 1999 Nokia ‘banana’ phone that Neo used in The Matrix.  Half a year has passed.  Android is advancing, in an ever increased pace.  Samsung has emerged as a strong competitor in this brutal phone making business.  Some of the older Android models from different makes are getting the Ice Cream Sandwich update and the new Jelly Bean OS is just round the corner for the new models.  Apple fans are always Apple fans, holding onto whatever Apple produces.  Today, I look at Windows Marketplace.  The apps are still few and expensive.  Cynthia is still hoping for the much desired update to her Whatsapp and Evernote apps on her Lumia 800.  At times I wonder, how does Windows Marketplace plan to fight against Apple and Android?  How does Nokia plan to keep up with the pace?

I don’t know.  What I know is fans are still fans.  Nokia fans will still love the Nokia ecosystem.  There are exclusive apps like Nokia Map and Nokia Drive that provides turn-by-turn navigation as well as offline maps to more than 100 countries.  Nokia Music sells DRM free music and Mixed Radio plays music over the Internet free to Nokia Lumia users.  Nokia fans whom I interact with seems to be happy with the quality apps in the ecosystem.  In fact, it is interesting to note that all three major camps seems to be with with their respective ecosystems.  Will Windows Marketplace survive?  Only time can tell.

Conclusion

Lumia 900 is a simple to use phone.  Take my wife as an example, she still enjoys using the Lumia 800 because of its simplicity and she is probably unable to relate to most of the concerns listed here.  If you are a Nokia fan and find that Lumia 800 is too small, Lumia 900 could be the answer.  If you are undecided between Lumia 800 and Lumia 900, Lumia 800 may be a better choice due to better form factor and the fact that the improvements Lumia 900 has over 800 appears to be minimal.

The new Nokia Lumia 900 is retailing for SGD849 at Nokia retail stores and at all mobile operators in Singapore.  It is available in Black, White and Cyan.

This is a photograph taken using a Nokia Lumia 900 at a mall near my office.

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