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.

Nokia Lumia 800 – First 7 Days

Nokia passes me a review unit and wants to hear what I think of the Lumia 800 Windows phone.  Sure.  Especially some of you have expressed your interest on this phone.  As always, I am not going to rate a product because what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.  I am not technically inclined so I am going to type out what I observe from a everyday user’s perspective.  To my new readers, I have done a fair bit of review work on Symbian phones and have now moved onto the Android platform.  I am aware of such a thing called iPhone, though our paths have yet to cross.  And here I am, reviewing a Windows phone.  Throughout this review period, it is also fortunate for me to hear feedback from friends who have used different platforms.  In a way, I hope this article is as objective as it can be.

Love that Shape

Looking at form factor, no doubt, Nokia Lumia 800 is a winner.  Arguably the most beautiful phone made today.  This phone feels solid.  It is slim and  sleek.  And it features a fully enclosed design.  No longer are you able to have physical access to the battery and its internal components through the back of a phone.  The only opening is a tiny latch at the top that elegantly conceals the USB outlet.  It can be popped open with the right touch at the right spot (hmm).  If you peep deep inside, you may find the only screw you can find in the entire phone.  Once the latch is opened, you may slide the MicroSIM holder out and change your card.  The entire operation does not require an external tool.  Screen lock button is placed by the side of the phone.  It is naturally positioned at where the index finder is, rather than on top like most phones do (or if you are a left-handed, your thumb).  When I switch back to my old phone, I begin to realize how uncomfortable it is to lock the screen using a button at the top.

It is hard to describe the glass screen in words.  You have to see for it and feel it yourself.  The glass appears to curve towards the edge, so smooth that you can glide your finger through the surface.  And the glass design flows through the sides of the phone.  The screen size is 3.7”.  Those who find that the smart phones are getting too big these days may like the size of Lumia 800.  The screen appears as pitch black when viewed directly above.  But it turns dark grey when viewed from a side angle.  New phones these days manage to remain black throughout the different viewing angles.  I prefer my screen to stay black.  If this does not bother you, it probably means nothing to you.

Unlike some other brands, the Nokia logo remains subtle.  So are the three touch screen buttons at the bottom of the phone.  All in all, an elegant form factor Lumia 800 has delivered.

User Interface, Touch Screen, and Responsiveness

When you first interact with Nokia Lumia 800, the first thing you would notice, from the user interface point of view, is how sleek and economically simplistic it is.  The background remains black and the contents stands out in white.  The first page consists of a list of tiles that are of a color theme of your choice.  Some of the tiles appear very much “alive”, constantly updated with relevant information.  Such as the number of incoming messages you have, your friends’ latest activities, and the latest notifications from that social network.  Swipe to the second page presents you a list of applications.  Hold the back button at the bottom and you can scroll through a list of applications currently running in the background.  Hold the home button and you can activate the voice command.  The third button connects you to Bing, Microsoft’s very own search engine.  No, you can’t configure that to other search engines, the best I know.

I am not a fan of virtual keyboard on smart phones.  Nokia Lumia 800’s virtual keyboard has changed my perception.  It is accurate and utterly responsive, even on such a small real estate.  Its auto-correct function is intelligent enough to correct my typos while leaving some of the words that are not in the dictionary alone.  To be honest, I am surprised that I could type that well on a virtual keyboard.  Cynthia concurs with me as well and she is now holding onto the phone, tight.  Words with spelling errors are highlighted, very much like what Microsoft Office does.

This phone is powered by a single core 1.4GHz processor.  Depends on the experience with your current phone, you may be thrilled or you may not.  During the review period, looking at the standard out-of-the-box features, the phone is responsive.   Some third party apps though, could be quite slow to start up.  I will cover that in later section.  Lumia 800 has a screen resolution of 800×480.  It is comparable with some Android phones but is slightly behind iPhone.  The difference is noticeable to some.  Weighed at 142g, it is as heavy as iPhone, much heavier than my Android phone.  I suppose that is the price to pay for a metal casing rather than a plastic one.

Lumia 800 has an internal storage of 16GB.  Like iPhone, that cannot be expanded.  I am using a 8GB Android phone and I am struggling with space.  Personally I would prefer a larger storage.  Like 32GB or 64GB.

On voice command as well as search by voice, my friend Jason and I have tried out different scenarios.  The results could be quite hopelessly hilarious.  In general, the “call” command seems to work well.  You could say, “Call Wilfrid” and the phone would call my number immediately.  Or you could say, “Call Jason” – which by the way I have a few Jason entries in my address book – and a list of Jason is displayed for the picking.  We have tried the “find” command and could not quite get that to work.  We have tried the voice searching and voice typing function in a rather noisy environment.  The results did not seem to be consistent.  How often do you use the voice command?  Pretty seldom for me.  So, next.

It is All about Contacts

One major headache when you switch to a different brand is what to do with your current address book.  Different manufacturers provide different ways for you to overcome that hurdle.  With Android, so long as you can extract your phone book in a CSV format, you can upload it to Google Contacts.  With Nokia Windows phones, so long as you can pair your device with your old phone via Bluetooth, you could extract the numbers into your new phone.  I have tried pairing Lumia 800 with my Android phone.  That works.  I have yet to make it work for iPhone because iPhone somehow refuses the Bluetooth connection.  I don’t know.  Perhaps Apple is a jealous lover who wants you for life.

You could also link your Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nokia Mail, and Outlook accounts into Lumia 800.   This has a few interesting consequences.  First, MSN Messenger and Facebook Chat are integrated with SMS.  So communicating with your friends through these channels becomes seamless.  Now, why doesn’t Lumia 800 include Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk?  I do not know.  Second, you can have a quasi-holistic view of your friends’ social network activities.  By that, I mean Facebook, Live, and Twitter.  What about Google+?  You guess right.  It is not there.  Third, contacts from Facebook and Live are synchronized with your phone book.  In fact, all the phone contacts imported from your old phone are now automatically added onto your Live account.  Depending on how many friends you have in Facebook, this can be overwhelming.  I don’t recall seeing my contacts from Yahoo! or Google.  Then again, perhaps that gets integrated into my old phone book that is used as an import for my new phone book.  Nokia Lumia 800 will attempt to link similar contacts and these contacts can also be linked manually.  That linkage knowledge resides with the phone.  One advantage of registering these accounts with Lumia 800 is that photos of your friends are now displayed in your phone book.  For reasons beyond my comprehension, I am unable to find the search contact function in Lumia 800.  But tapping onto the alphabet heading (as Cynthia has discovered), allows you to jump to a new alphabet heading of your choice.  Unavailable ones are smartly grayed out.  You could of course create groups to better organize your contacts.

Once you have added your accounts to Lumia 800, you can directly share a photo or a link onto the registered social network sites, exclude Google+ of course.

Who cares about MSN Messenger or Facebook Chat these days when you have Whatsapp?  The good news is that there exists a Whatsapp app on Windows platform.  First year is free.  Subsequent years cost $0.99.  The bad news is that as of today, it is a poor port.  Way too basic compares to my Android version.  It takes 5 to 10 seconds to start up.  I am not entirely convinced that the push technology works all the time.  You cannot mute a certain channel.  The emoticons are not presented graphically.  You can’t tell if someone is typing.  In short, usable but leaving much to desire.

When you register your Google, Yahoo!, and Live accounts with the phone, three mailboxes are created.  These mailboxes are functional.  You can read your emails and you can reply your emails with it.  Unfortunately, these mailboxes do not seem to replicate the delete command to the actual mailboxes in the web space.  So you may need to go back to the web version and delete those read messages again.  You can do what I do.  Have those mailboxes appear as tiles on front page so that you are notified when there is a new message.  Use the mobile web version to operate your emails.  I do that even with my Android phone.

The standard calendar app though not visually pleasing is highly functional.  It gives you a consolidated view of your Facebook, Live, and Google calendars, color-coded according to where the items originate from.  When you create a calendar item, you can choose to create it as a Google item, or as a Facebook invite.  I think it is one of the best out-of-the-box features.

Note: I have not tried Nokia Mail, LinkedIn, and Outlook integration during this review process.

The Web Browsing Experience

This is where the diversity of opinions kicks in.  I have talked to my friends.  Some are happy browsing with their tiny 3.5” iPhone.  I wish that my 4.2” Android has an even bigger screen.  The 3.7” Lumia 800, for me, is too tiny for browsing in portrait mode.  I find that browsing in landscape mode a much better option, although I am not used to such orientation.  It takes about 5 seconds for the Nokia phone to detect and switch orientation.  I find it a bit slow compares to my Android’s sub-second response time.  You may be fine with it and argue that other platforms are too sensitive.

Web pages on average load at a decent speed.  Scrolling and page pinching is silky smooth.  I do however encounter scripting errors in some sites, as well as videos that are unable to be played.  Those videos and  links work fine with my Android phone.  So I gather perhaps that has to do with the browser’s compatibility.  Is it a short term or a long time issue or a one-off problem?  I cannot tell.  Also, I have yet to figure out how to perform a mouse-over action on the Windows phone.  And there is no menu function for selecting text.  You have to “highlight” the word but pressing it.  Sometimes, for some particular sites, that does not work for me.

That Lovely Home Screen

Of the few things that grow on me, the home screen is one.  When you tap the phone by the side and unlock the screen, you are greeted by a home screen.  You slide it up (not from the bottom you Android users but from the middle!) and you have access to the phone.  That home screen has useful information such as date and time, number of unread emails or messages, your next agenda item, alarms if any, and on top of the screen, if you are listening to music, the mini-player is right there.  You can fast forward a track, go backward, and what have you.  You can put your favorite photo as wallpaper.  In the absence of a notification light (duh!), this home screen is the next best thing to provide a summary of activities and more.  Keep tapping, and keep checking.  I wish they have a notification light though.

There is no pattern screen password like the Android phones.  However, you may set up a numeric password of more than 4 digits.

Oh, you can select ringing option on that lovely home screen too.  You can set to ring, vibrate, or ring + vibrate.  What about total silence?  Lumia 800 does not seem to have that option.

Please Fix the Music / Sound Playback!

Of the few things that I wish this phone could better, an improved music playing experience is on top of my wish-list.  Why?  There seems to be some annoying flaws with the whole sound package, however insignificant they seem.  First, plugging a headphone onto the phone triggers a rather sharp clicking sound.  Much louder than any recent phones I have tried.  Invoking any menu items that involves sound also triggers the clicking sound, and some short background noise thereafter.  During the playback of music, at the end of each song, there is a noticeable clicking sound.  Like the sound you hear when you turn off a microphone.  If there is an incoming message notification while you are listening to music, there is a small chance that the volume of the music would suddenly go up (come to think of it, this happens to my Windows laptop as well).  There is no equalizer setting option.  Having said that, the playback quality is not too bad comparing to other phones.  I feel that in general, there is a lacking of a punch so as to speak.  And yes, you can repeat a single song (as a Android user, I drool).

Perhaps I have an unrealistically high expectation due to the Nokia brand.  Nokia used to make high quality hardware, yes?  Or is it a software issue?  Point to note, Cynthia does not seem to pick up these flaws though.  I guess it all depends on how critical you are, when it comes to music.

Oh, That Camera

While you are not going to throw away your DSLR or your mirror-less camera because of this phone, Lumia 800 does have a better white balancing than some of other phones I have tried.  It takes picture fast.  You can even tap the screen once and fire a shot.  There are quite a few camera options you can play around with, including effects and scene recognition.  My sister has tried out the video function.  The only comment she has is that you can’t trim the video from within the phone, unlike her iPhone.  I suppose that would be a good feature to have.  Lumia 800 comes with an 8MB Carl Zeiss camera.  You and I know that megapixel means little for a phone camera.

(Oh, have you read that rumor about that next Nokia’s phone that has a gigantic megapixel camera?)

Other Goodies such as Office, Nokia Drive, Nokia Map, and Nokia Music

When you sign up for a Windows phone, it should come as no surprise that you have access to the Office apps – Words, Excel, and PowerPoint.  You can even create those documents using the phone.  Jason and I have tried out Nokia Drive – a voice guided GPS navigator.  It acquired the signal fast, though it did not seem to accept postal code as a destination input.  Nokia Map is like the good old map.  You can pre-download maps of any country, free.  To use it, you must have a data connection.

Nokia Music allows you to play back music and video contents.  It also has a store that enables you to purchase DRM-free music online.

Let’s Talk about OS

For iPhone, the OS and hardware are both created by Apple.  It is a closed system.  If anything goes wrong, you can always point your finger at Apple.  For Android, the OS is created by Google and each manufacturer creates the hardware, most elect to customize the OS.  You have the manufacture to turn to when things go wrong.  It is a model that may create inconsistent experience among the community because some manufacturers may take a while, if at all, to customize any new OS version.

As for Windows OS, my limited experience tells me that it is like the PC model.  Phone update is done directly with Microsoft Zune.  You don’t need to wait for the manufacturers to tweak and test the new OS version.  Manufacturers then create apps that sit on top of the OS.  The only consideration for this model is that when things go wrong, you have to do some troubleshooting before you can decide who to talk to.  Microsoft?  Or Nokia?

Each model has its pros and cons.  You may have already made up your mind.  To the least, I thought you should know.

What about Ecosystem?

When you buy a phone, it is no longer just a phone.  You are buying into the entire ecosystem.  I am in touch with the gaming scene.  I know that iOS’s games often top the rating chart.  Also, Apple has a lot more cool apps than any ecosystem out there.  Apple App Store is reaching its 25 billion downloads very soon as we speak.

Android ecosystem is not a bad one.  Sure, there are junks inside.  But the top apps are usually nicely done.  Also, Google products are best to be run in Android platform.  When switched to Windows platform, what I miss the most are the Google G+ app, YouTube app, and Google Translate.

As for Windows ecosystem, it does not seem vast though there are some interesting apps.  Many well-known ports are not even good, if at all present in Windows platform.  Whatsapp and EverNote both have a Windows version.  They are just not as good as other platform’s equivalents.

Oh yes, I miss Blizzard’s WoW Armory app.  It took a while for Blizzard to venture into Android platform.  In that sense, as and when Blizzard creates a Windows version of the WoW Armory app, it is a good indication that Windows’ ecosystem has matured to be a worthy competitor of iOS and Android.

The Power of Zune

To update your Windows phone, you must do it via Zune.  To download photos and videos from the phone, you must do it via Zune.  To upload music and podcast to the phone, you must also do it via Zune.  Unless you hack the phone, there is no way to access the phone’s contents using anything but Zune.

Having used Zune, I am impressed by the design.  It must have been created with a touchscreen monitor in mind.  It is user friendly and it is a joy to use.

Now, if for reasons that you are unable to connect your phone to Zune, you are pretty much stuck with a dead phone.  That happened to us on Feb 29.  After some heavy investigation, it seems that Zune had ran into some digital certification problem on that day.  We spent hours trying to troubleshoot.  The good news is, the next Feb 29 will not come until 4 years later.

What Other Reviewers May Not Talk About

Don’t count on the battery life of Nokia Lumia 800.  After some intensive comparative testing, this phone consumes more than double amount of battery with a similar level of activity with, say, my Android phone.  Bring your charger.  Even better, keep your portable charger with you at all time.

Note: I suppose Lumia 800’s battery consumption is comparable to iPhone because my Android phone often beats iPhone on that department by a good margin.

During my 7 days review period, this phone hang twice.  Once was right after a call.  Another time was during web browsing.  Holding the switch for 8 to 10 seconds restarts the phone.  Well, at least there is a way out.

In order to charge the phone, it must be switched on.  I have no idea why it has to be so.

In Summary

I now can see why Nokia is going Windows, instead of Android.  It is a sleek platform, with tons of potential.  I like its simplicity a lot.  No longer do we need to go through some of the mind blowing and technically challenging settings in order to tweak the system.  You don’t even need to figure out if an app should reside on the phone memory or on the SD card.  The entire phone is now a closed system – from external design to internal setup.  The only way to manage the phone’s contents is via Zune – a user-friendly Windows PC application.  For the Nokia fans, it is a joy to see that the company has finally moved away from Symbian OS.  For the Android users, Lumia 800 has the design – both inside and out – that is refreshing.  For the iPhone users, you may feel that Nokia and Microsoft could have done a better job in utilizing the real estate of the user interface.  Or could have made the phone runs faster.  You may even miss a lot of your apps.  Whichever the case is, Nokia Lumia 800 is a phone worth checking out.

My boss’s boss once shared with me over a dinner table that in the not so distant future, iOS will still be there and Windows will rise.  He is not too optimistic about Android.  I am not too sure why.  Perhaps the next time I meet him, I shall casually wave the new Windows phone in front of him and see what he has to say about that.

Nokia Lumia 800 & 710 – First Impression

It has been a while since I last attended a Nokia’s media event for the bloggers.  My personal schedule seems to be in conflict with Nokia’s calendar lately for some reasons.  I have been anticipating Nokia’s next generation smartphone.  Suffice to say, I am happy to be able to make it for the Lumia event held last week – a first in the region.  We went through a lengthy demo of what the new Windows phone can do.  And we spent some quality time with the product managers and other Nokia professionals as we experienced the Lumia 800 & 710.  So what’s my first impression?  Read more to find out!

Form Factor

A phone’s design is important to me.  It is a statement of who I am.  I use an Android phone for the simple reason of not wanting to be like every other mobile phone user in Singapore.  Lumia 800 is sophisticated, and beautiful.  It has a smooth, one piece body that slightly curved onto the screen.  The design is breathtaking, like no other.  Lumia 800 comes in three colors: black, cyan, and magenta.  For a sharper looking design, I would strongly recommend cyan or magenta.  If you are a music lover, you may consider getting the Nokia Purity Stereo Headset or Purity HD Stereo Headset by Monster.  One is for in-ear style, and other one is for on-ear.  Monster has created headsets for Apple iPhones.  It is good that Nokia gets them to design not one, but two for theirs too.

Lumia 710 is the entry level Windows phone.  I asked if Lumia 800 is considered as Nokia’s new flagship and they said no.  Price-wise, I would expect Lumia 800 to be below the flagship products of other platforms.  Hence, whatever I get to say here, do take cost as a consideration.

Lumia 800’s screen size is 3.7″.  For those of you (like me) who are used to 4.2″+, it could be quite an adjustment if you switch to this new Nokia phone.  For Apple users who are used to 3.5″, Lumia 800’s display area may seem OK.  Lumia 800 has a lower resolution compares to other top end smartphones.  And it weights 142g, almost as heavy as an iPhone.  It is 20% heavier than the Android phone I am using.  Does weight matter?  Personally I prefer a lighter phone.  But 99.99% of the local users who use iPhone may say nah.

Windows OS and Nokia Unique Offerings

I must admit that I am not that familiar with Windows OS on a mobile phone.  The Lumia 800 seems responsive.  Then again, almost all new phones are responsive before they are loaded with apps and contents.  So I have no idea if Lumia 800 will remain as responsive as days go by.  I know for sure my single core Android phone is crawling at this moment.

The design of Windows OS is pretty clean.  There is a wall of tiles for the widgets.  And swipe to the next screen is a list of applications.  If you are familiar with Nokia phone, you will find yourself at home.  Both Lumia phones have Nokia Drive with turn by turn voice navigation as well as Nokia Map.  Free, for more than 100 countries.  However, in order for Nokia Drive and Nokia Map to work, you must have data access.  This could become quite costly when you are overseas.  Because turning on data access usually means that you allow other applications to access the Internet on the go.

Lumia phones come with Nokia Music application.  A 192kbps MP3 track free of DRM costs around S$1.29 from the Nokia music store.  Does this sound enticing to you?  The price seems about right, if purchasing music online is your cup of tea.

And it does come with Whatsapp, free.

Unlocking the phone can be via a numeric password pad (like iPhone).  It does not have a pattern unlock (like Android).  Locking the phone is via a physical button positioned naturally on where your index finger is when you hold the phone upright (not sure how it will be like for left-handers).

Social Networking

Nokia Lumia phones combine Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds, chat and SMS message in one conversation.  I seldom social network these days, only on Google+.  And I am told that Lumia does not interface with Google+ as of now.  I must be an odd ball because majority of the active social networking users I presume spend much time with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I can imagine majority can continue to do just that with the Lumia phones.

Web Browsing

Do you often browse full sites on your mobile phone?  I do.  And I find that for some of my favorite websites, when I double tab onto the screen for the default zoom (that does auto page wrapping), the fonts can be tiny.  Maybe I am used to a large screen size and a higher resolution, it can be quite straining to the eyes when browsing the Internet on the Lumia phones.  I am not a fan of further zooming onto a webpage and having to scroll left and right constantly to read each line.  I strongly suggest trying it out if you are heavy on web browsing.

Under the Hood

Recently I have visited Hong Kong.  From the old man I met on the street, to my own cousin, dual core phones seem to be the in-thing.  If I am to buy a phone today, I too would prefer a dual core processor (and a large screen would be good).  As for the Lumia 800 and 710, they are both equipped with a 1.4GHz single core processor.  Do you multitask often?  If not, this should not bother you.

This phone is fitted with a 8Mpix Carl Zeiss camera with LED flash.  16GB internal memory.  It is pretty decent in today’s standard.  Of course, iPhone has the 32GB and 64GB version.  But that may cost more.

What about Other Stuffs?

With limited amount of time, there are areas that I am unable to cover.  Can Lumia extract the contact list from my Android phone via Bluetooth as promised?  What is the collection of Apps like for the Nokia market (I can’t live without Internet Radio these days)?  Are the Apps affordable?  Can the battery last for a day?  These are some of the questions you may need to further investigate if you are serious about wanting to buy this phone.

David Archuleta, And The N8 Launch Event By SingTel And Nokia

Looking back, I think it was the little disagreements that glued Cynthia and I to American Idol.  Cynthia supported Elliott Yamin and I, Katharine McPhee.  We would debate for days that (a) I was not staring at McPhee’s boobs and mesmerized by her look and (b) I thought McPhee really sang well and sang really well.  But who would have thought that Hicks would beat those two?  Have you checked out the latest Christmas album by McPhee?  Even Cynthia agreed with me that she has a good voice, finally.  Season 6, I supported Jordin Sparks and Cynthia, Blake Lewis.  It was a dull season.  Nevertheless, you know how that season turned out.  In the following season, we have David versus David.  I think Cook rocked and Cynthia was in love with Archuleta.  Again, it was my shoulder that Cynthia cried on.  And then something happened in season 8.  Both of us supported Adam Lambert wholeheartedly.  And our hearts were shattered into millions of pieces.  Really?  The idol of the idol did not win?  We have boycotted American Idol since then.  The morale of the story?  I think I have a better chance to pick a better singer than Cynthia.

Ha!

OK.  Jokes aside.  One fine day, a media invite arrived at my mailbox.  It was on a Sunday.  Normally I would think twice because of this work-blog-life balance of mine.  Weekend is a time to do something very personal, may or may not be blog-able.  Before I hit that tentative reply button to that media invite, Cynthia exclaimed, “Can I come?!” and I went, “Erm … your were in love with Archie like 2 years ago.  Are you still a fan?”  I guess her undying love to Archuleta is as strong as mine to McPhee.

The event was organized by SingTel and Nokia for the launch of the Nokia N8 mobile phone.  Our hosts were Muttons (hilarious Singapore DJs) and David Archuleta was there to sing us 5 songs in an acoustic setting.  He does have a great voice, especially on stage.  Cynthia was in high spirit and so were the ecstatic fans in Zouk.  His new album “The Other Side Of Down” was released very recently and the fans already know all the lyrics!

We had Japanese food near Zouk and made it home in time for the final race of F1.  What an eventful weekend.  Here are a few photos to share.

Nokia N8 – A Promising First Look

Some of you have asked if I have had the opportunity to touch and feel the upcoming Noka N8.  I would have, had I not missed the last few Nokia blogger events.  Some personal commitments still take priority.  And thanks to your inquiries, I have gathered enough courage to give Text100 a ring to see if a demo can be arranged with the Nokia team.  This post is a brief write-up based on my hands on experience with a Nokia N8.  There will be a follow-up article after I have received the review unit, within this week or so.

Before you continue reading this post, I would like to share a stop-motion animation video with you, shot on a Nokia N8 by Sumo Science at Aardman.  I was skeptical initially because there are many mobile or handheld recording devices that claim to produce amazing video quality.  But this one is special.  On top of that, it is an entertaining short clip.  Watch it on HD if you can.

N8 comes with a new design.  Slimmer, as you can see.  The casing is made of high quality aluminium.  During the demo, the Nokia product manager took out his keys and made some insane scratches onto the phone.  My heart sank as I saw the scratch marks.  And then he used his hand to rub them off.  The phone was good as new.  I probably would not try that on my phones.  But I think the point is made.  Onto the glass surface, I am told that N8 uses gorilla glass – something of a higher spec.  Fortunately, he did not smash the phone in order to show me how durable it is.  Nothing that dramatic.  I am willing to take his words for it.

The crown jewel of the N8, perhaps is the high quality camera, the vibrant screen display, and the HD capability.  The lens is Carl Zeiss Tessar optics with a xenon flash.  The sensor is 12 megapixels.  Video capturing up to HD 720p.  I have seen some of the scenic photos on the Nokia product manager’s personal phone and the details look promising, even when zoomed in.  I love the new and slick photo browser.  I was tempted to ask him to show me photos of those girls he took in a party but I resisted.  Not too professional eh?  Back to the phone, image quality does come with a trade-off on the overall design.  The lens mounting area at the back does not appear to flow with the overall slim design of the phone as the package requires a certain minimal thickness.  However, if the phone does capture images as good as those I have seen (and videos like the one showcased above), I can happily live with that.

New to the Nokia suite of phones is the USB on the go.  It is one nifty functionality.  There is a dongle provided to connect the N8 to a USB thumb drive, even to another phone for data transfer.  Taking about connectivity, there is another dongle that connects the N8 to a flat panel TV via HDMI cable for HD video playback of a good range of formats.  The N8 plays Web TV too.  Installed with the phone are some of the more popular channels such as CNN, National Geography, and E! Entertainment.  There are local channels like Channel News Asia.  If Cynthia gets to read this, she would likely to further monopolize our home TV to watch YouTube and web TV online via the phone on our TV.  Nightmare!

Nokia N8 is powered by the new Symbian^3 operating system.  The phone supports the popular “pinch-to-zoom” function like other mobile and laptop devices these days.  There are three home screens, each comes with 6 widgets.  The capacitive touch (by heat) seems OK in terms of responsiveness.  Probably need a bit of getting used to.  It is precise enough to recognize the Chinese character input by strokes.  Rotating the phone seems responsive in switching between landscape and portrait modes.  There is auto-switching between a full size virtual keyboard and a virtual traditional phone pad depending on orientation.  Nokia N8 comes with the free OVI Maps too.  I have always enjoy using their free navigation service.  Note that Nokia N8’s battery is now concealed by the casing.  Whether this is a wise move or not, perhaps too early to say (so long as I don’t need to pull out the battery to switch off the phone should it hangs due to unstable apps that I install, I am OK with that because batteries these days last).  5 colors are available here in Singapore.  They are dark grey, silver white, green, blue, and orange.

Nokia N8 is now available for pre-order in Singapore. If you have queries, write to me or drop me a comment here.  To pre-order, you can visit the SingTel site at www.singtel.com/n8 or the Nokia pre-order site at www.nokia.com.sg/n8 and click on the “pre-order” tab.