Android smartphones are the rave, but Nokia’s latest Windows phone impresses too, writes Izwan Ismail
I HAD used various models of Nokia phones before, but I switched to iOS and Android smartphones for supposedly better mobile Internet experience. Two years later, I was a little apprehensive when I reviewed the Lumia 900 but I was in for a surprise.
From the outside, the Lumia 900 looks totally different from my previous Nokia phones. What I like about it is the body.
The Lumia 900 has a beautiful unibody polycarbonate design. There are no joining parts or lids, which also means the battery is built-in. The only part which can be lifted open is the micro SIM card door at the top of the phone. A solid design indeed.
The 4.3-inch screen is another strong point. Made with ClearBlack Gorilla glass, there is almost no gap between the AMOLED screen and the panel display. The vivid colours make you feel like you are looking into someone’s world and you want to touch it.
Surfing the Internet and browsing through the applications and photos are smooth.
That said, I, however, find the phone edges a bit pointed. It would be more comfortable to hold if the corners are rounded.
Initially, I struggled to get used to the phone’s live tiles concept, but after a while I became pretty good at it. Unlike the all square icons on iOS and Android phones, Nokia uses brightly coloured square and rectangular tiles. You can change the colour at the settings menu.
What’s interesting is some of the tiles feature live updates to display new information like recent text messages, social network updates, weather forecast and pictures. This makes it easy to access the main functions of the phone, like make calls, connect to social networks, send messages, surf the Internet or play games.
While the tiles show the main applications, you can access the rest by pressing the arrow button on the top right of the screen or simply swipe the tiles to the left. This will take you to the other screen which lists all the applications in alphabetical order for easy selection.
Although lagging behind iOS and Android in terms of number of applications, Windows Marketplace is no less crowded, as it hosts more than 100,000 apps. I like the way Nokia arranges and groups the applications in the Windows marketplace. They are divided into categories like Nokia collection, entertainment, music+video, tools+productivity, lifestyle and games.
These categories have sub categories like free, top and new, which I find convenient to get to the apps that I want. And quite fast too.
Nokia has also pre-loaded some useful applications like Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Tango and TuneIn Radio into the Lumia 900.
One app that I find interesting is TuneIn Radio. It gives access to many local and international radio stations, by genres, which is simply awesome. The world is so much closer with this online radio. The provided earpiece is also a joy to use with adequate sound quality.
Other useful applications are Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive. The free maps and GPS vehicle navigator is a plus as users need not have to get a separate GPS vehicle navigator. The maps are detailed too and it gets you to where you want to go.
Another advantage of using Windows phone is the availability of Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
However, even with all the applications, this phone has 16GB memory only, without any memory expansion slot.
According to Nokia, one of the highlights of Lumia 900 is its 8-megapixel back camera and 1MP front camera. I shot with Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and dual-LED flash. The pictures were not as good as I had expected. On the other hand, the front 1MP camera is an improvement. Users will usually get a VGA front camera but this one makes self-shots look better.
The camera comes with adjustable settings which allow you to see the effects real-time. These are settings like scenes, white balance, exposure, ISO, metering and saturation which make the phone almost like a full-fledged digital camera.
There is also a built-in photo editing tool called Creative Studio which lets you edit and give effects to pictures.
It’s fun to use and you do not need separate software on your computer for picture editing.
The Nokia 900 with Windows 7.5 OS is one impressive smartphone with a refreshing user interface and screen. Although Nokia is a bit late into the smartphone market, there’s ample time to catch up if it continues to impress with its Windows phones.
Nokia Lumia 900
Display: 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack Gorilla glass
Operating system: Windows Phone 7.5
Browser: Internet Explorer 9
Battery: 800 hours standby and 8 hours talk time
Cameras: 8MP front and 1MP read cameras
Internal memory: 16GB, no expansion slot
Our verdict: HHHH
Physical design: HHHH
User friendliness: HHH
Value for money: HHH