Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Nokia Lumia 900

Ars Technica has published a full review of Nokia's latest Windows smart phone, complete with plenty of images.

Excerpts follow:

"The Nokia Lumia 900 has the weight of two big names on its shoulders. It's Nokia's big re-entry into the US market; it's also the flagship Windows Phone Mango."

"We largely compare the Lumia 900 to the two flagship phones of the other two major OSes, the iPhone 4S with iOS and the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0."

"The new hardware can hold up against both of these phones. Still, the OS has some maturing to do compared to the other two platforms. Power users for whom price is less of a factor will find much to admire here, but they still may not be won over when it comes to getting the best handset, period."

"The Lumia 900 has a 4.3-inch 800x480 resolution Clear Black AMOLED display embedded in a unibody polycarbonate shell, rounded on the long sides and squared off at the top and bottom. The polycarbonate body has a velvety, slightly rubbery feel to it, making it easy to hold. Due to the screen margins and casing overhang it feels bigger in hand than you might expect of a 4.3-inch-screened phone."

"As a point of reference, the Galaxy Nexus measures 67.9 millimeters wide to the Lumia 900's 68.5 millimeters, despite the Galaxy Nexus having a 4.65-inch screen. The Galaxy Nexus is also less than a centimeter longer, meaning the Lumia 900 is hardly any friendlier to a jeans pocket."

"The Lumia 900's single speaker is pretty quiet, even at the loudest volume setting."

"...the Lumia 900 comes with a flat 16GB of storage—unexpandable, unupgradeable. As apps get bigger and photo libraries expand over the course of the next two years (the standard length of a phone contract), that size limit would start to chafe us."

"The 8-megapixel camera (with Carl Zeiss, f2.2 aperture, 28mm focal length lens) is centered on the back of the phone, which seems more in the interest of aesthetics than practicality (my fingers were all up on it while using the phone). Next to the Carl Zeiss lens is a dual-LED flash."

"The pictures turned out quite well, at least in good lighting. They can even stand up to the iPhone 4S's, in many scenarios. In closeups and dim scenarios, though, it stumbles."

"The Lumia 900's screen is 800x480 pixels. Because the Lumia 900 has regular RGB subpixels, it displays text beautifully in a big range of sizes, especially in the OS and applications. At its brightest, the Lumia 900's screen appears a bit warm compared to the bluer-hued iPhone 4S's display. The blacks are nice and inky."

"The physical glass of the screen is noticeably not oleophobic, so the Lumia 900's screen holds onto grease and fingerprints like crazy."

"There's no denying that the OS looks great. From the transitions to the screen arrangements, Microsoft paid a lot of attention to the look of Windows Phone. On the surface, it creates a very polished product. The menagerie of flipping and changing tiles on the home screen make you want to interact with them."

"...the OS isn't without polish problems or minor difficulties. Landscape orientation sometimes seems half-baked, with buttons that stay portrait-oriented next to the horizontal keyboard. The phone is also a bit finicky about scrolling. Being that the screen is so big and the range of my thumb is comparatively small, my horizontal swipes are often slightly diagonally downward (instead of working the joint to make the swipe straight, I keep my thumb straight). Android and iOS have never had a problem interpreting this slightly-downward, mostly-horizontal, somewhat lazy swipe as I intend it, but the Lumia often reads as "scroll down" instead of "swipe across." This creates a lot of mistakes in an OS where there is so much swiping left and right to do."

"The browser is based on IE9, the desktop version of which has won a lot of praise. But the browser on the Lumia 900 does sometimes feel janky when it comes to text rendering. Mobile browsers resize text and alter page layouts in some subtle ways in an attempt to ensure greater readability. IE 9's algorithm has some oddities not found in Safari's approach."

"We also have some quibbles with the interface design for the browser, namely that tabs are buried two clicks deep. A third-party browser, UC Browser, adds a second bar to the interface that provides one-click access to tabs as well as a forward button (something else Windows Phone IE lacks) and a home button."

"Those issues and the benchmarks aside, we found that the Lumia 900 actually loads pages fairly quickly. It doesn't beat the iPhone 4S at loading any of our test pages, by any means, but at least beats out the iPhone 4 while on WiFi."

"The battery life of the Lumia 900 is another point of pride on Nokia's part. It clocks in at 1830mAh, which is on the large side for a smartphone battery. Nokia estimates it gets around seven hours of talk time with that."

"This is pretty healthy performance for a smartphone, besting the Galaxy Nexus in similar tests, but the iPhone 4 and 4S crank out about 3 more hours of video and several more hours of general use. iPhones also have an often-overlooked ability to charge the battery to 80 percent in an hour, but the Lumia 900 charges at steady pace and over a few hours: it took ours nearly 4 hours to go from 0 to 100 percent."

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