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Like most others, as soon as I read about a new update for my L900 being available last week I connected my phone to my PC and was immediately greeted with the “An update is available” message. Firmware: 2175.1003.8112.12085, here we go. The primary purpose of the update was to fix a purple hue issue that some users (not me) were experiencing. But later that night I was setting my phone up for still another overnight battery test and I discovered something peculiar.

My standard operating procedure is to charge my phone to 100% and then take it off of charge and consume some energy till it drops down to 99%, at which point I set it down for the overnight test. This usually takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes of tinkering to get it to drop 1%. But the night of the update I was doing all sorts of things for 15 minutes and was still stuck at 100%. Continued to persist, watching YouTube videos, running speed tests, opening XBox games, and doing anything else that would consume energy, but there was still no change. After 35 minutes I finally gave up and did a soft reset. When the phone woke back up I was at 94%. WHT! Gave up on the test, played with the phone a while longer and went to sleep.

The next morning after going through my typical routine of unplugging from charge at around 8:30am and browsing, reading RSS feeds, BoardExpress, etc. I discovered that my (homebrew) Battery Meter app did not record any change in battery percentage for nearly an hour (I check every day to see if I am still burning 12-13% per hour while actively doing what I do). At first I thought that the background task had been disable or the app was acting whacky. But after recharging while I showered and got ready for work, I monitored Battery meter and the phone’s percentage on the Battery Saver screen and discovered that after the post firmware update, no change in percentage is recorded between 100% and 90%. You can see in the image below that Battery Meter does show incremental charging between 90%-100%, but once off charge, the phone reports 100% till it does a big jump (the app reports percentage every 10 minutes) from 100% to 90%, after an hour, or several hours, depending on whether or not you are using the phone. The first blip in the image is when I put the phone on charge after midnight. You can see when I took it off charge and started to actively use it. The second blip is when the phone went back on charge while I got ready for work. You can see after that it flat lined for several hours after I took it off charge and went to work.

Bat-100-90

Honestly not sure if this is a “feature” or a “bug”, but this is my educated guess. I have read in Boards about several users who have complained, and even exchanged their L900s, because the phone does not appear to fully charge, showing 99% or 98% when they take it off the charger. Well, this is not a bug or a battery problem. This is how Nokia “protects” your battery by turning the charging circuit off and on after the phone reaches 100% the first time. I have monitored and verified this with the Battery Meter app. Works the same way on my Surround. My guess is Nokia decided to make those users happy by always showing 100% when you take your phone off of charge, so no more complaints. But don’t you think people are going to question why their phone stays at 100% so long and again suspect that their battery, and hence their phone, is defective. For me, it a bit of problem as I can no longer run the battery down to 99% when I start me tests. So when i take it off charge, the battery could technically be between 97% (I have see the charging circuit dip that low) and 100%. I am trying to pull it off within about 10-15 minutes of it reaching 100% so hopefully my testing will be reasonably accurate. We will see.

This remedy (or bug) from Nokia reminds me of how OCD many new L900 users appear to be. While most people are thoroughly enjoying their phones, as can be illustrated by the high ratings the Lumia 900 is receiving on numerous sites, there is a steady list of gripes, and exchanges, that continue to pop up. Is your OCD getting the best of you or are you tolerating some of these.

TOP 10 COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE NOKIA LUMIA 900 (in no particular order)

1. The battery does not fully charge. Well, we covered that above. it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. I think maybe Nokia should have put the cutout at 96% or 95% though so as not to be so obvious.

2. If you go into a perfectly dark room, and tap one of the capacitive buttons at the bottom of the screen, you can see some light bleeding around the blocked out area. Yeah, so? First off, the back lighted buttons only stay illuminated for a couple seconds before they go back off again. And second, does this really matter. I guess, for some it does. I have not gone into a very dark room to check.

3. The vibration sound is unbearable. I wouldn’t call it unbearable. Maybe different, but unusable. I don’t think so. Took me a day or two to get used to the different sound, but now I expect it. I have read about some users who had AT&T unbox their entire stock of L900s to find one that was incrementally different that the phone they already had. Really!

4. The capacitive buttons will sometimes display the multi-task view rather than going back one screen. Ok, this is definitely a bug, but it’s not a hardware problem, and certainly not a reason to exchange your phone. Go to the Diagnostics app (##634#) and test your capacitive buttons, all of them. In fact, test them 100 times like I have. Works perfect every time, right? The responsiveness of the taps works fine. Somewhere there is a timing issue that Nokia needs to work out. With the right combination of factors, I am sure everyone will experience this glitch. Frustrating, yes. Show stopper. Don’t think so.

5. The phone displays a purple hue when brightness is set to low. Best I can tell this was corrected with the most recent update and had something to do with the Samsung displays (they supply displays to Nokia) not being calibrated properly. Some users still think they see a purple hue, but who knows for sure. This is probably the number one reason for exchanges/returns (or possibly #3), even though Nokia acknowledged the problem and said a software update was pending.

6. Volume buttons don’t work when the phone is sleeping. This was also apparently fixed with the most recent update. And again, it was a software issue so no need to exchange a phone because of it.

7. If you press in the upper right corner  (or sometimes lower left) of the screen you can hear a slight click. For those that don’t know, the L900 has a solid body, screw less design. Inside the microSIM slot, under a tamper label, there is a pin that once removed will allow the screen to be removed from the phone for servicing. The L900 is made of polycarbonate, or plastic. If you will allow me to diverge for a moment; my father was a tool and die maker for more than 40 years, and routinely worked on steel molds weighing 2+ tons, with tolerances of +/- a few 10,000th of an inch. When he went to work for Remco Toys in the 60s he was dismayed by everything being made with plastics, but was happy that the molds he would work on now had tolerances of + (no minus) a couple 1,000th. Big difference. Plastics expand and contract, warp, and do other things, so tolerances have to be greater than a piece of machined or molded steel for example. Honestly, I have not tried pressing the corners of my phone, and even if there was a click, so what. It’s just the nature of the beast. Btw, as a pre-teen I did get to play with a bunch of prototype toys. remember having about 300, 4” tall, wind up robots that my friends and I would use to wage battles against each other. Also had fun playing with the original, prototype, Mighty Mike. A friend of my fathers was one of the inventors.

8. The camera sucks! Well ok, there are some issues with the L900s camera. But if you follow the blogs there are a few settings that will vastly improve performance. I expect Nokia to put out an update soon that maximize the cameras performance.

9. Camera button does not wake the phone. Yep, this has happened to me. But, again I went to Diagnostics and tested Focus and Camera dozens of time, and they responded perfectly. So, it’s not my Gel Case and it’s not a hardware issue. It’s a software bug that I am sure Nokia will figure out. Exchanging the phone won’t fix it. May just defer it for a couple days.

10. Power button placement sucks. No, it’s just different. Took me about a day to get used to it and now I believe it was a very intuitive, deliberate, design feature. But if this is a show stopper, so be it.

Don’t want to portray myself as a Nokia fanboy here, but I will admit that I have experienced some of the above bugs (or features) and still love my phone, because I know that Nokia is into Windows Phone 100% and will do whatever it takes to make things right. Why, well my Surround still has bugs after 18 months that never got corrected. My Tilt 2, Fuse, etc.  had their fair share of problems that were never addressed. Despite that, I still like HTC as a brand (although I may like Nokia a little better right now). And for those unlucky few, did you ever own a Redfly?  In fact, I can’t think of any device that I have every purchased that was simply “perfect”. Can you?

9 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still rocking an Samsung Omnia 7 (great build quality btw) and although I am not running that battery monitor app, I decided to copy your test.

    I charged my phone to 100% (sometimes I find my phone had gone down to 99% even while it is still charging) and then went to sleep at 02:something. My phone was at 100%. I woke up at 11am and decided to look at Battery Saver menu. My battery was down to 96%.

    It is definitely normal for my phone to waste 4-6% every 8 hours on standby. I have tried leaving my phone on it’s own in the middle of the day at 62%. I returned about 6 hours later and the battery was down 7% to 55%. My phone has the data on, and I also leave my WiFi on all the time to help save on my data plan and also when I’m outside to help me find my location faster.

    What I do not understand is how your L900 can go down to 82%-78% in 7 hours (which is what I think I read last time you posted one of these tests) and my Omnia 7 only drops to 94% max. On another of my tests, I decided to switch all data off but keep the WiFi on. I charged to 100% and slept for 8 hours again. When I awoke, my battery was at 98%.

    Now, I have 2 theories.
    1 – Samsung may have developed a new way to manage power more efficiently when the phone is sleeping. May be a code. Maybe an internal chip, or even an app. Don’t know.
    2, and this is probably the most likely – the app you run that takes the metre readings every 10 mins as you say, probably consumes the most energy. I’m pretty certain if I had an app that would switch itself on every 10 mins for 7 hours, my battery would definitely be killing me when I woke up.

    Just to make things fairer in my next test, would you mind telling me the name of the app, and if I need an unlocked phone in order to install it. Thanks.

  2. Just got the Lumia 900. Enabled the Diagnostics app and can read battery level, voltage, and current, but how do I access the charts and history? Separate app?

  3. big Stefano: thanks for the detailed input. The first thing to remember is that every phone is going to be a little different in the way that the battery level is reported. For example, on my HTC Surround, the battery would drain (or at least display) very quickly from 100% down to 85%, and then slow down till around 35%, at which point it would start to rapidly drain again. From what I have seen, my L900 seems to be pretty consistent across the board, although it does hand at 100% a little longer than it should.

    For a true comparison we would need to understand what other tasks you are running; location services, email, background tasks, etc. I have already determined that the 8 Background Tasks I have running (including the Batter Meter app running every 10 minutes) eats up about 4% every 8 hours. And it looks like my 5 email accounts are at about the same 4%.

    Because of the change Nokia made, as noted above, I now have to start my tests at 100%, and have established a new baseline (with everything running-the way my phone is normally set) of 16%. So without background tasks and email, I would be down around 8% every 8 hours. Not much different than your results, assuming you have limited tasks (email & background tasks) running. One of my next tests are going to be the effect LTE has on battery performance which may be a contributing factor.

    The purpose of these tests are not to specifically pinpoint excatly how much power each of these functions will drain your battery. The test environment is not accurate enough for that. What I hope it will do though is quiet those who claim that running a few background tasks or setting one or two email accounts to “as items arrive”, will drain your battery to nothing in no time. That is simply not true.

  4. Thanks for your detailed reply. Jim. I realised your test was just to see if “background agents” and “as items arrive” would have any significant impact on your battery life. It has been interesting following your tests. Something definitely original, and I would love to see what would happen in your next test with LTE on.

    Unfortunately I have reverted my phone back to stock 8107. Was running the custom DFT Rainbow 8773 pack for a month. To be honest, I didn’t notice much difference on my phone. Hardly any actually. Can’t really understand why so many people are either excited about it, or complaining that the update never arrives. I actually got bored of it and decided to go back so that I can get everything legitimate from Microsoft the way they intend.

    However, I was only commenting on your article, as I thought 18% drainage overnight was a lot. But now there is no way to find out anymore… In all fairness we would need the same background agents on both phones, 5 emails setup the same way, and utilizing the exact same battery pack, probably alternating on nights.. But you are correct; the test environment is not accurate enough for that. And may well never be.

    Since you have an unlocked device, may I suggest an application for you to download which worked wonders for me. Maybe you already have it. It is called Snotify. You program certain hours of the day to silence, or completely mute your phone individually for calls, text and email. I suggest you take a look if you haven’t already done so

  5. This 90-100% phenomenon is also there in some android phones. If i charge my android upto say 92% and disconnect the charger, the indicator (app) shows 100%. There must be a thought behind this ‘feature’

  6. Thanks so very much for this post….this “feature” must be enabled in my Lumia 920. I kept charging up to 100%, but my phone would stay at 100% for what I thought to be a long while…I thought my battery was defective.

    You just saved me a trip to the AT&T store. Thanks again.

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