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Nokia Lumia 900: The Morning After – First Impressions

Have had my L900 for a little over 20 hours now and all I can say so far is, “pure joy”. Picked it up in-store around 2:00pm yesterday and got to the task of making it mine ASAP. I added a screen protector (Moshi iVisor) and a black gel case to my black Lumia what at the store. My next challenge was to find a belt case as I don’t like carrying phones in my pocket (too much other stuff in there). Struck out at AT&T, so on the way back to the office I tried; BestBuy, Walmart and Verizon. No go on the first two and Verizon had one horizontal case (which I really don’t like) so I bought it for now. BTW, also tried Staples and Target on the drive home and struck out again. This all supports my mantra, “Retail Sucks”. I was not looking for much. A simple vertical case with a magnetic flap that was big enough for my phone. Interestingly, when I checked other phone sizes, the L900 is +/- 1 or 2 mm in length and height of the; HD7, Droid Razr, Rezound, Droid Bionic, Galaxy S III, and so on. Only fitted shells out there in the wild. Guess I will be doing some online shopping.

back at the office, I had hoped to use the Reinstaller app for my 187 apps/games but that turned into a big disappointment. The app accepted my credentials just fine but as it gathered my app information it got stuck at 111 apps, stating that there was a connection problem. Tried it with LTE on/off, WiFi on/off. No change. In the apps defense, when I went to the WindowsPhone site and tried tabbing through all of my apps, I got an “Oops” error message after the sixth page (around 105-110 apps) so maybe it was a problem at Microsoft’s end. Fortunately I came prepared with my OneNote alphabetical printout of all my apps. I tried using the WindowsPhone site, which does not sort alphabetically and includes all the trial downloads, but after about a dozen downloads, I started getting errors there also, so I resorted to the reliable phone search and install. About 2 hours later everything was in there. Note, that I now had this beautiful phone for 4 hours and had yet to play with it except for seeing the Marketplace screen. I did setup my three email accounts (setup my Live ID at the store) and Facebook while tinkering with the app installs, but never even looked at anything. It was killing me.

Got home and did the Developer unlock thing which went perfectly. Installed a few essential Homebrew apps and it was on to Zune to transfer media. Don’t know if it’s my old XP machine, but this is always a tedious step as Zune really bogs down during the drag, drop and transfer of a few GBs of data. Again, my new phone sat darkened, as my stuff “slowly” transferred. Took about an hour to get everything synced up.

It was now  8pm, 7 hours after touching my L900 for the first time, and I had about 10 minutes of real, “get to know you time”. Damn. I made up for it though over the next 6 hours, loading all my passwords, tweaking settings and discovering my new phone.

One of my first checks was speed, and all I can say is WOW! My 3G speeds in and around the house/office had been terrible with the Surround, often not getting past 1Mbps. Check out the screenshot to see how LTE is working. The lower test was with WiFi in the house (7.24Mbps) which is decent for my 10Mbps BrightHouse plan. The next one up was LTE inside the house (7.25Mbps) which was something I didn’t expect. The 1.65Mbps Upload was even more impressive. Can’t get past 0.98Mbps with BrightHouse.  Finally I tried LTE outside this morning (15.72Mbps) and was completely blown away. This, it appears, will make a big difference on this phone, and possibly the single most important reason to get one. I will finally get to use some of that Unlimited Data I am paying for every month.

I am not going to be a judge of camera quality. Being in my 50s I appreciate that I “can” take a picture with my phone. I have a Sony digital shooter for really serious stuff. Or I can dig out my kick ass Canon 35mm outfit if I want to be nostalgic. I have only taken a few shots with the camera and I think they look great, Below are outdoor and indoor shots, with default settings and my sometime shaking hand. Sure, the dark inside shot is somewhat pixilated, but what would expect taking a picture in a dark room (no windows and a 3 way bulb set at 50 watts). No complaints here.


Keys and touch points have taken a little getting used to. Wasn’t sure if I would like the power button on the side of the phone, but as others have stated, with a 4.3” phone top right is too far a reach. Now that I have been using it almost a full day, it is becoming natural. The three bottom Windows keys go dark after about 5 seconds of non-use, and I have had some problems hitting the Back button, tending to tap a bit further out to the edge of the phone. But I guess that will take a little getting used to. Good news is that I have not “accidentally” opened Bing search once. That’s a good thing.

Coming from a Surround, known for its great sound quality, the L900 is a little different. The speaker is plenty loud for music when set at 20-30, although it lacks the rich bass (if you could call bass rich coming from a phone) I typically got from the Surround. What’s different though is some of the other sounds on this phone. I typically kept my Surround set to 15, so I could hear alerts and rings. Doing so made typing quite obnoxious with that click, clack sound coming out if my phone. On the L900, with volume at 15, I can barely hear the keyboard. Actually it’s just right. A little feedback so you know you are hitting keys, but people around you can’t hear it. I have to turn the volume up to 25-30 for the keyboard to sound like my Surround did at 15. The quiet keyboard has no effect on other sounds like alerts and ringtones. So when set at 15, the L900 sounds as loud, or possibly louder, for incoming calls than the Surround. Note that the little blips, like sliding your lock screen up are also a bit muted. I had suggested to Microsoft that the keyboard volume be set to a “percentage” of the overall device volume. Maybe they do read their mail.

Not sure what all the scrolling, screen responsiveness comments going around are about, but the screen is beautiful and, at least for me, very responsive. Seems to scroll at about the same speed as my Surround which was just right. Colors are bright and vibrant, but not over saturated like on the Focus, which was a turn off for me. This is the first phone or PDA I have owned that is actually usable in direct sunlight. Here is a photo in the bright Florida sun. You be the judge.

Have not had the phone long enough to rate battery life, but so far compared to my teeny 1230mAh Surround battery, it is a joy. When I picked it up yesterday it was at around 50%. I put it on a USB portable charger when I got to the office and proceeded to download all of my apps. It got up to full charge at around 5:30 and I unplugged, while I continued to download apps. It got another boost when I synced my Zune stuff between 7-8pm. Played with it for hours last night and still had 35% when i went to sleep. Have had it off charge for about three hours today and it has been on almost all of the time while writing these comments and battery is down to 89%. Not bad at all. Getting 4 bars of LTE in the house, compared to 1-3 bars of 3G, which should make a big difference. Will take me a week or two to have any real battery performance numbers though.

If this is a mediocre phone, then I suppose I like mediocre. Definitely an upgrade for me in style, size, performance, etc. Windows Phone was already stable and zippy. The Lumia 900 is simply zippier. But please don’t take my word for it. You really need to give this phone a test drive when they hit the stores next week.