It is no secret I love the N9 and MeeGo-Harmattan. It runs such a versatile OS. It may not be the most developed out of the box, but you don’t choose it for that. The possibilities are endless. Enable developer mode, and install a few mods and the device is unmatched (except by the N900). But this isn’t to talk up the N9 (I’ll save that for later).
I am here to talk about my experiences over the last two weeks, with the Nokia Lumia 900. I’ll break it up into Hardware & Software. I did use it as my main device for the entire two weeks, only using my N9 to test some new mods I’d come across. When talking about software, I will also do my absolute best to remove any prejudice I have about WP (keeping in mind, I have used the Lumia 800 as my daily for over two months).
First up we have the gorgeous design. I knew I would like it, as it is the same design I’ve fallen in love with on my N9. I have the Unicorn, but was lucky enough to have a Stormtrooper, so again, glossy white, WOW! The screen didn’t feel too big going from my N9 to the Lumia 900, but now I have gone back, my N9 feels ridiculously small. (Haven’t felt like this since I went from N8 to X6 for a day).
At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like the bezel, and the flat screen, but after a day or so, there were no issues whatsoever. Although, I would jump for a Lumia 900 with a curved screen. Maybe the next Lumia that is coming “soon”. Having an exposed USB port was handy, as it was easy to just plug and get on with tasks, however, I kept being conscious about putting it the right way in pocket, so nothing went in there.
I’m putting this down to the fact it was a trial device and had been used before me, but compared to my N9 and Lumia 800, the physical keys were a lot more compressed and I found it hard to push them. Although, something I will never not like is the having a physical camera key. Yes, I have Camerra installed, so I can use the vol+ as a shutter key, but it does not replace having a dedicated camera shutter.
The front facing camera on the Lumia 900 is amazing! It was one of the things I was looking forward to the most (along with the larger screen), and it did not disappoint at all. It’s clarity blew me away (even more so when compared to the N9′s FFC). The rear camera surprised me too, as I expected it to be sub-N9, but they were pretty equal.
Something that I also found to be quite annoying was the back button. I found it to “bleed” onto the screen. When using predominantly black-backgrounded apps, you could notice this significantly. It isn’t restricted to the one device, as I’ve heard others complain of it too. Also, compared to the Lumia 800, the soft keys seem yellow, not white.
The last component of the hardware I want to talk about, is the memory options. Admittedly, my N9 and the Lumia 900 I trialled, were both 16GB, although WP7 is limited to that, where as I could purchase the 64GB version of the N9 if I wanted to.
Moving on to the software side of things, we have the multitude of apps, unique live tiles and the fluidity that is WP. Setting up the device is easy enough, synching your contacts from the Live ID you use to sign in to the device. Having the same ID on my 800 and N9, all the contacts were synched across all three. I was surprised when my 800 and N9 updated themselves almost instantly when I changed a contact’s name.
After all the setting up was done, and I got the live tiles the way I liked, with all the apps I love, the experience was exactly the same as it was on my Lumia 800. There was no difference for me at all, it was like I was using the same phone in a way. The OS was really fluid. Venturing in to the marketplace, there was pretty much an app for anything I needed.
The social integration on the platform is a really awesome feature, and I love having Facebook chat, Windows Live Messenger and Text, all in the same thread, with that intelligent auto-switching based on the contact’s status. It is something I wish I had on my N9. The “Me” tile is handy, as it helps me see how many Facebook Notifications/Twitter Mentions I have, in a glance. That is the best way to describe live tiles, information at a glance. The N9 has it too, it is called the Standby Screen, and the Events homescreen.
The downsides of the OS includes a lack of a centralised notification system. Although Live Tiles is a solution, it isn’t a complete solution, as it is plain stupid to pin every app to the start screen, just to know when there are notifications. Bluetooth file transfer is something I have also missed when using a WP, supposedly coming to WP8. The lack of multi-tasking for me, as a self-declared “power user” was a huge element to get used to, especially trying to load web elements (Facebook notifications, Twitter feed, web page etc.) in the background.
I didn’t want to mention this, but at least for me (in no way do I represent the broader amount of user’s needs), the ability to extend the feature set of WP is limited, well, non-existent (unless you have hacked the OS). If something goes wrong, say like what happened to me where scrolling was buggy, and the Marketplace failed to launch, you most likely need to reboot to fix it.
With the N9, run a terminal command or 2, and you’re all set. Same thing with features. Due to the huge community following, the mantra of “if it doesn’t do it, we’ll make it” has never been stronger than with MeeGo/Maemo. It may not have a billion apps, but the bigger ones are there, or very good alternatives. Plus, with the ability to run OSes like Android (via Nitdroid Project) and Debian (via Easy Debian), plus compatibility layers such as TizMee (Tizen), apps are irrelevant.
In every respect, WP7 is a great OS for the majority of consumers that need the basic feature set on a mobile phone. For the more tech savvy users, there are several things that are missing. Hopefully, most of these issues will be rectified by WP8. We won’t need to wait long either, given Nokia World is around the corner.
Taking in to account everything, and attempting to remove the prejudice I have of the N9, the Lumia 900 is really a great all-round device. It has great industrial design, the screen is amazingly clear and the perfect size, with good optics (front & back). If this device was mine, it may become my daily driver, simply for the FFC and the larger screen, and keep my N9s as a “nerd-toy”.
My recommendation to anyone looking at getting a Lumia 900 is not to buy one. Yes, you read that right. There is no point in buying the Lumia 900 at this stage of the game, as WP8 will be coming out shortly. Since there is no upgrade path to the latest iteration, purchasing now, in my opinion, is a mistake. Wait until WP8 devices are announced, and weigh up your options. Worst thing is to buy one now, and in a month regret it because there is something new. There is the WP 7.8 update coming, and that is great for those who already own the device.
For me, I’m content with my N9, for now.
Cheers to Nokia Australia and Fuel for the trial device!