All of the Windows Phone 7 device reviews were done before I was hired at TEK.GADG, so I never got to fully experience Microsoft's mobile platform. Lucky for me, I got a chance to use the Nokia Lumia 900 for the last two weeks. Having only been introduced to the Windows Phone experience recently, I was very eager to put on my techno-geek headwear and put my hands all over the Nokia Lumia 900.
I was blown away as soon as I started using the Windows Phone Metro UI. The sheer concept of this interface is brilliant. It is a complete departure away from what I am familiar with for mobile platforms - which, for the most part, is based on skeuomorphic design principles. Metro is a nice break from such skeuomorphism. It combines intriguing user interface elements and dynamic updates, all producing great interactions and easy navigation for the end user. I was also very impressed with the performance of the Lumia 900. Scrolling is very smooth and fluid on Windows Phone 7 (something I hope Google will match successfully with Project Butter) and the interface feels very responsive overall. One handy feature is the built-in voice search, making everything fairly easy to find, even items buried in it's various text based menus.
If you are an XBOX Live user, you’ll love the integration into the OS. I was playing around in the game section and you can see your achievements and your avatar right on the phone. I tried changing my avatar on my XBOX, and the appearance of my avatar on my phone would change a few minutes later as well. This is a great feature Microsoft is implementing, especially for those who are already invested in the XBOX Live experience. It was a real treat to have access to my XBOX Live account right on my phone.
Before I go any further, I have to mention one great app for the Windows Phone platform. It is called Baconit. If you are a Reddit user and have a Windows Phone, I cannot recommend this app enough. You must use this application! I found it to be beyond any comparison to other Reddit apps in the market currently. For any dedicated Reddit slave, it is equipped with everything you would possibly need. Browsing subreddits is a breeze and switching between different posts is as easy as swiping your finger across the screen. This, along with the ability to have multiple Reddit accounts integrated, it provides an outstanding user experience. Seriously: BACONIT!
The Lumia 900 herself was a bit bulky (aka fat) for my liking. I found the screen to be a bit on the large side at 4.3 inches, and the body a little on the fat side at 11.5mm. I had trouble carting the phone in my pant pocket and found it to be quite bothersome. It tended to weigh down my pants and created a noticeable bulge in my pocket. So instead, I had to transport it in my satchel, which turned out to be only mildly annoying.
Putting the big size aside, the phone is packed with a single core 1.4 GHz CPU encase in a one-piece polycarbonate body. It comes with Bluetooth 2.1, 16 GB of internal storage, and 512 MB of SDRAM. Specs-wise, the Lumia 900 is not competitive with some of the newer phones on the market. None-the-less, these specs are fairly decent and the Lumia 900 seems to handle all the GUI elements with ease.
The 4G LTE capabilities of the phone are quite good... when I could actually access them. Rogers LTE in Vancouver is not as solid as I’d hoped it would be. It appeared that the majority of the time I was stuck on 3G and only occasionally did I have access to 4G LTE. That said, the phone did handle 4G LTE quite exceptionally when it could connect to it. Web browsing was very responsive, and personal WiFi hotspot feature allowed me to share this fast 4G LTE connection with other devices.
I really feel that Windows Phone Metro UI made this phone something real special. If it ran Android, it would be one of a million phones, but the Metro UI really sets it apart from the rest of the phones on the market today. As I stated earlier, this complete departure that Microsoft is pursuing with there Metro UI is the way forward for mobile OS's and interfaces. I hope that both Google and Apple will take a note here from Microsoft (something I never dreamed I would say but is so true). What is overly impressive about this departure, is the creation of the dynamic springboard system inherent in the overall design of Metro. This, unlike other platforms, dynamically updates information on the UI elements in the phone, providing the user with current and readable data on the fly and immediately. At a glance I got information about the weather, my friends, games, notification and etc - all without opening up one application on the phone. I really hope that this dynamic springboard is developed further with greater integration on future iterations of the OS.
Overall, the hardware of the Lumia 900 didn't really impress me that much. I prefer the more attractive and slimmer sister, the Lumia 800, over the the Lumia 900, which seemed to have let herself go a little to much. That said, I cannot praise enough on the ingenuity that has gone into Microsoft’s Metro UI. I am really excited to see what Microsoft has in store for the next generation mobile OS platform.