Windows Phone Thoughts: Illuminating the Lumia -- The Nokia Lumia 900

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Illuminating the Lumia -- The Nokia Lumia 900

Posted by Don Tolson in "Nokia Windows Phones" @ 08:00 AM

Radios

Generally, radios in smartphones have been evolving, becoming more sensitive and more discriminating (eliminating interference) with each generation. The radios provided in the Nokia Lumia 900 live up to this, being as good as or better than those in the Focus S.

GPRS (cellular)

As stated in the specifications, the Lumia 900 is Nokia's first all-band LTE-capable WP7 phone. Unfortunately, I couldn't give the LTE throughput a test, since the area of Canada I live in isn't yet serviced by LTE. I did try taking the phone over to Vancouver which is supposed to be set up for LTE and I did very briefly see the LTE symbol show up at the top of the screen but it was quickly replaced by 3G. Apparently, on the Rogers network, you have to order an LTE data package and have a specifically-programmed SIM card installed to take advantage of LTE. I guess I'll have to wait unit LTE is announced for Victoria. :-(

When I said above that the Lumia 900 had better radios than the Focus S, the GPRS radios are a bit of an odd exception. With the Focus S, I would generally see 4G displayed no matter where I traveled between home, the office, and my clients. With the Nokia however, the majority of time it will display 3G. I occasionally see 4G flip by quickly, but for the most part, it sticks to 3G. It looks like the UTMS radio isn't quite as sensitive as Samsung's, or perhaps Samsung has a different interpretation of 4G connection from Nokia. In further tests, on the outskirts of coverage in my area, it became pretty obvious that the Lumia's cellular receiver is not as sensitive as Samsung's. Where the Focus S could get 2 or 3 bars of 3G, the Lumia had dropped to 'E' or showed no service.

When you do get data service, the between the 3G and 4G connections doesn't seem to affect data throughput. I did some comparison data tests using the Free Speed Test application from the Marketplace. I tried the throughput tests on each of the Lumia 900 and the Samsung Focus S, at the same time, from the same location, running five trials on each device. On the Lumia 900 (showing 3G), the average d/l was 2.45mbit/sec and u/l was 0.97 mbit/sec. On the Focus S (showing 4G), average d/l was 2.15mbit/sec, u/l was 0.72 mbit/sec. Even though the actual tests belie the fact, browsing and accessing email, etc. does seem a bit 'snappier' on the Lumia 900.

Bluetooth

The Lumia 900 includes support for BT 2.1, including the EDR+ profiles. It connected easily to the handsfree units in the Prius and the GMC Sierra and all the connections were consistent, automatically established and stayed connected. Voice quality was clear, and they responded consistently to call pickup and call end commands from the phone (and vice versa).

Pairing with my Motorola stereo headphones was also straightforward and the audio quality was as good as I've ever heard from a phone.

WiFi

Generally the WIFI receiver in the Nokia Lumia 900 seems much more sensitive than the one on the Focus S. I'm able to see a lot more routers/networks in my neighbourhood than I did before (good thing/bad thing, right?) According to the specifications, it supports 802.11b, g, and n, but it didn't see the 5GHz second band on my home router, only the 2Ghz one. It didn't seem to affect throughput, but it was just odd that it's not supported.

From a security point of view, the Lumia supports WEP, WPA, WPA-Enterprise and WPA2-Personal formats.

GPS

By default, the Lumia's GPS receiver uses AGPS (cell tower triangulation), wi-fi location, GPS and GLOSNAS satellites to quickly determine location. Generally, I found the Lumia to be much more sensitive and able to achieve a 'lock' much more quickly than the Focus S. In a side-by-side test (with the SIM cards removed to force location by GPS/GLONAS only), the L900 was still able to resolve location within a few seconds in Bing Maps. In many cases, the Focus S took much longer and finally gave up with the 'Bing Maps isn't able to find your location right now.' message.

FM

Usual FM radio and application using the headset wire as an antenna. Moving on....

Battery

The battery provided with the Lumia 900 is a fairly massive 1830mAh unit, which should be able to provide power for a good portion of the work day, for the average to high level user. According to the specifications, the maximum talk time is 7 hours with a standby time of 300 hours. For music playback, the specs say you should get 60 hours and for video, it drops down to 8 hours.

I tend to be on the medium to low usage scale of things, a few calls of about 3 to 5 minutes each, emails pulled down on an hourly basis, some texts, some browsing (especially at night), not a lot of video viewing. For me, the battery will last about a day and a half from full charge to almost empty.


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