WP7.5 and Preloaded Applications

To accommodate the Lumia 900’s unique inclusion of LTE, the device runs a newer build of WP7.5 Mango than I’ve seen on any other devices. Our sampled Lumia 900 came running 7.10.8112.7. Superficially I can’t find anything major which deviates from the WP7.5 I’ve seen on numerous other devices, other than again small changes to accommodate LTE. These boil down to inclusion of an LTE status indicator and an according change to the cellular settings page to select between EDGE / WCDMA (3G) / LTE (4G) - more on this later. We’ve gone over Windows Phone 7.5 Mango before, and what’s shipped on the Lumia 900 isn’t different from what has come before, obviously. Nokia’s input into the WP7.5 UI seems to go as far as their customized ringtones, a “Nokia Blue” theme, and the usual customization options for OEMs such as the right options under camera, marketplace link, and so forth.

As with any carrier-subsidized phone, there’s some software preload on the Lumia 900. The stuff that comes preinstalled on the Lumia 900 matches what I’ve seen on other AT&T-branded WP7 devices, namely AT&T Code Scanner, Navigator, Radio, U-Verse Mobile, an ESPN app, and YPmobile seem to be the bloat. What’s great about WP7 is that you can uninstall any of these preloaded applications and never have to see them again.

Oddly enough the only Nokia software among the preloads is the Nokia App Highlights application. The Marketplace includes a Nokia Collection shortcut as you’d expect, but there’s no preloaded Nokia Drive or Maps unless you go in the Marketplace and grab it. That’s a bit odd, but I suspect AT&T’s ulterior motive here is that it wants subscribers to use its own AT&T Navigator application (which requires a monthly subscription) rather than the free-because-it’s-a-Lumia Nokia Drive application.

I have to say that I’m impressed with how much Nokia Drive has improved since its initial launch on Windows Phone 7 with the Lumia 800. As of this writing the version is 2.0.0.2148, and it feels much more polished and responsive now since last I used it, and includes a few new features. The current version still requires you to preload maps for the regions you want over WiFi (so be sure you do this before getting in the car), but you basically get the ability to pre-cache whatever maps you want instead of hoping you have network connectivity where you’re going like with Google Navigation.

I took a small road trip up to Phoenix to test AT&T LTE and used the Lumia 900 and Nokia Drive for navigation the whole way. Again, the application feels more performant and some places where the UI had a ton of friction have been smoothed over. One of the new Nokia Drive features is showing current speed and the road’s speed limit alongside, among other things. At this point the only major gripes I have with Nokia Drive are that the application arguably should change between night and daytime map colors automatically, and that the accelerometer filtering seems to misinterpret bumps in the road as a rotation occasionally.

Nokia’s Maps application is up to version 1.3.10.230 and is still a good alternative to the default Windows Phone Maps application. Like Nokia Drive, I find it unfortunate that the application isn’t installed by default.

One of the other major preloads is Tango, a cross platform voice calling application which runs on Windows, iOS, Android, and WP7. One of Tango’s big features is that voice calling is supported 3G, 4G, and WiFi, however curiously enough the preinstalled version of Tango on the Lumia 900 doesn’t support calling over 3G or 4G cellular data.

Obviously this is an AT&T imposed restriction imposed on their subsidized hardware (at least for this variant), however it’s just annoying. I installed the marketplace version of Tango, however, which does allow calling over cellular data. This does work - again it seems pointless for AT&T to preload a version of Tango which undermines that service’s principle feature, especially when you can nuke the preloaded version in 10 seconds and install the market version without the limitation.

Regardless, I gave Tango voice calling a shot over WiFi and 3G to an iPhone client on 3G using the preinstalled application, and it does work well on the Lumia 900. The interface for Windows Phone 7 approximates the FaceTime interface, including the same front to back camera switcher overlay. At the bottom are controls for muting audio, enable/disable video, and ending the call. I can’t complain about quality, which looks about what you’d expect (perhaps QVGA or slightly higher) for a video encoded and sent over 3G data.

Hardware Overview and Physical Impressions Battery Life and Charging
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  • lunarx3dfx - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I agree with edd. I recently bought a focus flash after using a Nexus S for almost a year, and even with ics the Nexus wasn't anywhere near as smooth as WP7 is. Sure, gpu acceleration helped, but there are other underlying problems in Android.

    That being said however, I will probably be getting the HTC ONE X or the US GSM Galaxy Nexus (if it ever launches) because the one area WP really lacks is in providing features for power users. It is a beautiful os, and as a whole I really enjoy it, but I miss being able to customize everything like I could on android.
    Reply
  • papatom - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Besides there is a lot more that the underlying OS has to offer.
    Let's see how WP subjective performance changes (tanks?) when Microsoft adds all those features.
    They will bring the platform in-line feature wise, won't they?

    Another thing, as pointed by Exodite, is that the first crop of WP phones - at least reference ones - comes from Nokia, and is polished to the point OS permits.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I'm at 1.2ghz and 768 memory with only around 400 available for me to use! Sure it's dual core, but again, the GPU does its job now.

    Here, read this from an actual developer of Android.

    https://plus.google.com/105051985738280261832/post...
    Reply
  • mutatio - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Careful, Vision, that comes awful close to complimenting Apple's approach since day one of the iPhone. ;-) Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Ah yes, the wonders of anecdotal evidence and conjecture.

    Incidentially I have an Android phone based on very similar hardware, an 1GHz Qualcomm S2 SoC, 512MB memory and a FWVGA display.

    And it runs absolutely beautifully.

    It's the SE arc though, kinda funny how the old guard in phones still seem to come up with some of the best solutions.
    Reply
  • designerfx - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    wow, really?

    do you understand the point of quad core? it's not performance, it's more power savings.

    WP is not more efficient than anyone - if you think it is the OS, you don't understand that probably 99% of the performance (positive or negative) is based on the chips in the phone and that's it.
    Reply
  • crispbp04 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    You are clueless so please don't speak on subjects you have no idea about. Do you even know what a scheduling is? Maybe when you get an education some day after you graduate high school you'll understand how an operating system works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheduling_(computing...

    Saying performance is all hardware is like saying strengh is everything. try holding a 25lb weight 2 feet from you with your arms extended, then hold the same weight to your chest. What is easier?
    Reply
  • eddman - Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - link

    Why talk time and 3G web browsing battery times are so low, compared to phones with a similar display and a similar or smaller battery?

    Is this one of the pitfalls of using a dedicated baseband chip?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Basically that, and again that we're talking about (at least for the cellular page loading tests) the same display being the majority of power draw.

    The tethering results being so close surprised me, and I'm going to re-run the HSPA+ result just to see what was up there. Again very limited time on this review actually.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Lonegunman2012 - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Just a quick question: What is your rush to get the review out? I look to this site for thoroughly written reviews. It's disappointing that so much was left out. I would be happy to wait longer for a review to come out if it was complete. Reply

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