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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  • BabelHuber - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    ---> Can be used like a USB-stick. No iTunes/ Zune needed. Simply plug your phone into your PC and use the Explorer you like

    --> I can connect USB-harddiscs to my Asus TF Prime. Like in Windows, I can messs around with a file explorer there

    --> File explorer: Android has a real Linux file system. You can handle files like you have always done with computers. Hence cloud-services are not mandatory.

    --> Supports SD cards including full access via file explorer

    --> Allows installation of apps that were not downloaded via Google Play/ market. You can install whatever you want

    --> Real multitasking

    --> Allows tweaking: I have e.g. installed the rSAp-functionality on my Android phone last weekend:
    I have installed new system libraries, maually replaced system files etc. to get it work.
    It was a lot of effort, but at least I could do it. My warranty is gone now, though.

    To sum it up: Android is like a real Personal Computer. You can do whatever you want with it, there are no restrictions whatsoever.

    As a downside, you can mess up your phone completely, too. But this is the price of freedom
    Reply
  • steven75 - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Ah so all things 99% of the market doesn't need or want. Gotcha! Reply
  • eddman - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    iphone does not support them and still sells millions. Most people don't care about those features on a phone. Reply
  • ol1bit - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I do, and I know lots of others who like that as well, otherwise, why have a smart phone? Reply
  • eddman - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I said most, not all. Obviously for users who want those features, android is the only choice.

    I'm just saying that the lack of those features won't necessarily impact the sales, judging from how well iphones sold and keep selling.
    Reply
  • BabelHuber - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Well, from my experience some iOS-users don't even know that functionality is missing.

    When I quickly use my phone as USB-stick to transmit data from one notebook to another, they even are surprised (and yes, such things don't occur often, but sometimes this comes in handy)

    Or when I browse my files using an actual browser, they are surprised that I don't have to open an App first.

    Some users are so locked into the Apple ecosystem that they don't even expect their smartphone to act as a small PC, even though it is one.
    They act as if their phone was a fixed-function-device because of technical limitations, not because openness was omitted on purpose by the manufacturer.
    Reply
  • Xale - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Humerously, those aren't even Android features, but Feature Phone (Dumbphone) features.

    Stuff that could be done a decade ago.
    Reply
  • TGressus - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    why indeed?

    It seems like a more powerful tablet experience would serve folks better. Then the phone can go back to being a sleek and inexpensive afterthought.

    What it's going to take to get there is a better tablet OS. MS is poised to bring it first, which I don't think many saw coming.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Its almost funny how close to Windows vs OSX vs Linux this has become. Android gives you by a landslide the most options, iOS has a great user experience but cages advanced users in a bit too much, WP7 is somewhere in the middle on both fronts.

    WP7 seems to trade off absolute speed for smoothness. Looking at the browser synthetic benchmarks its much slower than even old single core Android or iOS phones, but what reviews can't show you is how well it lets you navigate pages during that loading time.
    Reply
  • Braumin - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Actually they don't show load times, every site on the earth focuses on javascript as the be all and end all for web browsing. Reply

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