By Paolo G. MontecilloPhilippine Daily [...]

Down but not out, Nokia hits back with Lumia

By Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

IN A sea of iPhones and Samsungs, Nokia’s device appears to hold its own.

MANILA, Philippines—When Finnish electronics giant launched its Lumia line of smartphones, it signaled to the industry that the former world leader in mobile was not yet out of the game now dominated by Asian brands.

The Lumia line was the result of a partnership with software giant Microsoft, which itself was playing catchup in the mobile arena now ruled by Silicon Valley’s Apple Inc. and Google.

A the top of the new Nokia smartphone line is the Lumia 900, which remains, at least for the Philippine market, the best Nokia phone money can buy.

The Inquirer was fortunate enough to get its hands on the Lumia 900 (care of Nokia Philippines) and, over the span of two weeks, the much-anticipated device did not disappoint.

The jury may still be out on whether Windows 8—Microsoft’s latest software for tablets and PC hybrids—is a success. But there should be no doubt that Windows phone 7 and the subsequent Windows phone 8 operating systems for mobile phones have the potential to become one of the major platforms for devices.

Windows for phones is easier to use than Google’s widget-heavy Android operating system, or even the heavily favored Apple iOS for iPhones, iPads and iPods.

Instead of endless pages for apps, Windows gives users just two screens: a start screen filled with customizable tiles for easy access of preferred apps, and a second screen that’s a simple list of all apps on the phone.

This should appeal to those in the market for new devices, especially users upgrading from “dumb phones.”

Nokia complements the simple yet feature-packed software with elegant hardware.

The Lumia reviewed for this story had a one-piece body that curves in the front to transition smoothly with the 4.3-inch AMOLED display. This gives the device the elegance most Android phones lack, despite the Lumia 900’s slightly thicker profile than most high-end devices in the market.

Unfortunately, Nokia decided to give the Lumia 900 a flat display, instead of the slightly concave glass seen on its smaller brother, the Lumia 800, and the newer Lumia 920.

Two chrome volume rockers can be found on the right side of the phone. Right below those is the lock/unlock button and, near the bottom, is a dedicated camera button that opens the camera app with one press.

On top of the phone are an earphone jack and a door that hides the slot for a micro-SIM.

Under the hood, the phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset and Adreno graphics unit, both delivering snappy performance and great images.

The phone’s 8-megapixel camera performs well in well-lit conditions thanks to Carl Zeiss lenses, but can be inconsistent under artificial light—nothing that a quick computer tweak can’t fix but still a minor annoyance.

Overall, the Lumia 900 loses some, but wins on most. Windows phone 7 and the recently launched Windows phone 8 are both top-notch operating systems and the Nokia hardware shows that off really well.

It’s good to see Nokia getting its groove back, and anyone buying the Lumia 900, or the upcoming Lumia 920 (which we think is worth the wait), will stand out in a smart phone sea of iPhones and Samsungs.

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