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, 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 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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  • name99 - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    "However the labeling here is actually hilarious - AT&T’s WCDMA “4G” marketing carries over to the Lumia 900, so selecting “3G” from the drop down will score you a “4G” indicator in the status bar. Likewise selecting “4G” from the drop down gets you “LTE” in the status bar. Finally, a concrete example of where AT&T’s re-branding marketing has resulted in an actual namespace collision!"

    We have been through this a dozen times, Brian. You are just being immature if you keep pushing this point even after the relevant engineering issues have been explained to you many times.
    If there is a name space collision here, it is because Nokia or MS are too stupid to understand that LTE is not the same thing as 4G, not because of an ATT fault.

    ATT are major league dicks --- there's plenty about them to complain about honestly, without complaining about stupid non-issues.
  • Impulses - Thursday, April 5, 2012 - link

    Seems like a valid complaint to me, at least from the point of view of the average consumer, regardless of whose fault it is. If AT&T can influence even Apple to change their connection indicators, surely they could force something less confusing here. It's not a coven to me, but the average consumer barely knows or cares what LTE & HSPA+ are, if they did the iPhone wouldn't be selling very well right now.
  • leexgx - Friday, April 6, 2012 - link

    MS naming (nice that they let you set the speeds 2g 3g and 4g speeds to bad you cant just force it to stay on one but that be asking to much)
    3g/H/H+ as 3g (WCDMA / UMTS / HSDPA / HSPA) and 4g as 4g (LTE or LTE-ADV) as it should be seems right to me (miss selling 4g when its not 4g is bad in the USA, hope Three in the UK do not start miss selling quite sure they Not be allowed to)

    2g best signal and power bat life
    3g lower bat life and calls and text may some times not work
    4g more power drain less bat life (depends if its been used as LTE should have way better power use then 3g+ spec)
  • DarkUltra - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    I think you should dig some more into WP7. I would not have bought a Lumia 800 if I knew about these:

    - Deleting gmail mail archives mail instead of deleting it
    - Read, delete and move email operations is not pushed or synced immediately. Kinda disruptive and unnerving when you sit down in front of the computer and have to do it all over again
    - international characters turn into æøå after a reply from a gmail account ruining the threading (could be issue with gmail but worked fine on my first gen iphone)
    - no text wrap in ie9 so text on certain websites like anandtech and techreport is redicously small in portrait mode and uncomfortably small in landscape mode.
    - no Find on Page
    - no copy and paste in calendar
    - no every other week timing in calendar
    - no Other and custom phone numbers support in contacts
    - If you set your locale to something like Norway, you get SV: and vs: instead of the regular Re: and Fwd: email subject abbrevations. After a bit back and fourth with people abroad the subject line ends up like this:
    Re: SV: Re: SV: Re: SV: Smörgardsbord på Lørdag
    - no native PDF support, must use a slow and unresponsive 3rd party reader that lack zoom to picture/paragraph and search
    - Other and custom phone numbers in contacts
    Many phone numbers from Outlook and Google doesn't show up

    Othervise I really love this phone and its live tiles.
  • Klimax - Friday, April 6, 2012 - link

    "Deleting gmail mail archives mail instead of deleting it"
    Setting in gmail.

    "Read, delete and move email operations is not pushed or synced immediately. Kinda disruptive and unnerving when you sit down in front of the computer and have to do it all over again"
    Again, setting in gmail.
  • Impulses - Thursday, April 5, 2012 - link

    "I don't know that there's still a lot of iPhone/Windows Phone cross shopping, but a trend towards even cheaper on-contract prices for high-end smartphones is absolutely welcome."

    I agree with the latter statement... But as far as consumer choice, I think there might be more iPhone/WP cross shopping than iPhone/Android or even WP/Android. MS seems to be straddling this line between Apple's platform approach and Google's, and right now I think they're leaning slightly towards the former.

    I think it's great for the market overall, and it's probably a winning strategy in the long run (something MS knows all about)... But right now I think Google's got more of the bargain/value market and the spec/geek market while Apple's carved itself a big chunk in between from average consumers looking to spend more but not necessarily focused on specs or sheer capability.

    I'm definitely excited to see where WP & Nokia go next, despite being heavily invested in Android... Nokia needs MS more than MS needs Nokia tho, and WP isn't gonna budge from 3rd place if Nokia is the only OEM producing flagship type devices. Could be worse tho, they could be RIM!
  • PeteH - Thursday, April 5, 2012 - link

    You make some good points, but I disagree that the MS approach is necessarily a winning strategy. If this was April 2010 when the smartphone market wasn't so mature I would completely agree that Windows stands an excellent chance of becoming (along with iOS/Android) a third dominant mobile platform. Unfortunately for MS it's April 2012, and it may be too late for Windows to be anything other than a niche player.

    I think the key question is can MS attract developers so that a strong stable of quality Apps can be built up rapidly. If they can it will greatly increase their chance of success.
  • Impulses - Thursday, April 5, 2012 - link

    Meh, there's a lot of race still left to run imo, the smartphone market may be maturing rapidly but it's still in it's infancy... It's like in the stage the PC market was in the 80s imo.

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