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.

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  • sonicmerlin - Saturday, April 7, 2012 - link

    Also even on the S4 Android isn't smooth. Look at how much of a delay occurs between when you swipe your finger and the screen finally responds with movement. There's really just no comparison to a proper OS that prioritizes the UI thread.
  • crispbp04 - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    I have the HTC titan and I use it all day every day. It's always fast, always smooth, always fun to use, and if I forget to plug it in at night I can still use it the entire next day. Android made me want to punch myself in the face after it turned to junk after 2 weeks. I was flashing a new rom on it every other day and spending hours customizing it.... now I get to spend that time actually ENJOYING my phone.

    I have never once said "I wish my phone was faster". I've never felt like my phone needed a dual core because WP7 has an awesome staff of engineers making sure the user experience is the #1 focus.

    I am getting the Lumia 900 because it has LTE and is one sexy ass phone. I'm waiting for the white one to launch though because it is absolutely gorgeous. I am going to whore out my Titan to my friends who have been dying to try out the WP ever since I got it.
  • Beerfloat - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    The experiences you claim seem highly exaggerated at best. Is this a genuine post or more astroturf?

  • crispbp04 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I can demo my phone to you if it'll make you feel better. Want me to make a youtube video for you? I have the following devices:

    1) HTC HD2 running windows phone mango
    2) Samsung focus
    3) HTC Titan
    4) Blackberry Bold (work phone)

    I went to the AT&T store and did NOT purchase the lumia only because the Ttitan II was so much better than I expected. Now I am waiting until the white lumia comes out to see if it sways me back to the lumia, otherwise I'm getting the Titan II
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - link

    @ vision

    You either don't know what you're doing or have no idea what you're talking about. You should probably stop posting FUD and flat out lies.
  • Iketh - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - link

    I have both an Android (wife uses it) and WP device, and Android absolutely sucks. It's getting replaced as soon as AT&T allows it.

    Vision is 100% accurate.
  • jmcb - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    The problem with vision's post is he said every Android phone he's used. Well...... every Android phone he's used does not equal all Android phones.

    I can tell you that Android doesnt absolutely suck...thats just your opinion. WP7 might be smoother, has less lag than most Android phones....but that doesnt make up the entire user experience.

    Kids mother has a Nexus S and an iPhone 4. She likes her iPhone 4 more cuz she says the Nexus S sticks, gets stuck too much. I assume she means lag. After using both....I would go with the Nexus S. Based on my wants n needs.

    One thing we gotta remember is everybody doesnt have the same wants n needs. If that was the case...we would all have iPhones now. I'm talking about before Android even came out.... we would all have iPhones.
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    "Well, in general if Android doesn't suck so much none of us really need a quad-core phone. Clearly WP is much more efficient platform than Android today so a single-core phone can be this solid and for most people this translates to feeling faster than most Android phones that lags when apps are running and sans performance."

    It's called the GUI is GPU accelerated. Already solved in ICS. It was sorely needed, yes. But I'm willing to bet people will still harp about this even with the HTC One series and new Samsungs come out.

    "Nearly every Android device I've used today needs manual management in order to run smoothly. Letting a single widget or app sitting background too long, battery life and performance suffers. Android's entire ecosystem is to blame for faulty app coding to OS builds rigged with bloatware."

    Sorry to hear that one widget is killing your phone. I have 3 of them and I'm on to day 3 of my battery life with 3G and Wifi on with sync.

    "Bloatware" is also no longer an issue either with ICS.

    Hey, whatever floats your boat, go with it. I personally cannot tolerate the GUI on WP7 past 2 minutes.
  • eddman - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    "It's called the GUI is GPU accelerated. Already solved in ICS."

    Actually it was/is not just that. It's an underlying OS issue.


    For a fair comparison, flash ICS on a 1 GHz single-core (preferably snapdragon) android phone with 512 MB memory and then compare to a 1 GHz WP.
  • Exodite - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - link

    You don't need ICS for Android to compare well in such a situation, you just need a device that has had at least moderate optimizations towards the actual hardware.

    Ie. probably not a LG device, or one mangled too much by the carrier.

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