The Nokia 900 series smartphones are the result of a partnership between Nokia and Microsoft. The Windows 8 version of the Nokia 920 was just released this Xmas season, along with Microsoft's Windows 8 desktop OS and Surface tablet. The 920 gave me a chance to play with the reinvented Windows interface which is the foundation for Windows 8.
Nokia, by the way, is not dead; it is still ranked the No. 2 mobile phone vendor in the world based on first quarter shipment numbers, according to a May IDC report
. Nokia was previously top-ranked—Samsung has eclipsed it at No. 1—but its smartphone market share lags behind Apple, Android and Blackberry, and this is the challenge it faces today. I asked Nokia how it was going to win the smartphone race. Here is Nokia’s response.
“We started on a journey in February 2011. With every step we take, we are broadening our portfolio and increasing the innovation that we deliver to people," said Chad Saliba, portfolio collaboration manager at Nokia. "We aim to always demonstrate we are lead partner in the Windows Phone ecosystem, the strength of the ecosystem and Nokia’s leadership in smartphone innovation against competitors on all platforms. Each new, innovative smartphone we release is another ambitious step we are taking. There are many steps ahead for Nokia.”
What I liked about the new Nokia smartphones is that the user experience took a page out of Apple's playbook, with “simple and easy to use design” principles. The first thing you notice is that it is based on Windows 8's tile design framework. “This is a big departure from the iPhone or Android interface of small buttons to navigate through the device," said Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile. "This tile design is unique to Microsoft and magazine apps will have to incorporate these tiles into their design strategy.” Is this a design trend for digital media? I am seeing this grid popping up on web sites and android tablets.
The Nokia 900's dimensions are 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5 mm, weighing 160 grams with a 4.3" screen. It has 16 GB of memory. The Nokia 920 comes with a 4.5" screen and different look.
The big tiles on the Nokia 900 reminded me of a landline phone for seniors, with the big buttons, which made me feel old. People who I showed the phone to were a little intimidated by the tile design as it was a big change from what they have become accustomed to with other devices. This could be a reason that the 920's tile design was tweaked, as the 900's tiles were perhaps too big.
As for the screen itself, the Nokia 900's 4.3" screen and the 920's 4.5" screen are improved sizes for a smartphone, in my opinion, based on readability and ease of use. In smaller smartphones, button navigation suffers from “big fingers, little buttons syndrome”, which is a common complaint I hear. I am rarely a big fan of devices going smaller—just small enough is good for me—and I predict the 4.3+" screen will be the size of choice for all new smartphone activations, regardless of brand.
Dedicated tiles made the core functions of email, text and voice easy to find. The contacts function, called People, can connect with LinkedIn, enabling me to access my network's phone or email contact info, which I thought was quite a clever social media tie-in. It is my Rolodex in the cloud. Another standard feature in all smartphones now is travel navigation with maps and GPS and the Nokia 900 has one called called Nokia Drive. The interface also has a tile for the Microsoft app store, plus one for Xbox, for online gaming.
This is a good smartphone. It is fast, light, sturdy and easy to use. I imagine the Windows 8 version of the 900 (up from Windows 7.5) will be a little better as there are still some bugs to iron out; when I was using my Rogers/Yahoo email account, I found the back navigation quite confusing. Using the email client was also a major relearn, as the inbox's listing of emails is listed by person instead of time received. When you check a person’s email address, a list of emails from that person are date stamped. I had trouble clicking on emails as the links did not work.
Ryan Winsborow, my technical guy from www.nerds4hire.com
, likes the smartphone and wants to switch from his Motorola Razor using Android, but he is a Windows guy and he likes that it can work with his Hotmail, desktop, tablet and Xbox. Interoperability between devices is a good thing, and there are a lot of Windows guys and gals out there.
Rating - 4 out of 5
I would like to wish everyone a great Christmas and holiday season and I hope you all get what you wish for.