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Nokia gets back in the game: The Lumia 900 (part I)

By on 24 September 2012 in Gadgets

Nokia gets back in the game: The Lumia 900 (part I)
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We make no apology for being Nokia fans.

Apple has designed one mythic smartphone, just one. Nokia? A legion. With countless classic designs to its name – icons like the N95, E71, E90, N8, N900 and the N9 – Nokia is a brand we simply can’t help respect and wish the best for.

But being a Nokia fan these last few years has been a tough and increasingly lonely pass time. Simply put, the guys and girls in Espoo were caught totally off-guard by the iPhone and – to this day, even six years after its release – they haven’t managed to make up the lost ground. Their answer to Cupertino’s finest was to produce a string of mediocrity, culminating in the woeful N97. At the time, so sad was the decline, so obvious were the mistakes they were making, that we felt compelled to write the then CEO of Nokia an open letter. Seems he didn’t read it. He continued to make the same mistakes and was shown the door shortly thereafter.

His replacement, an ex-Microsoft executive called Stephen Elop, had some bolder plays up his sleeve. He ditched Nokia’s own operating system and opted instead to throw in with Microsoft. We were dubious. Truth is, we still are. With MeeGo showing such enormous promise, it seemed a colossal shame for Nokia to become just another manufacturer of Windows Phone devices.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that to be competitive in the smartphone game, you do need a thriving ecosystem with momentum behind it. Software or hardware alone is simply no longer good enough. Elop understood that and knew he had no choice but to take a gamble.

Having just spent six weeks testing the Nokia Lumia 900, we’re glad he did.

Before we delve in and tell you what we thought: some background.

We love our iPhone, we practically worship the damn thing. But we’re also fairly bored with it and its complete and utter ubiquity. Everywhere you go, people are using iPhones, iPods and iPads. Simply put, there’s absolutely nothing cool, nothing telling, nothing clever about choosing Apple anymore. It has become the de facto choice and the de facto choice – even if there are very good reasons for it – has never appealed much to us. We have long been desperate for someone to come up with a viable alternative, something credible that shared the iPhone’s aesthetic sensibilities and technical superiority but which offered a different approach and trumped Cupertino’s offering in some way.

Android has never interested us. It’s a copy of iOS, a cheap Bangkok backstreet replica. And it’s ugly, nerdy and not a little bit cheap. No, the alternative to our iPhone was never going to come from Google. PalmOS was promising. Even BlackBerry 10 has potential. But we always thought it was Nokia that was most likely to come up with something that could really tempt us.

So, we welcomed the Lumia 900 with huge hopes but also the all too recent memories of disappointment. We knew that, being so in love with – even dependent on – our iPhone, giving the Lumia 900 a fair chance meant drastic, bold plays of our own. Like Elop, we had to take a gamble. And so it was that the day the Lumia 900 arrived at Prodigal Towers, our trusty iPhone 4S was sold. If the Lumia 900 was going to get a fair hearing, the iPhone had to go. Otherwise we knew we’d play with the Lumia for a while and then pop our SIM back where it felt so comfortable, back in the iPhone.

So it was that we threw away our safety blanket and the Lumia 900 become our one and only device for six weeks. What follows then are impressions formed from using the Lumia 900 as owners would. We didn’t spend 10 minutes playing with it at a trade show, we spent six weeks living with it.

We wanted, we needed – Hell, we were almost desperate for – this device to impress us. Could it?

To find out, tune in tomorrow…

Article

Nokia gets back in the game: The Lumia 900 (part I)

We welcomed the Lumia 900 with huge hopes but also a lot of recent memories of disappointments. It become our one and only device for six weeks. What follows then are impressions formed from using the Lumia 900 as owners would. We didn’t spend 10 minutes playing with it at a trade show, we spent six weeks living with it.
We wanted, we needed – Hell, we were almost desperate for – this device to impress us. Could it?

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Our editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed "greatest wit, raconteur and bon vivant of our age", borders on delusional. Over the years, the fool has squandered more money on fast cars, Swiss watches and electronic gadgetry of all kinds than he – or Mrs Fool – cares to remember. Come nightfall, he can invariably be found stumbling out of Dukes mumbling “just one more Martini; I could have handled just one mmmmm… [thud!]”

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