I guess I'm still part of the smartphone beta test

I've been complaining about my Lumia 900 since, well, I got the thing. I'll admit that most of issues I've run into are mild on the severity scale. But thanks to Nokia's aggressive marketing, I feel that anything other than perfect at this point feels like my phone is broken. My main issue is that the phone just doesn't work... like a phone. And it's driving me batshit crazy. Here's how a typical conversation on my Lumia 900 unfolds:

  • [Ring Ring]
  • Me: Hello?
  • Mom: Hey Ra -- I'm calling about -- just wanted to ask -- but then there's -- so what do you think?
  • Me: [walks towards a window out of habit, as if I'm having network issues] Um. Can you repeat that?
  • Mom: What? I can't hear you very well.
  • Me: Oh sorry, is that better? Can you repeat what you said earlier?
  • Mom: Oh, I said -- wanted to ask -- about the --
  • Me: Mom, let me call you back using Google Voice. [hangs up]
  • Me: [thinks about throwing the $450 phone against the wall, takes pills instead]

This isn't AT&T's fault either. I've verified the phone has full 4G/LTE coverage; the speeds are amazingly fast. I repeated the test numerous times in numerous locations yielding the same results every time. My old Samsung Focus works great too.

But you probably think I'm crazy. So here are some clips I recorded with a friend Paul Paliath:

Echoing: [audio:http://www.withinwindows.com/files/uploads/2012/06/test1.mp3|titles=Test Call #1]

Speakerphone: [audio:http://www.withinwindows.com/files/uploads/2012/06/test2.mp3|titles=Test Call #2]

I suspect the core issue here is Nokia's over-boosting of the internal speaker and the lack of echo cancellation when not using the speakerphone. When it is enabled, though, the echoing magically disappears.

Here are some workarounds I tried:

  • Kept the speaker volume below 7 when in-call. This unfortunately requires that I smush the phone against my face when I need to speak to someone outside. But seems to work in most cases!
  • Used speaker phone. I don't need others hearing my Mom call me her little Poo Poo.
  • Used a headset. Not comfortable and makes me look like one of those headset/earpiece people.
  • Tried emailing Nokia Principal Engineer Justin Angel for help. My email was bit bucketed.

The obvious conclusion here is that I should try replacing the phone. But that's easier said than done, thanks to the lack of a data backup story for Windows Phone. All my non-cloud data -- which accounts for most of my data -- will go poof. Worse, I'll be swapping out a shiny new retail device for a refurb. that will probably come with a limited warranty. Not to mention I'll have to deal with AT&T support. Screw that.

For now, I'm going to keep bitching stick with the volume below 7 workaround and keep tabs on how well my calls go. Or maybe I'll cave in and buy one of those Nokia Luna or BH-112 ear pieces. (I love the Nokia Green color.)

For those curious, here's a list of my current issues with the Lumia 900, in severity order:

  1. Call audio quality is janky (e.g. echoing, loudness)
  2. The official (green) Nokia/AT&T bumper is garbage, introduces usability issues
  3. Picky power requirements (requires higher amperage?)
  4. USB connection acknowledgement is slow
And here's what I got fixed with a recent phone swap at AT&T during my 30-day trial period:
  1. Capacitive touch buttons randomly trigger when playing loud sounds
  2. 3G/LTE connectivity issues (even with newer firmware)
  3. GPS would randomly stop working
Obligatory version numbers and hardware details:
  • OS version: 7.10.8112.7
  • Firmware rev number: 2175.1002.8112.12085
  • Hardware revision number: 112.1914.2.0
  • Radio software: 2.1.75.10
  • Radio hardware version: 8055
  • Bootloader: 7.17.2.0
  • Chip SOC version: 0.85.2.1

Anyone else having a hell of a time with this device?