Remember my article on how broadband internet is needed to enjoy the Windows Phone experience to the full? Remember how I have detailed that with my Glo SIM in the Lumia, the device sends more time on GPRS/EDGE than on 3G? Of course, that resulted in a very frustrating internet experience on the Lumia. Many times, the internet connection wasn’t reliable, though in an Android smartphone where I could peg it to 3G, it works flawlessly. In case you missed it, Windows Phone OS doesn’t vurently offer the ability to peg network connectivity to 3G-only. The options available are 2G or Auto Mode (which offers 3G as “highest connection speed”). In that latter mode, the device switches automatically between 2G and 3G depending on a range of factors. See my article, Re: Network Mode on Windows Phone
I was in for a surprise when I attempted to activate Airtel’s 3 month free internet trial. I put the microSIM that was packed with the Lumia 610 into the phone, and loaded a small amount of airtime. When the free trial didn’t work, I got a very small internet plan to test mobile internet connection with. I live in an area where Airtel’s 3G connection has been poor. I have an Airtel USB modem and barely get 1 bar of 3G signal. My wife is on Airtel blackBerry and has had to peg her device to 2G permanently to be able to get anything done.
The first surprise that I got with Airtel on the Lumia 610 was that the device locked on 3G most of the time! Note that this is the same location where the same phone wouldn’t lock on to Glo 3G, though Glo has a much stronger 3G signal there. Glo 3G returns full signal bars on the 610 but spends more time on 2G. Airtel 3G returns a maximum of 3 out of 5 bars, but the phone stays almost permanently on 3G with an Airtel SIM in it.
The second surprise – and I have mentioned it already anyway – is that the Lumia 610 keeps holding on to 3 bars of Airtel 2G signal, where both my USB modem and my wife’s BlackBerry return less bars. What shall we make of these?
One, that Nokia device’s legendary strong radio capabilities are still intact and have been migrated over to their Windows Phone smartphones. If you did not know it, Nokia phones have been mostly exceptional in holding on to weak network signals in comparison to phones from other manufacturers.
Two, errr….you tell me. Any network or RF engineers present here? But perhaps it is possible that some networks perform better on some phones than on others? If anyone has technical information on this, do volunteer. One thing is for sure, using an Airtel microSIM in the Nokia Lumia 610 is a far more pleasurable experience than using a Glo microSIM in it. Again, the location factor is probably valid here too.
Who knows? This information might come in handy if you are considering purchasing a Windows Phone (or specifically a Nokia Lumia) and you are undecided about what network’s SIM card to deploy in it. Airtel might (note that emphasis) just turn out to be a good choice. Just don’t expect any free internet promo to work for you.