Nokia made a rather bold move just over a year ago when they committed to running Windows Phone on all their future high end smartphones. The Lumia 800 was a great first phone, especially when you consider they launched it just about eight months after the announcement, but it never came to the U.S. through a carrier. The Nokia Lumia 710 launched on T-Mobile just last month and is a decent device, but smartphone fans were seeking more. We saw the Nokia Lumia 900 steal the show at CES this year and after using it for the last several days I have to say it is likely the best Windows Phone currently available in the U.S.
The crazy thing about the Nokia Lumia 900 is the official subsidized (that's how most U.S. consumers buy their phones) price is just $99.99. However, as I mentioned last weekend you can find it for a penny and even free through some venues. While the coming HTC Titan II may rival the Nokia Lumia 900, it is priced at $199.99 so I am not sure how many will choose it over the Lumia 900. You can see a few product images and photos taken with the Lumia 900 in my image gallery.
|Image Gallery: Check out some photos of the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T.|
In the box and first impressionsAT&T doesn't come close to the impressive out-of-box experience provided by T-Mobile with its smartphones. You will find the Lumia 900 in a fairly standard AT&T orange and white colored retail box. Along with the Lumia 900 you will find a USB cable, USB A/C charging adapter, and a Quick Start Guide.
I purchased the Nokia N9 and have used the Lumia 800 so I knew what to expect when I pulled the Lumia 900 out of the box. The design is fantastic and I personally love the polycarbonate body that has soft, smooth curves towards the four back corners. The glass on the front isn't as curved and cool as the N9 and Lumia 800 and there is actually a slight frame around the glass. When I turned on the Lumia 900, I was however extremely impressed by the vibrancy of the display, although the tiles do seem a bit big on the 4.3 inch 800x480 pixel resolution display.
SpecificationsSpecifications for the Nokia Lumia 900 include the following:
- 4.3 inch ClearBlack AMOLED display at 800x480 pixels resolution with Corning Gorilla Glass
- 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 single core processor
- Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
- Support for AT&T LTE and HSPA+ networks
- 16GB internal memory (about 13GB available to the user), no microSD slot
- 512 MB RAM
- 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics with f/2.2 aperature
- 1 megapixel front facing camera
- Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and compass
- 1830mAh battery, non-replaceable
- Dimensions: 5.03 x 2.7 x 0.45 inches and 5.6 ounces
Windows Phone devices don't have the highest specifications, when you compare them to Android devices, but the great thing is specifications don't matter too much on Windows Phone. The OS flies even on my 1.5 year old Dell Venue Pro and HTC HD7 so you can really forget about the processor speed and RAM.
The display is gorgeous and if I had anything to say about what I would like to see in the future it would be higher resolution devices. After using the HD display on the Samsung Galaxy Note and iPad 3 it is tough to go back to 800x480 pixels.
Walk around the hardwareI cannot say enough how great the Nokia Lumia 900 (Lumia 800 and N9 too) feels in your hand. The smooth plastic surface has just the right thickness and a curved back that just feels so right in your hand.
The front is dominated by the 4.3 inch display and it looks fantastic. The colors pop off the display and the black background is perfect. It's nice to see a front facing camera on the Lumia 900 and when I tested out Skype video chat last weekend things looked great. You will find the three required Windows Phone buttons below the display, for back, Start, and Search.
I like that Nokia decided to throw everything on the right side, including the volume buttons, power button, and camera capture/activation button. This means there is nothing at all on the left side and just a cool speaker grille on the bottom.
The 3.5mm headset jack is tucked way off near the left edge of the top with the microUSB port in the center and microSIM card compartment on the upper right. Like the iPhone, you now need a small paperclip or other tool to get the SIM card out of the Lumia 900.
The Carl Zeiss 8 megapixel camera is up about a quarter of the way down the back right in the center with the LED flash positioned to the left (above in landscape orientation). The back is quite simply and without access to the battery the lines flow smoothly around the entire device. I was hoping for a fantastic camera on the Lumia 900, but as you can see in my image gallery the photos are just OK. Maybe that is a bit harsh, but coming from a Nokia N8 I expect more from Nokia at this period of the game. My HTC Radar 4G does well with photos and I have to go compare the two since I think the camera may have been a bit overhyped here on the Lumia 900. It's sad because I know Nokia can make great camera, just look at the Nokia N8.
Unfortunately, I don't live in an area covered by AT&T's LTE data network so I could not test out the speed of the network and the device resorted to the HSPA+ network.
Even if you don't buy a Lumia 900, I recommend you stop by an AT&T store and hold one in your hand. Nokia has done an excellent job with the design of these smartphones.
Walk through the softwareThe Lumia 900 comes with Windows Phone 7.5 and the 12082 firmware (at least that is what was on my review unit). The OS is the same as I have written about multiple times with several AT&T utilities (you can uninstall them quickly enough) and a couple of special Nokia offerings. AT&T includes AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T myWireless, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, AT&T U-verse Mobile, Tango Video Calls, and YPmobile.
Nokia provides Nokia Drive (voice guided navigation solution), Nokia Maps (GPS mapping program that includes offline mapping), and Nokia Transit (slick mass transit app). I enjoyed using Nokia Transit with my local commuter train and bus routes.
Like all Windows Phone devices, the UI is slick and fast. You can easily customize your Lumia 900 with Live Tiles, themes, and ringtone. The Nokia Blue theme is loaded by default and there are several others to try in Windows Phone.
Daily usage and experiencesWhat can I say? I love the Lumia 900 and as a fan of the platform it is one of the best Windows Phone devices I have ever used. I still really like the hardware of the HTC Radar 4G though. I placed it in third place out of ten smartphones and think that rating was just about right. Back in December I argued that Windows Phone 7 and Nokia can become players in the U.S. and 76% of the readers agreed. I think the Lumia 900 may just be the catalyst needed to help things get kicked off.
At free to $100 I think we may see some geniune excitement and enthusiasm for Windows Phone. BTW, the Lumia 900 is priced at $449.99 without a contract or subsidy. As I constantly write and say, it is a platform you need to actually try to appreciate and the Lumia 900 really doesn't disappoint in any regard.
I personally plan to keep using my HTC Radar 4G on T-Mobile because for the most part every Windows Phone is reliable and solid and the Radar 4G is a beautiful piece of hardware. If the Lumia 900 launched on T-Mobile then it would be my main device for sure, but Microsoft and manufacturers have been slow to roll out devices to all the carriers.
Other reviews and experiencesAs always, I appreciate your readership and highly recommend you take a look at several reviews before making a purchase decision. We knew from CES that people would be impressed with the Nokia Lumia 900 and if you check out a few of these reviews you will see people universally like the device, but it is not as overwhelming as I think many of us had hoped for:
- The Verge gave it a 7.0/10
- CNET gave it 4/5 stars
- MobileTechReview gave it 4/5 stars
- Ars Technica
- Laptop Magazine gave it 4/5 stars
- ABC News
- PC Mag gave it 4/5 stars
- PocketNow gave it 4.5/5 stars
- All Things D
Related ZDNet articles
- CES 2012: Nokia announces the Lumia 900 with AT&T LTE and Carl Zeiss optics
- I am passionate about Windows Phone, just give it a try
- Top 10 smartphones to kick off 2012
- Here is why the Nokia Lumia 800 is the first real Windows Phone
- ZDNet Great Debate: Can Windows Phone 7 and Nokia become players in the U.S.?