The Nokia Lumia 900 will be a hot seller on AT&T (review and gallery)

The Nokia Lumia 900 will be a hot seller on AT&T (review and gallery)

Summary: The Nokia Lumia 900 stole the show at CES this year and next we will see it hit the AT&T stores for just $100. You can actually find it for free from various online vendors and this gorgeous piece of hardware is sure to be a hot seller.


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. Image Gallery: Lumia 900 retail box Image Gallery: N9 and Lumia 900

In the box and first impressions

AT&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.


Specifications 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 hardware

I 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 software

The 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 experiences

What 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 experiences

As 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:

Related ZDNet articles

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Nokia, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, AT&T, Windows

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  • Lumia 900 is $449.99 without contract, not $499.99 !!!

    Lumia 900 is $449.99 (on AT&T) without contract, not $499.99 !!!
    • Hmm, showed up as $499.99 on Amazon

      I'll go change that. I thought it would be the same at all places and saw it as $499.99 on Amazon.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Windows Phone 8 is a must for 900 to succeed !

    Can't see myself buying the 900 if it isn't going to be upgraded over time.
    • If that is your criteria ... might as well buy a crappy Android phone

      Buying something for the "possibility" of a future update is completely stupid. There is a reason why a large number of Android users never go back to the brand and many give up on the OS. They never get the promised updates.

      WP8 is over a year away and by then the N900 will feel like an obsolete model and Nokia will have ZERO reason to spend any money testing the OS on "old" hardware that that is very likely to be a failure.
      • Hmmm

        Where did you hear that WP8 is a year away?

        All sources point to it being out in the next 7-8 months
    • Why wouldn't it be upgraded?

      There are rumors going both ways. Some say upgrades will come to all current Windows Phones (including some Microsoft employees) while others say WP8 will not come to current WPs. Considering Nokia really wants to make low-end Windows Phones for emerging markets, and the current upcoming update is aimed at lowering the system requirements, it seems unlikely that Windows Phone 8 will not support current and even-cheaper hardware.
  • Awesome!

    This phone is easily one of the best looking smartphones available in US market now. I strongly believe Nokia is the only company that can even come close to Apple in building beautiful devices. For a penny on Amazon, it is a no brainer - that is unless you are seriously biased and/or blinded by the other two OSes for whatever reasons. This phone will do really well, it has the looks and has some serious marketing going for it.
  • Overrated, Overpriced & Overbearing

    In the beginning, the best mouse trap made the beaten path.
    Then the beaten path was deemed to make the best mouse trap.
    Soon, perceived goodness replaced actual goodness, and actual goodness itself no longer seems to matter.
    So don't bother us with the facts.
    Can't you see we are content already in our present fantasy.
    • overpriced?

      At a penny?

      I feel for you man if you cant stretch your budget that far.
  • asdfasdf

    Key Lime
  • The Nokia Lumia 900 will NOT be a hot seller on AT&T

    What makes you assume anyone would ever consider the Lumia phone?
    In won CES for a not feasible reason - the European MWC was dominated by the new Symbian based Nokia 808 with its exclusive features and the 42MP cam even though the European version of the Lumia 900 was introduced there...
    Makes me feel like, since the CES is a US/Microsoft dominated fair, the victory of the Lumia was somehow rather a sponsorthip-thinking based descision than something really obivous.
    Actually, virtually nobody is currently using WP7 till now and not even ZDNet offers a WP7-App for their website.
    I saw the Lumia 900 at the CeBit fair, and my first thought was, "boy, it`s ugly".
    The Nokia N9 looks great, and even the similiar looking Lumia 800 looks somehow nite even though the design got a bit broken due to the buttons at the bottom which are necessary for WP7. However, the Lumia 900 - first of all, it`s huge - and since the display resolution is still the same, the Live Tiles now look massive - the device rather looks like a speciallised device for visually impaired people than like a real sleek smartphone. And as you mention in your article as well, the whole device feels somehow cheap manufactured.
    I don`t think anyone is going to buy this thing, and for sure not for the price Nokia is aiming.
    One gets far more qualitiy with the new Android phones - or the iphone...
  • Upgrade?

    The fact that MSFT has not definitively stated the phone will be upgradable leads me to believe it will not be. If it will upgrade to Win8 MFST takes away a reason not to buy the phone at no cost to itself. That it could increase sales at no cost and does not tells us something.
  • Without expandable memory, it's a fail for me

    The internal memory is no where near enough. And yes I use the cloud, but I go to so many places where there is no signal or spotty coverage that I need storage capacity on the phone. Sorry Nokia, not for me. Take a 1000 mile ride on a motorcycle and see what i mean. There are still huge areas accross this country that have little or no coverage.
    • Huh??? did everyone survive before technology. While I can understand the memory need for music or something I can not for mapping. I have been jeepin and biking around this country since the 80's and while I love all this great technology I'll be dambed if I am going to use it on my adventures. It takes all the fun out of riding. Just ride, enjoy the view, the fresh air and getting lost. It's all part of the fun!
  • nice article

    A well written piece imo - I had started to despair recently with some of these articles.
  • Good Reviews...

    Like this article, Nokia Lumia 900 has been earning generally good reviews here and abroad. Now it's really just a matter of knowing how much more of the market it can capture from this month onwards. Existing Nokia Lumia owners are happy. Existing Windows Phone users are happy. What can possibly go wrong? ;-)
    • can't woo the FOSS community

      so Android will be the winner by default.
      The Linux Geek
  • Define "hot seller"

    Fast and slick, are great, but Windows Phone has failed to make any traction in a way that makes me seriously wonder if Microsoft has lost it when it comes to the US consumer. Josh Topolsky at The Verge thinks it's a great phone, but finds a lot of fault with the OS, I think for the vast majority of people iPhone is the first choice, and Android comes in second because of those with budget constrains, open source addictions, or Apple-phobia. That doesn't leave a lot of room for Microsoft.
    • Lot's of Criticism of the Verge Review

      With a large majority of other sites writing reviews that are good to great about the Nokia 900 the reviewer has been getting a lot of heat. Especially, when a lot of his review has many questionable statements that can be seen as biased or lacking details. Adding more fire to the heat a previous reviewer at the Verge had given the Nokia 800 a higher score than the eventual 900 review. Which is simply unbelievable.
      • A lot of sites gave the PlayBook and TouchPad good to great reviews, too.

        That doesn't mean they were great products.

        I think many technology writers, especially the true geeks, are so eager to see more competition and choices, that they, unconsciously or otherwise, emphasize strengths and/or downplay weaknesses of new products. Let's face it, [b]no one[/b] is [/i]truly and completely[/i] objective. That kind of a "pass" is what Josh is talking about.