Elop’s Nokia is starting to take shape. It’s the same Nokia we love, yet playing with a different strategy. I can’t imagine old Nokia taking the U.S by storm like the new Nokia plans to do with the Lumia 900; there was nothing to play with in the American market. But let’s forget that, Nokia is about to launch a smartphone with a major American carrier: the Nokia Lumia 900!
The Lumia 900 is Nokia’s high-end flagship; a snappy Windows Phone running on AT&T’s LTE network. It comes in three colors: black, cyan, and glossy white. There’s a full-RGB matrix AMOLED ClearBlack Display at 4.3″, an 8 Megapixel Camera with Carl Zeiss optics, and a 1.3 MP front facing camera for video calls. The processor is a Snapdragon S2 clocked at 1.4GHz coupled with a 3D HW accelerator chip.
The cyan and black 900 go live April 8th for $99 on contract, and the white 900 goes live April 22nd for the same $99 price tag on contract.
The U.S likes big screens, apparently, because the Lumia 900 is a decently sized smartphone compared to its predecessors. It’s certainly not fat, but you couldn’t call it thin either; is it sexy though? For sure. The curves and lines, the colors and textures are all combined to form an aesthetically unique and pleasing smartphone. It will certainly turn heads, specially the cyan and white variations. As a Nokia fan, I have to admit the AT&T logo on the right side of the screen is annoying, but we can’t really blame Nokia for the little annoyance.
On the more technical side, the landscape is not artsy. The complaint won’t be the processor nor the memory, the 900 doesn’t stutter under a heavy or confusing set of commands; it just follows and does. The problem is the biggish screen featuring a rather poor resolution. After seeing the wonders of you know who’s retina display, it’s very evident that the 900 just doesn’t have a good pixel per inch density. Aside from the poor resolution, everything’s fine: the non-Pentile display and it’s AMOLED wonders really shine life through. You will see amazing colors and shades, just not at a very high resolution. On a personal note, I appreciate the 900’s bigger screen to enjoy movies, and for reading long articles on the web – something that is not very pleasing on the 800s 3.7″ screen.
Another complaint would be the poor camera. I don’t know how much I buy into the “Carl Zeiss” deal anymore; it just doesn’t make a difference. The 900’s camera is fine, and that’s wrong because that is the one thing Nokia knows how to do. In their defense, they really couldn’t do much since it was Microsoft who coded the camera in WP Mango. But, do we care? The bottom end is that the Lumia’s camera just won’t produce as nice results as the N9 does, and let’s not even talk about how it compares to the N8. Nokia should make sure that future flagships improve on the predecessor, we shouldn’t be talking about camera quality after the N8.
The connectivity in the 900 is wonderful. The RF transparent material used in its construction guarantees that you will get service where most phones don’t. AT&T still hasn’t the entire U.S covered in LTE, but the Lumia 900 is sufficiently fast on the more broadly available HSPA+ network. In practical terms, I didn’t have to wait for my Pandora like I do in the 800, and that makes me happy.
The battery is another highlight of the Lumia 900. That 1800 mAh battery is a two day champion for the regular user. I pulled two days and a couple hours of low-normal use on one charge, and one day seven hours on heavy use. It’s reassuring to know the Lumia 900 won’t disappoint you if you decide to go out that night, there’s plenty of charge for adventures.
Software is a complex topic that should be approached differently by each user. We don’t all give the same use to our phones. Talking about Windows Phone Mango has been done before, so instead of repeating myself every time I review a Nokia Lumia, I am going to go ahead and try to convince you that Windows Phone is the most friendly platform available for the average user. There’s just no way to mess it up, and no way to go wrong with it. A crash, a lag, even a stutter are things unheard of in the Windows Phone planet. The Live Tiles in Windows Phone can make your day with their colorful and flicky tiles, and the design of the interface will please the crowds. I would like to quote a friend who got a Focus S some months ago, “Windows Phone is the one OS that has pleased me since day one.”
The Lumia 900 is the first Lumia to come with the “Internet Sharing” setting enabled. You basically flip a switch and the Lumia 900 will become a WI-FI hotspot, and boy it’s fast. I uploaded my Lumia 900 unboxing video using the 900’s internet sharing feature, the connectivity was fast and solid. You can set up your own password, and change the name of your connection. Other nice built-in features are the Bing Music search app, which completely replaces Shazam, Bing Vision to search and translate by just pointing your camera, and built-in Facebook chat. Office is also on board, and it works remarkably well opening all kinds of documents on the go. It is also possible to create and edit Excel and Word documents without the need of your computer.
Another nice feature of the Lumia 900 is the 1.3 Megapixel front facing camera. This is probably the best quality front facing camera I have seen on a phone, and it’s certainly better than the one on the iPad. You can take pictures of yourself, use it as a mirror, or use it for its intended purpose: video calling.
As a Mac user, I could easily connect my 900 to the Windows Phone Connector software that Microsoft provides. You can back up your phone, sync iPhoto, iTunes, ringtones, playlists, update your software, and manage your phone from your computer. The experience is smooth and enjoyable, as long as you have a relatively new Mac computer; some users have reported the Windows Phone connector slowing down the whole system on older Macs. Microsoft also provides a suite of services at windowsphone.com; you can track, lock, and ring your phone in the case it gets stolen, and you can remotely install apps from your computer.
Of course, it’s not all positives in the balance. There are some things that are annoying on Windows Phone. Multitasking being the prime example. It’s confusing, because Microsoft wants to trick you into believing apps are running in the background, when they really aren’t. Let’s say you open Amazon and go back to the home screen. If you press the back button, you will be taken where you left off. If you open Amazon again, you won’t. Multitasking is generally inconsistent and useless.
Apps are somewhere in between as well; there’s plenty of them, but you don’t get the broad selection that other platforms enjoy. The basics are there though, as well as some extraordinary apps that Nokia provides such as Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, and Nokia Transit. These suite of Nokia apps do their job remarkably well. The Lumia 900 allows you to download maps over WI-FI and use your phone as a stand alone GPS when you travel, freeing you of possible roaming charges. Nokia Drive, specially, is a winner on the 900. The free voice guided navigation just works when you need it, the only negative being, that it doesn’t yet talk aloud names of the streets. The GPS lock is fast and reliable.
All in All
The Lumia 900 simply works, and works very well. The battery life is amazing, the call quality is superb, the interface is a joy to use, and the phone looks and feels right. The key issue here, is that the 900 is a phone that suits the vast majority of people. From the socialite who needs to update social networks every 10 minutes, to the business person who needs fast connectivity and an Office suite in a pocket, to the technologically challenged who needs a phone with the least clutter and most straightforward interface possible. The 900 serves the most types of people at the best price.
Who’s not going to like the 900? Everyone who considers themselves a power user will probably like the flexibility of other platforms. Windows Phone is powerful, but there are other alternatives that offer more power, better specifications, and the option to fiddle around with things if that’s your thing. Gamers might also enjoy that other platform better; although XBox live offers a decent amount of titles, there are better alternatives. Audiophiles with collections bigger than 16GB might find the 900 somewhat restrictive, as well as anyone who likes storing movies or shows in their smartphones.
Looking back, Nokia has done an excellent job. They have managed to place a very competitive smartphone in the hands of U.S customers in a short amount of time. And the future looks even brighter. Two things: Nokia Pure View and Windows Phone 8.
At $99 dollars on contract, the Lumia 900 is a no brainer.