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The Nokia Lumia 900 is a beautifully designed device, and it's the most excited I've been about a mobile device launch since the HTC EVO 4G in 2010.

To date, most Windows Phones have been relatively boring, toned-down "sibling" versions of other devices; a testament to the fact that Android-heavy OEMs don't see a lot of return on investment yet.  But Nokia's different.  The Finnish manufacturer has staked their reputation on Windows Phone, and given the state of the company over the past few years, it's a very pricey gamble.

For Nokia, the Lumia 900 is a comeback story.  Unlike other OEMs that release phones just to please the product cycle, this is Nokia's chance in the US market, and they're well-aware of this.  Shortly after launch, the company identified an issue with the LTE data connectivity (more on that later).  Instead of sweeping the issue under the rug (cue "you're holding it wrong" references), Nokia offered $100 AT&T bill credits to every consumer that purchased the device - essentially making the Lumia 900 free.  It's this kind of aggressive response that proves that Nokia's in it for the long haul.

The Nokia Lumia 900 packs a 1.4 GHz single-core processor, 4.3-inch AMOLED display with Nokia's ClearBlack technology, an 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording and a Carl Zeiss lens, and 4G LTE connectivity on AT&T in a package that retails for a jaw-dropping $99.99 with a two-year agreement.  Can the Lumia 900 help Nokia rebuild their reputation in the United States?

 

Design & Features

 

Lumia 900 ships in a polycarbonate shell which does a great job of bridging the gap between cheap plastic handsets and the too-fragile-at-times iPhone 4 and 4S.  It's durable, but still retains a minimalistic and clean look.  The left side is clear of buttons, while the right spine houses the volume rocker, power button, and camera button.  The top offers the 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB charging port, and microSIM card slot, while the bottom contains the speaker.  If you're bothered by scuffs, take note: the chrome around the camera lens scuffs immediately.  Within hours of getting the Lumia 900, the camera area looked as if it had been dragged across pavement.

In the box, you'll get an AC adapter, USB cable, SIM card tray tool, and manuals.  Nothing particularly exciting, though the design of the adapter is unique.

 

Usability & Performance

 

Windows Phone has seen some great improvements since the upgrade to Mango (7.5), and perhaps more importantly, I'm impressed with Microsoft's gung-ho effort to bring the OS up-to-date as quickly as possible.  Referred to as Metro UI, the interface is incredibly smooth, and offers some personalization options like the ability to change system colors and modify the color of the background from dark to light.  Android users or those used to hacking and tweaking their devices may be disappointed here, as it's clear the OS is designed for the minimalist at heart.

Sporting 70,000+ apps, Windows Marketplace isn't quite up to par with the App Store and Google Play, but it offers most of the popular apps that you'll find in the other app stores.  Within a few minutes, I was able to download my personal favorites (in no order): The Weather Channel, Fandango, Shazam, BBC News, Adobe Reader, FlightAware, Backgrounds, Rowi (which I prefer the most in the Twitter department), Facebook, and USA Today.  If you're an app hound, this may not be the platform for you - a quick search yielded no results for Words With Friends, Draw Something, and some of the other popular games available today.

Outside of the app woes - which are quickly becoming less of an issue - there are some quirks that bug me about Windows Phone.  For starters, there's no battery meter that you can easily access to get an accurate battery percentage.  In order to access it, you have to scroll to "Settings," and click on "Battery Saver."  I understand that it could take away from Windows Phone's "get in and get out" mentality, but the fact that there's no option to turn it on or off (like on iOS) bugs me.

Save for some apps that run in the background and a fast app switching tool that can be accessed by pressing and holding the back button, Windows Phone has no multitasking capabilities.  You'll notice this right away when you're composing a text message, quickly switch away to check your calendar, and return to find that your message has been deleted.  In many cases, you're stuck doing one thing at a time, which is exceptionally annoying when you have to check something on another screen.

Lumia 900 offers an 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, and despite the Carl Zeiss lens, images were mediocre at best.  The phone will be decent for the occasional picture, but it's not going to shine like the HTC Titan II or Apple iPhone 4S.  Editing options include the ability to change resolution, saturation, focus mode, contrast, and more.

I've been using the cyan blue model, and I love it.  I get some unique looks from the suits when I carry it in uptown Charlotte - also known as Banktown, USA - but the change from black, grey, and even white is refreshing.  The Lumia 900 has a unibody polycarbonate shell, which often gives off the appearance of it being in a case.  If you prefer a more toned down color, black is available now, along with a glossy white model which launches on April 22nd.

The Lumia 900 is AT&T's first 4G LTE-enabled Windows Phone, and for the most part, it has performed well.  In the Charlotte metro area, I've seen download speeds between 5.36 Mbps to 10.84 Mbps, depending on my location.  Upload speeds have ranged between 1.22 and 5.85 Mbps.  Reception and overall connectivity won't disappoint, either; the Lumia 900 extends Nokia's history of having sound wireless radios.  When taking it to a dead zone in South Charlotte, I was able to maintain a call, despite some choppiness and static.

(Note: Nokia has identified an issue with data connectivity on the Lumia 900.  Select customers have had issues staying connected to the data network, and Nokia has promised a software update on April 16th.  Any customer that has purchased a Lumia 900 will receive a $100 credit to their AT&T bill.)

Lumia 900 packs a 1,830 mAh battery, and despite the AMOLED display and LTE connectivity, battery life has been surprisingly good.  With moderate use including calling, text messaging (200-300 messages daily), a great deal of email reading, downloading some apps, browsing the web, and snapping a few pictures, I was able to make it roughly 12 hours before the critical battery warning flashed on the screen.  A very respectable number for an LTE-enabled handset.


Conclusion

 

This is make or break time for Nokia, particularly in the US market, where their inability to ink high-end smartphone partnerships with carriers in recent years has diminished their once-powerful name to articles referencing their demise.  It's a pricey gamble, but if Nokia releases high-end phones like the Lumia 900 into the American market, continues to price them aggressively, and markets them appropriately both in-store and through typical channels, I can see them regaining a footprint.  Windows Phone still has some trouble areas that need to be hammered out, but all in all, I'm really pleased with the Nokia Lumia 900.

 

Wrap-Up


What's Good
: Excellent build quality; great price point; strong battery life for a 4G LTE smartphone; nice display.

What's Bad
: Camera could use some work

The Verdict: The Nokia Lumia 900 is the best Windows Phone yet, and thanks to great build quality and a great price point, offers a real chance for Nokia to regain some footing in the US smartphone market.


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Comments & discussions  

62 Reactions to this post

"Can the Lumia 900 compete with Android and iOS?"


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Don Brewer
Don Brewer Absolutely! And with Native Development for Windows 8, not only are there plenty of apps for 7.5 users now, but will be 100x that for Windows 8. 2013 will be the year of Windows!
Gaurav Bhardwaj
Gaurav Bhardwaj They cant compete wid android phones like note,one x etc..those who cannot buy good droids they go for shitty lumia fumia wid ugly UI..
Renan Gallardo
Renan Gallardo @ Muneer Windows Phones only needs a Single Core to run...
Yehia H. Akar
Yehia H. Akar yes but not in apps
Reese Woodson
Reese Woodson I actually exchange my Galaxy Note for a Lumia 900 yesterday, believe it or not. A lot of folks thought I was crazy for doing it. So far I don't have no regrets. Yeah WP7 lacks all the apps, but I luv the interface. I'm over all the apps, and I don't really play games on my phone. My note lagged and forced closed on a few apps. So I can't sick of it. Besides the $35 restocking fee, it saved me $200. Also, I also get $100 credited to my bill after 30 days. So not a bad deal at all. If I want to jump into Android, I can always buy another unlocked headset.
Kevin Joel
Kevin Joel WINDOWS PHONE ROCKS.
Valentine Kavardakov
Valentine Kavardakov *lumia
Valentine Kavardakov
Valentine Kavardakov I love the windows phone os and the nokia lumoa 900
Duncan Wynn Jr.
Duncan Wynn Jr. WP has potential , but Nokia`s salvation ? Don`t see that happening , WP is too immature , seriously late to the party , too many OEMS , and despite being out for 1.3 years , has yet to catch on . The LuMIAS R DOING FAIRLY WELL BUT TIME WILL TELL ... It says a lot that despite limited advertising and only being introduced into ONE major market ( China ) the N9 in Q4 2011 outsold BOTH Lumias (710 , 800 ) 2-1 !
Ernest Marvin Esteban
Ernest Marvin Esteban @Cristian Tommy freezing apps in the background is not multitasking. That is cheating. WQindows phone is cheating. Multitasking lets you do two or more things at the same time w/c Android lets you to do.
Ernest Marvin Esteban
Ernest Marvin Esteban No It can't. Nokia is loosing a lot of money because of it.
Steve Österdahl
Steve Österdahl Yes for sure and lumia800 too great OS and awesome design
James Matthews
James Matthews Yes
Kristopher Davis
Kristopher Davis Now u give the lumina with ICS then we are talking
Kristopher Davis
Kristopher Davis Hell no it can't compete!! Lumina against an HTC one x? Ya right ..I hate Icrap and it still out performs window..don't get me wrong I used to dev back in the winmo 6.5 days but they arent contenders with Android.
Fernando Diaz
Fernando Diaz Imagine if nokia would of made an android phone with pure ics and a kick ass camera from the N8..they would of compete with Samsung.
Jose Santiago Gonzalez
Jose Santiago Gonzalez Nope
Fernando Diaz
Fernando Diaz It cannot compete with android or iphone because it has too many restrictions an iphone is already restricted enough. For that just stay with an iphone.
Tony Valadez
Tony Valadez I didn't think it would because of the lack of apps but after using it I think it does. Not as buggy as android. Not as boring as iOS. Its a nice breath of fresh air
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Windows doesn't crash and lag like android.
Aaron Mariano Zeri
Aaron Mariano Zeri Hell yea it can.. Left android after a solid 3 years.. Had the HTC sensation on mobile.. Win mobile 7.. So much better user friendly... And Nokia 900 Lumina awesome phone.. Posting from it.
Jamie Bethell
Jamie Bethell Hope so! Like to see new phone's/operating systems do well! Its another one out there I suppose
Cassandra Nicholas Young
Cassandra Nicholas Young NO
Anthony Andrade
Anthony Andrade no
James Fautt
James Fautt No way
Jay Glosson
Jay Glosson It is still one or two gen away...lots of potential..for now I have gone with RAZR Max for my businesses
Dalton Aeschlimann
Dalton Aeschlimann No. They should have not listened to Microsoft's bribes, and gone with Android.
Kirk Ngo
Kirk Ngo Android no way but IOS definitively. Lumia 900 already best any iphone out there as far as im concerned.
Steve Ferrell
Steve Ferrell I wanted to try one, but good old Verizon doesn't have crap to choose from. I would guess they'll jump on board later down the road, but I'll just stick it out on my htc Resound until then I guess. Like my phone allot, just wanted to try something new for a change. Had the crackberry, Droid, iPhone & now back to Droid.....lol.
Rani Hinnawi
Rani Hinnawi It was $100, and it's currently free (temporarily). How the hell is that overpriced?
Vlad Valentine McBride
Vlad Valentine McBride No lol watch it crash :P jk windows software is nice but iOS is more useful
Kyndryk Leshaun
Kyndryk Leshaun That's a rhetorical question right?
Kealan Mcelhiney
Kealan Mcelhiney All Nokia phones have turn by turn voice guided GPS for free I know this cause I am on one as we speak I love it don't think I could go back to others OS not saying they bad I just really love this
Chad Forthman
Chad Forthman Went with WP7 Six months ago and still loving it.
David Sabillon
David Sabillon No
Nando Moreno
Nando Moreno Just needs to continue to get better and catch up to Android and IOS, love my HTC hd7.. Give it two more years..
Joey Anglin
Joey Anglin Uhh not at all
Muneer KhanVict
Muneer KhanVict Coming from an Android guy, I think Windows Phone is a very good OS but the lack of multi-core support and the low-res screen are holding it back!
Debbie Miles
Debbie Miles I have the lumia 900 and love it. May be more simple than android or ios but that's why I love it. Does everything I need. And I love the look and feel of it
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Yeah $99 is really overpriced . Idiots
Tim Smith
Tim Smith Yes. Windows Phone is awesome and so is the Lumia 900. I love mine and have no interest in the other OSes/Phones.
Nick Kalman
Nick Kalman Windows phone 7 is awesome. People who says that WP7 suck probably never had one.
Dan Daniel
Dan Daniel Needs more apps will fail
Leo Baxter
Leo Baxter Not so, Rob. I had the HTC Trophy, and twice, and I went back to both iOS and Android. Perhaps it was the device itself an not WP7, lack of customization & apps made me go back. But, to each his own.
Arcadeon Knight
Arcadeon Knight Nope, no way, not at all, absolutely not!!! Seems I forgot to mention NO!
Renan Gallardo
Renan Gallardo @ Rich Seriously?... Overpriced?... That would be the iPhone... Overpriced, overhyped device that doesn't deserve it's price tag... WP's (Especially the HTC WP's) are worth the price...
Bill Gillespie
Bill Gillespie it still lacks simple things like widgets and turn by turn navigation
Paul-James Wahlström-Williams
Paul-James Wahlström-Williams Toy
Paul-James Wahlström-Williams
Paul-James Wahlström-Williams Love the os but does look like a tou
Cristian Tomasito
Cristian Tomasito You wrote in your article that the phone does not multi-task, that is just NOT true, It freezes your current apps and allows your to return to the previous state they were in once you hold down the back button and access them. My text messages never get deleted if im in the process of writing them and exit them and return shortly after. By your arguement no phone truely multi-tasks because apple operates the same way. Android maybe a little different but thats the reason your battery dies in 1 hour because the background agents keep running, unlike wp7 where they sleep until you open go back to that app and continue.
Eric Mitchell
Eric Mitchell Whether it does or not, WP7 is a good OS.
Ethan Shrago
Ethan Shrago The reason I went with android was because of customization. WP has less of that then IOS :/
Vincent Jean
Vincent Jean ill stick to my Gnex.. i guess since RIM and webos is dead.. windows mobile phones are in right?......... :)
Reinaldo Alvarez Maldonado
Reinaldo Alvarez Maldonado If there was only one OS maybe. Linux never had a chance against Windows an then Apple. The same axioma applies in this case.
Jack E Nazarian
Jack E Nazarian I dont think so they can try
Hamad Khan
Hamad Khan LOL?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Bill Gillespie
Bill Gillespie that thing looks like a kids toy
Rob Nelson
Rob Nelson once you go WP7 you never go back
Rich Fung
Rich Fung no, overpriced and a lot of steps behind its competition
Carlos Eduardo
Carlos Eduardo No way
Agostino Conte
Agostino Conte Jon Becker
Ralph Matteo Exantus
Ralph Matteo Exantus i think so they just need good marketing and prices




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