REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 900

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Just more than a year since the pact was signed, Nokia’s Lumia 900 is the latest phone running Windows Phone 7. Revealed at this year’s CES, it has managed to capture America when it was released in April. But while it looks like the Lumia 800, it does have some differences, such as a bigger screen. However, does that make it a better phone than the 800?

But the all important question is – is it worth getting? Terence Huynh answers.

  • Score:

    7.5 / 10

  • The Good:

    The body is brilliant; Windows Phone’s interface looks great and runs smoothly; good battery life

  • The Bad:

    The camera, while alright, is a letdown; ecosystem still needs a bit of work; no expandable memory

  • Bottom Line:

    An alright device that pales in comparison with the Lumia 800

Design & Features

The Lumia 900 pretty much follows the Lumia 800 and the Nokia N9 in having the same polycarbonate unibody. And with that, I still love its simplicity and minimalistic design. However, this time the phone features a larger AMOLED screen – measuring at 4.3-inches – and it doesn’t have the bright body colours as the Nokia N9 and Lumia 800 had. You only get a choice between black and white. I would love to see a blue-coloured Nokia Lumia 900, but that’s mainly because of that I’m getting sick of seeing black and grey-coloured phones (see my Galaxy Nexus review on my small rant).

The screen, despite the fact the resolution is 800×480, isn’t a problem. Reproduction of colour is excellent, and the smaller resolution on the 4.3-inch display doesn’t show any rendering glitches. It’s probably one of the best things about Metro is that it is adaptable to any screen resolution. The screen can be a bit too sensitive, so little touches can activate a square, and like many 4-inches-or-more screens, it will initially feel uncomfortable to type. For me, it took me a couple of days for me to get used to it.

The body also has some slight alterations – all the ports are exposed, as opposed to being hidden behind small doors at the top; and the microSIM card slot requires you to use a small key (included with the phone) to eject it out.

I still love its simplicity and minimalistic design

The phone features an 8-megapixel rear camera (with the usual Carl Zeiss optics) and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera. Inside the Lumia 900 you’ll find a 1.4GHz single-core Qualcomm processor, 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. I should also note that this model, unlike the Lumia 900 in the United States, does not have 4G support.

It pretty much is similar to the Lumia 800 – just with a bigger screen and a front-facing camera. It doesn’t really set it apart from it, but that is mainly due to the hardware restrictions imposed by Microsoft on the platform. And while it does have its uses – by limiting fragmentation – it does have some downsides, such as lack of innovation and (recently) that you cannot upgrade to Windows Phone 8. You will be getting Windows Phone 7.8 – but what’s included in it isn’t finalised (you do get the new start screen).

Camera

Image: Terence Huynh/TECHGEEK.com.au

The Lumia 900’s camera, in terms of hardware, is pretty much standard Nokia – an 8-megapixel lens produced by Carl Zeiss. And you would expect quality shots from the camera, but this camera does disappoint.

The photo quality is alright when you are close to a subject, but then you move away and the images a bit grainy – though you do have to look hard to find them in many cases. They are decent nonetheless, though a tad washed-out in colour.

The interface is still the stock-standard Windows Phone interface, and it was pretty simple enough. I do love it for having a dedicated Camera button (while also giving you the option to use the touchscreen), because it makes it easier to take photos because you can hold it like it was a camera.

Performance & WP7

Nokia has made sure that this phone simply works without jitters

The phone runs smoothly – despite that it doesn’t have a dual-core or quad-core processor and 1GHz of RAM like the newer Android phones. Of course, the hardware restrictions are predominantly due to Microsoft’s own restrictions, but regardless Nokia has made sure that this phone simply works without jitters and major bugs. There are minor bugs here and there – mostly with applications from third parties.

The phone’s user interface – with Windows Phone 7 – is pretty spectacular. Of course it is, everyone has constantly praised it. Though, that does not excuse the small app ecosystem. However, that said, much of the apps I need – Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare and Melbourne transportation apps are present (There’s also Spotify – though, if you follow Chris, it is very feature-limited in comparison to iOS and Android). How they run, however, depends – though the apps I need work beautifully on the Lumia 900.

Of course, Nokia loads this with their own apps. And with their special relationship with Microsoft, they work fine. People are complaining how Nokia is pretty much screwed with the Windows Phone 8 announcement. However, that Microsoft is using Nokia’s own mapping technology – which is already on these phones via Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive – pretty much means Microsoft is trying to stack up its own mapping service to compete against Google Maps and Apple’s own service.

Battery life is pretty impressive – the phone was around 20-30 percent capacity when we heavily used data for about nearly an entire day (I basically kept going online, going on Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare constantly while I was walking around Melbourne – so if you were getting FourSquare checkins on train stations, that was the reason). On less-data intense use, it pretty much survived around two days for me before needing a recharge.

Too little, too late?

The Lumia 900 came out at the end of March, and in Australia last month. And since then, Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 is coming out and this phone – and every other Windows Phone 7 device – will not get the upcoming major version. It is, however, getting the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade.

There’s not much – except for the larger screen – for me to say you should get this phone and not the Lumia 800

But, should that stop you getting Windows Phone 7 because Windows Phone 8 is coming out? Nokia has shown that it can deliver even with hardware limits. I still think it has a place – however, more of a stepping stone for people to the world of smartphones. The user interface is easy to get around and easy to teach those who are unfamiliar with it.

However, is this a phone that would be recommended? It’s a great phone that simply works. However, for me, it’s just a small upgrade to the Lumia 800 and the Nokia N9. There’s not much – except for the larger screen – for me to say that you should get this phone and not the Lumia 800.

So, if you want to get a brilliant Windows Phone, then get the Lumia 800.

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