Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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April 3, 2012 • Reviews

Nokia Lumia 900 First Look

During the first part of this year, Judie and I spent a fair bit of time using the HTC Titan Windows Phone. We were both surprised by much we like the device and even more surprised by how much we like the operating system. As devoted iOS users, we both have iPads and iPhones; we had also tried Android numerous times and were always disappointed.

That wasn’t the case with the HTC Titan running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. In the year since we had initially tried WP, the operating system has matured significantly and the selection of available applications had become far better. While there are still some holes waiting to be filled in Windows Phone apps, the major ones that we tend to use are now available in some form or another. The Titan’s huge screen was also major plus for both of us, although I quickly found that it was a bit too large for me.

For very different reasons, we both returned to the iPhone, but we did so with a new-found appreciation for Windows Phone.

Fast forward to the last week. Nokia is releasing the Lumia 900, their flagship handset. They’re doing so at a remarkable price point that has it selling for $99 on contract at AT&T wireless, or for as low as a penny on Amazon for new customers. That’s an amazing price for a gorgeous phone that run a superb operating system. I’ve had the chance to use one for the last few days, and it is a winner.

When Microsoft and Nokia announced their partnership, I was one of the people who was optimistic it might yield something good … something like the Lumia 900. After all, Nokia hardware had always impressed me, and I only kept my distance from it because I couldn’t stand the Symbian operating system. When the partnership was announced, Windows Phone was still an infant of an operating system but, as noted, our post-CES experience showed it has come a long way. Merge great hardware with a wonderful OS and you get … the Nokia Lumia 900.

Yeah, it is that nice!

From Nokia:

It’s what you do with what we do: Live life large with 4G LTE for faster network access, big 4.3″ ClearBlack™ display, Carl Zeiss optics to capture great pictures every time, and front-facing camera for video calls. Designed to help you enjoy your mobile life to the fullest.

Beautifully Different: The Nokia Lumia 900: a different kind of Windows® Phone.

Stunning looks, smooth touch: Finely crafted one-piece polycarbonate body with rounded edges and tapered ends slips easily into pocket or purse. Engineered for crystal clear calls, improved reception. 4.3″ ClearBlack™ AMOLED™ display for easy viewing indoors or out.

A smarter way to app: It’s the mobile experience you’ve been waiting for. Bring your contacts and social networks together
with People Hub. Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer® 9 are loaded and ready to go. Choose from thousands of apps in Marketplace. And game time is anytime, anywhere with Xbox LIVE®.

Carl Zeiss photo optics: Razor sharp Carl Zeiss Lens Optics and 8MP camera with dual LED flash captures great pictures every time. 1MP front-facing camera lets you instantly share the best moments of your day. Easy-to-use built-in video editing tools for professional productions.|

Smooth streaming, fast connection: Powerful 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor handles the most demanding applications. Blazing fast 4G LTE lets you surf at speeds 10x faster than 3G. Beefy battery boasts up to 7 hours of talk time, 12.5 days of standby power.

Here are a few thoughts on the phone and whether or not I think it will give Windows Phone the foothold I believe it truly deserves in the smartphone landscape.

 

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Size: After spending a month with the HTC Titan, I now find the iPhone a bit too small. At the same time, I find the Titan to be a bit too big for my taste. The Lumia 900 comes in at just the right size. Seriously.

When we were in New York last month, we saw the Lumia 900 next to the smaller Lumia 800, and I thought I would prefer the size of the 800. Having used the Lumia 900 for the last week, I can tell you that it’s a phenomenal size. It’s easy to hold, easy-to-use, and it feels fantastic in the hand.

Elana has continually commented on the fact that the screen, which takes the entire front of the phone, sits a little bit above the body, giving it a really attractive, unusual look.

At 4.3″ screen it is bigger than the iPhone, but smaller than the 4.7″ Titan. As noted, for me that is pretty much the sweet spot.

Build and Design: It isn’t just the size of the phone that makes it feel so good in the hand, though. It’s also the build quality and the materials that Nokia used. The phone is basically a solid slab with a screen sitting slightly on top, which combines to make a beautiful device. The soft touch material has a nice feel that also helps you keep a grip when holding it. The curved sides of the phone are certainly far nicer in many respects to the sharp angles on the iPhone.

 

 

On the bottom of the phone is nothing but the speaker. The SIM card slot, micro USB port and the 3.5 mm headset jack are on the top. Putting the micro USB charging port on the top was an unusual choice, since it makes talking on the phone in portrait while it’s plugged in a rather unusual situation and potentially impossible. Still, the lines of the phone are clean and the necessary ports and cut outs don’t take away from the sleek look at all.

 

 

Moving to the sides of the phone, there is has nothing on the left to disrupt the phone in all its curved, soft glory. The right side has the volume buttons, the sleep awake/power buttons and the dedicated camera button. I love this feature of Windows Phone – it makes using the phone as a camera so much easier and more intuitive; I wish every device offered it.

Preview

As you likely know, the Nokia Lumia 900 has a 1MP forward facing camera, Karl Zeiss optics with 8MP on the back, and it has hotspot capabilities right out of the box.

I have not had much time to spend with it (under a week), but I thought I would take and post a few comparison shots with some of the other phones I have on hand. I will say this, however: I loved using the Titan, and yet the Lumia 900 is a step above it in looks, size and feel.

Here are a few comparison images of this gorgeous Windows Phone.

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Apple iPhone 4S (L), Nokia Lumia 900 (M), Nokia Lumia 710 (R)

Gear Diary Nokia Lumia 900 comparison 004

The Lumia 710 sitting atop the Lumia 900. Yes, the size difference is huge.

Gear Diary Nokia Lumia 900 comparison 007

The Lumia 900 is bigger yet thinner, and doesn’t have the same curve as the Lumia 710. It also feels like a far more “high-end” offering.

Gear Diary Nokia Lumia 900 comparison 005

You get a good sense of the differences between the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 900 in this shot. They are from two completely different smartphone worlds.

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Nokia Lumia 900 (top), Apple iPhone 4S (with a Bodyguardz Armor skin) (bottom)

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The iPhone is smaller in every regard; It’s not a bad thing and it’s not a good thing. It just is.

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The Nokia Lumia (top) and the HTC Titan (bottom) look pretty much the same size, despite the Titan having a noticeably larger screen.

Gear Diary Nokia Lumia 900 comparison 012

Side by side gives you a sense of the similarities and differences between the Lumia 900 and the Titan. I do love the fact that the Lumia 900, like the iPhone, doesn’t have any cuts where various parts meet.

Gear Diary Nokia Lumia 900 comparison 009

The powerhouse trio of the Apple iPhone, the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan. Honestly you can’t go wrong with any of them, but at the moment, I’m smitten with the Lumia 900. Still, there are some issues I do have with the Lumia 900. As is the case with other Windows Phones, the storage is not expandable nor is there an option to get more than a 16GB model. That is a bummer, and is something they need to change.

The camera is good but, thus far has not wowed me the way I expected Carl Zeiss optics to wow me. And the battery life, while good, is not great. I have not been using it long enough to quantify things properly, but I don’t expect to be blown away.

The call quality, on the other hand, is great. Calls seemed loud and clear and the phone holds on to the signal like nobody’s business. Speed seems to be more than adequate, a surprise considering this single core processor in a soon-to-be quad-core world. And the screen, while not “Retina Display” is gorgeous.

All this is in a beautiful package that is just $99 on contract. More to come, as I have a chance to use the Nokia Lumia 900 a bit longer! You can learn more about the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 here.

 

4 Responses to " Nokia Lumia 900 First Look "

  1. I’m planning to march into AT&T and buy the cyan version; are you sticking with boring black? 😉

  2. Brad says:

    Does Visual Voicemail work on it as promised? 

    That is the main reason I gave up on my old Samsung Focus.

  3. Bryan Eley says:

    Cyan for me. It looks great!  Interesting that the Nokia and Titan look so close in size, Dan. In my mind’s eye I imagined the Titan to be considerably larger.

  4. Pradley says:

    Size is not simply a matter of personal taste or how the phone “feels”. Steve Jobs insisted that the phone be usable with one hand, which is why the iphone is the size it is. When you start going to these much larger screens that becomes impossible, at least for me as I have small hands. I do not want a larger phone.

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