Some people may be a little disappointed to hear that the Lumia 900 is powered by a single-core processor, as Microsoft's OS doesn't support dual-core chips yet. But at a clock speed of 1.4 GHz, the Snapdragon processor in the Lumia 900 is still plenty legit and is more than enough to keep everything running smoothly. Unfortunately, there isn't a version of Quadrant for Windows Phone 7.5, so I was unable to get relevant benchmarks. But WP Bench puts it ahead of all other Windows Phone models out there, with the exception of the HTC Titan.
And given that Microsoft's hardware requirements still dictate that Windows Phone models cannot feature expandable memory, I was happy to see that the Lumia 900 at least has a decent amount of onboard storage at 16 GB. I thought I could use a little more than 512 MB of RAM, but on the other hand, performance never really seemed to suffer as a result.
As for the operating system, the Lumia 900 runs the latest version of Windows Phone, version 7.5 (Mango). It's smooth, clean, and easy to use with a lot of useful updates and tweaks over the previous iteration of the operating system. Have a look at our full review of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango for more information.
To be completely honest, I haven't spent a lot of time with AT&T handsets (at least in comparison to the days/months/years I've spent with phones from other carriers), so I was expecting its 4G LTE speeds to pale in comparison to those of, say, Verizon. But I can truthfully say that the difference was not all that noticeable. I know on paper and in tests AT&T's LTE speeds get crushed Verizon's, but in terms of practical usage, they served me just fine. And it wasn't just for light tasks like checking email (asmoothly integrated experience in and of itself, but I'll get to that in a moment), going on Facebook, or web browsing; video streaming worked very well too. Even more impressive is the fact that AT&T service isn?t always the strongest in all locations around Boston -- I was often running on two bars or so -- yet I still always managed to have a smooth experience using my data connection.
If only Windows Phone supported Flash, that way I could have enjoyed streaming videos while web browsing; instead I was relegated to watching them through the YouTube app. Nevertheless, the addition of LTE is a great way to take Windows Phone to the next level, in my opinion, especially given that the experience of the OS is otherwise generally consistent across all other phones.
Calls, regardless of how rarely I make them these days, came through crystal clear as well. Admittedly, I only placed four calls (though they were of decent length and made from multiple places around Boston) during my time with the Lumia 900, but I never experienced and static, cutting out, or dropped calls.
Though the phone does not come preloaded with Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking outlet (which I'm totally fine with; I'd rather just download the ones I need myself and not have the others cluttering up my app list), it does come with the Tango Video Calls app for use with the phone?s 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.
The Lumia 900 makes a good case for itself as a phone with strong productivity features. Windows Phone features Microsoft Office integration, so users have access to mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, all of which allow you to access and edit their respective file types. And to top it off, the Office suite gives users a choice of where they want to store their files, including locally or uploading them to SkyDrive, SharePoint, or Office 365.
And syncing my mail to the Exchange servers to have access to my Outlook inbox was a snap. I literally had access to my work email in less than two minutes, since all I had to do to access my account was enter my username, password, and domain.
Oh, and oddly enough, the phone comes preloaded with a Yellow Pages app, if that's your kind of thing.
The Windows Phone platform has entertainment in spades, given its integration with Xbox Live making it great for games ?and Microsoft's Zune music service. Nokia was thankfully light on its preloaded app selection, only tossing in its App Highlights app. The Lumia 900 also comes preloaded with the ESPN app and YouTube, but unfortunately no Slacker Radio (a preloaded app on my HTC Trophy, also a Windows Phone, but on Verizon).
Speaking of carriers, AT&T has loaded up the Lumia 900 with many of its own apps, most of which are generally bloatware. It features myAT&T (to view account details), AT&T Radio, AT&T Navigator, and AT&T Code Scanner. The Navigator and Code Scanner are especially useless given the fact that Windows Phone features Bing Maps, and the Bing Search -- per the upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 Mango -- has a feature called Bing Vision, which activates the camera and uses it as a code scanner.
One preloaded AT&T app that has a little potential is the AT&T U-verse Mobile, which features movies and shows for download and lets users set recordings from their phones. But unfortunately, it?s part of AT&T's larger U-verse TV/Internet/home phone subscription service, so unless you?re an existing U-verse customer, you?re better off going with other paid options that have wider selections and more popular content, like Netflix.
I'm not quite sure what all the fuss is about with the camera on the Lumia 900. It has a solid 8-megapixel resolution and a Carl Zeiss f/2.2 lens with a 28mm focal length, and judging from other reviews of the phone that I?ve read, people seem to really like it. But I thought it was subpar, due mostly to the fact that had some serious issues with white balance. Admittedly, this problem tended to rear its ugly head only when shooting indoor photos, but still, users can?t be expected to be satisfied with only being able to take decent pictures outside.
The camera had a tendency to gravitate easily towards cool or warm tones whenever they were present in the picture, creating tinges that plagued the image. In worst case scenarios, photos would have both warm and cool tinges if the image featured both types of colors. Take, for example, the shot of the shaving cream can in this sample image: the white wall behind it and the edge of the tub?are tinged a cooler, bluish tone, while the bright cap creates an orange aura all around the top half of the can. Almost all of the pictures I took indoors with the Lumia 900 suffered from this problem; they all had blue or orange tinges due to its faulty white balance.
That major issue aside, pictures (and video) still only looked okay. At times, the focus was poor, making images look flat. But on the upside, the Lumia 900's photos had little to no grain, and, when shooting outdoors, the images were bright and color saturation was respectable. I also appreciate how user-friendly the camera controls are with Windows Phone. Simply holding down the dedicated camera key when the phone is in standby will automatically wake it up and send it straight to the camera app, and users can use touch-to-focus or the camera key's two-stage press to put images into focus.
The Lumia 900 might have the best battery life that I have seen on an LTE phone. It's important to qualify that statement because in the grand scheme of things, the longevity of an LTE phone always pales in comparison to other handsets. But even with email push on, frequent web browsing, shooting photos, streaming roughly 15 minutes of video, downloading (and playing!) three apps, texting, and making two 20-minute phone calls, I managed to get two days on a single charge without ever turning the phone off.
I imagine the bigger frame of the Lumia 900 allowed for the inclusion of a larger, 1830 mAh battery to counteract the power suck that is LTE, putting its battery life closer to (but still not quite even with) that of a 3G phone. It?s a shame the battery isn't removable, though.
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