The Nokia Lumia 900 could be one of the last chances for the Windows Phone platform. Does it deliver or will Microsoft's mobile OS continue to get trounced by the competition?
At the time of this review, the Nokia Lumia 900 is available for $99 through AT&T with a new two-year contract and data plan.
The Nokia Lumia 900 has a lot riding on its shoulders. Given the relative lack of success of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform due to stiff competition from Android and iOS, Nokia is hoping to bring the Metro-based OS to the forefront of the mobile world with this flagship handset. It's big, it's powerful, it's got LTE, and it's even super affordable at $99 with a two-year contract. But is it the Windows Phone savior?
The large footprint of the Lumia 900 belies its weight. Despite the fact that it's a whopping 5.03 x 2.7 x 0.45-inches, it only weighs 5.6 ounces, a mere half-ounce heavier than my much smaller HTC Trophy. As impressive as that is though, I don't care much for phones that are so large that they're borderline small tablets; I think it defeats the purpose of a smartphone by limiting its portability and making it generally uncomfortable to hold or operate one-handed.
At least the Lumia 900 has a unique build going for it, what with its rounded sides but sharp corners. When viewed from the top or bottom, it actually takes on an oval shape which is a little unusual. I didn't dislike the design, per se, but it definitely took some getting used to. What I really took issue with, however, was the lack of any sort of rubberized texture or surface on the phone's body. More than once during my time with it, the handset slipped right out of my hand like a bar of soap thanks to its smooth polycarbonate casing (don't worry, Nokia, I caught it before it hit the ground).
Though the resolution of the Lumia 900's screen is only 800 x 480, it still looks fantastic. The AMOLED display produces vibrant colors and deep blacks, even if images aren't as sharp as those viewed on displays with higher resolutions or pixel densities (like the one found on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus). And while I may not be a fan of the phone's gigantic form factor, I have to admit that the 4.3-inch size of the screen makes reading text and viewing videos and pictures quite a pleasure. The Corning Gorilla Glass that's used in the Lumia 900's display also gives it a nice quality look and feel while maintaining excellent responsiveness with touch controls.
Perhaps most importantly, though, the Lumia 900 features Nokia's ClearBlack display technology, which decreases the reflectance of the screen. Not only does this feature help increase visibility in the outdoors and direct sunlight, it also helps the screen look brighter and clearer when indoors. The phone's display always looked intensely bright and colors were deeply saturated even without cranking the brightness up to the highest setting; I could leave it on automatic and still consistently enjoy a beautiful-looking screen.
The Lumia 900 does not feature a physical keyboard, so users will have to settle for using a virtual one. But as much as I despise virtual keyboards, if I had to pick one to be stuck with, it would probably be the stock Windows Phone keyboard. Its autocorrect is surprisingly intuitive (and its word bank expansive), so even if I'm cruising my way through a text and mistyping every single word incorrectly, it still almost always manages to turn out the way I wanted it to. That is, of course, unless I use particularly obscure words or proper nouns, in which case things can get a little ugly when I inevitably mistype them.
Given that this is a Windows phone, Nokia kept things relatively simple, per Microsoft's specifications. The left side of the device is devoid of any buttons, while the right side is host to a volume up/down rocker, the power/standby switch, and a dedicated camera key. The bottom of the device is where its primary speaker can be found, and the backside features a camera with a Carl Zeiss f/2.2 lens and its dual LED flash.
The top of the phone is where users can find the 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro USB port (for charging), and, perhaps my least favorite part of the design, the SIM card tray. Rather than just having a slot behind a little tab or door, users have to insert an included pin-like key into a tiny hole on the top of the Lumia 900 to eject a small tray that holds the phone's SIM card. Those who need to swap out their SIM cards on an even semi-regular basis are going to find it inconvenient to have to carry around and use a little key in order to get access to the phone?s SIM tray. Maybe it's just me, but I would have preferred if this phone was a No-Key-a. Sorry, that was terrible.
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