AT&T has gotten a lot of love as far as Windows Phone handsets go, with most of them being available, often exclusively so, to the carrier's subscribers. Sure enough, we've gotten our hands on three major Windows Phone releases within the past few months, and they're all exclusively available on the AT&T 4G LTE network: the Nokia Lumia 900, the HTC Titan II, and the Samsung Focus 2.
So for those that are looking for a Windows Phone 7.5 (aka Mango) experience with a little 4G LTE flavor, which of these three phones is the best choice? We compare the build, performance, display, camera, and battery life of the phones in this breakdown to determine which one comes out on top.
Admittedly, this is a tough category to judge objectively, as it's almost entirely a matter of preference. On the one hand, you've got to give points to Nokia for trying something very new and different with the bizarre build of the Lumia 900. But on the other hand, that's exactly the problem: it's incredibly bizarre. The combination of rounded sides with sharp corners looks and feels so weird, and it's not particularly comfortable to hold either, in my opinion. Top that off with the fact that the giant polycarbonate body is as slick as all get-out and Nokia is just asking for its massive abomination of a phone to be dropped on a regular basis.
Now, in defense of the Lumia 900, the Titan II is just as big (it's slightly thinner, but also slightly longer), but it takes on a much more graceful shape. HTC didn't try as hard as Nokia to come up with something so distinctly unique, instead opting for a much more subtle approach; there's a gentle upward slope at the bottom of the phone, bringing the microphone closer to the speaker's mouth and creating a nice sort of pocket for your thumb to fit in while using the capacitive buttons on the bottom of the handset.
Then there's the Focus 2, with its extremely traditional build. It's relatively sleek -- though it's no Droid RAZR or Ascend P1 -- and it sports a shiny white body with silver trim, giving it a nice, clean aesthetic. Unfortunately, the body of the Focus 2 is also very slick. I wish that at least one of these handsets had some sort of textured finish to add some grip, but none of them do.
Now, I'm a pretty boring person, so my initial thought was to go with the safe, traditional, and comfortably-sized option of the Focus 2, but I'm going to give the Titan II the slight edge here. My primary issue with the Titan II is its size, but I recognize that most people don't care about that as much as I do, so I'm putting that aside and saying that its slightly unique (but not off-the-wall) design ranks above the plain (but much more manageably-sized) build of the Focus 2. The Lumia 900 finishes way behind the other two because, while I appreciate Nokia's attempt to mix things up, the result is just too ugly in my opinion.
This one's a no-brainer. Though all three handsets have the same 800 x 480 resolution, the Lumia 900 easily takes the cake thanks to Nokia's ClearBlack display technology. Essentially, this reduces the reflectiveness of the screen, creating deeper blacks and beautifully saturated colors on the AMOLED display of the Lumia 900. The slick look of the Corning Gorilla Glass certainly doesn't hurt, either.
So what about the remaining two? Once again, the choice is pretty clear. The display of the Focus 2 is far and away one of the worst that I have ever seen on a Windows Phone (or any phone, for that matter). Due to the fact that it is a Super AMOLED display and not Super AMOLED Plus means that it uses PenTile screen technology. And while the PenTile descriptor has to do with the layout and size of the individual subpixels on the screen, all you really need to know about it is that PenTile displays look worse as resolutions get lower.
The PenTile display on the new Galaxy S III, for example, looks fine, but that's because it's a 1280 x 720 resolution. The display on the Focus 2 is only 800 x 480, compounding the issues with the PenTile display and resulting in a screen in which you can easily see individual pixels without even having to hold it all that close to your face. Don't get me wrong, the WVGA Super LCD display of the Titan II is no stunner either, but it definitely does not look as rough as the one on the Focus 2. The Lumia 900 wins here by a country mile, with the Titan II in a distant second and the Focus 2 in dead last.
And one final note: I'm personally not into massive screens, as this obviously results in equally massive phones, but I know that not everybody is of the same opinion. So if you're all about size, the Titan II has the largest display, measuring 4.7 inches, while the Lumia 900 is 4.3 inches, and the Focus 2 is an even 4 inches.
Part 2 of this comparison covers the performance. camera, and battery life of these three Windows Phones, and then draws some conclusions.
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