Nokia Lumia 900: A review round-up

Critics seem to agree that the Lumia 900 is a good phone for its price, but it doesn't stack up to its high-end competitors.

The Nokia Lumia 900 might be the best Windows Phone so far, but it’s still no match to the iPhone or the high-end Android smartphones, according to initial reviews of the device, which is due to go on sale April 8. If there’s something going for the Lumia 900 though, is the price: the 4G LTE phone will cost just $US100 with a two-year AT&T contract, which is half of what you would pay for the latest iPhone and up to a third of some 4G Android phones.

The Lumia 900 is easy on the eye, my colleague Ginny Mies said in her PCWorld review. A single injectable polyurethane matte-plastic build gives it a sturdy feel and the material is soft to the touch. The 4.3-inch display is slightly curved, showcasing the beautiful Windows Phone 7 interface, and the 8-megapixel camera takes nice indoor photos when lighting is bright, and great photos when the sun is shining. For its price, she found the Lumia 900 would be a good match for those who are not big fans of Google products, especially if they already use Bing or SkyDrive, giving the phone four stars out of five.

But when you start comparing the Lumia 900 with the iPhone 4S and high-end Android smartphones, the phone has just too many drawbacks, Walter Mossberg found in his All Things D review. He was underwhelmed by the battery life, the (mobile Internet Explorer) browser and the still-limited number of apps available (70,000) compared to rivals (600,000 for iOS and 450,000 for Android). Mossberg also puts down the content ecosystem, with fewer magazine and newspaper apps available, as well as no way to buy TV shows or movies directly from the phone.

“Unfortunately for Nokia, a pretty face can't solve everything,” explains Steve Kovach in his Business Insider review. “From a design standpoint, the Lumia 900 is easily the most unique-looking smartphone out there,” he notes, but the 800x480 pixel resolution screen quality “is just plain ugly” compared to the iPhone 4S’ 960x640 resolution. He concluded the Lumia 900 is “not a bad purchase if you're on a budget. But if you don't mind spending an extra $100, you're honestly better off with an iPhone or high-end Android phone like Samsung's Galaxy S II.”

Kevin C. Tofel was more positive about the Lumia 900 in his GigaOm review. Although it uses a single-core processor when most competitors have been featuring dual-core power for a couple years, he notes the Nokia is “snappy in apps and navigation.” “Where it lacks in terms of application breadth, it makes up for with desirable Microsoft services,” Tofel said regarding the lower app provision, and he “can’t think of a better Windows Phone to try out or buy.”

In her ArsTechnica review, Casey Johnston found the battery life on the Lumia 900 to be solid, and the phone “is more than competent, and a better choice than many Android phones out there for the same price.” She notes that drawbacks are the speaker, which is a little quiet; its mediocre camera performance; and the browser, which “makes the non-mobile Web look kind of ugly.”

Edward C. Baig says the Lumia 900 is a bold comeback move in his USA Today review: “Against the iPhone and Android, Nokia faces formidable competition. But with an attractive price, refreshing operating system and a growing supply of apps, Nokia may be well on the way to crafting a compelling comeback story.”

Sam Biddle echoes many of these thoughts in his Gizmodo review too, saying “the Lumia 900 is a phone that every single person should consider owning.”

Tech Republic also has a few interesting observations after they cracked open a Lumia 900: it’s bigger and heavier than the competition, it has less on-board storage and less battery life than competitors, and the screen is good, but not great.

Wrapping up his The Verge review, Joshua Topolsky notes: “I really wanted to love this phone. But while the hardware -- at least externally -- delivers, the phone as a whole does not.”

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Daniel Ionescu

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