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Nokia Lumia 900: An iPhone User’s Perspective

Since 2008, I’ve been a dedicated iOS user and somewhat of a fanboy. While I’ve spent plenty of time playing around with Android phones such as the Droid RAZR and the HTC Desire, they’ve all been laggy and generally do not provide an enjoyable experience for me. But while Android didn’t stand out for me, another mobile OS did: Windows Phone 7.

To be honest, most Windows Phone devices have been pretty dull. The Samsung Focus, HTC Titan and others have looked like any other non-iOS. However, this completely changed when Microsoft and Nokia announced their partnership and Nokia announced their new series of Windows Phones.

In case you’re unaware, Nokia originally announced the Lumia 710 and 800 in November of 2011. The Lumia 710 featured a whole new design while the 800’s design was carried over from the MeeGo-sporting Nokia N9. The Lumia 710 would be brought to the US via T-Mobile while the Lumia 800 would stay in Europe. This did eventually change as the unlocked Lumia 800 was offered in a wallet crushing media pack, which cost $899 at Microsoft Stores in the US.

Then CES 2012 rolls around and Nokia announces two more devices: the Lumia 900 and the Lumia 610. The 610 is meant for emerging markets as the expected price of the unlocked phone is sub-$250. The Lumia 900 on the other hand, is an AT&T-exclusive high-end Windows Phone for the US market.

Priced at only $99 (on-contract) in the US, the Lumia 900 rocks a 4.3″ touchscreen and a front facing camera. The US variant of the Lumia 900 also packs LTE connectivity while the international version is running on HSPA+.

Now that I’ve run down all the specs and history of the Nokia Lumia series, I want to give you my full thoughts on the Nokia Lumia 900 after I was given one last week. While this won’t be a full review of the Lumia 900, it should give you a good idea of an iPhone user’s thoughts on the device.

My Thoughts on The Lumia 900

I’m not one to complain about specs on a mobile device. As long as the device works flawlessly for me, I’m happy. So I honestly don’t care that the Lumia 900 only features a 1.4GHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM. Why? The phone is smooth. Scrolling is fluid, app switching is fast and to be honest, it just works. So that’s a plus.

Lumia 900
The Lumia 900 features an absolutely out of this world design. I never thought I would say that a chunk of plastic is sexy, but I think I have to. The Lumia 900 (and 800, for that matter) has arguably one of the best phone designs I’ve seen in recent history. I like to think of it this way:  the iPhone 4/4S has the best industrial design while the Lumia 900 has the best “playful” design on the market.

As for Windows Phone 7.5, I don’t mind it. It’s a totally new idea, which didn’t copy iOS. The menus could be a tad more easy to use, but the “Live Tiles” are very nice and add a ton of functionality to the device. While there is a lack of applications in the Marketplace, the necessities are there and so is Angry Birds.

As for the screen, ClearBlack is nice, but not perfect. While it does allow me to see the screen better in the daylight, the pixel density is pretty horrible. With a screen resolution of only 480×800 (~217ppi), text can often seem blurry and images washed-out. I’m refreshed when I go back to my iPhone 4S’s 960×640 (~326ppi) screen.

The Lumia’s camera is also pretty bad. While Nokia claims the Lumia 900 boasts a 8-megapixel sensor, it sure doesn’t act like it. Images seem washed out and have an annoying pink spot in the middle. Please see the example below.

Lumia 900 Camera

Finally, I cannot currently comment on the Lumia’s LTE connectivity as I’m using it on AT&T’s PAYG plan, so I only have access to their HSPA+ network. On HSPA+, data is fast and call quality is pretty good.

While the Lumia 900 won’t replace my iPhone 4S, it’s a close runner up. It’s definitely the best Windows Phone 7 device on the market and Windows Phone 7 provides a nice user experience which can’t be matched by anything except Apple’s iOS. So if for some reason you’re looking for a non-iOS device on AT&T, the Lumia 900 should be your match.

White Nokia Lumia 900s Hit The Shelves

Today, the white Nokia Lumia 900 flagship Windows Phone has officially gone on sale at AT&T stores.

Some stores did sell the device a day early, according to reports. AT&T stores were allegedly allowed to begin selling the phone a bit earlier than expected at their own discretion, and clearly some stores did just that. If you didn’t go to one of the early bird AT&T stores, however, then now is your chance.

When it comes to phones, people seem to be mesmerized by white. This was most clearly demonstrated in the case of the iPhone 4, when many held out waiting for the white version of the device which didn’t ship for quite some time. Some have other reasons behind their choices to purchase white phones, such as Rafael Rivera, who bought his so that he could use the green bumper.

The Nokia Lumia 900 is pretty much the flagship Windows Phone devices. It’s being heavily promoted by AT&T as a flagship device, as they greatly covet a third ecosystem. Even Verizon expressed a desire for a third ecosystem, claiming that they wish to throw as much support behind Windows Phone as they did for Android.

Nokia’s Roller Coaster Fortnight

Nokia Lumia 900

Oh wow, what a couple of weeks Nokia has had. A company trying to reinvent itself and staying relevant in an increasingly iOS/Android-dominated smartphone world caught the headlines mostly for all the wrong reasons. Here’s a rundown of the news and my take on the same.

Lumia 900 Announced

First, after showing the Lumia 900 at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, they finally announced the availability of Nokia Lumia 900, their flagship device for the North American markets. Pre-orders would start on March 30, at AT&T’s website, and the device would be available in stores on April 8. As a surprise they also announced a glossy white version, to be available only in stores (no pre-order) on April 22. All good news, albeit some would argue that according to leaks earlier, it was supposed to happen on March 18, so this date could be considered a “delay”. Oh well.

Mixed Reviews?

Then, the review embargo is lifted. Suffice to say that while generally extremely positive, there was a feeling that some of the reviewers (especially one at a very high profile site) were very critical of certain aspects of the phone and the OS. I wrote about how the Lumia 900 may have created a very high set of expectations and meeting or beating those expectations would be almost impossible. Also, the device, unlike typical iPhone releases, was not accompanied by a major software update of the Windows Phone OS. So a lot of reviewers started poking around what’s missing in the OS rather than reviewing the device itself. Bottom line, there was a lot of coverage on the stuff that was missing, instead of highlighting how, at $99 with contract, this was an excellent deal for a very well-made phone.

Amazon Users Love The Lumia 900

Recently, a certain noteworthy technology blog published a controversial review on the Lumia 900. While Topolsky praised the phone’s hardware, he brought up some of his existing gripes with the Windows Phone platform as a whole which seemed to hit a nerve amongst the community. However, disregarding the opinions of pundits for a second, it would appear that normal users have taken quite a liking to the device, at least if Amazon is any credible metric.

For one, the most helpful review is titled “Almost Perfect”, and proceeds to describe the device like so:

Seriously, you cannot buy a better smartphone at this price. I purchased mine at my local corporate AT&T store for $99 during the pre-sale. I received the phone on Friday the 6th and as someone who has had Blackberry’s, Windows Mobile (old versions), several Android devices and even tried an iPhone for a while, this is the best phone I have ever used.

Pretty much all of the following reviews march to the beat of this same drum, with a few exceptions (like one “Conspiracy Keanu” commenter who believes that Microsoft is astroturfing the comments, as surely a Windows Phone cannot be that good… right?)

The phone has a nearly 5-star rating on Amazon. And, out of the 201 reviews (at time of writing), 178 are five star reviews. While I cannot weigh in with my thoughts on whether the Lumia 900 is deserving of such a rating as I am yet to thoroughly spend time with the device, all that I can say is that it’s certainly a good phone for the price.

I think that Microsoft is well aware that they need to step up the Windows Phone platform before it can truly face off against Android and iOS, so in that sense, the device’s pricing is brilliant.

AT&T And Nokia Offer $100 Credit, Fix For Lumia 900 Data Issue

Yesterday, users flooded the Nokia and WPCentral forums with reports of an annoying data connectivity bug plaguing the Nokia Lumia 900. Basically, the device would lose 3G/4G connectivity randomly, mostly with no cause. Some users stated that it occurred when they did something which obstructed connectivity — such as enable airplane mode — and were then unable to reconnect to the data network.

On Tuesday, AT&T and Nokia acknowledged the bug, and, much to the relief of users has confirmed that it’s a software issue and nothing hardware-related. That being said, phones with updated software that will hopefully remedy the issue are en route to stores as we speak, and should arrive within a few days. Nokia is offering users affected by the issue the ability to either exchange their device for a newer unit or update your existing device using the Zune client around Monday, April 16th.

On top of this, people who purchase the Lumia 900 from launch day through to midnight on April 21st will be eligible for a $100 credit on their AT&T bill. This was handled beautifully, so props to Nokia and AT&T for that. They are of course lucky that it isn’t some sort of hardware defect that requires new devices; this could have been worse. Let’s just hope that the reports of this issue don’t care prospective consumers away from what otherwise is a pretty awesome phone.

AT&T Might Not Have Spent $150 Million On The Lumia 900

I had just penned a post covering a report from AdAge which stated that AT&T will be spending around $150 million over the next few months to promote the Lumia 900, which, according to a few sources, is AT&T’s next “hero” flagship device which it will heavily promote. However, The Verge reports that the $150 million number is a bit off the mark, and that the carrier is actually spending less on the Lumia 900 (and by less, they mean the amount that AT&T would normally spend for a major flagship device release anyway.)

The Verge is also reporting that the internal attitude towards the Lumia 900 is a bit different than initially reported; they’re claiming that it isn’t being heavily promoted due to the threat of the loss of iPhone exclusivity to rival carriers Verizon and Sprint. Alex Wilhelm suggests something that could possibly be true: The $150 million may be the collective amount being invested in Lumia 900 advertising by Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T. If I remember correctly, there was some speculation that all three companies are investing a total of 150 to 200 million in promoting the device.

Nevertheless, both this and the initial AdAge report should be taken with a grain of salt. No advertising costs have been released by AT&T — or Microsoft and Nokia — on the record. However, we do have two conflicting reports from two very credible publications. Neat.

AT&T Is Spending $150 Million To Advertise The Lumia 900

We knew that the Lumia 900 was going to be a big launch advertising-wise, with it essentially becoming the flagship AT&T device. Internally referred to by the carrier as a “hero” phone, it ‘s expected to be more heavily marketed and promoted than Apple’s iPhone was from 2007 onwards by the company. So, with that being said, just how much is being spent on promoting the Lumia 900?

According to a report from AdAge, AT&T will be spending around $150 million over the next few months to spread the word about the Lumia 900. This is quite a lot, though it’s coming from a company which, according to AdAge spent $3 billion in advertising back in 2010.One of the main perks of being an AT&T subscriber over the past few years has been, well, the iPhone. And now that AT&T no longer has iPhone exclusivity with it now being sold by Verizon and Sprint as well, the company seems to be looking for a fresh, new device to be its main selling point.

But, what I wonder is, if AT&T alone will be spending $150 million on promoting the Lumia 900, how much will Microsoft and Nokia be spending? How much will they all be spending collectively? There were reports of Nokia paying AT&T up to $25 million to get the Lumia 900 in the hands of its employees. Nevertheless, there’s surely a crazy amount being spent on this phone by all three companies; definitely has to be over $200 million.

Users Reporting Nokia Lumia 900 Data Connectivity Bug

The Nokia Lumia 900 is a pretty beautiful device which is set to become the most heavily advertised phone since the iPhone. However, there’s one annoying bug that some users are reporting on Nokia’s forums and WPCentral’s forums which impacts the device’s 3G/4G connectivity. While we aren’t entirely sure about what’s causing this issue, it seems that it may be triggered by cutting off the data connection at any point (such as by triggering airplane mode.)

Nokia and WPCentral forum participant goeman said that following these steps fixed his issue:

  1. Remove the SIM card and leave the SIM card out for the next three steps.
  2. Perform a Master Reset (Settings > About).
  3. Let the product boot up without a SIM card.
  4. Turn off the device.
  5. Verify that the SIM card is LTE enabled.
  6. Insert SIM card and boot up.
It worked for some, but most were still left with the issue. Neither Nokia or AT&T have publicly addressed this issue just yet, so it’s hard to say what exactly is causing it or how widespread the issue is. There certainly seems to be a fair amount of people reporting the issue on the forums though, which is slightly concerning. Let’s hope that AT&T and Nokia address this ASAP, or, depending on how widespread/severe of an error it is, it may rain on the Lumia 900 advertising parade.

Nokia Lumia 900 vs iPhone 4S vs Galaxy Nexus vs Galaxy S2 – How Does The Best Windows Phone Stack Up Against Its Competition?

The Lumia 900 is finally up for sale in the United States, and it has already sold out in quite a few online stores. The Lumia 900 is the biggest handset launch from Nokia in the recent years in the United States, and the handset will have a key role in determining the future on WP7 and the Nokia-MS partnership.

However, how does the Lumia 900 stack up against some of the best phones up for sale today including the iPhone 4S, Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S2? Read our comparison post below to find out!

Display

The Galaxy Nexus has the biggest display among all these 4 handsets and comes with a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD screen with a whopping 720p screen, but has a PenTile display. The Galaxy S2 and Lumia 900 come with a 4.3-inch display with WVGA (480*800) resolution. While the Galaxy S2 uses a Super-AMOLED Plus display, the Lumia 900 has a (AMOLED) ClearBlack Display. The iPhone 4S has the smallest display among its competitors with a relatively small 3.5-inch IPS LCD display with 640*960 resolution. The iPhone 4S has the highest pixel density here with a Retina busting 326ppi, while the Galaxy Nexus comes in a second close with a ppi of 316. The Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 both have a disappointingly low ppi of 218.

The iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus both trump the Lumia 900 in terms of display quality as well as resolution, while the Lumia 900 manages to tie it with the Galaxy S2 display. However, considering the Lumia 900 is being released in 2012, and all of its competitors were launched in 2011, the former should have had packed in a higher resolution screen. Sadly, since Windows Phone does not support resolutions higher than WVGA, there is nothing much the OEMs can do about it, except for wait for Windows Phone 8.

Read: Galaxy S2 vs. Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S – Which is the best smartphone of 2011?

Processing Power

Except for the Lumia 900, the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S, all have a dual-core processor. The A5 SoC used inside the iPhone 4S is an absolute beast and manages to trump every other mobile CPU + GPU combination easily. The Exynos SoC found inside the Galaxy S2 comes in second with two powerful Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2GHz, along with an ARM Mali-400MP GPU. The Galaxy Nexus also packs in two 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 processor, and a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, which struggles to keep up with the HD resolution on the handset.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor clocked at 1.4GHz along with an Adreno 205 GPU powers the Lumia 900. While the OS on the handset itself runs very smooth, third party apps and browsing on the handset take a toll due to the limited CPU power.

Camera 

The iPhone 4S, Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 pack in an 8MP camera with an LED flash, while the Galaxy Nexus houses a 5MP camera aided by an LED flash. The 8MP snapper on the iPhone 4S can take some absolutely stunning pictures, and is a clear winner here. The Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 come in a close second, with the former struggling in low-light conditions quite heavily. The Galaxy Nexus with its poor, but with Instant capture feature, 5MP cam does not even stand a chance.

While the Lumia 900 may have come second in the camera shoot-out, we should not forget that the Galaxy S2 was released nearly a year ago. The Galaxy S3 is just around the corner, and chances are it will trump the Lumia 900 in camera performance easily.

Apps

While the iPhone App Store has more than 450,000+ apps, there are roughly around 300,000 apps in the Google Play Store. In comparison to this, the Windows Phone Marketplace has around 70,000+ apps. Sadly, there is a very serious lack of quality applications in the WP Marketplace. There is still no official Dropbox client available for the OS, which might be a bummer for quite a few people out there. There are still no graphically intensive games available for the OS. Most developers still prefer to launch an iOS version of their app first, followed by an Android version.

However, most developers who have released a WP7 version of their app have been seriously impressed with the SDK tools available for the platform, and actually prefer coding apps for WP rather than Android. So hopefully it is just a matter of time, and possibly few more APIs from Microsoft, before we see some quality apps hit the Windows Phone marketplace.

P.S. – I can’t comment on the battery life of the handsets since I have not used them long enough. However, I am sure the iPhone 4S will be a clear winner here just because it has a smaller screen, and lacks support for LTE networks. Lumia 900 should provide users with the same battery life as the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Nexus, if not worse.

Also Read: Some must have apps for the Nokia Lumia 900 and 800

Must Have Apps For Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 900

Late last year, Nokia released the first real Windows Phone, the Lumia 800. The device while impressive an impressive Windows Phone running handset, lacked a front-facing camera and the 3.7-inch screen was just too small. Earlier this year at MWC, Nokia announced a bigger brother of the Lumia 800, the Lumia 900, which comes with a bigger screen (4.3-inch) and a front-facing camera. The Lumia 900 is mainly targeted towards the United States, and was launched recently with a huge marketing campaign from Nokia and AT&T. In fact, this is the biggest handset launch from Nokia in the States in the last few years.

With the launch of new phones, bigger marketing campaigns and Microsoft’s money, the Windows Phone ecosystem has grown considerably in the last few months. The Windows Phone Marketplace now contains more than 70,000 apps, which is pretty decent for an OS, which is hardly 2 years old. I frankly don’t care about the number of apps an OS has. I want quality over quantity, and the WP7 marketplace is lacking in this department. Nevertheless, here is my list of the best apps currently available in the Windows Phone marketplace, which will take full advantage of your brand new Lumia 800 or 900 -:

Pulse – If you have owned an iOS or Android phone previously, chances are you already know about Pulse. Pulse is a beautiful RSS reader, with a very unique UI. Its unique UI and its price tag – free – is the main reason behind the app being a hit across all the major mobile platforms.

Skydrive – Dropbox has been my on-the-go cloud storage service for quite sometime now. However, there is no official Dropbox client available in the Windows Phone Marketplace, which is quite a bummer. Thankfully, a few months ago, Microsoft filled that gap by releasing the official Skydrive app for WP7, which allows users to access their files stored on Skydrive right from their phone. Considering that Skydrive comes with 25GB of free storage, and will be tightly integrated with Windows 8, moving to Skydrive as your primary cloud storage service does seem useful for all Windows users.

Flashlight X – What’s the use of the LED flash in your phone if you cannot use it as a Torch in those dark situations? With nearly every Windows Phone coming equipped with a LED flash, Flashlight X is a must have app.

YouTube Pro – The default YouTube client for Windows Phone is sadly just a bookmark to the official YouTube mobile homepage. Looking at the OS market share, Google does not seem to be much interested in releasing a decent YouTube client for WP7 as well. Thankfully, YouTube Pro is a decent alternative to fulfill all your YouTube-ing needs. The app allows you to view videos in HQ or HD quality over Wi-Fi or 3G along with the ability to download them as well.

Rowi – If you own a Windows Phone, and use Twitter frequently, Rowi is the MUST have app for you. It is without a doubt the best Twitter client available in the Windows Phone marketplace. The folks behind Rowi recently released v2.0 which includes tons of new features including Readability integration, performance improvements, a new context menu for easier access to frequently used options, toast notifications for messages and mentions and most importantly, Fast app switching support.

Evernote – Evernote is another must have app for me irrespective of the OS I use. Thankfully, there is an official Evernote client for WP7 and its pretty good. The app allows users to pin any specific note or a shortcut to a new note for quick access.

Skype – Back at MWC, the Skype/MS team finally released a beta version of Skype for Windows Phone. Considering that MS now owns Skype, the app was under development for quite sometime and the beta version is pretty basic as well. Anyways, chances are Windows Phone 8 will feature a very tight integration with Skype, so until then the Skype app should be capable of fulfilling all your needs.

Don’t agree with my list of the best apps for your brand new Lumia 800 or Lumia 900? Drop in a comment and let us know!