The Nokia Lumia 900 represents the best smartphone the Finnish company can muster at the moment. It’s the product of a fresh and promising platform and the decades of Nokia’s handset design expertise. Check out our full review after the break.
We reviewed the Lumia 800 back in February so we were not that much excited with the Lumia 900 since the significant difference is just centered on the display size. Everything else seems to be the same, or sort of.
Design and Build.
The Lumia 900′s gene pool can be traced all the way back to the Meego-touting Nokia N9 which it passed on to the Lumia 800.
While the entire unibody, polycarbonate shell looks like a 100% copy from the previous two handsets, the Lumia 900 got some minor design tweaks.
The one that we noticed first was the flat glass display panel. The N9 and Lumia 800 got a somewhat embossed glass display which spills over to the edge. Nokia says this makes the edge/gesture commands smoother on the N9. In the Lumia 800, it didn’t have any practical function so we thought the one used for the Lumia 900 makes more sense.
There’s also that thin strip of hard rubber/plastic protecting the edge of the glass.
Everything else is looks smooth and solid. We especially liked the white variant that contrasts against the large black display which accents of silver for the buttons.
The glossy finish feels good on the hands but becomes a bit slippery at times and is hugely attracted to grime (especially if you have sweaty or oily hands).
Check out our unboxing video to get a better feel of what we’re describing:
The left side of the handset is where all of the physical buttons are located, all in thin, low-rised silver pellets — the volume control, the power button in the middle and the dedicated camera shutter.
There’s nothing on the left side while at the bottom end, the speaker grills are placed inconspicuously.
At the top side, the 3.5mm jack starts the line along with the noise-canceling mic, micro-USB port and the hidden SIM tray.
At the bottom corner oft he front glass display are three soft buttons that’s standard on all WP7 handsets — Back, Home, Search. At the back is the 8MP camera and the dual-LED flash.
The 4.3-inch AMOLED display of the Lumia 900 looks really good. We’ve seen it perform on the N9 and Lumia 800 but seeing it on a much bigger screen makes you appreciate it more. Picture quality is nice, crisp and bright.
Unfortunately, the Lumia 900 is still stuck at 480×800 pixels. For the most part, you will not really notice this since the tiled layout of Metro UI somehow hides this but once you view photos, videos and browsing websites, you will start noticing the lack of pixel density (217ppi). Nevertheless, for general purposes, the large screen makes up for it.
OS, UI and Apps
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango has definitely brought a lot of improvements and much needed features since WP7 was first introduced a couple of years ago.
There’s support for multi-tasking of 3rd-party apps, Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn integration, SkyDrive, and the much-awaited WiFi-tethering. Where the Nokia Lumia line really excels is their integration of really good features like the Nokia Drive and the Nokia Maps (which replaces Bing Maps) that can work even if you’re offline.
The Metro UI is snappy and refreshing, the UI is simple and easy to get used to but because of the mono-chromatic theme, you can still get confused at times.
The collection of apps in the Marketplace has grown a lot in the past months with majority of the more common ones already available and even already pre-installed and integrated into the platform. The selection of games may not be as updated as the ones on the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store but you will find a lot of really cool and sometimes even hard core ones with XBox Live on WP7.
We’re also liking the typography and transition effects but the essential features are actually just very simple and straightforward. The virtual keypad are laid out pretty neatly, in large keys fairly spaced from each other and the screen is very responsive.
Camera & Multimedia
The Carl Zeiss optics used in the camera of the Lumia 900 used to be one of the best in the industry. We really liked it back then in February when we first reviewed the Lumia 800.
However, in the past couple of months when new phones have arrived and we got to test their cameras, we realized the new ones have really improved tremendously like the ones on the Galaxy S3 and the Nokia 808.
Here are some sample shots taken with the Lumia 900.
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Nevertheless, we think the camera on the Lumia 900 still takes a lot of good to great photos as long as you have sufficient lighting.
The handset can also record HD videos, but unfortunately only up to 720p and not full HD (a limitation of the processor).
When connected to your PC, you can manage the multimedia files (music, video, podcast, photos) of the handset via the Zune Player (it’s the software equivalent of iTunes app). Syncing files is very easy and straight-forward, including managing multiple handsets and we loved the Album Art management as well. The Wireless Syncing feature was actually started by Zune many years ago until Apple copied it for iTunes.
Sound quality on the Lumia 900 is decent but not really that great. It’s good though the speaker grills are the the bottom side instead of the back so it’s much louder when you crank up the volume. The AMOLED display works wonders when watching videos and movies.
Performance and Benchmarks
WP7 in itself has a good reputation of being an excellent performer even if it is used with a mid-range hardware. The SnapDragon S2 is actually the top processor that is optimized and compatible with WP7 and we’ve seen it being used in other flagship handsets as well, like the HTC Titan and the Lumia 800.
The Lumia 900 handled the WP7 quite effortlessly. The UI is snappy and the transitions are quick and smooth.
We ran WPBench and got almost similar results with the HTC Titan.
Battery Life and Call Quality.
The Lumia 900, despite its size, manages to squeeze a lot out of its 1830mAh Li-Ion battery. Based on normal use, the handset is able to last 1 and a half days to a little more than two days if you’re mostly using SMS or calls and just a little internet over WiFi.
However, once you switch to 3G or heavy on apps like Twitter or FB, then that’s when you’ll start to feel hungry for more battery life. For the most part though, we generally believe most WP7 handsets are not as power-hungry as the other platforms.
As for call quality, the Lumia 900 offers really clear voice calls and wireless connectivity is also strong. We have not experience any dropped calls with the handset not any loss of signal in the areas where we tested it.
The delays in the SMS we’ve experienced is mostly attributed to the issues with telcos (they tell us it is system upgrades) so we can’t put the blame on the handset for the late text messages.
The Lumia 900 might not be able to brag about high-performance chipsets that it uses but the combination of Windows Phone 7.5 makes the handset look feel as powerful and buttery smooth as any other flagship running any other OS. We’d say the credit also goes to Microsoft for making WP7 not really hardware-heavy and we’ve seen this in action with the entry-level Lumia 610 and Lumia 710.
Design-wise, the Lumia 900 is just gorgeous with its simple yet elegant construction. It might not get the WP8 when it is released but we are surely excited to see how this will perform and look like once it gets WP 7.8.
Nokia Lumia 900 specs:
4.3-inch AMOLED display @ 480Ã—800 pixels, 217ppi
Nokia ClearBlack display
Corning Gorilla Glass
Qualcomm APQ8055 Snapdragon S2 Scorpion 1.4GHz CPU
Adreno 205 Graphics
16GB internal storage
HSPA+ 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
micro-SIM card support
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA
Bluetooth 2.1, A2DP, EDR
8MP autofocus camera, Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash
720p video recording
1MP front-facing camera, VGA recording
GPS w/ aGPS support, GLONASS
FM radio tuner
Li-Ion battery 1830mAh
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5mm (dimension)
160 grams (weight)
Suggested retail price of the Lumia 900 is Php27,990. It is available in white, black and cyan (blue) and is selling stores nationwide. There’s also that limited black Batman: Dark Knight series we mentioned before.
What we liked about the Lumia 900:
â— Snappy UI and good performance
â— Nice design and color options
â— Large internal storage
â— Good battery life
â— Clear and bright AMOLED display
â— Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive
What we did not like about it:
â— No expandable memory card slot
â— Slightly older, mid-range processor
â— Non-removable battery
â— Older, weaker graphics chip
Disclosure: Lazada Philippine supplied the review unit. They sell it unlocked for Php28,289 with free nationwide shipping. See listing here.