Lumia 900, What the reviews say?The Lumia 900 is a remarkably important device for being priced at $99.00. Not only does it mark Nokia’s attempt to push back into the United States, it is most likely the bellwether for how well Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform does. With that in mind, let’s find out what the reviewers think.
BuildEveryone agrees the Nokia Lumia 900 is a beautiful device. In fact, that is the very first line that most write about it. The Verge even went so far as to say: “It may be the best looking phone on the market right now.” Gizmodo said:
“The Lumia 900 is a beautiful object. Even in garish cyan—or "blue," as it's known to us plebes—the combination of Nokia's spaceship hardware and Microsoft's super-futuristic Metro vibe make the phone a handset of the future.”
CNet said: “Bold as an exclamation mark, the Lumia 900 has pure pop-art coursing through its electrical veins.” And they meant that as a compliment.
The screen is a bit more of a mixed bag. While reviewers liked how the screen was raised to bubble out of the top of the device--IntoMobile said “It really does feel like the content is "floating" to the top of the screen,” they were split about the quality of the display. CNet liked it, saying “it's easily one of the Lumia 900's key selling points.. Colors look richly hued, bright, and sharp.” Gizmodo was also a fan, stating “The display absolutely sings. Colors are, for the most part, terrific and vivid, and blacks are blacker than I've seen on any handset. Text pops with legibility and photos are sharp and vivid.” The Verge, meanwhile, wasn’t impressed. To quote:
I'm disappointed by the display on the Lumia. Besides being lower in resolution than competitive devices (new Android phones at 1280 x 720 and the iPhone at 960 x 640), I felt colors were far too saturated. This is a pretty common problem with AMOLED screens, but the issue seems pronounced on the Lumia 900 thanks to the starkness of the Windows Phone interface. Combined with the lower resolution display (which is particularly notable with white text against that black background), the effect is jarring.
The camera is okay, but not great. Literally: Gizmodo called it an “okay-I-guess camera,” while CNet said “The designer camera optics are good, but they don't live up to the hype.” The Verge elaborated, saying “ It's not that those images were particularly bad — they just weren't particularly good.” the definition of a so-so camera.
SoftwareNokia, unlike most Windows Phone 7 manufacturers, has been given license to modify how the operating system looks. For that, they really haven’t changed much. Which is unfortunate, because outside of the beautiful interface, Windows Phone 7 is lacking.
The Verge is particularly down on the operating system. “I think it's time to stop giving Windows Phone a pass,” wrote Joshua Topolsky.
“I am very aware of the hard work and dedication Microsoft has put into this platform, but at the end of the day, Windows Phone is just not as competitive with iOS and Android as it should be right now.”He goes on to note problems with cutting, scrolling, how apps recalled from the background often still show a loading screen (despite them technically running in the background), improper renders in the browser, and clunky user interface elements that both iOS and Google have done away with. IntoMobile also isn’t in love with Microsoft’s most recent software iteration, saying:
“Of the paltry top-tier apps available, many need polish—Spotify wouldn't work on my Lumia at all, an issue AT&T is aware of. When you snap the 900 awake, you feel like you're holding the state of the art. And you sort of are. But then you realize how quickly you run into the software dead ends, and you cringe. The software needs updating. The Lumia 900 is hobbled mostly by factors out of its control.”
PerformanceThe Nokia Lumia 900 isn’t a high end device. Instead, it is targeted squarely at the mid-range market. And that shows in its performance.
The Verge threw the Lumia 900 a bone here, saying:
“the Lumia is more than capable of handling anything you throw at it. Of course, what you throw at it is tightly bound by the Windows Phone way of doing things, which all but ensures that there's never too much going on at once.”But the Lumia 900 is running only a single-core 1.4Ghz Snapdragon. That makes it only marginally more powerful than my two year old Samsung Captivate.
Outside of how it affected browser performance, most reviewers had no problem with it. And that single processor seems to have helped out with its battery life.
Battery LifeCNet found that the battery on the Lumia 900 decent, if not Droid Razr Maxx good.
“The latest Nokia device also has solid battery life, as you can get through a full day under most circumstances on a single charge. You're likely going to have to charge it every night but that's what you have to do with most any smartphone that isn't the Droid Razr Maxx.”Gizmodo also says that it “packs enough battery life to carry you over a day.”
Nokia claims you can expect 7 hours of talk time on the phone, and The Verge found that, with wifi, LTE, max brightness and sound, and a Youtube video on continuous loop, the Lumia 900 got 4 hours, 32 minutes. That’s not bad for an LTE device.
Wrap-upThe Lumia 900 is the best Windows Phone handset yet, but it is severely hobbled by the fact that is, after all, a Windows Phone handset. The Lumia 900 is a great phone, but Microsoft needs to keep its end of the deal. It’s not just the app ecosystem that sucks about Windows Phone 7. The platform just hasn’t kept up with its competition. When Windows Phone 7 was released, some of the design elements were so thoughtful that they let you overlook some of the more glaring flaws.
The interface was new and it let you use your phone much faster, some of the time. but since its release, both Google and Apple have gone through several platform revisions. Both are gorgeous and robust, and, well, Windows Phone 7 hasn’t changed all that much. The interface that jumped ahead of the competition on its release has now fallen behind.
Until Microsoft does something to fix Windows Phone 7, the Lumia 900 will never be a good buy. True, you won’t find most of the apps you want. But that’s not the problem. It’s not even that the apps that exist are low quality. The real problem with Windows Phone 7 is that it has been neglected.
Buying a Lumia 900 is a bet. Maybe Microsoft updates it to be able to compete with Android and iOS. But the platform is already behind and Microsoft hasn’t shown itself to be able to update quickly.
It’s a sad reality, but Nokia’s rebirth might just be stillborn.