Adam Turner June 28, 2012
Nokia Lumia 900.
Nokia's Lumia 900 is perhaps the slickest Windows Phone 7 handset on Australian shelves, but it pays to consider the big picture.
If you went out to buy a Windows Phone 7 handset in Australia today, I'd tell you to choose between Nokia's Lumia 900 and HTC's LTE-enabled Titan 4G. But I'd also warn you that Windows 8 is around the corner and that these phones won't be able to come along for the ride.
Microsoft's strict hardware restrictions are forcing Windows Phone 7 handset makers to stick with hardware which won't support Windows Phone 8, even though Windows Phone 8 will be released in a few months. There's no smooth upgrade path for anyone who buys a Windows Phone 7 handset today, the best you'll get is an upgrade to Windows Phone 7.8. It should inherit Windows Phone 8's new look, but that could be it judging from the signs from Microsoft. It's possible Nokia could sweeten the deal with a few extra features. I think you're entitled to feel hard-done-by considering the Lumia 900 will only be a few months old when Windows Phone 8 lands.
The limited upgrade options for the Nokia Lumia 900 take the shine off what should be a killer phone, building on the impressive Nokia Lumia 800. I'll try not to cover too much old ground regarding Windows Phone 7 and Nokia, but instead focus on what's new with the Lumia 900.
The Lumia 900 retails for $699 and you'll pick it up from Optus from $0 upfront on a $60 plan (it was launched with Optus but isn't an exclusive). The biggest change from the Lumia 800 is the jump to a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, which should somewhat satisfy those jealous of Android's ample screen real estate. Unfortunately the phone is still stuck with Microsoft's mandated 480x800 screen resolution. The phone doesn't look blurry, partially thanks to the exquisite AMOLED ClearBlack display, but when you fire up the browser you start to notice that the resolution is lacking in places. It's not a deal-breaker and is only really obvious when you set the Lumia 900 alongside a supersharp iOS or Android rival.
Despite a considerably larger screen than the Lumia 800, the new Lumia 900 is only 12gm heavier. Even more remarkable, it's actually 0.6mm thinner. It's still not as slender as Android rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, but to be honest the S III is so slim that it verges on flimsy. The Lumia 900's extra bulk and curved edges help it sit comfortably in your hand, with the polycarbonate unibody design feeling solid but certainly not cumbersome. You'll also find a VGA front camera has been added, to complement the rear 8-megapixel camera. You've still got 16GB of onboard storage with no micro-SD slot for expansion.
Microsoft's restrictions mean that the Lumia 900 is still dependent on a 1.4GHz single-core Qualcomm processor with 512 MB of RAM, but the upgrade to the new MDM9200 chip delivers an almost 10 percent performance boost over the Lumia 800 according to the Rightware Browsermark. Again it lacks the grunt of the Android and iOS superphones, but it's enough to keep Windows Phone 7 feeling snappy.
The Lumia 900 isn't blessed with LTE like the HTC Velocity 4G, but it does offer a speed performance boost with the upgrade to 21 Mbps HSDPA as well as Dual-Cell HSDPA. Unlike the Lumia 800, the new Lumia 900 is a quad-band HSDPA device which supports 850MHz and 900MHz. That means Telstra customers in the city could still pull down up to a respectable 20 Mbps in real world conditions.
The Lumia 900 should ship with Windows Phone 7.5 "Tango" (7.10.8773) out of the box and offers the Wi-Fi hotspot feature which is sadly missing on the Lumia 800 at launch (but should come in July, thank to Sheeds at WP Down Under for the heads up).
There's a lot to like about the Nokia Lumia 900, especially if you're a Windows Phone 7 fan suffering from screen real estate envy. But it's hard to put aside the fact this is a stop-gap handset waiting for Windows Phone 8 to arrive. The more fond you are of Windows Phone, the more likely this is to frustrate you. Keep this in mind when weighing up your options.