The polycarbonate body feels great in the hand, and there isn’t a bump or a curve out of place. The Windows Phone interface is just as aesthetically pleasing – it looks gorgeous inside and out
Windows Phone is simple to use and looks fantastic. The live tiles are easy to get your head around and there is little clutter to confuse new users. Key features are easy to find and access and you can pin your most used apps to the home screen quickly
A mixed bag of features: the screen pops but the eight-megapixel camera is a tad disappointing. No 1080p true HD video recording or microSD slot but there's 25GB cloud storage if you need it. Fantastic social media and email integration
The Lumia 900 has a single-core processor but its 1.4GHz chip does well under pressure. Apps and games run smoothly, but there was the odd stutter when it came to browsing the web
An improvement on the Lumia 800, the 900 will last a good day or so of light calls, social networking and emailing
The Nokia Lumia 900 is the mobile maestro's new flagship handset, following the much-adored Lumia 800 and budget offerings the Lumia 610 and Lumia 710. The Windows Phone operating system has breathed new life into the Finnish manufacturer and this most recent device comes with a hefty amount of expectation on its elegantly-designed shoulders. The question is whether it’s a step forward for the Lumia range or just another pretty face.
The Lumia 900 has style in spades and is very close in looks to its older sibling, the Lumia 800. It has a 4.3-inch display, a jump up from the Lumia 800’s 3.7-inches. It doesn’t quite have the same wow factor as the Samsung Galaxy S III or the HTC One X with their respective 4.8-inch and 4.7-inch screens, but conversely it isn’t as bulky. Screen size is all a question of taste.There’s something about the square-but-rounded edges of the Lumia 900’s polycarbonate unibody and its smooth matt surface that makes this device feel great in the hand. It’s even more ergonomic than you sometimes realise. Initially it was a bit hard to tell which was the power button, until it dawns on you that the handy button slap bang in the middle of the right hand side happens to be where your finger naturally rests when holding it. Nice. This is an incredibly sleek handset, the only bump being the raised buttons down the right hand side: silver volume rocker, power button and a dedicated camera button. The Micro SIM slot is located on top of the phone, along with the 3.5mm jack and Micro USB for synching and charging, and it can be teased out with a special door key. At the bottom is the signature trio of on-screen button commands (Back, Windows Home and Search). No microSD slot sadly, but you will have access to 25GB of online storage at Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
The Lumia 900 runs on Windows Phone 7.5 which is one of the simplest yet satisfying operating systems out there. It’s clean, simple and easy to get your head around. The tiles are full of activity and any new user will find the phone engaging.
You add the tiles you use most to the homepage and you’ll see faces and pictures change, your calendar updates pop out at you – it’s so lively and fun it’s hard not to love it. Everything has been built around simplicity and yet a sense of convergence – link your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google accounts in five minutes and once you’ve transferred your contacts over (via Bluetooth, easily done) you’ll see the People hub bustling with activity. You’ll be able to reach your friends over any of the networks linked to their contact card quickly and see what they’ve posted recently.
It’s just a few clicks to make a call, and the sound quality is very clear. Just one onscreen keyboard option but the capacitive touch-screen is very responsive. The processor is single-core, but those 1.4GHz make sure it punches above its weight:Apps and games ran smoothly and we can report no major crashes.
However, the Nokia Lumia 900 will not be upgradeable to Windows 8 when it is released later this year, which makes it feel like there’s a full stop next to the Lumia range already. For a high-end, flagship phone to drop this kind of bombshell so soon into its lifecycle, it’s a huge disappointment. So you have to ask whether people will want to sign up to a two year contract for a phone that in a matter of months may feel lacking.
Media and more
The Lumia 900 is bigger, but is it better? One clear advantage it has over its predecessor is its screen. The 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack glass touch-screen is clearly larger, coming right to the edge of the chassis and with a sharpness that rivals any high-end phone on the market today. The display may be larger but the two models share the same resolution (480x800) so the picture density of the Lumia 900 is 217 ppi, compared to the 800’s 252 ppi. However, let it not be said that the Lumia 900’s screen isn’t vibrant – it is. Photos are a joy to browse on this handset. Speaking of photos, the camera is a doddle to operate. The shutter speed is nippy and you can nudge the camera into action just by pressing the camera button on the right hand side – very handy if you have to capture something, fast. The Lumia 800’s camera was a little lacking, and it has to be said that the 900 is still missing that extra oomph. There are some true camera powerhouses on the market right now so the slightly fuzzy shots we took, particularly in low light, didn’t help change our minds. The Lumia 900 has an eight-megapixel camera and an f/2.2 aperture lens but it only seemed to co-operate in good lighting conditions and the detail wasn’t as strong as on the iPhone 4S or the HTC One X. There’s no 1080p video recording either.However, this is the first phone in the Lumia range to have a front-facing camera for Skype calls and the odd self-shot profile picture. The pre-installed Tango Video Calls app allows free calls between Windows Phone, Android and iOS phones as well as tablets and PCs. While the screen looked great, browsing the web was a tad sluggish. Searching for a page took longer for the Lumia’s processor than on an iPhone and the screen isn’t great for text. You will find yourself zooming in more often than not, and text takes a few more patience-draining seconds to go from fuzzy blocks of colour to legible prose. Like the iPhone, it doesn’t support Flash, so not all the media you browse for will be accessible. That said, Microsoft features such as Office, Zune and Xbox LIVE are all well supported with really nicely designed interfaces and if you use these regularly then this phone is worth your attention. Happily, it does seem that battery life has improved on the Lumia 800, with the phone lasting a good 24 hours plus with light calls, social networking and email use before needing a charge.
The Nokia Lumia 900 is a gorgeous phone with a fresh, unique operating system and a sharp, media-friendly screen. However, with a £450-500 price tag compared to the £300 Lumia 800, it’s hard to justify the leap in costs when there hasn’t been a huge amount of change. On top of that, there’s no Windows 8 upgrade coming, so this doesn’t feel like a futureproof investment.
If this phone had been released six months ago it might have made a bigger splash, but it’s not bringing as much to the table as we would’ve hoped. If you are looking for the top of the line Windows Phone then this is it, but at a price. You might want to wait it out until Windows Phone 8, consider what that price might get you elsewhere, or go for the just-as-pretty Lumia 800.
The Nokia Lumia 900 is available for free from £31 a month on a 24 month contract from Carphone Warehouse, who kindly provided our review sample.