While Nokia talks about its Lumia phones as if they are the only “real” Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 900 doesn’t offer much beyond rivals from HTC and Samsung other than a nice screen and lovely design. The software at its core remains almost entirely vanilla.
What small additions there are appeal foremost to a US audience too. There’s an ESPN app, providing video streaming of sports events, and an app spotlight app, there to highlight the latest and greatest wares of the Windows Marketplace app store. It currently offers just a fraction of the content of the Android Market or Apple App Store, but Nokia was keen to stress it’s doing its best to make sure more big-name apps and games come to the platform soon – including a handful of EA’s top mobile games. But enough about apps.
Looking at the back of the Lumia 900, the sense of design déjà vu returns. The silvery camera housing looks just like that of the Lumia 800, and its core specs are the same too. It features a wide-angle 28mm 8-megapixel sensor and an LED flash, and there’s also a user-facing lens hidden in the bezel above the screen. It’s a 1.3-megapixel snapper intended for video chat.
When screen size is largely a question of preference when it comes to mobiles, it difficult to call the Lumia 900 a real hardware upgrade over the Lumia 800, especially when we loved the original’s mid-size form. Not everyone wants a phone to dominate a pocket like a chubby, territorial lion and LTE connectivity doesn’t mean a great deal to us here in the UK – great as it is. However, we’d love to see a 4.3in version of the Lumia 800 arrive here, if only to make buyers who think they’re getting better value when more inches are on offer think twice before opting for an HTC Sensation XE or Samsung Galaxy S II.
Windows Phone multitasking is pretty pretty
However, it does make us want Microsoft to hurry up and loosen its Windows Phone hardware restrictions. If a 800 x 480 pixel screen can look this good, imagine how impressive a 720p one might be. The Lumia 900 is currently exclusive to US carrier AT&T and will be available in black and cyan finishes when released later this year.
When super-fast 4G connectivity is one of the Lumia 900’s core features, and something that won’t be widely available in the UK for yonks, we see this new Windows Phone 7 device as a minor iteration on the Lumia 800. But that’s no bad thing when it has an equally well-built, jaw-droppingly gorgeous bod. While we like that Nokia hasn’t blasted out a dozen half-hearted Windows Phone handsets to date, a 4.3in option couldn’t do the Lumia series’s sales any harm.