The best Windows Phone so far, Nokia’s Lumia 900 ($99 with a two-year ATT contract) is a big, attractively designed slab of fun. We recommend it especially to first-time smartphone owners and Facebook addicts, although the lack of some key apps, including a few popular casual games, still keep Android and iOS phones in the lead for most buyers.
Design, Call Quality and Internet
The Lumia 900 comes in black, white, or cyan. Don’t get black. The other two colors highlight the phone’s elegant Northern European design, while the black one just looks like another black slab. The rolled edges, flat bottom, and matte back really help the Lumia 900 stand apart from similar smartphones, and you see these features much more with the white or blue models.
At 5.0 by 2.7 by .45 inches (HWD) and 5.6 ounces, this is a big phone, on par with other large phones like the Editor’s Choice Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket for ATT ($199, 4.5 stars). I found it usable single-handed, though. The 4.3-inch screen offers a 800-by-480 resolution, and Nokia’s ClearBlack Display technology has very deep blacks and saturated colors, looking almost more like a bright OLED than an LCD. There’s just one occasional odd note: Skin oils on the front glass can give some white areas a rainbow effect.
With excellent reception on ATT’s network, I was able to connect calls with the Lumia 900 in places the Skyrocket couldn’t. Voice quality wasn’t quite as good as with the Skyrocket, though. The Lumia’s speaker is tuned louder, which makes it easier to understand quiet talkers, but introduces distortion with loud inputs. Sound through the microphone was generally clear on the other end of calls, with a little bit of background noise coming through. The speakerphone is loud enough for outdoor use.
Windows Phone 7′s voice command system is excellent. You can trigger it from a Bluetooth headset—our Jawbone Icon ($99, 4 stars) worked perfectly—and use it not only to dial the phone, but to do Web or local area searches.
The phone connects via HSPA+ 21 and LTE networks and it has the right bands for ATT’s and foreign systems, but not T-Mobile’s HSPA. Data speeds were spectacular on ATT’s LTE network in New York City, with downloads ranging from 13-20Mbps and uploads in the 5-7Mbps range. I got consistently faster speed test speeds on the Lumia 900 than on the Skyrocket. Also, you can use the phone as a wireless hotspot with the appropriate plan.
The Lumia 900 also connects via Wi-Fi 802.11n, and had no problem connecting to WPA2-protected networks during testing. Talk time was very good at 7 hours, 17 minutes, and my Lumia lasted more than a day on standby.
OS and Apps
The Lumia 900 runs on a 1.4GHz Qualcomm APQ8055 (single-core, not dual-core) processor. The OS is well-tuned for the CPU, though: I didn’t find any problems with responsiveness, and the Lumia 900 split our browser benchmarks with faster Android phones.
Windows Phone is bold, easy to use, well-executed, fun, and social. It doesn’t look like the competition, and it puts Facebook and Twitter at its core. As I say in our full Windows Phone 7.5 Mango review, “It’s full of people-centric features that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family, to communicate, and to share ideas. It’s easier to use than Android, and in many ways slicker than Apple’s iOS.”
Windows Phone owners tend to love the platform. The OS won our Reader’s Choice award, and readers rated it as better for texting, email, Web browsing, and gaming than Android. In our experience, it’s smoother and more stable than many Android devices.
The platform now has 65,000 apps, including a great collection of exclusive games. But if you’re specifically looking for key social games that new smartphone owners may want to play with their friends, you’ll run into trouble. Windows Phone lacks all the Zynga “With Friends” games, as well as Draw Something, Pandora, Angry Birds Rio, Temple Run, and Cut the Rope.
You won’t be bored. You can play Doodle Jump, Super Monkey Ball, Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and thousands of other games. High-end titles include Assassin’s Creed and Sims 3. But if your friends are all playing Draw Something, well, you’re out. The problem isn’t that there aren’t aren’t great apps. It’s that there aren’t the specific apps your non-Windows-Phone-owning friends are using.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402359,00.asp