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18 Dec 12 Nexus 4 delays blamed on LG’s ‘scarce and erratic’ supply by Google chief

Google UK’s managing director has made a fulsome apology to would-be buyers of the new Nexus 4 smartphone, blaming “scarce and erratic” supplies from manufacturer LG, but admitting that “our communication has been flawed” with both sides.

Dan Cobley, the managing director for the UK, put the apology on his Google+ page following widespread criticism in user forums of erratic and perverse delivery schedules, in which people who ordered the phones online from Google earlier saw shipping dates long after those who made subsequent orders.

The Nexus 4, made by LG to Google’s specifications, runs a “pure Google” version of Android without any handset maker’s alterations. The comparatively low UK price of £239 for the 8GB model of the high-specification handset – which offers a 4.7in, 320ppi screen, 8 megapixel camera, HSPA+ connectivity and NFC – attracted a significant number of buyers seeking to use it for a sim-only contract with a carrier.

But Google hit a series of supply chain problems because demand ran ahead of supply. Google has repeatedly declined to say how many were ordered worldwide, but has been overwhelmed with demand each time it has offered stock through its site, beginning in November.

Cobley said in a comment on one of his own posts told would-be buyers and those who had ordered that “I know what you are going through is unacceptable and we are all working through the nights and weekends to resolve the issue”. He offered an “unreserved apology for our service and communication failures in this process”, adding that he realised that “the people who ordered the Nexus 4 so early are among our most committed and loyal users”.

People who ordered the phones earlier in the month complained that after being told it would be shipped in “3-5 days”, that they then received no further notification from the company, and saw other people who had ordered later receiving shipping notifications. The problems have caused il feeling with a number of buyers.

“I don’t mind (well, I’m a bit miffed) that my phone is late,” wrote one would-be owner, Ben Stewart, on Cobley’s page. “I do mind that first in, first out isn’t being obeyed.” That, together with the lack of communication, “are what’s really annoying”, he said.

The hassles over delivery and shipping have left a number of purchasers dissatisfied over Google’s handling of the provision of phones. The Nexus 4, made by LG, is the fourth “pure Google” Android phone, following the Nexus One made bt HTC, and the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus made by Samsung.

Google has also struggled with customers complaining that when they have wanted to return Samsung-made Nexus 10 tablets because of problems, but have run into problems getting shipping labels.

Although the Nexus line of phones has been high-profile online, actual sales figures have been comparatively low, with figures released by Samsung during its patent trial with Apple in California over the summer showing that the Nexus S sold around 500,000 units in the year from the second quarter of 2011, when it went on sale there, compared to Samsung’s total phones sales of around 14.5m in the US for the same period.

The Nexus 4 has attracted widespread attention because of the low price at which Google is offering it – equivalent to that for a lower-spec smartphone, rather than the Nokia Lumia, Samsung Galaxy S 3 or iPhone 5 with which it might be compared.

One irked commenter at product-reviews remarked: “Google needs to just buy a company that knows how to manage this process of selling physical items on line and shipping them. What they have now is a joke, If you call their device support, the people are clueless. Their ability to provide tech support for my Nexus 7 [tablet], or order status for my Nexus 4 is nil.”

Google owns the loss-making mobile phone manufacturer Motorola Mobility (MMI). But MMI is in the midst of a retreat from a number of manufacturing and sales positions outside the US, selling off factories in China, India and Brazil and closing offices in South Korea and Taiwan. It is also not set up to deal directly with customer sales, because it is structured as a phone manufacturer which deals with carriers, rather than selling direct.

The text of Cobley’s apology reads:

Dear all

I know that what you are going through is unacceptable and we are all working through the nights and weekends to resolve this issue. Supplies from the manufacturer are scarce and erratic, and our communication has been flawed. I can offer an unreserved apology for our service and communication failures in this process.

For those that originally received a 3-5 days shipping estimate, your orders are now in process for fulfillment. You can expect an email notification early this week which will include tracking information. Although you will be initially charged in full, you will receive a credit for the shipping charge soon after.

For others that received pre-Christmas shipping estimates, we anticipate processing your orders for fulfillment this week.

I realise that the people who ordered the Nexus 4 so early are among our most committed and loyal users and we are doing all we can to put things right.

Sorry again.


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16 Dec 12 Official Nexus 7 dock unboxed, but no word of a release | CNET UK

The Google Nexus 7 went on sale what seems like ages ago now. (Actually it was just back in the summer, but a lot has happened since then.) And the official dock is still yet to be released. Which is pretty puzzling, considering we brought you news of it leaking way back in August.

Well here it is on video for the first time, being unboxed and twirled for your viewing pleasure, Pocketnow reports. Hopefully we’ll see it hit the shelves sometime before 2015.

Embedding the video has been disabled by request, but you can check it out here.  

First up, we get a look at the back of the box, showing it is indeed the real deal, made by Asus. (There’s some suitably dramatic music to go with this as well.) Then it’s on to the manual, and then, just over a minute into the video, there’s the dock. Hurrah!

There’s Nexus branding in the corner, and a micro USB port and headphone jack on the back, along with the Asus logo. And generally it looks pretty much as we expected from the previous leak.

It also uses the Nexus 7′s pogo-pin support, meaning there’s no need to connect any cables or even really dock the tablet properly. Just drop it in place and you’re good to go. A bit like the Nokia Lumia 920‘s wireless charging.

So why is it taking so long to reach these shores? Good question. So far it’s only been spotted on the Japanese Asus site, for the equivalent of about $42 (£26). Previously, word reached us it’d cost around $50. There’s no word on a UK release, but I can’t see why Asus wouldn’t bring it out over here. 

How do you think the Nexus 7 stacks up against the iPad in terms of accessories? Would you buy the official dock? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

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01 Jun 12 Taking the (Med)Field: UK’s First Intel/Android Phone

It’s all kicking off at the low end of the smartphone market. Next week sees the release in the UK not only of the Nokia Lumia 610 (my review here), but the Orange San Diego – continuing Orange’s tradition of giving their own-branded phones – usually solid lowish-end models such as the  ZTEBlade – the telephonic equivalent of names usually claimed by professional gamblers or exotic dancers.

Intel inside – the Orange San Diego

The San Diego was codenamed “Santa Clara”, from which one can discern the most interesting thing about it – this is the first phone most western users will see running on an Intel chip. In global terms, it follows on the heels of the India’s Lava Xolo 900 and the Lenovo LePhone 800 in China. The San Diego and the Xolo 900 are based on the Intel reference model, so look similar and have similar internals: a 1.6 GHz Atom “Medfield” Z2460 processor (single core), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of non-expandable internal storage and a 4.03 inch screen with 1024×600 resolution. The camera offers 8MP, as is by now traditional, and shoots 1080p video, which can be exported to larger screens through a mini HDMI port. There is also a 1.3MP front-facing camera; one can confidently assume that Skype compatibility, unlike the Lumia 610, is unlikely to be an issue. The phone also supports not just NFC short-range data exchange but also HSPA+ high speed data access, which we will eventually probably give up on telling marketeers not to call 4G.

Cheap as chips?

The attention-grabbing part is the price: Orange will be offering the San Diego for just under £200 (roughly $300, although phone pricing doesn’t really exchange like that) as a pay-as-you-go phone, throwing in 250MB of data per month for the first year, and free on monhtly plans starting from £15.50. This sounds like terrible news for Nokia, in particular, which is launching a thicker, less aesthetically iPhone-litelike, smaller-screened low-end smartphone  at about the same time. What will prevent the San Diego from crushing all it surveys?

Core questions

Most visibly, it will ship with Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread) – an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is promised, but not until October – and, honestly, any timescale a mobile operator provides for an Android upgrade should be treated with a soupcon of the salty stuff. So, users should resign themselves to a good spell of late 2010′s hottest operating system.

[I'm just going to pretend that I didn't hear you use "range" as a verb meaning "include in our range", Jules from Orange. Cool? Cool.]
Orange promise to arrange the San Diego. In neat rows. On its shelves.

Further, the Atom processor in phones is something of an unknown quantity. According to Orange, 70% of apps in the Google Play store will play nicely with Android on x86 architecture – which means that 30%, representing over 150,000 apps, will not. As Intel low-power chips appear in more devices, more app producers will optimize for them, and the big players (who make the most desirable apps) are likely to catch up quickly. However, a phone not being able to run the app you need is a real issue, and may give some buyers pause. Also, the chip’s real-world performance remains a largely unknown quantity. Intel have traditionally wrestled with the power consumption of their architecture in tablets and other small devices: the promised fortnight of standby time for the San Diego sounds impressive, but for most users whether it gets through a day without a charge will be of more concern. Finally, the hardware in the San Diego is a level of modernity ahead of the Lumia 610 – not just the novel system-on-a-chip, but the higher-end camera, higher-resolution screen and larger RAM and storage. It should keep its value higher for longer – good for eBay sellers, not so good for market penetration over time.

It also, not to put too fine a point on it, needs to overcome the reputation of carrier-branded phones as low-end, cheap alternatives. Despite promising specs, description of the hardware is lightweight and “plasticky” may be cause for concern – although at the price a little corner-cutting is inevitable, and better a thin plastic back than a mayfly battery.

The Orange San Diego launches on the 6 June in the UK, with a two-day promotional event in London’s South Bank. Technology watchers will no doubt be following Intel’s first foray inside the mobile phone market of the Western market with interest.



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30 Apr 12 Windows Phone Is ‘Beautiful’, Better Than Android: Steve Wozniak

Steve WozniakSteve WozniakSteve Wozniak prefers his Windows Phone to Android, but the iPhone is still his favourite. The Apple co-founder believes that Microsoft has hired a former Apple employee to work on the Windows Phone user interface. Either that, or Steve Jobs has been reincarnated at Microsoft.

On 13 April, Wozniak tweeted that he was waiting to get his hands on a Nokia Lumia 900, which runs the Windows 7 operating system. Since then, he’s been testing out the smartphone to see how it compares to Android and iPhone.

“Just for looks and beauty I definitely favour the Windows Phone over Android,” Wozniak said in a podcast interview with a “Compared to Android, there’s no contest.”

Nokia Lumia 900, which runs the Windows 7 operating systemNokia Lumia 900 with a Windows 7 operating system“I’m just shocked, I haven’t seen anything yet that isn’t more beautiful than the other platforms,” Wozniak told, leading him to decide that he will be “carrying the Windows Phone everywhere.”

“In my opinion it sets the mark for user interface,” said Wozniak. “I would recommend it over my Android phones.” concluded that the Apple co-founder’s favourite phone was the Windows Phone, but in a note left after the podcast, Wozniak wrote: “Wrong. iPhone is my favorite phone.”

“I surmise that Microsoft hired someone from Apple and put money into having a role in the user interface and appearance of some key apps. I also surmised that Steve Jobs might have been reincarnated at Microsoft due to a lot of what I see and feel with this phone making me think of a lot of great Apple things.”

In January, Wozniak confessed to finding Android-based handsets hard work, but they have plenty of advantages over the iPhone.

Wozniak has also been reflecting on Apple’s sacrifices in its early days this month, as well as expressing his fears about the struggle start-up businesses are facing due to patent wars.

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28 Apr 12 Ex-Apple’s Woz says ‘iPhone best, but Windows bests Android’

Apple’s [AAPL] co-founder, Steve Wozniak (‘Woz’) is in the news again, this time saying his Windows-powered Nokia Lumia beats Android when it comes to its beautiful and intuitive user interface, though he still thinks iPhone is best.

[ABOVE: Steve Wozniak holds an iPhone, image c/o]

Lovin’ the Lumia

Woz has been testing a new Nokia Lumia Windows-powered smartphone, and he’s full of praise for the OS and its user interface. Microsoft has made it easy to use and “beautiful“, he said in conversation with (Via: TheNextWeb), adding: “Compared to Android, there’s no contest.

If you happen to be a Microsoft fan, it gets better: “Just for looks and beauty I definitely favor the Windows Phone over Android,” he says. “I’m just shocked, I haven’t seen anything yet that isn’t more beautiful than the other platforms,” he states.

What does this mean? While the significance depends on how much credibility you attach to Wozniak, to me it suggests the Apple versus Android battle’s about to get more interesting as Microsoft prepares to ship its next smartphone OS, Windows 8.

‘I would recommend it over my Android phones’

In a note left after the chat, Wozniak adds: “I did give my opinion that the Windows Phone had superior visual appearance and operation cues that were also more attractive. In my opinion, it sets the mark for user interface. I would recommend it over my Android phones given that it doesn’t yet have the breadth of apps.

This is interesting in many ways. Who recalls Woz’s 2010 statements at the World Forum Convention Center, when he predicted Android would be dominant against the iPhone in terms of marketshare, but Apple’s device would retain the “quality edge“.

Apple still seems to retain that edge, but with Microsoft and Nokia fighting to grab a hold in the smartphone market, Android device sales are bound to feel the pressure as Windows-powered devices with quality and clout begin to offer a viable alternative to Microsoft’s fans.

Further, you can expect a shake-down among Android device makers:

– Many may feel the big battle’s are done, with Samsung taking the market lead.

– Others may already question Google’s commitment to its licensees now it’s about to acquire Motorola Mobility. The theory must be that no one invests $12 billion in a company if they don’t intend putting serious weight behind its business — is there any purpose in a Google licensee competing against Google?

In search of special

Apple remains its own island nation. What critics see as a “walled garden”, others might see as a strategic advantage.

After all, when the dominant competitive ecosystem consists of a fragmented army of products which all pretend to be more or less the same, then just how do you set these products apart? That’s easy in the Apple-verse: you just make different products with a consistent set of features and the best user interface.

Now it looks like Microsoft may be preparing to offer up a similar challenge to tempt the market, and here’s what Woz had to say on this:

I surmise that Microsoft hired someone from Apple and put money into having a role in the UI and appearance of some key apps. I also surmised that Steve Jobs might have been reincarnated at MS due to a lot of what I see and feel with this phone making me think of a lot of great Apple things.

  • Could the entry of Microsoft into the market, alongside the introduction of iPhone 5 in or around October together represent the beginning of the end to Android’s phenomenal growth?
  • Does Google have the creative intelligence to defend its fiefdoms with unique innovations to set its products apart?
  • Will Apple’s iOS 6 raise Apple’s user interface game, or spell doom for Cupertino’s great mobile adventure? Tell me what you think in comments below.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I’d like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.

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23 Apr 12 Skype For Windows Phone: Hands-On First Look

Skype has become an essential business tool for many, especially those looking to tame travel-related telecom costs. The popular VoIP services work around the globe and support many desktop and mobile platforms with dedicated applications. On April 22, Microsoft made version 1.0 of Skype available to its Windows Phone smartphone platform, following a beta period of about two months.

I downloaded and installed Skype version on my Nokia Lumia 800 and gave it a whirl. Skype for Windows Phone should be one of the crown jewels in Microsoft’s mobile platform (after all, Microsoft owns Skype). Instead, it feels incomplete and lacks polish.

The user interface for Skype borrows heavily from Microsoft’s Metro UI concept, with multiple pages in the app that are accessed by swiping sideways to the left or right. The UI uses Skype’s well-known white-and-blue color scheme, and all the requisite Skype sounds are present.

Once you’ve logged in, the first screen visible is the contact page. Rather than highlight or show you which contacts are online, the app simply shows you the entire contact list that’s stored on the device. I thought perhaps swiping sideways would parse that down to my Skype contacts, but that’s not the case. Instead, that only shows you a list of recent calls. From the main screen, you can also choose to search through your contacts or open the dialpad. For an app that’s supposed to help make phone calls, the button to open the actual phone is a bit too small.

In order to see your Skype contacts, you have to press a ridiculously small button that says “All”. Only then can you choose to see the list of people who are available for free voice calls and IM. Your Skype contacts appear in the Windows Phone app just as they do on a desktop client or the Android/iOS apps.

You know what’s also too small? The button used to access and manage your profile. It’s a teeny little thing tucked into the top-left corner of the app. The settings tools are anemic at best, and only let you toggle on/off automatic sign-in.

Skype for Windows Phone lets you voice/video call and IM other Skype users for free over both 3G and Wi-Fi. In my tests, it worked perfectly over both network types. Call quality was outstanding, I was very impressed. Calls were connected quickly, and I had no trouble reaching other Skype lines and landlines. The same goes for IM. IM conversations were fast and furious. Video calls showed mixed quality, but they were good enough.

The app covers these basics just fine, but falls flat in other ways.

For instance, Google has done some great things with Google Voice–especially for the Android platform. The latest version of Google Voice for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich integrates flawlessly with the native dialer and voicemail system or the operating system, for example, merging the two services into one.

This is what Microsoft needs to do with Skype, but hasn’t. Instead, the app is siloed from the operating system completely, and is a stand-alone application.

Worse, Skype for Windows Phone leaves out one critical feature–it won’t run in the background. This means if you close the app, it not only shuts down, but also signs you out of the service, leaving you unreachable to other Skype users looking to connect. I tried using Windows Phone’s fast-app-switching powers to get around the problem, with no luck. Every time I returned to Skype, I had to sign into the service anew.

Last, Skype won’t run on Windows Phone “Tango” devices. Tango is the low-end version of Windows Phone that functions on half the RAM that other versions of Windows Phone use. Apparently Skype can’t function with such little system memory available. This means those who can only afford low-end smartphones won’t be able to realize the cost savings possible with Skype.

Based on these factors, I’d call this basic Skype application a place-holder at best while Microsoft–hopefully–works on much deeper integration between Skype and Windows Phone.

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09 Apr 12 Nokia Lumia 900: Wisdom Of Easter Launch Questioned

7 Hottest Features In Windows Phone 7 Mango
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Nokia and its partners Microsoft and ATT spent millions of dollars to launch the Lumia 900. The companies went so far as to hire rap artist Nicki Minaj to perform at a promotional event Friday in New York’s Times Square.

But reports indicate much of the effort, and money, was wasted by the fact that the phone itself did not go on sale until Easter Sunday–when most stores were closed.

The New York Times reported that “nearly all 39 ATT stores within proximity of Times Square in Manhattan were either closed for Easter Sunday or did not answer phone calls. The few that were open did not have the handset in stock.”

Worse, the newspaper said that ATT stores that were closed played an automated message that promoted the Apple iPhone and made no mention of the Lumia, which is Nokia’s highest-end phone running on the Windows Phone 7.5 platform.

[ Thinking about buying one of these new phones? Read Lumia 900: 5 Critical Questions Before You Buy. ]

The decision to launch the Lumia 900 on one of the world’s biggest religious holidays had many marketing experts wondering just what Microsoft, Nokia, and ATT were thinking. Some speculated that the move provided the companies with some cover, in case first-day sales of the widely-hyped 4G LTE device flopped. Nokia hasn’t commented on sales. Some online retailers, however, reported strong advance orders and sales. listed the Lumia 900 at the top of its “best sellers” list for cell phones with service plans on Monday morning.

Nokia and its partners did not stop at hiring shock artists like Minaj to promote the Lumia 900. The companies are giving away free song downloads and other goodies at a promotional site,, and at live events Monday at various locations in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The free time machine concept plays off Microsoft’s pitch that Windows Phone allows users to get essential information faster than rival platforms like iOS and Google Android.

Nokia struck an alliance with Microsoft last year, under which it is porting virtually its entire smartphone line to Windows Phone. The move is risky, however, as Windows Phone badly trails Android and the iPhone in smartphone market share. Windows phones held just 3.9% of the U.S. mobile market as of February, according to ComScore. By comparison, Apple’s iPhone held 30.2% of the market, while phones that run Android held a collective share of 50.1%.

Nokia is hoping that the Lumia 900 will boost those numbers. For a phone that only costs $100 with a contract, the Lumia 900 has some impressive specs. The camera boasts 8 megapixels, large aperture (F2.2), wide-angle focal length (28 mm), and optics from German lens specialist Carl Zeiss. The Lumia 900 also has a front-facing camera for videoconferencing. The phone is powered by a 1.4-GHz Snapdragon processor, and it sports a sizeable 4.3-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display.

Nokia has said the 1830-mAh battery delivers 7 hours of talk time. Preinstalled apps include Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Xbox Live, which requires a subscription for online gaming and media.

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08 Apr 12 Tech Test Drive: Nokia Lumia 900 could make or break Windows Phone 7

If you are an average consumer in the market for a smartphone, your choices fall into roughly four categories.

Research In Motion, maker of the once-mighty BlackBerry, is verging on the moribund, with less-than-cutting-edge devices that are rapidly shedding market share. Give the Berry a pass.

As BlackBerry sinks, Android is on the rise. However, the Google-based smartphone platform is not the most consumer-friendly. Handset selection is migraine-triggering and paralysis-inducing – choice isn’t a good thing if there is too much of it. The Android operating system is a smidgen on the geeky side, too, with apps that are often inelegant and awkward to use.

The Apple iOS realm has elegance to spare with a small selection of iPhone handsets that are lovely to hold and use – and with apps that are often works of art when compared with homely Android counterparts. The iPhone still has all the buzz, and for good reason.

Then there’s Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft’s upstart smartphone platform differs radically from its iOS and Android rivals with an operating system based on big, colorful tiles instead of the usual app icons. Fire up a Windows Phone 7 device and all you see is a two-column stack of pretty squares corresponding to the device’s apps and functions. Scroll. Tap. Enjoy.

Smartphone software this nice needs equally awesome hardware, and it’s finally here. Nokia’s much-anticipated Lumia 900, an ATT device, goes on sale Sunday, April 8.

Other Windows

Phone 7 devices are available from all the major U.S. wireless carriers, but it’s the Lumia 900 you’ll be hearing about in the coming weeks because it is likely the one to make or break Microsoft’s fledgling smartphone technology. If the software titan can’t gain a foothold in the smartphone market with a device this sweet, it is probably a goner.

The Lumia 900 is also a gamble for Microsoft’s strategic partner Nokia, another mobile-phone titan that, like RIM, has struggled amid the Apple and Android juggernauts. Nokia needs the device to be a smash – and it just might become one.

I’ve been using the Lumia 900 for a week, and I like it.

Physically, it may be my favorite phone of all time. It has a one-piece polycarbonate body that is delightfully minimalist – even the understated iPhone verges on steampunk alongside this device – with the kind of Scandinavian flavor that fits right in here in Minnesota.

The Lumia 900′s aesthetic is different enough to cause a stir at a social gathering, yet hardly garish or ostentatious.

Lovingly fingering my black loaner handset, I feel a bit like Heywood Floyd, a character in Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” sci-fi novels, as he beheld the mysterious alien monoliths on the moon and in Jupiter’s orbit. The Lumia 900 could be the giant slabs’ smaller, less inscrutable sibling.

The Lumia is also available in cyan blue, with a glossy white version coming April 22.

The smooth, clean lines are broken only by four metal buttons along the right side for volume (up and down), power and camera shutter. There are ports for audio and power (via micro-USB cable) on top, with no cheesy rubber covers like those found on many Android handsets. There is an 8-megapixel camera with flash on the back of the handset, and a low-resolution cam on the front mainly for videoconferencing.

That rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics takes very nice pictures and shoots pretty good video – perhaps not quite on par with the iPhone 4S, but pretty dang close. I took a bunch of comparison shots during a weekend walk:

For videoconferencing, you have a couple of options. Skype, the popular Microsoft-owned service for audio and video chats, has released a beta (as in unfinished and potentially buggy) version of its app for Windows Phone 7.

There’s also Tango, a nifty videochat app with equivalent apps on Apple and Google devices; I tried to Tango from my Lumia to an iPhone and Android phone, and this worked pretty well. It isn’t as well known as Skype, however.

As a Windows Phone 7 device, the Lumia 900 has no major surprises. The tile-centric operating system is nicely familiar and the Lumia’s AMOLED 800-by-480-pixel display does a nice job of showing it off, though it’s a pity the phone doesn’t match the iPhone’s Retina screen with its pixel-dense 960-by-640 resolution.

Want apps? This is a bit of a sticking point on Windows Phone 7, compared to iOS and Android with their more-entrenched, better-stocked app stores.

Still, I was able to load my Lumia with lots of terrific apps: TuneIn Radio for online-radio streaming, Seesmic for tweets and Facebook updates, Foursquare for check-ins, Wonder Reader for RSS syncing with Google Reader, Evernote for access to my notes, Netflix to watch TV and movies, the New York Times and USA Today apps and many more.

But I ran into glaring gaps again and again. Instagram last week released an Android version of its hugely popular iOS photography app – but a Windows Phone 7 version is MIA. Angry Birds Space, the hot new game, is available on PCs and Macs as well as on iOS and Android devices…but not on Windows Phone 7.

It has a lot of functionality built in, at least. My favorite integrated feature is over-the-air podcast downloading for getting tech-related audio and video shows without having to sync with a computer. On an Apple or Android device, I have to download and configure podcatcher apps for this purpose.

As an ATT handset, the Lumia is compatible with the carrier’s Long Term Evolution high-speed wireless-data network. ATT, like competitor Verizon, is deploying LTE across the country. The technology, which I’ve used on Verizon phones, makes for incredibly fast Internet use on the go.

The catch for Twin Cities residents? While Verizon LTE is here, ATT’s equivalent is not. Buying the Lumia isn’t much of a gamble, though, assuming ATT follows through on its promise to debut LTE service here later this year.

For now, Lumia buyers have access to ATT’s slower but reasonably zippy HSPA+ network. In my testing, I managed Internet downloads of 1 to 3 megabits per second. That’s not too shabby, but it pales in comparison with the Verizon-LTE downloads of 10, 20 and even 30 megabits per second.

The Lumia 900′s biggest selling point may be its price. ATT is offering it for $100 – with a wireless contract – and there have been reports of discounts bumping the price down to $0. Ask about that before making a contract commitment.

It is worth noting the current-model iPhone starts at $200 with a wireless contract. There are $100-or-less Apple handsets out there, but these are older, slower, less-capable models.

The Lumia 900′s other selling point is the Windows Phone 7 operating system. Of all the big smartphone operating systems, Windows Phone 7 is the most newbie-friendly for those moving from old-style “feature” phones who want the fewest hassles and complications. If that is you, the Lumia 900 is definitely worth a look.

Julio Ojeda-Zapata writes about consumer technology. Read him: and Reach him: or 651-228-5467. Follow him:

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04 Apr 12 Nokia Lumia 900 (AT&T)

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.

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Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia Lumia 900 In Hand

Nokia Lumia 900 Home Screen

Nokia Lumia 900 Top

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. 

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