Software and Speeds
The Lumia 900 runs Microsoft's latest version of the Windows Phone operating system, known as Mango. For those unfamiliar with Windows Phone, it provides a very clean interface with a homescreen full of tiles, which can display information about what's happening inside the application. For instance, the temperature displays on the Weather Channel app. You can swipe left from there and get a whole long list of the applications on the phone. It's easy to pick up.
Through and through, the operating system is clean and nipped and tucked -- the keyboard is one of the best on any smartphone (I prefer it to that on Android phones), the Settings Menu is easy to find and make adjustments in, and core apps like the Internet Explorer browser are fluid to navigate.
But the application selection, in comparison to Android and the iPhone, is lacking. There are 70,000 apps available in Microsoft's MarketPlace Store, including the most popular apps like Twitter and Facebook. But new popular apps like DrawSomething or Words With Friends aren't yet available for the platform. It's the lack of those hot apps that hold the operating system back from being as well-rounded as the competition.
The phone's single-core 1.4GHz processor kept everything running very smoothly. While many smartphones these days have dual-core processors, I didn't encounter any slowdowns. Graphics-rich Xbox Live games, like Cro-Mag Rally, played smoothly.
However, the real speed is in the AT&T LTE. The new network, which is currently available in 31 cities across the U.S., is extremely fast. Websites like ABCNews.com (not the mobile version) loaded in just four seconds while I was riding in a cab on the way to work, and apps like Facebook downloaded in just four seconds. In New York, these speeds felt even faster than Verizon's LTE speeds, though that is likely because AT&T's network is in its infancy, and not as many people are on it just yet.
As a phone, the Lumia is also quite good. Voice calls sounded clear through the earpiece, though on speakerphone they sounded more muffled and muted. The good news is that neither the LTE or talking on the phone hit the battery life too hard. After making a one-hour call and using the phone fairly heavily throughout the day with LTE enabled, I still had a 20 percent charge left before going to sleep. That's not something I can claim of my Galaxy Nexus.
For $99.99, the Lumia 900 is a superb value. But even if the phone wasn't just under $100, it would be considered a great smartphone. It has a striking design, beautiful display, solid camera, fast data speeds, and a very clean and easy-to-use operating system.
However, Windows Phone and its application ecosystem still lag behind Apple's iPhone and the many Android phones. If having the most popular apps right here and now are on the top of your list, you're still best off going with the iPhone or an Android device.
But one thing is clear: Nokia is now the maker of one of the best and most attractive phones on the market, and my guess is that will put an end to questions like "Nokia still makes phones?"