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Lumia 900 review roundup: mostly positive but with a few annoyances

WP Central

A number of technology blogs and news sources have published reviews for the Lumia 900, including ourselves. What's the general reaction from reviewers? Mostly positive. Critical on certain aspects of Windows Phone itself, but positive nonetheless. The Lumia 900, with the polycarbonate unibody, shouts out "I'm good looking!" but there are a few apparent flaws with both the hardware and software that could put off potential buyers.

We've taken a look at a number of reviews on the web, from the likes of CNET, Engadget and VentureBeat to name but a few. We can now pass on a summarised feeling as to how the Lumia 900 has been received by critics. We'll hit the negative points first. Unfortunately, many reviewers stuck to their guns and complained about the lack of apps available on the Marketplace. Even though Microsoft has been accelerating growth with numerous developer camps, competitions and giveaways the company still needs to work on getting big names on-board. Something their future developer plans appear to address.

As well as the lack of apps, a number of reviews touched on the multitasking in Windows Phone, which was implemented in the "Mango" update last year. Comments include the lack of robustness that is present when compared to both the iPhone and an Android handset. As for the Lumia 900 itself, the speaker was noted as being "too quiet". This is a flaw that many Lumia 800 / soon-to-be 900 owners can (and will) agree on - the speakers could be improved.

Lastly on the negative front, a few comments were made regarding the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac - I wanted to touch on this personally. Of course the small app isn't Zune, but it doesn't have to be. I'll be the first to admit I'm a fan of not only Microsoft, but of Apple as well. My main two computers I use on a daily basis is my trusty Mac Mini and white MacBook, so I'm familiar with not only the Zune suite on my Windows desktop, but also the Mac Connector. The app that Microsoft is continuously developing, which allows me to synchronise and update my Windows Phones, is more than enough. I would actually go as far to say it's more efficient than Zune.

It's not all doom-and-gloom for Windows Phone and the Lumia 900 however. As I mentioned in the opening of this article, the majority of reviews were positive overall with compliments provided for not only the hardware, but the software too. The LTE speeds experienced using the 4G Windows Phone were particularly impressive. Then you have the award winning design of the Lumia 900 itself, which originated from the N9. Nokia has done a superb job with fitting the 1830mAh battery as well as adding the 1.3MP front-facing camera with an f/2.4 lens to really make the 900 last and be capable of more advanced tasks.

As well as the hardware side of things, Microsoft's operating system received some love with the "silky smooth experience" being mentioned more than once. While handsets on the platform don't sport 15Ghz octo-core chips that require a mobile nuclear reactor to power them, the experience that the consumer will continue to enjoy is heavily optimised for low-end hardware. It's also slightly lighter on the ol' piggy bank with manufacturers being able to drive down cost.

To conclude; Microsoft has a long way to go. They already realize and understand this fact. As the company has reiterated: they're in for the long haul, it's a marathon and not a sprint. With their apparent planning of Windows Phone's not-so-distant future with bringing on-board more big name developers, we should see the annoyances rectified and the handsets sent to the games. But it's a positive step in the right direction.

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Reader comments

Lumia 900 review roundup: mostly positive but with a few annoyances

77 Comments

Beginning to think devs like Pandora and zynga are in league with these anti-MS sites, one side refusing to make WP7 apps and the other highlighing the absence of those apps.

 
I think once Windows 8 comes out Microsoft is going to have a lot more bargaining power with these app developers. Look at how much promotion Microsoft is giving Cut the Rope in IE9 and Windows 8 CP; it's been the most downloaded app in the Windows Store since release.
 
When there are hundreds of millions of Windows 8 users with access to the Windows app Store it's going to be hard to not do business with Microsoft and vie for their promotion.
 
The platform isn't even 18 months old and people expect it to be the primary platform for all developers? People need to be patient. I think one of the interesting facets of some of these reviews was the attempt to make it appear as though this is Windows Phone's last big chance. While I think the Lumia 900 is going to be very successful (thanks to price/promotion/LTE) and it's a very important phone for everyone involved, it is by no means make or break for Windows or even Nokia. Windows is not going anywhere. The success of the platform in my opinion completely rests upon Microsoft's ability to merge the app stores of Windows Phone and Windows 8.  If Microsoft merges Windows Phone marketplace and Windows 8 app store in the next 1-2 years then it will be a platform that no developer on Earth can afford to ignore. If they go another step further and merge the Xbox Marketplace with the Windows app store and the Windows Phone marketplace then Google and Apple have a lot of reason to be nervous.
 

Pretty big if, and that will mean the same code being on both platforms, and that wont be the case. Devs can pretty much ignore Windows Phone if they want, Windows 8 is no guarantee.
Plus you have to ask, if applications like Last FM and games like PES are already on WP, whats stopping the devs of Pandor esp, and zynga? Cant be technical on Pandora's part so that raises the question if they just dont want to support Microsoft's mobile OS for personal or other reasons.

That's just stupid logic.... I don't care if their anti MS or not... Money talks bullshit walks... If Windows 8 takes off.. Most developers are not going to ignore the money. Cut the rope is a great example.

I do believe the "must have" app developers have something personal against Microsoft and the Windows Phone platform: like I have something against Apple.

"People need to be patient." Why? Fans, yes. The average Joe, no. They should and will buy what suits them now with an eye towards the future. Maybe that's WP, maybe it's not, but don't expect anyone to buy a device that's not right for them just because it's young. Same for the reviewers. They should tell it like it is. It is a fact that many popular apps aren't available on WP. Depending on the individual, maybe that matters and maybe it doesn't. You can't deny the facts, though, or make excuses as to why it's so.

Companies like Pandora are probably waiting for bribes from Microsoft. Pandora is losing money as a company, so why not "extort" big money MS. Just use one of the third party Pandora apps or a competitor. 
 

The raised screen is my biggest pet peeve, not knowing about WP8 is worrying. The app thing is minor but is annoying on some fronts. I'm not sure if it will be a buy. My Focus still works fine and I would lose my game progress.

I agree. Keep the focus and if Microsoft decides not to upgrade the OS then am sure XDA-DEVELOPERS will have it rooted for windows phone 8 in no time.

I'm not understanding the gripe on the speaker. I just tested it and ita LOUD. maybe its inconsistent from phone to phone? Pandora. So sick of this one. There are similar if not better alternatives. Get out the bubble haters.

There are two unofficial Pandora apps in the marketplace that are in some ways superior to the functionality of the official Pandora app:
 
MetroRadio
RadioControlled
 
I really can't believe there's anyone still complaining about Pandora. Just about every other music streaming service has an official app as well.

Also, considering you get "Nokia Mix Radio" for free... Which is basically a free version of Pandora... Admittedly here in Australia we've never had Pandora but I honestly wouldn't use it if it was available due to Nokia's amazing app.

Seriously, regardless people should use the native smart dj mix... it literally works just as well as pandora... made a Party Rock Anthem Mix wit pandora and then with smart dj mix and i got the same songs maybe except two or three... WP has the integration that literally cuts the need for 3rd party apps...

You mean shuffle all? Can't find smart DJ on wp7, just on the desktop program. If that's what you mean then it's different anyway because you have to have the music on your device. Pandora is just streaming radio.

Just found it. Smart dj still only plays local music though so youre limited to what you have on your device.

Incorrect, unless it varies by region. I can hit "Play SmartDJ" and it will use local music as well as marketplace music. This is consistent with the Zune desktop client.

I love the coverage of all tech gadgets but I've noticed that with WP7 reviews many bloggers have little to no experience with the OS. Many of these reviews come across as glorified first looks. Unless you use the platform on a daily basis any review is going to come across as biased. This isn't just with WP7 either. After the original Palm Pre I decided to put little faith in tech blog reviews. I'd rather cruise forums to get a more personal take on phone OSes. I thought the WP7 review was pretty fair even though it's preaching to the choir. I thought The Verge review was honest on some points but talked less and less about the phone and more about WP7. My problem is that I don't compare platforms because I expect them to be different. I'd rather a review tell me if it's worth the money. There will always be things on each platform that need to be done better but that alone doesn't mean it's not worth supporting the platform now. I thought the WPCentral review was more thorough than I expected and critical where it needed to be. I've already pre-ordered my Lumia 900 and I'll be giving my thoughts and opinions on the forums. I'm not going to do a full on review but I always try to note the things that need work or the things that are amazing. Either way I appreciate the review and all the coverage you guys provide and I can't wait to get my Lumia 900.

I think this phone was overhyped and therefore, people were disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this phone is great, it is beautiful and runs an equally beautiful, fast and smooth OS. I just think people were expecting a better camera (with BSI sensor, ideally), and something revolutionary, even though, this is still a Windows Phone and will therefore provide the same experience as all the others (except for the better Nokia-exclusive apps). An amazing experience at that, but a lot of reviewers couldn't look past the specs and admittedly low-res screen for 2012. I think the Lumia 900 is more of an initial entry for Nokia, just to get Windows Phone on the map in the US, until WP8, where I think both Nokia and Microsoft will bring their true A-game.

Of course it is by todays standards. Keep in mind that you can get for example an iPhone 4 with a Retina display for the same price as the Lumia 900.

Because even though the one is 7 months old it has sky-high customer satisfaction numbers, access to a huge ecosystem, and almost certainly will run the next major OS update.

no it is not! still can't play most videos that are the same resolution as those higher resolution screens, also how much data would that use up if you could? and does anyone even care about resolution? i certainly don't see any complaints in the reviews on carrier sites. go somewhere idiot.

The iPhones"retina" display is nice, but that 3.5" display is just too damn small. Another thing that no one mentions is that iOS does not scale to a bigger screen and keep the same resolution. Everything has to be redone. That is why it has taken very long for Apple to increase the iPhone's screen size. It has been reported that WP8 will trump it in this department.

For those of us who switched to WP from the iPhone 4, it's pretty bad. It's OK and probably good enough for practical use, but Retina is much easier on the eyes. The good news is that at least the Lumia 900 isn't PenTile, so it looks a lot better than my Samsung Focus despite nominally having the same resolution.

Although, Ive always enjoyed Nokia devices, i have to say this camera sucks balls!!!!!!!! A buddy, who works for an att store, let me borrow his 900 for a night and the night pcitures are garbage. Blue sports everywhere, even daytime shots have a lot of noise in the background.  If their is a dark background on your pic there will always be blue noise.
Almost all the pictures havea blue tint to them. The camera takes really long to focus, and its own macro mode doesnt work. If you want to take more than one macro shot you have to disable and then re-enable the setting for it to work.
Nokia dropped the ball big time. Nokia is known for their amazing cameras, I still use my N8 to take pictures. I still going to buy one, but i feel that their shooting themselves in the foot with such a shitty camera. People will complain until something is done, hopefully an update.
idk, Nokia has never let me down in the camera department, and its really disapointing. :( Why Nokiam WHY!!!!! I have 30 days if it gets unberable i might just return it and get a titan II.
 

The science behind the Nokia Lumia 900's screen quality (Wpcentral story) states:
"Nokia manages to address this issue with the ClearBlack technology and circularly polarized glare suppressing optics. The polarized optics disrupts the reflections, minimizing tier influence on image quality. According to Soneira,

"The Lumia 900 has the lowest screen reflectance of any mobile device I have ever measured, 4.4%, which is almost forty percent lower than the iPhone 4."

DisplayMate Technologies also found the reflectance rating of the Lumia 900 to be noticeably better than that of the new iPad which is rated at 9.9%. Science asides, the bottom line is that the Lumia 900's screen looks really good."
 
The quibbling about the screen is nothing but a smoke screen.  Some people just don't want to give a WP device it's due!  Just say you prefer another OS or device but don't decry it's not up to par when clearly that's not the case.

Negative/positive, what really matters is they are looking at Windows Phone. It translates to consumers given the go- ahead to consider. I didn't expect them to give the throne to WP, but now they see legitimate mid-range phones/prices. Lumia 900(HTC Titan II) is a set-up pitch for what the fall may bring devices/OS wise. It was important for Microsoft, Nokia's transition, and other OEM partners. Go hard, or go home.

Who cares about Engadget ????? They are the biggest Apple tools on the face of the planet.  And who cares about a retarded Mac mini ?????? Glad you wasted your money on that.
 And does Cnet even know Windows Phone exist???
isheep are so predictable....
Gosh i can't stand apple crap.

CNet's review of Lumia 900 was one of the most enthusiastic I've read. They were blown away by the display on the Lumia 900.
 
The biggest Apple tool on the face of the Earth is Walt Mossberg.

Pardon me, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't insult those who suffer from disabilities when attacking a technological product. Sure, not everyone has to like what others like, it's what makes us human after all, but I'd expect some level of maturity from someone who should have a basic level of intelligence.

Unfortunately, your comment lacks both maturity and intelligence. I don't believe Engadget are as pro-Apple as the Apple orientated blogs and news websites. Gosh, I can't stand morons. "iSheep"? Why don't you go join these "iSheep" in that dark corner over there and put your Dunce hat on?

For the record, I didn't waste my money on my Macs. That's your opinion, not fact. Since I never asked for your opinion on my finances (I prefer to contact someone who has an idea what they're talking about) I would appreciate it if you would sit down and hush up.

The days of Engadget being "an apple blog" ended when the management swapped around and half the editors went to create the verge with Topolsky. Under Tim Stevens engadget has been pretty level headed overall. The verge on the other hand, lol.

Also I say apple blog in quotes because they were just favourable to what was "cool" and sacrificing dignity for pageviews

I can't stand the bashing on WP for it's "lack" of apps. I know some apps are missing, but those are ones that the developer will only develop for Windows Phone if it has a large chunk of the marketshare. So people won't get a WP because of the apps, but then developers won't develop because there aren't enough people using Windows Phones. It's a vicious cycle. I don't find there to be a lack of apps myself, but my Trophy is my first smartphone. It will only get better with time, though.

It's not that bad. There are many people that don't give a goddam about Zynga or Pandora. These are people that have lives.

I think the complaints are pretty grounded. The app situation is pretty discouraging, at least on face value. There are great apps out there but next big thing is always missing.
Although having said that I also think that Windows Phone has some great apps that are not available on other platforms but they can never get very big or recognized because the overall platform is so small.
It will get there eventually, it is still early days for Windows Phone.

I agree. Let's have a look at Instagram. MS shouted out loud how the developers like the Metro UI and therefore it will be released for WP before Android. And have a look now: Instagram is available for Android and you hear nothing about a WP7 release anymore.

Do you have the source link where Microsoft proclaimed that Instagram would be released on WP prior to it being released on Android?  I'd be interested in reading that.
 
If I recall, I only read where some bloggers speculated that it would be released on WP before Android based on an interview conducted with the Instagram developers for Fast Company.

It's disheartening to read "Microsoft has a long way to go." I'm holding on to my Focus until I see what WP8 brings to the table.

I looked at the user reviews on CNet. All the 1 and 2 star reviews are from people who are Apple or Android fanboys and don't have the phone. It's just pathetic that people would give false reviews like that.

Relax!!! It doesn't matter if they are fan boys as long as you enjoy using your phone. People who cross over from IOS -Android are going to have a hard time. It will take time for them to adjust. I should know ... As was an IOS/andriod now wp7 user/dev.

Yeah and people on the internet are retarded when it comes to reviews. The actual journalist will try and subjectively look at the device but users are dumb and spat out stuff like isheep Nd give something a zero or 1 star just because they can. I hate people lol

Lemmings?  Sheeple?  Too crass... okay, how about "insecure people seeking comfort and validation through conformist behavior"?  You can sugar coat it all you want, but it's the truth.  A great many people buy stuff because it's fashionable, not because it's a good idea.  The SUV craze at the turn of the century is a great example.  The problem I have with Apple is that they are sleazy.  They make a great product, but their entire image is 1000% geared toward preying on people who want to be part of the "avant garde, alternative, free-thinking (lol)" crowd.  Except Apple was smart and instead of the default easy target of kids with no money, they went after middle-aged nerds with lots of disposable income.  Anyway, point being, when you move beyond consumers buying a product simply because it's a good product that fits their needs, to the point where people are buying them as a status/coolness symbol, then you are definitely into iSheep territory.  I don't think anyone is alluding to the fact that every Apple customer is a mindless consumer whore, but like all generalizations/stereotypes it absolutely has some basis in reality.

It doesn't matter specifically to me, but it does matter to Nokia and Windows Phone because people do look at the ratings of items before they buy and false reviews could hurt the identity of the phone causing decreased sales.

the seattle times and san jose mercury news had pretty fair reviews of the 900. mercury news was a pleasent surprise since its apples backyard.

Some of these comments and reviews are ridiculous. The iPhone is really not that great (its the apps). Android offers more customization. MS is on the right path, its a beautiful platform that will take time to mature...

This is the most beautiful phone ever made. Also with the 12070 upgrade, sound had its oomph, and it performs very well. Why WPCentral not mentioning this?

I don't mind and in fact agree with some of the negative assessments of the OS and the 900. However, reading Topolsky's review on The Verge was a disappointment. I've never experienced the issues he wrote about, on either a Focus or a Lumia 800. It seems like there are those who are just going to pick at every detail, ignoring the forest for the trees.
I still think WP7's biggest problem - at least in the U.S. market - is Verizon. My WP7 contract is with AT&T and it works well where I live but coverage is not as complete as it could be. On a recent road trip to Portland, OR and coastal OR, my Verizon dumb phone always had more coverage...would have been interesting to have a Verizon Android or iPhone along just to see if they'd go to EDGE (or sometimes nothing) in some areas we hit.
It would be awesome to read on WPC in a couple months that WP7's market share had climbed. If it can hit 5% of the U.S. market it can get some traction. As a WP7 dev, selling an app for $5.99, I love the conversion rate (over 10%) and have - for a niche app with little promo - gotten decent downloads. There's hope...and reason to tackle apps with wider appeal.

If you have never experienced something that Topolsky mentioned then you haven't used lots of third party apps I guess.

Facebook is laggy as hell, boardrxpress has serious scrolling and tapping bugs, carbon has laggy scrolling and until v2 rowi was horrible with scrolling. Im+ still shows the continuing ... Screen when switching back although it is mango optimized.

When you have WhatsApp in memory and you get a toast and click on it then WP starts the whole app again instead of just switching to the Memory dump. That is a serious design flaw in WP.

And even the IE, which uses native code and therefore is supposed to be extremely fast, tends to just show white boxes when you are scrolling fast through a web site. That's an absolutely nogo.

Also Adobe Reader is very crappy and MS doesn't do anything about it. Apple on the other hand has implemented an own fast working pdf reader. Why can't MS do the same? They had over 1.5 years now and did nothing although everyone complains about the crappy Adobe Reader. Hell, you can not even send a pdf by email. /rant

I really hope that MS wakes up now after all these critical reviews but unfortunately they now think that everything will work out fine with Win8 instead. IIRC they said the same about WP7 when WinMobile 6.5 got crappy reviews. And when it was for WP7 they said you have to wait for Mango. Then you had to wait for Nokia and now everyone waits for Win8.

I love my WP7 Arrive... Wish Sprint carried the Lumia but these articles are touching on some things that are weak... I agree with some things that could be improved but damn people, you got fragmentation on 1 side, some1 telling you what you need on the other... Then there's WP7... It may need some improvements but... Really? With your other choices you are still gonna cry about WP7's little things???

off subject but with the article... I'd like to see that 15ghz octo-core phone... May be WP15... jejeje. Just a jk ppl, don't get it twisted... jejeje

Personally I can't see why people keep winging about apps there's plenty of apps for wp7 & recent survey's have showed that apps aren't that important! Lets not forget this is a phone not a toy!

"& recent survey's have showed that apps aren't that important"
Do you have any citation for this? Everything I read is how important apps are and the fairly large number of apps users tend to have. Certainly the 50 million users of Draw Something like their apps.

There's plenty of apps.. I think android boosts there apps by having separate apps for a free version of something then a paid for version.. Windows has a lit of paid for with free trial that does everything with ads

If Windows8 does well enough in the first few months then all of the big apps will flock over. Like another commenter said, "money talks". Devs won't turn down $$$ in favor of platform bias (if there is any). And for the record Pandora has never done anything for me. Screw em. :)

I guess what I am sick of most of all is all the bullshit about lack of apps.  One issue is the ADHD nature of the app world.  Last month's darling was instagram, now it is Pinterest, next month it will be Path.  And every single time we have to hear bullshit about the app not being on WP7.  You know, I'm actually GLAD most of them are not on WP7, because they follow a design pattern that consists of slabs of PNGs that look like early HTML sites compared to Metro.
The biggest problem with these reviews is they can't find anything fundementally flawed with WP7...so they default to the no apps line of BS.  They used to deride it for no copy and paste, it got that....then they moved on to no multitasking, it got that.  Then they moved on to no dual core, which they got burned on bad once enough stuttering Android devices showed up with multicore.....so now they are back to the old lines of no apps...and even harping on the multitasking, which is the same type of multitasking as iOS BTW.
As I said before WP7 will never be a fanboi OS because it just works.  Dependable and reliable is boring, but guess what you see more of on the road...Ferraris or Civics?

With the move to the mobile web and more HTML5 integration, apps are going to be less important. I used to lament my bank not having a mobile app and then the re-designed their mobile site and effectively killing all my laments. I don't really feel I am missing much by having over two hundred thousand apps to choose from. Its hard enough to choose the good from the bad with seventy-five thousand choices. My Lumia 800 does very well all the things I want my phone to do. What's missing is NFC, superior optics and more in-depth games.

Windows phone is not going to gain any significant traction selling to people already invested in the now traditional 'app silo' markets.   ATT and Nokia are primarily going after first time smart phone buyers here in the US.  The fact that Nokia has ATT on board with actually trying to sell phones shows me that- they want to get more walk-in customers off the street who want to get their first smart phone.  In my opinion that's why Nokia and ATT concentrated on design and price- the phone is gorgeous, and is cheaper than the others.  Then it's up to the reps to show people how WP works as a OS and does things that they need to do, delightfully.  That closes the deal.
When I went in to a ATT store on Saturday morning, I just intended to ask about the process of pre-ordering if I wanted to.  But the floor manager lady, when I first said 'I wanted to ask about the 900', immediately whipped hers out, asking me to hold it, and gushing on how smooth it was.  I was frankly stunned.  In that same store the WP were usually in the corner and no one so much as pointed to them.  So this is a very different experience.
Long term I think that's the plan here- get first timers with the 900, and sell phones; get some numbers.  Then when W8\WP8 comes out, the devs won't be able to just ignore it, and they'll have the leverage to get the start-ups to make the platform a priority.  There will be too much money to lose not to.   Once the apps and 'speeds and feeds' are there, they can work to get people already using iOS and Android.
So these reviews really don't concern me too much.  My biggest problem with current tech blog/press is that all the reviews look the same, for everything, let alone just phones.  They do what they do; how many different ways can you write about that?  95% of it is all the same functionality.  
   

I know you're meaning the sh!t review of The Verge, its editor-in-chief who reviewed Lumia 900 is a msft hater IMO. in his review, I can only see his complaints. It's shame a blog likes posting its review this way, misleading readers. God bye The Verge.

I have used an iPhone for 4yrs. I have been using the Nokia Lumia 900 for the past week. I am excited about a phone again!! It is awesome! The camera on mine was just fine with spectacular photos and video. No lag or glitches on the model I am reviewing. I have a Cyan Blue on order and hopefully here on Friday before I have to send the black one back. 

Not sure why everyone says that WP7 has such a good battery live. In fact both my Lumia and Optimus 7 have a really crappy battery live. (Yes I have the latest FW)

WOOOOOO Who released the "mobile nuclear reactor" ? I want one for my Trophy. Just dream of 3 weeks with out having to charge a phone.....
 
I agree Microsoft has a long way to go. WP7 is a great OS but, it's all about the APPs these days. When my local TV station or favorite radio station starts offering WP7 apps like they do for Android and the iPhoney, then WP7 will be a full sucess.