Opinion: Windows Phone has a championship contender: Nokia’s Lumia 900

nokia-lumia-900

One of Apple’s biggest advantages is also its biggest shortcoming: it doesn’t have much variety in its product lines. The first iPod came in any color you wanted as long as it was white, and worked with any computer as long as it was a current-generation Mac with FireWire. Things haven’t changed much over the years. The iPhone 4S comes in just two colors, and in three capacities, which you can’t upgrade.

Ironically, folks who want to be different — like the old Apple Think Different campaign used to advocate — now have to get some other phone. But finding one that matched or beat the iPhone has been nearly impossible. That is, until now.

The Nokia Lumia 900 beats Apple on a number of vectors. Don’t get me wrong: It is no knockout punch, and it likely won’t get an iPhone user to switch, but for a new smartphone user or one who hates Apple, it’s a viable contender. I’ve had a chance to spend time with the phone over the past few days, and here are some of my impressions.

nokia-lumia-900-screenDisplay

The iPhone 4S has the most advanced LCD display of any phone. The Retina display is brighter and sharper than any other. However, AMOLED is the next generation of display technology after LCD, and while the Lumia’s larger display has less resolution, its colors are more brilliant, and outdoor visibility should be better. AMOLED likely represents the future for smartphone displays, at least until they can get transflective displays like the Qualcomm Mirasol technology to work. So while the iPhone 4S display is the best in its class, the Lumia display is in a more advanced class altogether.

Wireless

Like the new iPad, the Lumia is a 4G phone. I expect when the iPhone 5 finally arrives later this year, it will be a 4G (LTE) phone as well. Most LTE phones get horrid battery life, but the Lumia manages a respectable seven hours, likely setting the bar that Apple will have to beat when it moves to LTE on the iPhone. Data is blindingly fast, but do remember this will cause you to burn through monthly data plans more quickly, so don’t get carried away if you get any LTE device.

Design

In a world of iPhone knockoffs and wannabes, the Lumia 900’s jet-black finish, curved lines, and massive display stand out. It’s clearly bigger than the iPhone, and looks more advanced than the iPhone, almost as if it were carved out of one piece of metal (there is no removable back like many competitors). This is both a distinctly different-looking phone, and one that conveys the same “piece of art” feel, which typically just defines Apple devices. Oh, and you can get it in three colors: black, cyan, white. Apparently Nokia, unlike another vendor I could again mention, doesn’t live in a one-color, Model-T world.

Windows Phone Mango OS

Android often feels like the poor man’s iOS. Mango, the current version of the Windows Phone platform, is very different. It has improved over time with every OS refresh, and is a vastly simpler to learn than either iOS or Android. While it doesn’t have as many apps yet, it has most of the quality ones. The only critical app I’m currently missing is Aha Radio (which is used in next-generation automobile systems). Fortunately, most of my cars came out before Aha did. Unfortunately I’m upgrading the radio in one of them, and Aha is a major feature of it.

$100

Finally, the Lumia 900 costs half of what an iPhone normally costs. While you’ll likely make up for that in LTE data consumption, it is still a hell of a bargain. Having a phone that seems to have the quality of an iPhone at half the price does represent a good deal.

Disadvantages

There are a number of tradeoffs with this phone. LTE gives it shorter battery life and a larger, heavier battery. As noted above, there are also far fewer available apps, and the lower resolution screen isn’t as sharp as an iPhone 4S. Although I really don’t notice it, the Lumia 900 has a single-core Qualcomm processor rather the now more common multi-core processors.None are deal breakers for a new smartphone user, but an iPhone user would have difficulty justifying a move unless they were pissed at Apple, which does rarely happen. Apple users do love their phones.

Wrapping up

The Lumia 900 is that it is a vast improvement over Nokia’s earlier Windows Phone efforts, which were in turn a vast improvement over Nokia’s largely failed earlier smartphones. If you measure a company by improvement, Nokia has moved from failure to contender in a very short period of time. It kind of makes you wonder what’s next at this rate of acceleration. Maybe Nokia will be the first in years to actually build a better phone than Apple does. We’ll see, but for now, the Nokia Lumia (if you don’t yet have a smartphone or are using Android) is one to consider soon.

Guest contributor Rob Enderle is the founder and principal analyst for the Enderle Group, and one of the most frequently quoted tech pundits in the world. Opinion pieces denote the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Digital Trends.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

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