updated 09:20 pm EST, Tue January 10, 2012
Nokia Lumia 900 tested at CES
We've had the chance to try the Nokia Lumia 900 at CES. The smartphone is in some ways what it looks to be on the surface: an upsized, upgraded version of the Lumia 800. A side-by-side comparison of the Windows Phones shows that they're about as thin, but that the 900 is very clearly wider and taller. If you're not a fan of large phones, you won't be a fan.
We did get a quick chance to test the front camera, which worked well enough. A Nokia representative did caution that prototypes like his didn't have final firmware and weren't producing the final image. The eight-megapixel, f2.2 camera on the back is exactly the same as on the Lumia 800, so we'd expect that it will perform similarly: that is, it can deliver some good shots, but it's not in the iPhone 4S class.
As for the namesake LTE, the irony of getting to test it early at the show is that we couldn't really try it. Even on the relatively untapped 700MHz bands AT&T is using, the sheer amount of wireless traffic combined with overhead insulation made reception spotty. Going outside or going to Las Vegas at any other time would have produced workable results.
The 4.3-inch screen does look good, and unlike on the 800, we couldn't see the "fuzz" of a Pentile AMOLED display. Nokia hasn't said if it has adjusted the display, but it's certainly one of the better-looking screens on any phone right now, at least indoors. The 1.4GHz Snapdragon is the same, too, so it still runs briskly.
Already knowing the OS and much of the hardware, it's safe to say that the Lumia 900 will be the best Windows Phone in the US, maybe even beating the HTC Titan II, through its build quality and the inclusion of major free apps like Nokia Drive. Our main concern is that it may still not necesarily move the needle: there are other big-screened Android phones on AT&T, and the 4.3-inch Samsung Focus S hasn't rocked Apple's iPhone out of the top spot. A major marketing run and word of mouth do give Nokia an edge others don't have.