Nokia Lumia 900/610 Hands-On

Nokia Australia held a launch event last night to show off the Australian version of the high-end Lumia 900 and entry-level Lumia 610. Not enough time to fashion a review, but here are my early thoughts.

Lumia 900

First things first: It is a little disappointing that we're not getting the 4G/LTE variant of the Lumia 900, if only because it would be Optus' first 4G handset — and what a way to start! I was told by Nokia representatives that it's not likely we'll ever see a 4G version of the 900 in Australia; that's apparently an exclusive to the US and Canada only. Dual channel HSDPA+ does have some appeal, however, and the speeds shown last night on Optus' network were promising.

Annoyances aside, it's hard not to look (and test) the Lumia 900 and figure it to be a Lumia 800 on steroids; this is definitely the "bigger brother" phone, and as I've stated elsewhere, whether you like a bigger phone or not is something of a matter of personal preference. The one thing I did note with the Lumia 900 is that the gorgeous curved design that made the 800 so appealing is necessarily flattened out, and to my eye that's a less appealing design. Again, your opinion may vary.

Amongst larger phones, the Lumia 900 is also a little heavy; I got the HTC One XL that I'm testing at the moment out of my pocket at the event to do a quick comparison, and you can definitely pick the 30g difference when holding both.

Unfortunately, the low light in the launch venue — a cocktail bar — made practical photo testing all but impossible, although I am happy that the Lumia 900's got a front facing camera, if only for Skype purposes. It'd be even better with expandable memory — 16GB is on the low side, however you paint it — but that's more a matter in Microsoft's control as I understand it.

Lumia 610

You know where Windows Phone 7 really shows its strength? On low end handsets, that's where. Where the world of smartphones is racing into quad-core and beyond on other platforms, the Lumia 610 makes do with what seems like a paltry 800Mhz processor. Except that make do isn't the right word; the 610's performance from my brief hands-on was quite elegant and snappy, and on the surface, it wouldn't surprise me to see a few potential Lumia buyers walk out of stores with the 610 instead of the 900.

I did grab some shots of the 610 on display, but the combination of a busy darkened room and a black phone... it wasn't pretty. It's almost like they wanted me to use the stock photography!

There are some tradeoffs; the build quality is noticeably lower than the 800 or 900, giving it far more in common with the Lumia 710. The comparison with the 710 is an interesting one; if you're in the market for an inexpensive Windows Phone 7 handset, the 610 would arguably fulfill your needs, given the primary difference between the two handsets is a processor bump you're unlikely to really notice anyway.

The Lumia 900 should be available in June from Optus on a $60 plan, or $699 outright; it's a quad-band phone that should work with any carrier. The Lumia 610 in pink or blue will be available through Boost Mobile at $329 in a similar timeframe, with the black model hitting Vodafone in July.


Comments

    Really disappointed. Nokia, you should have done better. No 4G? HTC and Android are waay in front of you. Seriously need to put more effort in.

    I would have to agree with you Alex, the shape of the 800 was in part what I really liked. Shame the size of the 900 detracts from it's shape.

    So basically there is sweet bugger all difference between the 900 and 800. Looks like I will be keeping the 800 (which I do however really enjoy using).

    Shame to see the typical "99% Microsoft " quality. As always it's coming in version Next.. :(

      I don't think it has to do with 'effort'. They already make the lumia 900 in 4g variant. The only reason it won't happen here is because Telstra didn't win the bid for the phone. Nokia don't want to wait for Optus/Voda to get their 4g infrastructure up and running so the phone has to come out quick on an enhanced 3G model. Good choice since Nokia has a new pedestal phone up its sleeve soon anyway.

    So would an unlocked US or Canadian version work on 4G in Aus?

      No, as Nth American 4G networks are on the same frequencies as analogue TV here.

        Yea correct, Lumia 900's 4G won't work in Australia, but the 3G will (Next G as well)

    Oh well, looks like im staying with my Mozart 7 till WP8 come out.

    Nokia always seem to miss the mark. Their high end phones are always missing something that people (yes, gadget nerds specifically) are wanting/expecting. Oh well, im hoping that the SGS3 is the way to go.

      Which also doesn't connect to 4g in Australia.
      So no difference really.

      "High-end" phones cost a lot ore than $699. This might be Nokia's flagship WP7 handset but it is still priced in the mid-range. On eBay, Lumia 900's are selling for around 60% of the price of an SGS-III.

      didn't Microsoft say that all supporting Windows Phone 7 won't have support for Windows Phone 8?

        No, theres no decision from Microsoft on that.

    All I care about in this article is the fact that you had an HTC One XL!!! Can you write a review on that, and do you have any idea when we will see it in stores?

    Was the 610 running Mango or Tango? AFAIK the 610 is more functionally limited thanks to its lesser hardware - so long as the UX is unaffected, the market for that phone should be OK with it. iPhone 3GS had a 600MHz CPU after all and it performs just fine.

    Did nobody notice the Nokia branding on the Marketplace tile? (see picture of the 900 near the top of the post)

    lol Optus, I don't think it's a shame they don't get anything. Terrible network.

    Also why do tech blogs keep blaming Microsoft for the 16gb phones? Blame the bloody OEM's, Fujitsu/Toshiba released a 32gb NAND phone so it's not an OS limitation.

    "You know where Windows Phone 7 really shows its strength? On low end handsets, that’s where."

    -Well you'd think so but they are charging a mid-range price for the low-end speced 610. In particular (from wikipedia): "Because of the limited memory available on this phone, background tasks using over 90 MB of RAM will be disabled automatically and certain applications will not be able to run." $330 and I can't run existing apps at launch? Seriously??? That sounds to me like they have intentionally gimped the phone for purposes of market segmentation.

    As Nokia are strongest in emerging markets where people have less money to spend, they would have been wise to focus on creating a cheap but solid entry-level smart phone for these markets (where "solid" includes 512MB ram). As things stand they are conspicuously failing to leverage the key advantage of WP7 (i.e. it's ability to run smoothly on slower CPUs).

    Why do you guys keep saying $60 plan? I know it's anal nitpicking, but I figured it was $59 that they had ($24 difference in 2 years if thats the case)

    I really wanted this phone, but witn M$ and Nokia not saying too much about WP8 made me wonder if I will be stuck with a new handset that cannot be upgraded, and sure I was right! http://www.cnet.com.au/would-you-buy-a-phone-if-you-couldnt-update-it-339338353.htm

    Australia does not have a full 4G network (LTE) so why would nokia relaese the model here??

    Fix to "Nokia Lumia 3g/4g not working"
    Watch solution at following youtube video:
    http://youtu.be/n3X2OPh0Oko

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