So the Lumia 710 has just gone on sale with T-Mobile, and the Lumia 800 will be out unlocked later in February from Microsoft stores in the USA, and on Rogers in Canada. A month or so later and by the end of Q1 the Lumia 900 will be available from AT&T. How do Nokia’s first windows phones stack up against the competition here in North America?
The Lumia 710
So the Lumia 710 is Nokia’s mid range Windows Phone with a 5Mp camera, 8GB storage and a 3.7″ LCD with ClearBlack technology. It has changeable back covers too, and a design based off the Nokia 603. It’s aimed at people buying their first smartphone. However, at T-Mobile this phone will compete with the HTC Radar, which has almost identical specs.
I asked Jason Gregory during that gadget happy breakfast why a customer would pick up the Lumia 710 instead of the Radar. He said that obviously the Nokia build quality will be good (I dropped mine the other day, but apart from the back cover and battery popping off, nothing happened and the battery and back just snapped right back on again). Also the Nokia apps like Drive, Maps and the exclusive ESPN CNN and EA deals, and the camera quality. It has a 5MP camera with single LED flash which so far has performed OK.
T-Mobile: The HTC Radar:
The Radar has very similar specs to the Lumia 710. The differences don’t amount to much but the key ones are probably that the Radar has a front facing Camera, capacitive buttons and a slightly bigger screen. The Lumia has better screen technology and changeable back covers. The Radar does cost a little more ($99 vs $49) on contract, but ultimately, for most people this will come down to which feels nicer in the hand, and if the bundled software or front facing camera can sway the decision one way or the other.Nokia Maps and drive was enough to sway Phone Dog towards the 710, despite saying the HTC had better build quality and took better pictures, too things Nokia pride themselves on. I was impressed with the appearance and feel of the Radar at CES and these two handsets will probably match each other closely in sales in the end (or they would had they been released at the same time).
T-Mobile: HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro
Technically no longer for sale at T-Mobile but worth a mention as the handsets T-Mobile customers should go to for a bigger screen and 16GB of memory. Both are 1st Generation Windows Phones and not really competing with the Lumia 710 as such, but with T-Mobile only having two 8Gb devices with <4″ screens, people looking for something more might be tempted by a HD7 going cheap on Ebay or Amazon, or the Dell Venue Pro’s professional appearance and sliding QWERTY.
Rogers: Samsung Focus
The Lumia 700 will match up closely in some areas with the Samsung Focus – 8Gb memory, 5MP camera. The older focus has the edge in pure specs though having a 4″ AMOLED screen, and according to Rogers info page, expandable memory. However, we all know that specs alone don’t tell the full story and with newer hardware in the Lumia, it may be a better performer, but then again, these devices are all so similar, and no-one complained about the first Windows Phones being laggy.
This was the big announcement at CES and is expected to come out in March, with rumours today suggesting $99 on contract. For Nokia, this is their high end Windows Phone, but AT&T already has Windows Phone devices with similar specs and will have aditional competitors coming out around the same time. In the Windows Phone section of AT&T stores come March you will find the Samsung Focus S, HTC Titan and HTC Titan 2 among others.
I asked Vance Kim during that breakfast at CES why AT&T customers should pick the Lumia 900 over these other devices. His gave several reason in the end: unique design, LTE speeds, exclusive software and the excellent AMOLED screen. Also, it’s sized just right – not too big or too small. In his opinion, devices bigger than the Lumia 900 would put some people off though being too big to hold comfortably. He also isn’t convinced the 16MP camera in the HTC titan will produce amazing photos just because it’s a 16MP lens, especially single flash. Do you agree with this? Lets look closer at the competition:
AT&T: Samsung Focus S
The Samsung Focus S is a nice thin sleek Windows Phone and in terms of specs, I’m not sure there are many differences between this and the Lumia 900, other than the Lumia 900 will have LTE support. It’s very thin and light in the hand and has that same 4.3″ screen, which uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology. It felt nice in the hand at CES with the curved back helping in that too. I asked at the Samsung booth why a user should get this vs any other widows phone. The Samsung rep was unconvincing as he said that the Windows Phone devices are all pretty much the same and actually for Samsung, that makes it hard for them to stand out. They would do more to make it feel more of a Samsung device if they could and differentiate more but they can’t.
AT&T: HTC Titan
This is what it says it is. Basically take a HTC Radar and beef and stretch it until the screen is about 4.7″, double the memory and increase the camera resolution and there you go. Specs-wise, this is a close competitor to the Lumia 900 and when I saw it at CES it felt well built, though for me a bit on the big side. Maybe Vance’s comment about getting the size right – not too big or too small will be telling here. Oh, also the Titan will likely have come down in price too then, in part thanks to the launch of the Titan 2. That may make the Titan more appealing and while Nokia has a unique style, I have to give HTC credit for the Radar and Titan on this point too.
AT&T: HTC Titan 2
This is a bit unknown, especially to me as despite the big announcement at CES, neither HTC or AT&T had a booth and it wasn’t at the Microsoft booth. Still, this will be a huge competitor, literally, with huge numbers for screen size (4.7″) and camera megapixels (16). And ultimately that might be the difference – is it too big, is the camera any good? What about at night? Early indications have the likes of Miriam Joire and Steve Litchfield suggesting it can take good photos, worthy of a 16Mp sensor, which is high praise indeed. If the image quality really is up to a high standard, camera phone enthusiasts could have a new champion, and in an area in which Nokia is traditionally strong. This device also has LTE so it will be interesting to see how the Lumia 900 and Titan 2 are priced when they finally go on sale.
The first Nokia Windows Phone to get released to the world is crossing the Atlantic and coming to Telus in Canada, as well as unlocked in Microsoft Stores in the USA. An odd mix spec wise with 8MP camera, 16GB storage and a 3.7″ screen but for some this will be the perfect form factor and it looks gorgeous. How about the competition then:
Telus: LG Optimus 7
A first generation Windows Phone and I think LG’s only release to date on the platform. It has 16GB of storage, a 5MP camera and a 3.8″ screen. I’ll cut to the chase here. I don’t remember seeing one at CES though there was probably one there, but the Lumia 800 is a better phone than this one.
OK, so this is an odd category and I’m not sure how to approach this. Many devices already mentioned in this article will be available at the Microsoft store. The Lumia 800 will join them and will be available with a crazy music centric sales pack featuring the Purity HD headphones, Play 360 speaker and Luna Bluetooth earpiece. In the USA at least, buying a phone unlocked really isn’t much of a benefit (except not having to renew contract) as very few phones will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile (or either companies MVNO’s which use the same frequencies). If you are going to find an unlocked phone to wow people with, this Lumia 800 might be it, or if you are feeling adventurous, why not a Toshiba IS12T with 13.1MP camera, 32GB storage, and colorful, waterproof exterior.