1. It's not the ultimate Windows Phone
Don't get me wrong, technologically this is probably one of the most advanced Windows Phones out there, within the remit of Microsoft's specifications. There's an argument that HTC have the highest spec phone out there, with the 16 megapixel HTC Titan 2 winning if you were to do a straight spec comparison, but with the fast LTE data connection, Corning Gorilla Glass screen, monster battery and wonderful colours on screen, there's no doubt that the Lumia 900 is on top of the Windows Phone heap at the moment.
But there is room for improvement. We'll touch on this as we spend more time with the Lumia 900, but for now, it's the best we've got, and it covers most of the bases pretty well.
2. AT&T really know how to help the unboxing video crews
There's almost nothing in the box. Beyond the obligatory USB cable that doubles up for the ecologically small mains charger, and a pin to help push out the SIM tray, there's not much else going on here. The corporate orange and white is everywhere, and under the hinged top tray which presents the phone to you there is a big void. Coming from the detailed and stylish Lumia 800 box, it's a big step down.
There are no headphones or headset in the packaging, and unlike the Lumia 800 there's no rubber bumper case. Both of these options have likely been jettisoned to keep the costs down, but at the same time it dulls the perception of the Lumia 900 as a classy phone. The inclusion of the bumper case in the Lumia 800 screamed "we think this phone is special, take care of it". The Lumia 900 doesn't have that, it just mumbles "I'm just another boring AT&T handset".
3. Why The Love Of The Styling?
Perhaps my time with the Lumia 800 has dulled the senses, or perhaps the fawning over the Lumia 800 has simply carried over to those writing the snap reviews on the Lumia 900, but I'm finding the Lumia 900 to be one of the boxiest, most rectangular phones in a long time. It still has the same 'cushion' effect around the edges, but the extra size diminishes the effect, with the longer edges giving a more straight edged feel. If the Americans are bowled over by this, then when the real curves hit they're going to go crazy!
4. Heart of Glass
Staying with the styling; where the Lumia 800 curved the glass around the edges to create a bubble like feel, the Lumia 900 goes for a flat panel of glass with not just a fixed edge where glass meets case, but a raised lip of around half a millimetre. It means the flowing look of the Lumia 800 is gone, but it has two advantages. the first is that it lifts the screen very slightly up from any surface you place it down on - Corning's Gorilla Glass is tough, but not impervious - so this is actually a nice bit of preventative design from Nokia. The second advantage is that it magnifies the perception of the already large screen. There's no doubt what Nokia want you to concentrate on.
5. In America, Size is clearly King
Picking up the box, watching the marketing, and reading the reactions online shows why America would never have accepted the Nokia Lumia 800 as the leading phone - it simply isn't big enough. No matter that the underlying hardware is almost the same, the simple fact is that the size of the Lumia 900 is what has made it a valid hero phone for AT&T. The 4.3 inch screen is the size that the market expects of a leading smartphone. The LTE radio allows for fast data downloads, which is what the market expects of a leading smartphone. And the 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens is an acceptable size for the market. Oh and it's physically bigger. America doesn't do subtle, either.
6. This is bloatware done properly
AT&T Code Scanner, myWireless, Navigator, Radio, U-Verse Mobile, ESPN, Tango Video Calls, and YPmobile. All of these apps come bundled with the Lumia 900. And all of them, with one long press on the application, can be deleted from the handset, removed from the Live Tile area, and generally be banished out of the handset if that's what I want. I like that.
7. Is it all about the applications?
This one is more tricky, and there isn't a clear answer. Out of the box, Windows Phone has one of the strongest suites of any mobile phone platform, with a huge amount of social network integration, mapping software, and office applications. For many people coming to the handset, all they will need to do is grab the official Facebook and Twitter applications to get the final few features, and they are set with a productive smartphone.
For others, they'll be heading to the Windows Marketplace to load up on applications for edge case functionality, mainstream amusement, and extra functionality. The success of those endeavours is down to the individual. I'd love to do a survey in the real world to find out just how important these applications are, as opposed to straw-poll arguments online about "nobody will buy this without 'Words With Friends' being in the app store". Right now I think Windows Phone marketplace will serve the average consumer well, but not perfectly.
8. How much of Nokia is actually here?
There's a lot of AT&T software on display here, but there seems to be a lack of Nokia's own additions to Windows Phone. They are quickly accessible through the 'Nokia Collection' section in the Marketplace application, but Nokia's main differentiators in the Windows Phone platform have been neutered by the US network (and, to be fair, licensing issues with Nokia Music). I suspect that's down to Nokia lacking leverage with AT&T, and AT&T looking to keep their Windows Phone manufacturers on the same page, but it seems a curious state of affairs when viewed from the east side of the Atlantic.
9. Internet Sharing is here
10. Hold fire on importing one, other variants are on the way.
Just as the Lumia 900 makes an impact in America, news on the availability of the handset in other regions is coming out - the UK variant is due on April 27th according to The Carphone Warehouse. That's good, because this is one of the best Windows Phones out there, and a lot of people around the world are looking forward to it, just as we were here at All About Windows Phone.
We're going to take some time over the next two weeks to really get to grips with the Lumia 900 and let you know how we get on.