Nokia's Lumia 900: A Decent Effort

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nokia ( NOK) is desperately trying to make itself relevant in the smartphone game as it competes with the likes of Apple ( AAPL) and Google ( GOOG). The Lumia 900 gets it closer than it was before, but there's still some way for the Finnish handset giant to go.

Nokia's Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows-based LTE smartphone is super-fast, but not as stylish as one would expect from one of 2012's most buzzed-about phones.

With a screen size of 4.3-inches, the phone is boxy and the text on the screen is blurry. At launch, the offering comes in an unattractive aqua-blue, as well as a black version (a white version is available April 22). It felt more like a smartphone from 2008 than 2012. The device, at 5.6-ounces, was also a little heavier than I expected, but nothing you should have to worry about. The phone itself is solidly built.

Data speeds and flipping through the phone's menu are lightning quick, powered by a Qualcomm ( QCOM) Snapdragon 1.4 GHz chip. There is a very noticeable difference in the speeds between LTE and 3G, and the Nokia Lumia certainly shows that off well. It has ample amounts of memory, 16 GB, to story your apps and music, and also comes with another 25 GB of free storage, thanks to Microsoft's Sky Drive on the phone.

Having XBOX Live on the phone is a nice touch, letting users take their XBOX accounts with them on the go. The app store, however, left something to be desired, with a scarcity of apps, compared to Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market. The 8-megapixel camera comes with Carl Zeiss optics and takes beautiful pictures. Besides the speed of the phone, this is one of the more alluring features of the Lumia 900.

At $99 with a two-year contract (the phone is exclusively on AT&T's ( T) network), this is a good value phone, but does not compete with the ease-of-use or aesthetics of an iPhone. The Lumia 900 is definitely a good starter smartphone, but not something that would make me trade in my iPhone, or even a higher-end Android.

Nokia seems to hope that the Lumia series will make it relevant again in consumers' minds. It's a decent first effort, but it could have offered much more.

Interested in more on Nokia? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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