Last year, Apple released its next-generation iPhone in the iPhone 4S. And while some wondered whether or not the company would achieve the same success with the a device that looked exactly like the previous incarnation of the iPhone, Apple went on to sell an absolute ton of iPhone 4S’. If you want specifics, it sold 37 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2012 alone.
And it did so without using any smoke or mirrors. The iPhone 4S is a solid smartphone, arguably the best smartphone on the market, and it will be a very viable option for consumers between now and whenever Apple gets around to releasing the next iPhone.
Presumably, the iPhone 5.
(Read: iPhone 4S Review.)
But as you know, the iPhone 4S isn’t the only quality smartphone option that will be available in 2012. We’ve already taken a look at it pitted against Verizon’s latest flagship Android, the Motorola Droid 4, and now it’s time to put the iPhone 4S up against a device that figures to be the flagship device for Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform when it arrives next month.
That phone is, of course, the Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T, which will be the Finnish company’s third Windows Phone handset to arrive in the U.S.
How will it fare against the iPhone? Well, that’s a question that won’t be able to be truly answered until the Lumia 900 is officially released. However, we put the main features of each against each other in an effort to flesh out reasons why you might want to choose one over the other.
(Read: Nokia Lumia 900 vs. Lumia 800.)
Per usual, a disclaimer.
If you’re looking at either of these phones, you’ll want to digest all of the information here but you’ll also want to head into a store to go hands-on with both before you make a final purchase.
We know how tempting it is to pull the trigger on a new phone, especially those with tons of hype behind them, but trust us. If you do your homework, you will end up with a phone that you can tolerate for the whole two years of your contract.
With that, let’s look at how the Nokia Lumia 900 matches up against the Apple iPhone 4S.
Here is a quick hands-on video with the iPhone 4S from our review back in October:
Nokia Lumia 900
In the video below, you’ll see the Lumia 900 for AT&T up close and personal which will give you a good idea about to expect both hardware and software wise from Nokia’s latest offering:
|Features||iPhone 4S||Lumia 900|
|Weight and Dimensions||
|Video Recording||Improved HD video recording
||HD video recording
|Display||High-resolution Retina display
||ClearBlack AMOLED Display
|Cellular and Wireless||
|Other Key Features||
Both the iPhone 4S and the Lumia 900 feature high quality hardware. Not surprising since both Apple and Nokia are well known for the superb build quality of their smartphones.
So, let’s touch on the key differences here.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the Lumia 900 is both thicker and heavier than the iPhone 4S. This likely has to do with the fact that it has a 4G LTE radio on board and a much larger display. And while those millimeters might not seem like a lot, you will definitely notice when you pick up the phones.
As we said, the Lumia 900′s display is a lot bigger than that of the iPhone 4S. While the iPhone 4S checks in with the usual 3.5-inch display, same measurement found on all iPhone models, Nokia has put a 4.3-inch display on the Lumia 900.
If you need a comparison, check out an HTC EVO 4G or a Motorola Droid Bionic, both of which employ 4.3-inch displays. Now, while we haven’t yet tested the screens against each other, we should point out that the screen resolution on the iPhone 4S is higher than that of the Lumia 900′s. The iPhone 4S also features 326 pixels-per-inch as opposed to the 217ppi found on the Lumia 900.
We can’t say for sure yet if the iPhone 4S’ display blows the Lumia’s out of the water but on paper, the Lumia appears to have a distinct disadvantage.
Both phones feature 512MB of RAM but while the iPhone 4S has a dual-core Apple A5 processor, the Lumia 900 has a single-core processor from Qualcomm.
As for the cameras, the iPhone 4S has two of the best around. However, Nokia is known for its cameras and the Lumia 900′s has all of the features that point to it being a fantastic offering.
Still, we found that the camera in another Nokia Windows Phone, the Lumia 800, was lacking and it’s possible that the iPhone 4S could have an advantage here as well.
Hardware-wise, the phones appear to be vastly different from each other. Same goes for their software.
Apple’s iPhone 4S employs the company’s iOS 5 operating system which was released alongside it back in October. It’s Apple’s most ambitious software to date and it came loaded with over 200 new features.
One of those features was the talking personal assistant, Siri, which you can see in action below:
Siri has been one of the biggest selling points for the iPhone 4S and it only can get better. In fact, Apple is rumored to be adding features to it with the upcoming release of iOS 5.1.
On the other hand, the Nokia Lumia 900 runs Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, which is the best mobile software the company has released in some time.
It too comes loaded with features and brings a refreshing Metro-style user-interface that looks vastly different from both iOS and Android.
The Lumia 900 will also likely come loaded with some of Nokia’s applications including Nokia Drive, which is an application that provides turn-by-turn voice-guided GPS navigation instruction in a number of countries and different languages.
It will also have Nokia Maps on board as well which is arguably better than the stock navigation found baked into iOS.
The differences between the iPhone 4S and the Nokia Lumia 900 don’t end with the hardware and software.
The Lumia 900 is going to be a 4G LTE smartphone on AT&T’s network. This means that it will be able to, where the service is available, pull down data speeds that can get up to ten times faster then the data speeds found on 3G.
If you’re curious about the specifics of those speeds, check out this video showing the iPhone 4S on AT&T getting blown away by a 4G LTE phone on Verizon:
And while you might have thought that the speeds found on the iPhone 4S were the same across AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, you’re wrong. There actually is an iPhone 4S model that can obtain faster data speeds then the rest.
Although, they’re definitely not as fast as 4G LTE.
While the iPhone 4S on Sprint and Verizon are stuck on 3G, AT&T’s model runs on the carrier’s HSDPA network which means the phone can reach speeds up to 14.4 Mbps.
You can it in action in the video below:
Like its 4G LTE network, AT&T’s HSPDA network isn’t available everywhere. So that means that often times, both the Lumia 900 and iPhone 4S for AT&T will act like plain old 3G devices.
Be sure to check out where both networks are available before you settle on a device.
And just when you thought there couldn’t be anything else different between the iPhone 4S and the Nokia Lumia 900, we come to the pricing.
Right now, the pricing on the Lumia 900 is unofficial, as is its release date. However, rumor has it that it will cost a mere $99.99 on-contract when it arrives next month. Yes, Nokia has confirmed that March will be the release date for the Lumia 900 but it hasn’t given it an official date.
March 18th is the front-runner right now, so you’ll want to circle that on your calendar.
Now, for a 4G LTE device of this caliber, $100 would be a steal. Whether or not AT&T and Nokia plan to offer it at that price remains to be seen but the Finnish company did say that it would be aggressively pricing its devices here in the U.S. and $100 on-contract for a 4G LTE Windows Phone would fit that criteria.
As for a data plan, you’ll need one of those with the Lumia 900, AT&T currently offers three options to new customers:
- 300MB for $20/mo
- 3GB for $30/mo
- 5GB w/ tethering for $50/mo
Those of you grandfathered on an unlimited AT&T data plans will be able to keep them.
As for the iPhone 4S, prices are all across the board. That’s because it’s available in three different storage options on four different service providers.Here’s how it breaks down:
- $199 for 16GB
- $299 for 32GB
- $399 for 64GB
Or, if you want to snag it off contract, Apple sells an unlocked version of the iPhone 4S. The prices are more expensive, obviously, and look like this:
- $649 for 16GB
- $749 for 32GB
- $849 for 64GB
The data plans on each carrier differ as well and look like this:
- Lowest price: $54.99/month ($1319.76 over 2 years) – $39.99 for 450 minutes + $15 for 200MB of Data and pay as you go texting.
- Highest price: $134.99/month ($3239.76 over 2 years) – $69.99 unlimited minutes + $20 unlimited text + $45 for 4GB Data
- Lowest price: $79.99/month ($1919.76 over 2 years) – 450 minutes, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.
- Highest price: $109.99/month ($2639.76 over 2 years) – Unlimited everything.
- Lowest Price: $69.99/month ($1679.76 over 2 years) – $39.99 Talk + $30 2GB Data and pay as you go texting.
- Highest Price: $169.99/month ($4079.76 over 2 years) – $69.99 Talk + $20 Text + $80 10GB Data
- Lowest Price: $50/month ($1200 over 2 years) – Infinite Data + Messaging, 500 Minutes
- Highest Price: $100/month ($2400 over 2 years) – Infinite Streaming, Data & Messaging
Translation: The iPhone 4S is not some cheap little toy. And that, friends, is why you need to do your homework before you sign your name on the dotted line of a new contract or shell out for a new phone.
Which Should You Buy?
Again, choosing a new smartphone is a very personal decision and requires not only research but hands-on time as well. With this, we hope to steer you in the right direction but you’re still going to want to go into the store to get hands-on with the iPhone 4S and Lumia 900 before you buy.
However, let’s rundown a few of the big selling points of both phones.
Those of you who want a massive display are going to want to take a closer look at the Nokia Lumia 900.
If you highly value processor speed, the iPhone 4S has a dual-core chip while the Lumia 900 employs a single-core.
The iPhone 4S runs iOS while the Lumia 900 is a Windows Phone. Apple’s app marketplace offers quite a bit more in terms of choice when it comes to applications to download. It also has Siri on board. However, Microsoft’s Windows Phone is a very capable operating system and it’s only going to get better as time goes on.
For those that want fast data speeds, specifically, data speeds that can get up to 10 times faster than those on 3G, you’ll have to go with the Lumia 900 as the iPhone 4S is a 3G phone through and through.
As you can see, both offer distinct advantages and disadvantages so you’ll want to think about what you need and how you’re going to use your device before you buy.