The Lumia 900 is trapped in a quagmire.
It's the flagship Windows Phone, featuring an attractive design and an intuitive user interface, with high customer satisfaction rates to back it up.
However, the phone is virtually obsolete before it was even launched in South Africa. Thanks to Microsoft, the Windows Phone 8 update won't be available for WP7 devices.
It's by no means Nokia's fault, with Windows Phone 7.8 still making its way to the platform anyway.
So, here we are then, in a similar position to that of Nokia's N9, another prominent yet stillborn device.
Much like the Lumia 800, the 900 draws its inspiration from Nokia's sole MeeGo phone, featuring the signature polycarbonate casing, drilled speaker grille and silver camera housing.
Although there'll be a few critics accusing Nokia of being lazy in terms of the phone's design, it's hard to argue when it still looks stylish.
There are a few key aesthetic differences between the Lumia 800 and 900, with the screen size being the most notable. While the Lumia 800 laid claim to a 3.7-inch screen, the 900's display measures 4.3-inches across. It's not quite as large as the latest quad-core phones, but that's by no means a disadvantage.
Although the phone hasn't received a corresponding bump up in pixel density (Windows Phone 7 is limited to an 800 by 480 resolution), the screen still manages to look sharp. Pictures are pretty detailed while text is crisp too. Granted, it doesn't reach the lofty heights of the SIII, iPhone 4S or HTC One X, but it's still a vivid display anyway.
The second big difference is the addition of a front-facing camera, inexplicably omitted from the Lumia 800, despite appearing on the N9. Users can take advantage of the front-facing shooter to conduct video-calls via the preinstalled Tango app or Skype, as well as for photos.
The other differentiator that makes it stand out from the Lumia 800 is the exposed mini-USB port at the top, as well as the micro-SIM bay, which now needs a tool to open up. We prefer the 800's bay doors, covering both ports, but the 900's solution isn't an inconvenience by any stretch.
Much like other Windows Phone devices, the 900 features a volume rocker, power button and camera shutter button. The latter is somewhat of a rarity these days unfortunately, but its presence here is warmly welcomed.
A familiar experience
Turn on the phone and you're greeted by the Windows Phone logo, with users having to pick their language and enter their Windows Live login information. It is possible to use the phone without a Windows Live account but you won't be able to download apps. But if you have an Xbox Live gamertag or Hotmail account, you can use that too, a convenient move.
Once you've booted up, you're greeted by the now-familiar Windows Phone 7 homescreen. So you'll have your square live tiles, displaying constantly refreshed information, and an emphasis on simple, large text.
Again, there's not much to differentiate the Lumia 900 from the 800 in this department either. But it's still a fresh look, and one that I appreciated when coming back from Android phones.
As with all Windows Phones, the handset has deep integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, letting you do everything from comment on posts, write on walls, update your friends, upload photos and more.
All of this is without the need to download an app. But there are a few features still missing, such as the inability to access direct messages and groups. Despite this, the social integration still stands as a great example for the rest of the industry.
Even the messaging hub is a great experience, letting you seamlessly switch between SMS, Facebook Chat and Windows Live Messenger.
Microsoft also prides itself on the ability to get things done quickly with WP7. Need to get the latest weather details? Then refer to the AccuWeather live tile on the start screen. Want to tweet about your lunch? Hit the 'Me' tile and type your message. Have to post a photo of your lunch too? Take a snap and hit the 'share' option. It's all very seamless, as evident by the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign.
Then there's the polished Zune media player, complete with a Smart DJ functionality to play a mix of your favourite tracks. Our only complaint is that the media marketplace is still absent in South Africa, it seems. Sure, Nokia Music and MixRadio do a fantastic job in their own right, but we'd like to access our library on the Xbox, among other cool features.
Although the platform is intuitive and ranks highly in terms of social integration, there are still a few areas it needs work on.
For instance, the support for USSD dialling codes is pathetic. So you can do the basic stuff like check your balance, but if you'd like to purchase airtime using your loyalty points, you have to memorise a complex string of numbers.
The other area in need of work is the app situation, with Microsoft making headway in any event. Although there are 100 000 apps in the Marketplace, many Android and iOS programs are not available. And with developers eyeing Windows Phone 8, this situation is unlikely to change too much.
The Nokia experience once again
The Finnish firm has added its exclusive apps to the platform once again, with Nokia Maps, Drive, Music and MixRadio all doing a stellar job of filling in the gaps left by Microsoft.
Additionally, we have ESPN, Creative Studio for photo editing and the previously mentioned Tango video calling service. But they're not the kind of apps that make users go "wow, I actually need this phone".
Nokia does have one strength though, in the form of their cameras, with the Lumia 900 packing an eight-megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss optics.
The shooter is pretty versatile, although the low-light performance isn't quite as good as the One X and SIII. Colour reproduction isn't as bright as its contemporaries either, but it's not a bad thing by any stretch, giving it a more realistic appearance, it seems. The WP7 platform has a nifty easter egg as well, auto-fixing light levels and showing some extra detail when zooming in on a photo.
The camera has a decent selection of options too, such as macro focus, white balance and ISO. However, if you're looking for neat tricks like burst mode and filming while taking snaps, the SIII and One X are the better picks.
Despite these missteps, the Lumia 900 still manages to combine a great design with an intuitive operating system. And while there's little reason to pick the 900 over the 800, a bigger screen is always welcomed.
But in saying all of that, we simply can't recommend the Lumia 900 knowing that the handset won't be receiving the Windows Phone 8 update. Wait for the wave of multi-core, HD-equipped Windows Phones at the end of the year instead.
Score: 8 out of 10
Click here to view sample photos.