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Nokia Lumia 900 4G LTE speed test (hands-on)

CNET editors on two coasts see what AT&T's 4G LTE speeds can do for Nokia's flagship smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 900
Josh Miller/CNET

By the time you can finally buy the eye-popping Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone on AT&T on Sunday, it will be one of the first two Windows Phones, ever, to surf 4G LTE. (The HTC Titan II, also a Windows Phone, will be the other.)

It's one thing to claim lightning-fast data speeds and another to actually produce them, so the two of us took two Lumia 900 devices on a network test in our respective cities -- Brian in New York, and Jessica in San Francisco.

Though we used the same BandWidth app for Windows Phone OS on identical handsets, results were dramatically different.

AT&T performed great for Brian, averaging 19.5Mbps down and about 6.13Kbps up in multiple neighborhoods and boroughs. The phone even managed to grab hold of a strong signal within the CNET offices, something that troubles Verizon's vaunted 4G LTE network. This kind of throughput made downloading megabytes of audio podcasts and surfing through graphically complex Web sites a piece of cake.

Nokia Lumia 900
CNET editor Brian Bennett got blazing LTE speeds on the Nokia Lumia 900 in Manhattan. Sarah Tew/CNET

Across the country, LTE was much more choked-up in San Francisco. Jessica's speed tests averaged at 7.69Mbps down and 2.99Mbps up, with highs of 10, 12, and 11Mbps and lows of about 3Mbps down.

Data speed test on the Nokia Lumia 900
Speeds weren't so zippy for Jessica Dolcourt in San Francisco. Josh Miller/CNET

Admittedly, the app's speeds are diagnostic, and slower LTE speeds in one market versus another could be caused by many things. Jessica has seen speeds much closer to what Brian witnessed on AT&T's LTE network in San Francisco on other handsets, like the LG Nitro HD.

Of course, LTE was newer then and fewer people had compatible phones; more LTE users in a geographically dense area could cause higher congestion. It's one possible explanation of many.

Regardless of the diagnostic measure, we were both pretty satisfied with the Lumia 900's LTE performance in real life. CNET's graphically rich desktop site, for instance, finished loading in about 15 seconds for Jessica, which is still pretty fast.

For an in-depth photo comparison, call quality tests in New York and San Francisco, and all the phone's pros and cons, be sure to check out the full Nokia Lumia 900 review.