I’ve been playing around with the Nokia Lumia 800 for a couple of weeks now and I’ve noticed that I’ve been giving it a lot more time than what I normally allocate to a review unit. I’ve always found Windows Phone 7 and it’s non-iOS look intriguing and while there have been a couple of good handsets sporting Microsoft’s latest OS, I’ve never found one that has that WOW factor. Does Nokia’s Lumia 800 change that and give Windows Phone the attention is deserves? Lets find out.
Packaged in a nice blue recycled paper box that is a bit taller in size than the iPhone 4S packaging, the Lumia 800 comes with the usual assortment of goodies found in most modern Smartphones. You get a USB cable along with the charging plug, a fairly average headset and the standard quickstart/warranty guides. A protection cover is also included which matches the color of your phone- black, cyan or magenta. I received the black version for review which is probably the least exciting looking one.
Build Quality & Design
The Nokia Lumia 800 looks very much like the Nokia N9
that I reviewed some time back- you can pretty much call them twins separated at birth as you’d be hard pressed to find much differences between them- save for the obvious. Like the N9, the Lumia 800's shell is based on unibody polycarbonate so not only will it survive a drop or two but scratches won’t wear it’s color off. The rounded edges along with the flat top and bottom make the Lumia 800 feel really good in your hand and in my opinion, one of the most well constructed Smartphones out there.
The Lumia 800 is slightly bigger in size than the iPhone 4S
in all dimensions which makes it feel a bit more noticeable in your jeans than Apple’s flagship device. However, it’s still reasonably more pocketable than some of the super-sized Android phones like the HTC Sensation XE
. On the right side, you have volume keys, the power button and a two-step camera button while the top has the 3.5mm connector and the USB and micro-SIM slots hidden behind doors. The front is taken up by large slab of glass that also covers the three required Windows Phone keys which aren’t actual buttons but do offer haptic feedback when touched. Sadly, there is no front-facing camera but the the Carl Zeiss 8MP lens on the back along with dual LED flashes makes up for it.
Specs, Comparison & Benchmarks
Microsoft has been pretty strict with Windows Phone manufacturers over the specs of Smartphones based on their OS which is a good thing as you don’t end up with a product that ruins the experience. On the flip-side, you also lose out on using cutting-edge hardware such as dual core CPUs and the latest/greatest GPUs. The Nokia Lumia 800 runs on 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon chipset with 512MB RAM and features 16GB storage. The following table compares the Lumia 800 to some of the other phones we have tested of late.
|Nokia Lumia 800|
|Apple iPhone 4S|
|HTC Sensation XE|
|116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm|
|115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm|
|126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm|
|Scorpion 1.4GHz Single Core|
|Apple A5 1.0GHz Dual Core|
|Snapdragon 1.5GHz Dual Core|
|MicroSD Upto 32GB|
|3.7" AMOLED ClearBlack|
|3.5" LED-backlit IPS TFT|
|480 x 800 pixels (~252 ppi)|
|640 x 960 pixels (~330 ppi)|
|540 x 960 pixels (~256 ppi)|
|802.11 b/g/n with Hotspot|
|802.11 b/g/n with Hotspot|
|2.1 with EDR|
|A-GPS & GLONASS|
|8 MP, Carl Zeiss optics|
|Dual LED Flash|
|Dual LED flash|
|720p @ 30fps|
|1080p @ 30fps|
|1080p @ 30fps|
|Li-Ion 1450 mAh|
|Li-Po 1432 mAh|
|Li-Ion 1730 mAh|
|Starts at AED 2599|
Screen and Touch Interface UI and Apps
The Nokia Lumia 800 features a 3.7” touch screen with 400x800 pixel resolution and ClearBlack display technology that makes the screen look almost as good as the best Super AMOLED displays we have seen from Samsung. While the resolution is not as high the iPhone 4 or the latest Android devices, it still looks pretty amazing and the Corning Gorilla Glass should withstand a fall or two.
It's Nokia’s first Windows Phone based Smartphone and, again, due to the strict requirements from Microsoft, Nokia probably couldn’t do much to change the way the User Interface looks. While this prevents manufacturers like HTC and Samsung to equip their UIs on top such as the HTC Sense or Samsung Touchwiz that we see on Anroid based devices, it gives the end user a much more controlled experience. Depending on how you look at, this could be a bad thing or a good thing as the stock version of Windows isn't as bland as Google’s Android 2.x. Far from it, actually.
The Nokia Lumia 800 comes equipped with the latest version of Windows Phone which is 7.5 and codenamed Mango. Compared to the original release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has made lots of improvements over the original OS. In fact, the UI known as Metro has actually spilled over to Xbox and will also be featured in the upcoming Windows 8 for your computers and tablets. One of the first things you’ll notice about Windows Phone is how incredibly responsive and snappy it is. In fact, even with the single core CPU, it is much more snappier than many dual core Android beasts.
The idea behind the Metro UI is that you work with a collection of Live tiles. With Windows Phone, you have one large or two square tiles in each line that contain information such as your appointments, your messages or your contacts. Since these tiles are live, you can get real time information displayed on them- so for example, a third party weather tile can show current weather on the tile or a messaging application can show the number of new or unread messages. This works really well and looks beautiful at the same time. The following video shows you some of the aspects on the MetroUI and how it works.
You can pretty much tile anything from Windows Phone to your start screen. This can be a contact, a location on a map or an album from your favorite artist. While it’s amazing to have such flexibility to pin tiles to the home screen, the bad side is that you can have a fairly long home screen with many tiles making it counter productive. I think the easily way to solve this would be to allow tiles to act as folders when required- so for example, instead of having three separate tiles on my home screen for Texts, WhatsApp and Google Talk, I could just have one called Messaging with Live updates on the tile.
Above and beyond the OS, Nokia does add a couple of apps to Lumia 800 that you saw in the video. Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive use Navteq maps which, arguably, are the best maos available for the Middle East with live traffic info and 3D displays of buildings.
A new high-end device from Nokia is expected to carry a pretty awesome camera with it and the Lumia 800 is no different. The Carl Zeiss optics based 8 MegaPixel camera takes some pretty decent shots- although it’s not as fast to click and focus as the iPhone 4S. Windows Phone allows you to take pictures from the lock screen but it takes a few seconds for the camera app to load up and another second or two to focus. I managed to miss a couple of kids shot because of this lag. However, when you do have the camera app up and running, subsequent shots are at a decent speed and the quality is pretty good. Again, not necessarily as good as the iPhone 4S or even the Nokia N8 but still better than most mobile phones out there.
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Battery Life & Usability
The battery on the Lumia 800 takes a few days to condition which is true for any Smartphone. When I first started playing with the phone, I was lucky to get a full day and thus disabled push mail. But after a week or ten days, I could easily get by on a full charge even with push mail enabled. Obviously your mileage will vary but a standard day for me is about 40 minutes of phone calls, push email and wi-fi enabled all the time, listening to a few tunes and creating/replying to quite a few texts, emails and tweets.
Sound quality on the Lumia 800 is as good as any other Smartphones- nobody complained about not being able to hear me properly and I was able to hear the person on the other end of the line just fine. The phone never really got too hot either- even with GPS and Wi-Fi radios enabled. About the only time it got a bit on the warm side was when using the camera or video camera but it was nowhere close to being uncomfortable.
Overall, the Lumia 800 is just what Windows Phone needed- a beautiful and well constructed device to show off the beautiful and well designed OS. Microsoft has made a lot of progress between the initial version of Windows Phone and what is out now (Mango). About the only thing holding me back from fully recommending it at the moment is the lack of full Arabic support- while text messages and social media clients display Arabic properly, you still can’t write in Arabic and emails/web pages appear in broken text.
If full Arabic support is not a requirement for you, the Windows Phone OS is now ready to be used as primary phone and Nokia has made a beautiful and fast device to accompany it. More and more applications are coming out by the day for Windows Phone which will only make the platform stronger. Give the Nokia Lumia 800 a try if you are looking for something fresh, fast and different in a world full of iOS clones. You won’t be disappointed.