Nokia’s adoption of the Windows Phone 7 platform will steer a new direction to the Finnish company. Among the first few handsets that was borne out of this new partnership with Microsoft is the Nokia Lumia 800. Check out our full review after the jump.
The Nokia Lumia series isn’t the first line of handsets that got Windows Phone 7 out of the box. For over a year now, several other manufacturers have dipped their toes into the Microsoft’s new mobile platform.
Nokia’s decision to join the WP7 party is both interesting and surprising. This is because after losing the smartphone market, a lot of critics have suggested to Nokia to adopt 3rd-party mobile operating systems. Both Android and WP7 were considered. In the end, Nokia picked WP7.
The Lumia 800 represents one of the first few handsets showcasing Nokia’s ability to steer into the new direction. Yet, even before that, they also tried another platform in the name of Meego Harmattan for the Nokia N9.
Obviously, Nokia just recycled the design of the N9 for the Lumia 900 and the Lumia 800 with very minimal UI or navigation changes. Whether it’s because they ran out of design ideas and was rushing the Lumia or the original design of the N9 was already pretty impressive is still unknown, I am inclined to believe it is the latter.
The Lumia 800′s 3.7-inch display screen is just enough — not too big like the usual 4.3-inchers but not too small either. Besides, the Metro UI doesn’t really need a big screen real estate to be functional but if you’re heavy on the web and watching videos on your phone, I guess that 3.7″ might feel a bit lacking.
Nokia used AMOLED in their curved glass display which makes it look stunning. The edge to edge screen is just pretty although I don’t understand why they still had to have the glass protrude or embossed around the edges. It made sense with the Meego UI but not with the Metro UI.
The polycarbonate unibody design is simple yet elegant; the soft, matte finish is smooth to the touch and the cyan paint job completes the eye-candy look.
The power button is on the left side along with the volume controls and the dedicated camera button. All four buttons come in polished silver accent. The micro-USB port and the micro-SIM card cradle are tucked away in a sliding contraption at the top end of the handset. And yes, Nokia still uses a micro-SIM card on this one.
At the bottom corner of the display panel are touch buttons for Home, Back and Search (typical of a WP7 handset).
I’ve extensively used WP7 before with the HTC HD7 that I bought and used for about 6 months from December of 2010 so I have a fairy good experience with the OS. At that time, I must admit that despite the great UI and very refreshing, responsive user experience, it suffered from lack Market support and sparse apps.
The update to Windows Phone 7.5 Mango has significantly changed all that and Nokia has even added a few very good features and functionalities not found in other WP7 handsets. And I must say that I love the Nokia Drive with local maps support and turn by turn navigation.
From a UI perspective, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango still offers the same sleek and intuitive interface that’s simple yet splashy.
Since a couple of weeks ago, the Windows Phone Marketplace has also opened in the Philippines allowing user to download paid apps. And while most of the common apps you’d be using in iOS or Android are also found in the WP Marketplace, there’s still a number that’s conspicuously missing.
Nevertheless, I still love the native email, Twitter and Facebook app. The contacts linking also works like a charm.
The 8MP camera on the Lumia 800 is the same camera used in the Nokia N9. It shoots good to great pictures especially on well-lit conditions. The images degrade once you start shooting in low light conditions.
The Lumia 800 can also take videos of up to 720p HD quality. Here are some sample shots taken with the camera. Notice the autofocus adjusts every several seconds or so (evident in the car park scene below).
Windows Phone 7 has indeed shown that it does not need top-notch hardware to work fluidly and while the Lumia 800 on sports a single-core, 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor with just 512MB RAM, the handset works smoothly and the system is pretty responsive, over-all. Web browsing with the native IE mobile browser is also pretty fast and smooth.
Nokia Lumia 800 specs:
Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon 1.4GHz
Adreno 205 GPU
3.7â€³ AMOLED display @ 480Ã—800 pixels (252ppi)
Nokia ClearBlack display
16GB internal storage
HSDPA 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
8MP autofocus camera, Carl Zeiss optics, dual-LED flash
720p video recording
FM Radio tuner
GPS w/ aGPS support
Li-Ion 1450mAh battery
Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
Release Date: TBD
Suggested Retail Price: TBA
Conspicuously absent in the feature-set is NFC which, according to Microsoft, is not yet supported by Windows Phone 7.5 Mango (a WP7 update will eventually support it).
Also, since there is no expansion SD card slot, you have no choice but to contend with the 16GB internal storage.
The virtual keyboard on the Lumia 800 is easy and comfortable to use but considering the relative size of the screen, I tend to make more mis-types than usual (compared to when I am using the HTC HD7).
Battery life is pretty decent actually; oftentimes better than any Android handset with the same battery rating. I’d get a full days use with minimal connectivity and multimedia playback. One disadvantage with the unibody design though is that you can’t just easily replace it with a fresh one.
The Lumia 800 offers a lot of promise for Nokia. Great design, good hardware configuration, refreshing new OS and hopefully, a more competitive pricing. What actually separates Nokia WP7 from the other WP7 handsets we’ve tried before is the turn-by-turn navigation offered by Nokia Drive. It’s not much but it’s a start.
The Nokia Lumia 800 has not yet been officially launched and released in the Philippines but units are now being sold online stores for about Php23,500. You can get one here at Widget City.
Disclosure: Widget City supplied this handset for review. They’re also selling it for Php23,500 but this review unit will be disposed at an additional Php2,000 discount (makes it just Php21,500). Widget City is also a banner display advertiser on this site.