Review: Nokia Lumia 800
The Nokia Lumia 800, simply put, is a beautifully crafted smartphone loaded with great software that has massive potential. The unique and gorgeous design is superior to most smartphones in the market today and the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system has evolved into an intuitive and feature-packed offering that’s worthy to get in the ring with iOS and Android. I can’t categorically say that it’s better in every way but it does beat both in some aspects (while it fails in several as well). The Lumia 800 is definitely a great way to kick off Nokia’s foray into the smartphone rumble! Our full review below.
Nokia Lumia 800 Specs Sheet
- 1.4 GHz Scorpion CPU (Single core)
- 512MB RAM
- 16GB Internal Storage (Non-expandable)
- 3.7-inch Nokia Clear Black Display (480×800, ~252 ppi)
- Corning Gorilla Glass
- HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Camera: 8MP (3264×2448 pixels) Carl Zeiss, Autofocus, Dual-LED flash
- Video: 720p, 30 FPS
- OS: Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
- Battery: Li-Ion 1450 mAh
When it comes to hardware design we have nothing but praises for the Lumia 800. The single polycarbonate unibody build of the Nokia Lumia 800 was inherited from the Nokia N9. Everything that you loved about the N9 is present here — from the SIM and micro-USB covers at the top to the buttonless front screen. The only buttons can be found at the side for the volume and sleep/wake controls. The phone feels solid and premium in your hand and believe me when I say that there will be moments that you’ll just stare at it and be amazed at how beautiful it is, hehe!
To give you guys a better idea of the look and feel of the Lumia 800 we put together this 1-minute video.
For more details on the packaging and some stuff we might have missed on the hardware, feel free to check out our initial Nokia Lumia 800 Unboxing article.
Software: Windows Phone 7.5
Now this is the part where we’ll focus on for the review. The Lumia 800 runs Windows Phone 7.5 and the question on a lot of people’s minds is if the Windows OS is at par with either Android or iOS. Like what we said above it’s actually better at some aspects than either phones. We’ll go through the key software features in this section.
User Interface, stability, and intuitiveness
If there’s one word that I’d use to describe the entire Windows Phone 7.5 experience it would be “Simplicity”. I don’t mean it in a way that’s negative, in fact it’s totally the opposite! I had no problems adjusting and getting used to the Windows Phone 7.5 OS despite being a long time iOS and Android user.
Despite the seemingly mediocre specs (single core processor, 512MB RAM), scrolling, changing apps, and moving around the screen is a pleasant and fluid experience! It’s buttery smooth unlike the lags that you usually get with Android that have even better specs. You have to give Microsoft props for optimizing their software. I’m really impressed with the performance of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango.
The Metro user interface used by Windows is also very easy to grasp and play around with. Instead of the usual app grid that you have with iOS or the complex widgets with Android, you get several “tiles” or “windows” of your apps. These mini-widgets can actually show information or images depending on the app or it can just display the logo and function like a shortcut. You can put different apps here by “pinning” them to the home screen. To go to the list of all your apps as well as the settings just tap the arrow on the upper left.
This is what some apps look like when you pin them on the home screen:
Core Apps: Messaging, Contacts, Mail, and Calendars
The Lumia 800 delivers the core apps in a beautiful package using the Nokia Pure typography. Letters are easy to read and the size of the text is actually just right for me (some might find it too big). The typography translates very well across different apps. Let’s go through some of them.
For messages you have threading per user that you’re texting with. As you can see from the photo above the typography is excellent! By the way you can change the color of the tiles and boxes. I just prefer them in blue but you can change it to other colors like red, violet, etc.
Typing on the on-screen keyboard is not troublesome. Each key is evenly spaced and I rarely made mistakes typing on this with either two hands or just one hand.
The Contacts app is also well-made. You can easily link all the different accounts of your contacts into just one profile so that your address book won’t be messy. You can have all of their social networking and Google accounts in just one place. If they update any of their networks their status will also be reflected.
Another nice core app is Calendars. You can switch from different views (daily, weekly, monthly) easily by just swiping across the screen. You can sync this with Google or Exchange. Also as you’ll see from the photo below this is another instance where the Nokia typography shines.
The Mail app of the Lumia 800 is comprehensive. You can use the it for Gmail, Exchange, and other e-mail accounts. The Nokia typography again looks awesome when applied here. It actually gives you an incentive to check e-mail more often on your phone, haha.
When it comes to the core applications the Nokia Lumia 800 delivers beautifully.
Microsoft made sure that there were customized social networking apps for the Windows Phone. They actually developed the apps themselves and applied the same design principles for the core apps. What do you get? A seamless experience across the most used applications on the Lumia 800.
These apps though are really more for personal usage. If you’re the type that manages different accounts and pages then you’ll have difficulty changing between accounts.
Keeping it consistent
If asked to describe the Windows Phone 7.5 with one more adjective (to compliment “Simplicity”), I would pick “Consistent”. As you saw above the user experience is kept throughout the different applications. You don’t feel like you’re opening a third-party app. Here are three more examples of this principle in play:
Games, games, and games!
One question I get asked often about the Lumia 800 is if it has enough games and applications. To be honest it’s not up there yet with iOS or Android and that’s probably what Microsoft will have to work on more aggressively. However the platform already has a lot of the favorites like Angry Birds. It also has retro throwbacks like Minesweeper!
If you want social gaming or multi-player you can go to the XBOX App which will require you to have a Windows Live ID. Think of this as Apple’s Game Center. In this app you can create your virtual avatar and even buy him/her clothes (lol). Anyway depending on the game you can either compete head-to-head in the same environment or just post and compare scores.
Sadly there’s no Temple Run yet, hehe. 😛
Microsoft Office for Windows Phone 7.5
One particular feature that I was interested in was how they integrated Microsoft Office into the Windows Phone experience. Suffice to say they did it well because they opted to go the Cloud route using Sky Drive. You can simply upload all of your files on Sky Drive and then access them on your phone when you need them.
This is really meant more for viewing and not actually creating and editing, especially with Excel sheets and Powerpoint presentations. It’s still nice to have though! Oh, they also integrated Microsoft OneNote here (for those who prefer that over Evernote).
There are different ways to enjoy your media on the Lumia 800. You can go the Zune route and just stream stuff on to your phone but we didn’t try that since we didn’t have an account. If you’re more of the old school type that just loads up songs and videos via the USB cable then you won’t have too much problems. For Mac users though you’ll have to download the Windows app on the Mac Store so that you can transfer your media over to your phone.
Carl Zeiss Camera, Nokia Drive, and Maps
So other than the stellar hardware what makes a Nokia Windows Phone different from HTC or Samsung? I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days now and it really boils down to the Carl Zeiss camera as well as the Nokia Drive and Maps applications. To this day I still think Nokia has the best implementation of maps and that’s very evident in these two applications. I tried the Drive app a few times already and it’s been reliable. During one of our test drives, it showed me the old route I used to take from San Juan to Makati via Mandaluyong perfectly.
Here are sample shots using the 8MP Carl Zeiss camera of the Nokia Lumia 800:
Shots come out good especially in good lighting conditions. It’s easy to imagine substituting this for your big and bulky camera while you’re on the move.
It’s pretty much the same comparing the battery life of an Android handset, the iPhone 4S, and the Lumia 800. The difference isn’t that noticeable. Yes, all of their batteries suck and you’ll probably need a charge in the middle of the day to get the smartphone goodness flowing (especially if you have 3G and Notifications always ON).
Awesome hardware? Check. Promising and potentially equally awesome software? Check. The Lumia 800 is a great first-try for Nokia. There’s definitely room for improvement but I can’t help but be impressed with how good the combination is of Nokia hardware with Microsoft software! The Lumia 800, other than being a great first product, also shows how deep Nokia’s commitment is to the Windows platform and I can’t wait to see how they will innovate together from this point onwards.
These days there’s some sort of role reversal in the smartphone category. When you say smartphone here in the Philippines you’re talking most likely about Apple, Android, or BlackBerry. It’s amusing that the term “be different” can actually be applied to Microsoft and Nokia in this category but that’s the truth. Android handsets (save for the big ones) and iPhones won’t raise too many eyebrows these days anymore but a Lumia 800 will definitely will.
Pricing and Availability
There’s no official pricing yet for the Philippines but there are online sellers who have this priced at around Php22,000-Php23,000. There’s also no official announcement yet on launch date locally but the buzz going around is that we’ll see the Lumia 800 hit PH shores in Q2 this year.