Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to review the new Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone as one of the first in Germany and as good as the Lumia 800 is - as Nokia's first Windows Phone - as much room it has for improvements - compared to other (non Windows Phone) smartphones. At the end of the day, the Lumia 800 stands in heavy competition with other Windows Phones as well as Android smartphones and the end-user is way more educated today than he/she was 3 or 4 years ago as well has users are expecting more. And therefore, for a smartphone in the 450+ Euro class, I would have expect the one or the other feature adjust- and enhancement to make it an even better more complete device.
- Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive: As superior Nokia Maps is compared to Bing Maps and as good as Nokia Drive works as a basic GPS navigation application, as disconnected are both from each other. It's simply not possible to route with Nokia Drive to a target found in Nokia Maps. Also it's not possible to search for POIs in Nokia Drive which are available in Nokia Maps. While both applications are using the same underlying technology and Nokia databases, they are totally disconnected from each other. I'm not sure if this is a limitation of Windows Phone's application sandboxing but back in February, when Nokia and Microsoft announced its cooperation, it was said that Nokia will have access to Microsoft's platform like no other manufacturer.
- Microsoft Services vs. Nokia Services: When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 it said that one goal was to get rid of the fragmentation as it happened with with Windows Mobile. Definitely a worthily target but with Nokia's new premium partnership it seems the fragmentation came back again. I'm not sure if other manufacturers would be allowed to preinstall their own Maps and Music services on their Windows Phones and even if so, it shouldn't be allowed at all. On a Lumia 800, users are finding two maps applications and two music players and stores and I'm not sure how much of them will be confused if the opened maps application sometimes looks this way and sometimes the other way. Since Nokia Maps is far better than Bing Maps I would like to see Nokia Maps data to be used by Bing Maps for all Windows Phones. And Nokia Music should be integrated into the Zune Marketplace to have one common interface for music playback and download.
- Nokia Category on Marketplace: For some reasons, there's no Nokia category in the Marketplace which is somewhat unusual. All other manufacturers have their own categories in the Marketplace which makes sense because there is exclusive content offered. However, the lack of a Nokia category means that it's not possible to re-install Nokia apps if they were uninstalled before. This means that users have to hardreset their Lumia 800 to get back previously uninstalled applications.
- DLNA and HDMI Support: If Nokia is well known for one thing it's their camera quality thanks to the Zeiss optics Nokia is using for years now. However, photos and videos taken with the Lumia 800 are pretty much locked-down to the device (as long as they are not synchronized to a local PC or Windows Live) because the Lumia 800 is neither supporting wireless DLNA nor MHL HDMI out to transfer multimedia content to connected TVs or audio equipment. Sure, this is still a niche topic but then again, it's not that unusual for a smartphone in the 450+ Euro price range and personally I'm using MHL HDMI as well as wireless DLNA pretty often to either show photos or listen music and watch videos on connected TVs.
- Tethering: Yes it's said that this is coming with a later firmware update but it's not here today. That's somewhat sad for a brand new Windows Phone which is running the latest OS version which just brought tethering to Windows Phone 7.5/Mango.
- Front-Facing Camera: Years ago, when UMTS was launched, front-facing cameras were a hot topic and carriers hoped for a new revenue-stream with UMTS-based video telephony. However, this service never ramped up until services like Skype, Qik and others introduced it as a free of charge enhancement for its own chat software. Today, IP video telephony is pretty common and because it's so common, Microsoft even purchased Skype. Therefore it can be expected that Skype will hit the Windows Phone platform sooner or later as well, as it is already available for Android where it is working quite good. While Skype is typically also supporting the main cameras on the back only, the fun and joy only comes with a front-facing camera but unfortunately the Nokia Lumia 800 lacks it, even if Nokia proved with the Lumia 800's sister-device, the Nokia N9, that there is enough space to integrate a front-facing camera. At the end of the day it means that the Lumia 800 is already a slightly outdated hardware platform, even if it's brand new.
No question, no product, no platform and no service is perfect and there's always room for improvements. And the items above are the main areas where I would have improved the Lumia 800 before it was launched. As always, this is a pretty subjective list of my experience and I wonder if you agree or not or would you have changed?
Cheers ~ Arne