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REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone 7.5 Smartphone
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 16.11.11 - 18:33:21 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 29012x
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Since this week, Nokia's first Windows Phone is officially available which the company announced late October during its Nokia World. Nokia's new flagship device, the Nokia Lumia 800, runs on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7.5/Mango OS and is powered - quite typical for a Windows Phone - by a Qualcomm MSM8255 single core CPU at a 1.4 GHz. More Nokia-typical are the supported 2G and 3G frequencies and the Lumia 800 supports quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as quadband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA at 850/900/1900/2100 MHz. This allows to use it virtually all around the world. Furthermore it comes with support for WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and aGPS.

Also on board are the Windows Phone-typical FM radio, the proximity sensor and a digital compass but no gyroscope sensor which is now supported by Windows Phone 7.5. The Gorilla Glass WVGA AMOLED ClearBlack and curved glass touchscreen measures 3.7" and integrates seamlessly into to the Lumia 800's unibody polycarbonat body. Bellow the multitouch touchscreen, the device features the backlight illuminated Windows Phone navigation keys. On the right side, the Lumia 800 features the volume rocker, the power on/off switch and the camera button which launches the camera as well as it acts as the shutter.

The 8 megapixel autofocus camera from Carl Zeiss comes with a supporting dual flash LED and allows to record the Windows Phone 7 typical 720p HD videos up to 30 fps. However, for some reasons the Lumia 800 lacks a front-facing camera which is also now supported by Windows Phone 7.5.

All together, the Lumia 800 looks pretty much like its "sister-phone", the Meego-powered Nokia N9 which nevertheless comes with a front-facing camera but lacks the navigation keys under the screen and the dedicated camera button. But these are the only obvious differences between both devices.

Including the non-removable 1450 mAh battery, the Lumia 800 measures 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm and weights 142 g. It comes with 512 MB RAM and 16 GB flash storage. The micro USB port, which is protected by a flap, is located on the top, next to the 3.5 mm stereo headset jack. Next to to the USB port is the micro SIM card slot located. On the bottom of the device, where you normally find the microphone, the Lumia 800 is sporting the loud speaker for media playback and hands-free phone calls.

The Nokia Lumia 800 comes with a silicon case which fits nicely and protects the body of the device. Other accessories are the 100 - 240 Volt USB power adapter, a standard USB to micro USB charging and synchronization cable and a stereo headset with microphone.

All together, the Nokia Lumia 800 feels rock-solid and this shouldn't be a surprise at all. Doesn't matter which operating systems a Nokia phone is running, the company has decades of experience to design and manufacture smartphones, even if the Lumia 800 isn't manufactured by Nokia itself.

For sure, the used operating system is something new and different to Nokia. As the company said during the Lumia launch event in Berlin, the cooperation between Nokia and Microsoft was announced back in February, the contract was only signed in April and the device was announced end of October. That's not too much time for Nokia's engineers to work on a brand new and totally different operating system. And inside the Lumia 800 you see that Nokia hadn't had too much time to integrate its services seamlessly!

First of all, the Lumia runs Windows Phone 7.5, code-named Mango, and therefore it features all the Microsoft goodies and services as well as Microsoft's unique Metro design. And since the device is running Mango, it also features the 500 "under the hood" changes and improvements, Microsoft was talking about when it unveiled Windows Phone 7.5. This includes - but not only - copy and paste, Microsoft's way of multitasking as well as tons of other enhancements like Bing search improvements and enhancements. However, being a Mango phone, the Nokia Lumia 800 also lacks some of the recent enhancements and the most dramatic one might be the absence of WiFi tethering. It's simply not there and therefore it's not possible to use the Lumia 800 as a 3G hotspot for Notebooks or other WiFi equipped accessories around.

Nevertheless, the Mango upgrade made Windows Phone 7 feature-complete and therefore it was the perfect decision to start with Windows Phone 7.5 instead of Windows Phone 7.

When Microsoft and Nokia announced its cooperation back in February, Microsoft also said that Nokia will have access to the operating system as no other partner, allowing Nokia to make changes of the OS (for the benefit of all manufacturers). However, the Lumia 800 isn't reflecting this at all. It lacks hardware components like a front facing-camera which for instance Samsung's new Omnia W already has. And the unique Nokia services are partly complementary to Microsoft Windows Phone services.

The Nokia Lumia 800 comes with Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music. While Nokia Drive is a unique and Nokia-typical navigation solution, Nokia Maps is complementary to Bing Maps and Nokia Music is complementary to Microsoft Zune and Windows Phone Music+Video player. Sure, all services have different features and strengths but for the end user it's confusing to find a Windows Phone Maps and Nokia Maps next to each other as well as a Microsoft Marketplace/Music+Video application and a Nokia Music application in the Start menu. Effectively, all the applications are doing the same.

Anyway, Nokia's experience in services is well reflected in its own apps. While Nokia Drive is a pretty basic navigation software, it's free and has a couple of benefits. For instance it's using Nokia's own Navigon maps which are superior and covers more areas of the world than Microsoft's own Bing Maps. Furthermore, maps can be downloaded to the device which reduces the data usage dramatically; this is especially interesting while in international roaming situations.

However, the routing by itself is quite basic and simply guides the way from a to b. There's no indication of the estimated time of arrival but only how much kilometers are left. Also the settings are pretty basic and only differentiates between 2D and 3D maps as well as day-view and night-view.

Nevertheless, in the recent tests Nokia Maps worked pretty straight forward but had some weaknesses in recalculating routes.

If we are talking about Nokia Drive, we should also have a closer look to Nokia Maps since this is the base for Drive. As mentioned above, Nokia is using its own Navigon Maps. Unlike Bing Maps, which only covers parts of the world, Nokia Maps is pretty complete in terms of the worldwide coverage and the Nokia Maps application on the Lumia 800 isn't only giving a classic paper-maps kind of overview but also providing a satellite view and showing public transportation.

Furthermore it shows point of interests with detailed information like phone, opening hours, and a link to the website as well as photos and reviews. Plus Nokia Maps provides routing capabilities.

Unfortunately it's yet not possible to take over point of interests from Nokia Maps to Nokia Drive to not only get a routing but using the inbuilt navigation capabilities. This shows how stand-alone all the Nokia apps are working at the moment.

Last but not least we have Nokia Music which is a media player and therefore stands in conflict with Microsoft's Music+Video Zune player. However, Nokia Music isn't a media player only but also allows to shop for music and is therefore in another conflict with Microsoft's Marketplace. To complete the confusion, Nokia Music requires its own user account which is - for sure - provided by Nokia. Microsoft's Windows Live ID isn't working for Nokia Music.

On the first sight, Nokia Music looks pretty much the same like Microsoft's Music+Video, offering access to the music library, the mp3 store and a link to gigs.

While the music library seems to run in Nokia Music, it uses the Music+Video player as the underlying application and shows artists, albums, songs, genres and playlists in the Windows Phone typical Metro-style. Furthermore it's also running under the lock-screen as well as currently tracks can be controlled from Windows Phone's Music+Video player.

The mp3 store is - as said - Nokia's own music store which allows to pre-listen and purchase MP3 songs. The price for a typical song is 0.99 Euro which seems to be today's standard price for MP3s.

Quite unique is Nokia Music's gigs which lists live concerts around the current inhabitancy.

While this is pretty neat it unveils again that all the Nokia apps are not linked to each other. For instance does it shows the location of a concert but this location can neither be opened in Nokia Maps nor in Nokia Drive.

The three examples shows two things: Nokia takes the Windows Phone cooperation pretty serious and has brought the best of its own services to the new platform. However, it also seems that there wasn't enough time to link everything smooth to each other and as a product manager confirmed at the Nokia Lumia launch event in Berlin, it can be expected that services might be merged, especially because Nokia seems to have the power and Microsoft backup to do so.

Final Conclusion

The new Nokia Lumia 800 is a pretty decent Windows Phone but I wouldn't go that far to say it's the best Windows Phone money can buy today! I really like it for its design, used materials and Nokia services! In these three categories I would even go so far to say that I love it! Especially the AMOLED screen looks so gorgeous and the curved screen fits so nicely into the overall device design, it's just a masterpiece of design, Also I was impressed by the quality of the inbuilt Bluetooth stack! No other Windows Phone connected that fast to my Audi Bluetooth car-kit! Too bad I haven't managed it to get Nokia Drive working thorugh my Bluetooth car-kit but instead it is using the inbuilt device speaker for navigation commands.
 Nevertheless, as good as the device is, I simply don't like it that a brand new Mango phone lacks features like gyroscope, front-facing camera and WiFi tethering! The gyroscope might be a gimmick today but with Microsoft's recent takeover of Skype, it's clear that Skype will - sooner or later - also hit Windows Phone. And a missing front-facing camera means that video telephony will be virtually impossible in the future. Not to mention that the first video telephony apps like "Tango" already made it to Microsoft's Marketplace and are available today. WiFi tethering is another thing I'm heavily missing. The good news is that it's said to follow with a later software update. However, in the meantime Notebooks and other WiFi enabled gear has to stay disconnected in the corner.
Last but not least, the Lumia 800 lacks some of the other standard features, high-end phones typically support nowadays. Let's mention wireless DLNA here which allows to stream photos, music and videos to DLNA enabled TVs and PCs. DLNA is a pretty typical feature and for high-end phones like the Lumia 800, which in this case even comes with two music stores and therefore it would makes a lot of sense too! I wouldn't expect HDMI since this isn't supported by Microsoft today, but at least DLNA.

But now to the very positive sides too. The Nokia Lumia 800 is super fast and maybe one of the most fluid Windows Phones I've used so far. There's no jerking or anything but everything runs smooth over the screen. And Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive simply rocks. While Nokia Drive is quite basic, maybe a little bit too basic, it's doing the job by bringing you from a to b. And having the maps stored locally on the device is a unique feature other smartphone systems don't offer out of the box. And while we are talking about the maps, the quality of Nokia's maps is fantastic! For instance it even knows massive street changes in my neighborhood, neither Google nor Microsoft Bing Maps seems to have heard about so far. Also the more or less worldwide coverage makes the Lumia 800 a handy companion for international travelers!
Somewhat disappointing is the way the Nokia apps are not working with each other today. Here's a lot of potential to improve the overall user experience but I'm quite sure this is the price Nokia and Microsoft had to pay for the tough timing.
Nokia Music - on the other hand - left me a little bit confused. I see and understand that Nokia also wants its share from music sales but having two different music players on one device and even worse, two different music shops, isn't that kind of user experience Microsoft promised and talked about when it unveiled Windows Phone back in 2010. Even worse, it's going a new way of fragmentation we haven't expected. That's definitely something Microsoft has to fix with its partners as soon as possible. Either by linking partner shops into the Zune Marketplace experience or by removing the Zune Marketplace which nevertheless wouldn't make too much sense.

So what's my final thoughts? Well, I like the Lumia 800, I like the work Nokia has done and and I like Windows Phone 7.5 since it makes Windows Phone 7 feature complete. And I'm confident it will become even better during the next weeks and months. However, the work is definitely not yet done. Nevertheless, I wouldn't go that far to say that the Lumia 800 is an unfinished product. Maybe but only in terms of user experience but for sure not in terms of stability. In that terms the Nokia Lumia 800 is a rock-solid Windows Phone and worth to consider, doesn't matter if you are looking for a smartphone in general or a Windows Phone in particular!

The Nokia Lumia 800 is now or soon available for around for 499 Euro in selected markets in Europe and comes in three vivid colors: cyan, magenta and black.

Cheers ~ Arne

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