The Nokia Lumia 800 is the first phone to emerge from the Finnish manufacturer’s collaboration with software giant Microsoft. Nokia has said that it is building its future range of handsets around the Windows Phone operating system, so its very interesting to see how this first release has turned out and whether the WP platform will be able to rival the giants of Android and iOS.
- Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
- Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor
- 512 MB RAM
- 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches (~252 ppi pixel density)
- AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
- Gorilla Glass
- Nokia ClearBlack Display
- 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus and LED flash
- Video capture at 720p@30fps
- Li-Ion 1450 mAh battery
Hardware and Design
The Lumia 800 is a good looking handset which is clearly influenced by the design of Nokia’s N8 , however, this time out, styling is made a little sleeker and more sophisticated. At 12.1mm thick the Lumia certainly isn’t the thinnest smartphone around but the way that the contours of the unibody design curve out to a sharp edge at the top and bottom give it a slender feel as well as making it very comfortable in the hand. Another virtue of the unibody chassis is that the handset feels really solid and well-built as there are few joints that can creak and come apart. The only protrusions from the Lumia’s outer shell are the volume rocker, shutter button and lock key and this gives the device a decidedly smooth feel.
The Lumia’s screen is also fantastic and really shows off the sumptuously designed Windows Phone operating system UI. The 3.7-inch, 480×800 pixel AMOLED display is similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S II and is capable of producing sharp images with dark blacks and bright, vibrant colours. The ppi only adds up to 252, considerably less than the likes of the iPhone 4S, but the brightness of the colours more than makes up for this. Corning’s Gorilla Glass covering is also present to protect it from knocks, and the slightly curved edges make it feel very different to using many other, flat-screened smartphones such as the iPhone.
Nokia has put a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor inside the Lumia 800 which has 512MB of both RAM and ROM. Those specs may not seem very impressive compared to the current crop of dual-core offerings, but nevertheless, the Lumia runs very quickly indeed, probably due to the lack of strain that the Windows Phone OS puts on the hardware.
The Lumia 800 has 16GB of internal storage available, which is a more than reasonable amount to hoard digital content, but there are handsets out there with considerably bigger internal storage capacities. Another drawback in terms of storage is that the sleek unibody design leaves no room for a microSD card slot meaning that the internal memory is all the storage the user is ever going to get.
Software and Multimedia
Now to that operating system, and Nokia’s collaboration with Microsoft on which the Finnish manufacturer is pinning its hopes. Windows Phone 7 is a great looking OS and it leaves little doubt as to why Nokia chose to dump Symbian in favour of Microsoft’s offering. All stops have been pulled out with the platform’s design and there has been a complete overhaul from the OS’s previous iterations, with some very impressive results. Windows Phone 7 pulls off the incredible feat of making both Android and iOS look slightly old-fashioned in comparison.
Where as other operating systems have done some interesting things with a very standard design, Windows Phone 7 is a truly original piece of work. It does away with the usual app icons and has a whole new concept of live tiles, all of which can be customised and re-arranged as the user sees fit. Many of the device’s functions, such as messaging and the browser, are represented by their own tiles and other apps can be added to the homescreen as the user wishes. Many of the tiles are animated and give the OS an overall appearance of being active and lively, like there’s always something going on.
WP7 contains many of these animated transitions between different screens and these all run smoothly with almost no noticeable lag in the phone’s operation at all. Online performance is equally as fast with the Lumia having no problems loading full webpages when using either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection.
Social networking is integrated into the OS too, so the Lumia 800 can recognise each person’s messages from various sources and compile them all together in one place. Nokia Drive and Nokia Music are free services pre-installed on the handset and both work very well, with the former providing users with accurate sat-nav system and the latter bringing a free audio-streaming service to the table However, Windows Phone has its biggest drawback when it comes to apps – there just aren’t as many available as on other platforms. Developers have shied-away from Windows Phone due to its lesser sales figures, preferring the much more popular platforms of Android and iOS. Search for your favourite app and there really is a big chance that it’ll not be there, which is disappointing since the OS excels itself in almost every other aspect.
The Lumia 800 offers an 8 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, specs that are similar to the iPhone 4S and several other high-end devices. Nokia may have made headlines a few years ago with the N8’s 12 megapixel camera but the Lumia 800 sadly doesn’t follow suit despite its camera being reasonably good. We found the autofocus to be a little annoying and very limiting compared to the tap-to-focus functionality now available on many flagship smartphones and the camera itself doesn’t perform particularly well in poor lighting conditions. However, when the lighting is right it does produce crisp, sharp images and the LED flash adds to the quality of images taken in taken in low light settings, if not as much as we’d have liked.
The video recording function, which captures footage in 720p at 30fps, is a credit to the Lumia 800 though. The footage produced has real depth and strong colours although it is susceptible to camera-shake if you have an unsteady hand. The camera app is also in keeping with the Windows Phone aesthetics and look great – when filming video a timer appears across the frame and dims as footage is captured, giving you information about how long you’ve been filming without getting in the way.
Performance and Verdict
Nokia’s latest device is a fantastic host for a fantastic operating system. Windows Phone 7 looks brilliant and does something new and original with a smartphone OS rather than imitating the more successful platforms made by Google and Apple. The only drawback with the OS is the lack of apps available but if the platform itself had the range that iOS and Android can boast it would be a seriously strong contender.
The Lumia 800 itself has some let downs, such as the camera’s average performance and the lack of microSD card expansion, but it is beautifully designed and functions well. The slender, unibody casing is amongst the best we’ve seen and the bright, bold screen shows of Microsoft’s OS very well indeed.
Nokia is hoping that its Windows Phone collaboration will turn the Finnish manufacturer’s fortunes around and bring it to the forefront of the smartphone world. Rather than trying to do what more successful and manufacturers have done before Nokia is operating on its own terms and has created a quality handset that can really stand up next to the biggest players.