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Nokia Lumia 800 Review
It’s the end of the year and Nokia has finally announced its “Piece de resistance” handset – the Lumia 800. It’s the first, of course in the series and is based on their MeeGo running N9 device only this one is, of course, running on the latest version of the Windows Phone 7 OS, which is Mango. We’ve already done a detailed preview of the handset where we outlined the kind of features it comes with, but here’s a closer look at the overall functionality.
The Lumia 800 is built out of a single block of Polycarbonate plastic. Don’t let the ‘plastic’ part sway you as the handset is quite durable. It sustained quiet a few hard knocks and drops from about 2 feet without too much of scratching or any issues with functionality. The 3.7-inch, slightly raised gorilla glass display, although quite a fingerprint magnet, survived quite a bit of torture without giving in to scratches. So, in terms of durability and funky design form, the Lumia 800 is definitely high on our ranking. If the slippery shell doesn’t meet your fancy, worry not as Nokia has thrown in a rubberized case that makes it much easier to manage.
Slim and sleek
Check out our Hands-On preview for more information on the 800’s design.
Features and Performance
Powered by a 1.4GHz Scorpion processor and running the Windows Phone Mango (7.5) OS, the Lumia 800 is a seriously speedy handset. When it comes to functionality, as limited as the OS itself may be, the Lumia 800 manages to do everything it’s capable of extremely well. WP7’s stripped down; visually simplistic user interface is what keeps most of their handsets, irrespective of processing power, running quite smoothly. The Tile and Hub set up is really what makes WP7 so attractive. Unfortunately for Nokia though, this fantastic piece of hardware can’t live up to its true potential that’s curtailed by the OS. The Linpak Benchmark test we subjected it to gave us a score of 49.3 Mflops, which is impressive as far as mobile handsets go. Multi-tasking was, of course, a non-issue.
Simple and easy to mange UI
Although WP7 is a user-friendly system, like we’ve said many times before, it’s still in its nascent stage and will require a considerable amount of tweaking before it can really give Android or iOS a run for their money. The few things about the Lumia 800 we took issue with, included the fact that Nokia has decided to go Micro SIM on us and also leave out the external memory support. Like the N8, the uni-body design translates to; should your phone hang, restarting it will not be as easy as it used to be. Thankfully, the Lumia 800 functioned without any “hang-ups”. But it seems like a - if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em - type of sentiment is at play here.
What we also noticed with the otherwise crystal clear display was that whites usually took on a slightly yellowish tone. This was especially noticeable on websites with white backgrounds. Other than that, visibility in broad daylight from any angle was top-notch.
It was quite surprising to see that Nokia missed on including any audio enhancements for the 800 and that is a major downer. Audio quality was consistent with any other high-end smartphone, but it could have surely been better with a few options to personalize the output. We did find the decibel level a tad low, especially in crowded areas. The speaker phone was also a little too low for our comfort level. The built-in FM radio was just fine and even managed to pick up signals quite well on a daily commute through the city. Nokia has pre-installed TuneIn for Internet radio options as well.
The audio quality would have been so much better with some enhancement options
Once again, we were plagued with the Zune menace, meaning we had to make sure that our videos were first compatible with the software, before it could take its own sweet time transferring to the handset. Once on the handset, the picture quality, Nokia’s Clear Black Display enriched the colors. 16Gigs of internal storage space is also quite a bit to keep media lovers fairly satisfied, even if they can’t extend it any further.
The connectivity domain, the Lumia 800 comes across as a very capable smartphone. Packing 3G Wi-Fi capabilities under its belt, you’re good to go wherever you are. What is lacking though is the facility to create a hotspot, something that even the guys at Apple made sure of including with their latest devices. While we’re quite fond of the IE browser on WP7, the lack of Flash and Silverlight support was a bit of a setback. Speed-wise, the browser functions very well. Setting up accounts of any kind is a breeze, just sign-in and let the device do the rest from syncing with People’s Hub for your contacts to e-mail and calendar dates. Social networking, chatting, posting messages is a real easy task on the 800.
One of the better mobile navigation tools
The Lumia 800 also includes Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Bing Maps, which we thought was overkill. Nokia Drive is a real boon for those unfamiliar with cities they’re travelling to or even living in. The interface is easy to read and getting locations and details in the area is also simple and quick. With Bing Maps pre-loaded, Nokia Maps seems a bit redundant, but it’s there, nonetheless. Times Point is another pre-loaded application that gives you all kinds of information on what’s going on in your geographic location. There’s also the Weather Channel and Nokia’s App Highlights that showcases a list of Lumia 800 friendly apps, specifically chosen for the device. You can shake the handset to get new apps displayed.
The marketplace is loaded up with all kinds of handy apps and plenty of free Maps for Nokia Drive. Pity no one’s developed a multiple codec supported video player… yet.
Basic mobile functionality from the Calendar for appointments, reminders etc, Alarm clock and a Calculator are also onboard. What you don’t see here, you could easily find on the market place. Microsoft Office with SkyDrive and Office 365 support is also really handy.
For work and Play
An 8 megapixel shooter is strapped onboard the rear of the Lumia 800 with Dual LEDs comprising of the flash. Settings include scene modes, white balance, ISO settings, a few effects and a Macro mode. Sadly there’s no 1080p HD video recording support, which is another drawback. The maximum resolution is 720p HD for video. Image quality was not what we expected from a Nokia device. Image focus was a problem in most areas when talking about quality in slightly low lit outdoor conditions. Video recording, in stark contrast was quite good with pretty decent audio levels.
Not as good as we hoped
A 1450mAh battery sits under the Polycarbonate shell and is quite capable of providing users with a fairly decent battery life. In our stand alone video test, with all connectivity turned off, the Lumia 800 ran for 6 hours and 35 minutes before shutting down. In our tech2 Loop Test, we ran the handset for 8 hours and 20 minutes non-stop. Usage, with EDGE running constantly, included 2 hours of video, 2 hours of audio, 2 hours of audio streaming, 2 hours and 20 minutes of calls. On 3G though, don’t expect too much as we were barely able to use it for a full day before it required a charge.
A warm yellowish glow off the display
The Bottom Line
Nokia has priced the Lumia 800 at Rs. 29,990 (MRP), which does make it one of the more expensive WP7 handsets on the market today. This could be a problem for the company as cheaper options like the HTC Radar could pose as a competitor. Granted we’re talking about a company that was once held in extremely high regard in this field, but if Nokia is looking to make a serious comeback, the Lumia 800, as well-built and powerful a device as it is, is just too damn pricey. The last thing we need right now is another “premium” type product with limited functionality; I think we’ve gone way past that curve.
Should the new WP7 updates bring features like hotspot creation, Flash or at least Silverlight support, HD video recording and most importantly reduce dependency on specific content transfer software like Zune, the Lumia 800 is just the handset to take Nokia back up a few notches on the list.