Smartphone watchers can’t fail to have noticed the announcement Nokia made in February that it was going to start offering Windows Phone 7 based smartphones. Well, the first model has arrived, hoping to tip Apple’s new iPhone 4S off its perch. So what has Nokia made of Microsoft’s Smartphone OS?
Pulling all the stops out
The marketing campaign has been slick, but then Nokia has put a lot of effort into the Lumia 800. It looks sleek on the outside, and there are a few surprises on the inside too.
The Nokia Lumia 800 comes in black, cyan and magenta. The hardware design is very similar to that of the MeeGo-based N9, and the very solid one-piece chassis is made from polycarbonate, which should take knocks and drops very well. Its rubbery finish feels lovely in the hands. A slight tapering of the long edge adds panache.
Bold, but not brash
The Lumia’s one-piece design means you can’t get to the battery, and we had a slight issue with the design of two of the connections on the chassis. They’re both on the top edge, one is a microUSB port, the other is for your SIM. It’s a microSIM, incidentally. You can’t get to the SIM card slot without first opening the microUSB cover. It won’t matter too much in everyday use – how often do you need to get to your SIM? But we can’t help thinking that if this were an iPhone, Steve Jobs would never have let it happen.
The screen measures 3.7in, which is not vast by the standards of a modern smartphone, and has the Windows Phone standard resolution of 480×800 pixels. It uses super AMOLED technology, and it looks great.
The Lumia 800′s specifications are pretty impressive. Nokia has kitted the handset out well with a single-core 1.4GHz processor and 16GB of internal storage – but as ever with Windows Phone, there’s no support for external microSD storage to beef that up. There’s no front-facing camera for videoconferencing either, which is a pity, but there’s an 8-megapixel main shooter with Carl Zeiss optics.
Over the air
The Nokia Lumia 800, like other Windows Phone-based smartphones, is a very, very connected device. Contacts and calendar have to come over the ether to the handset, either via a corporate system or by using your space on Windows Live on the web. Private users get 25GB of Skydrive storage for documents that sync with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps on the handset, and which can store photos that are automatically uploaded too.
Syncing from your local computer is possible for media only (podcasts, music, video etc), and that’s via Microsoft’s Zune service.
Among the 500 updates to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system that have been made in version 7.5 ‘Mango’ is Twitter integration – so this, Facebook and LinkedIn data can now be drawn down over the air.
A feature called Local Scout delivers local venue data via Bing, and you can ‘pin’ maps, calendar appointments and other stuff to the start screen, as well as having app shortcuts there. It’s all very slick.
To the Windows Phone standard fare Nokia adds its own Maps app and the superb Nokia Music Mix Radio, which is effectively free streaming music available whenever you want it – with the option to buy tracks you like.
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- Great hardware design; good camera; Nokia has made some neat additions to Windows Mobile.
- No memory expansion; no Flash support.
It's hard not to like the Nokia Lumia 800 in terms of design, how far Microsoft has developed its operating system, and what Nokia adds to it. But there are downsides. You can't expand its storage with a microSD card, and there's no support for Flash - though, with the announcement that Adobe is discontinuing development of Flash for mobile devices, that's less of a big deal than it used to be .
There's also no desktop sync for contacts and calendar, and - as yet - a relatively small software market. We like the Nokia Lumia 800, but we don't love it.