Nokia Lumia 800 – Windows Phone Review

I’ve spent 20 minutes now sat infront of my laptop trying to decide how to start this review. One of the reason’s it’s taking me so long is that I love the Nokia Lumia 800 and I love Windows Phone so I’m trying to work out how to be objective about something I love. The other reason is because I don’t tend to write reviews as I’m not a reviewer. I’m not even a writer, I am simply a user.

That last point though strikes me as exactly the reason why I should write a review. I’m not paid to write reviews, I’m not sent products to rate, I simply bought a product and would now like to let other users what I think about it.

So let’s start with the boring stuff first, the specs:

  • Curved 3.7″ AMOLED ClearBlack glass touchscreen display
  • One-piece polycarbonate body
  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Single Core Processor
  • 512 MB SDRAM
  • 16 GB Internal Storage
  • Wifi
  • Bluetooth
  • HSDPA+

Now that list may not look particularly exciting, especially when compared to the latest Android powerhouse’s on the market. I mean a single core processor? Single? But surely smartphones nowadays need dual & quad core processors?

Well this is where Windows Phone really shine’s and Nokia shows their commitment to producing top of the range quality hardware. Pit the Nokia Lumia 800 up against the latest and greatest Android devices or iPhone in speed tests of everyday tasks and if the internet is anything to believe, then the Lumia will probably win most of the tests.

As it stands, Windows Phone doesn’t need dual or quad core chips, it does everything lightning fast on a single core. I’m not going to get into a slagging match about how certain other smartphone operating systems need dual & quad core processors to run smoothly as it’ll fall on the ears of people who:

  1. don’t understand what I’m going on about
  2. don’t want to hear it
  3. are so blinded by fanboyism that they choose to ignore the fact’s

Things almost certainly will change with the next iteration of Windows Phone aka Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo, but for now there’s no need for the Nokia Lumia 800 to have anything other than a single core to do the things your everyday user wants to do quickly.

To be honest though, your everyday user probably doesn’t actually care about what powers a smartphone. They’ll spout off some specs, but only what they’ve been told. What they really care about is what it looks like and what it does.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is gorgeous!!!! I have the black model simply because I pre-ordered the device for launch day as I was so impressed by it’s announcement, that I just had to have it as soon as. If I’m honest, I’d of loved a white or Cyan model, but they weren’t available at launch. I still love the black model though and I will reiterate that it is gorgeous!

The moment you take the Lumia 800 out of it’s box, the feel of the polycarbonate shell in your hands is sublime. It oozes quality especially when compared to the device I upgraded from (the HTC Desire) which just felt cheap and plasticky.

Then the screen hits you! The curved gorilla glass is a genius addition for me as it makes the screen feel like it’s part of the device not simply a glass screen slapped onto the front of your phone. As you swipe your finger from one side to the other, the action feels more natural as there’s no jarring edges to break the feelings you get as you interact with the Lumia 800.

On a quick note, I’ve mentioned both gorilla glass and polycarbonate shell above, but for an everyday user, what do these things mean? Simple really. The Nokia Lumia 800 is as tough as houses! In almost 5 months of use, I’ve not used a case or cover yet both the screen and shell have no visible marks on them at all. In everyday use, it’s virtually impossible to scratch the Lumia 800.

Back onto the screen, it uses what Nokia calls ClearBlack technology. So what does this mean to you, the user? It means more vibrant colours, better contrast and most importantly better visibility in the sun. I’ve always struggled to use my phones on a sunny day, which although isn’t that much of a problem here in the UK due to the lack of sunny days, it still is annoying. During the UK’s recent early summer though, I tested the ClearBlack display on my Lumia 800 and boy was it good. I’m not going to lie and say that it was just like using the phone indoors, but it was close.

The screen was easy to read and use and at no point did I have to assume the “I’m going to use my phone outside if it kills me by embarrassment” pose which normally consists of finding the most shaded area around, cupping your hands around the phone, whilst pushing your face up to the screen, squinting and sticking your tongue out to the side and if still struggling, hunching over to try and create more shade.

Moving back indoors though, Windows Phone on the Lumia 800 looks beautiful. Windows Phone looks great anyway, but compared to my friends HTC HD7, the colours are more vivid and the image quality overall is just better and less washed out. This is just one way that Nokia has helped the Lumia 800 stand out against other Windows Phone devices.

Another way that the Lumia stands out is in it’s apps. The Lumia 800 come’s with some great exclusive apps and there’s 2 I’d like to highlight: Nokia Drive & Nokia Music. The first thing to note about these apps is that they’re free and come pre-loaded onto all Lumia handsets.

Nokia Drive

For me, one of the killer features of Android devices is the included Google Maps + Navigation, so coming from an Android device to Windows Phone, Nokia Drive is one of the Lumia’s killer features. Like all things Windows Phone, it’s simple to use and more importantly gets you to exactly where you want to go. It’s Turn-by-turn Voice Navigation plain and simple and negates the need to hide away a separate sat-nav when you leave your car. It’s also just as good as the other sat-nav offerings out there.

Through a slew of updates for the app (thanks Nokia for the constant app support), it now also boasts offline navigation. You can simply download the maps for various locations and should you lose connectivity whist on the go, it’ll keep working and even re-route you should you miss a turning due to fiddling with your radio instead of keeping your eyes on the road…

…which leads me nicely onto Nokia Music.

Nokia Music

In a world of subscription based services wouldn’t it be nice if you could listen to the latest tracks or even some golden oldies on the go, using your phone, streamed over the air and not have to pay? Well you can with Nokia Music. You can even create playlists using your favourite artists. Even better, you can download up to 15 hours (I believe) of music for listening offline…for FREE!

It’s a great addition and really helps to show Nokia’s commitment to the platform and it’s customers.

There are other standout features, but I really wanted to highlight those as they’re services that I use regularly.

I’m well aware that I’ve referred to this post being a review of the Nokia Lumia 800, but in a time when Windows Phone is taking a bashing on the internet I feel I need to make a statement about my own personal feeling on Windows Phone. This statement is thus:

Windows Phone is single handedly the finest smartphone OS on the market today!

It’s great to look at, it feels fresh and new even 18 months after it’s release. It’s so simple to use and it’s intuitive. One of my favourite things to show people is it’s integration with a users contacts. I’m not just talking an address book or simple contacts list here though, I’m talking about linking your address book with your Facebook friends list, your twitter follow list, your Linkedin contacts, your email contact list…just everything! From the People Hub you can interact with everyone you know in whatever way you wish to and all in the matter of a couple of presses. It’s impressive and something that a certain other OS is trying to mimic.

That for me is what Windows Phone is about though. Integrating all of your everyday tasks and services to allow you the user to perform your everyday tasks and services in as simple a manner as possible and if it can be done in a attractive way, then all the better. the slogan for Windows Phone is ‘Putting people first’ and that’s what it does. For me, it makes all other smartphone offerings feel like glorified app launchers and nothing more.

My Nokia Lumia 800 has integrated itself into my personal and work life seamlessly and I would probably be buggered should anything happen to it (again, thank you Nokia for Gorilla glass and Polycarbonate body).

There have only been a couple of niggles I’ve had with my Lumia however due to a number of updates, these issues have been for the most part resolved. These 2 issues being battery life and camera quality.

My battery now lasts me more than a day whereas upon launch, I was having to charge my Lumia during the day to keep it lasting til I went to bed. As for the camera, it just didn’t initially hold up against previous Nokia camera’s. However after an update, the camera performance and picture quality has definitely improved and I’m happy to continue snapping away without the need to have a dedicated camera upon my person.

So to finish off, I think it’s fair to say I love the Nokia Lumia 800. As a Windows Phone 7.5 device it performs perfectly. It does everything I want a smartphone to do and the Windows Phone marketplace contains all the apps I need. The build quality shines through, but then I’d expect nothing less from a Nokia device. I happily recommend the Lumia 800 to anyone I meet and enjoy showing it off to people that still think Windows Mobile when they hear Windows Phone.

Even with the slightly larger Nokia Lumia 900 due to hit our shores in the coming months, I’d still recommend the Lumia 800 to people.

Going forward, I’m eager to see what the Microsoft + Nokia partnership produces as I think it’s a perfect pairing. Amidst the Windows Phone 8 update rumours currently doing the rounds, it’d be nice to think that I’ll be able to enjoy the next version of Windows Phone on my Lumia, but I’m also a realist and a technology fan so I will understand if it’s just not possible and will eagerly await the time until I can upgrade to what will be Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 crowning achievement.

As a final note, for anyone that reads this and chooses to comment on this, please remember I’m not a reviewer or a writer, I’m simply a designer and a user. So the above are all just my personal feelings and thoughts, but based upon my own experience’s.