It took a while, but Nokia finally listened to both the public and the press and ditched its unpopular Symbian smart phone operating system.
What seemed modern and forward-thinking when it first appeared had become tired and out of touch, overtaken by the innovations of iOS and Android. So along comes the Lumia 800, the first Nokia phone to feature the latest Windows Phone 7.5 Mango OS, and it comes with all Nokia’s hardware know-how, including a new polycarbonate shell, a fine screen, speedy processor and 8 megapixel camera.
Design and build
It’s a sizeable handful at 117x61x12mm and 142g, but nothing that’s going to stretch your pockets out of shape. That one-piece polycarbonate casing feels sturdy yet warm, without the coldness you find on Apple’s metal-trimmed iPhone, for instance.
On the sides are a volume rocker and camera shutter button, while on the top there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack plus microUSB power/sync slot and micro SIM slot, both hidden behind secure plastic covers.
The bight, sharp, 3.7in AMOLED screen lies beneath a sheet of tough Gorilla Glass from Corning and offers an extremely good, if not quite class-leading resolution of 800x480 pixels.
On paper it lags behind the high-end gorgeousness of the iPhone or Samsung’s Super AMOLED devices, but to the naked eye, there isn’t really a huge amount of difference.
Interface and OS
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango is the first update to Microsoft’s revamped smart phone OS and it’s a bit of a beauty. It still has that easy and intuitive design with the big, thumb-sized tiles, but more of these are now active – the People tile offers ever-changing views of your contacts, and you can set it up to alert you when you receive a message from one of them.
It’s not quite as versatile as the widgets from Android, but it’s an advance on the iPhone’s static icons.
The 8 megapixel camera boasts one of those fancy Carl Zeiss lenses that Nokia has featured on its higher end cameras for the last couple of years.
It has an LED flash and autofocus and takes some good pics if you’re careful, though it takes its time getting there and it’s perhaps a bit too sensitive to poor lighting conditions to pass muster as a do-it-all snapper. There’s no front-facing camera for video calling however.
Video quality is pretty good though, offering a maximum resolution of 720p HD at 30fps – not the 1080p you can get with some of the recent dual-core devices, but you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference.
Apps and browser
Good as it is, Windows Phone has at least one serious drawback compared to its rivals – the Windows Marketplace is still quite a lonely place to be, comparatively speaking.
Whereas Apple’s App Store luxuriates in close-on 600,000, and the Android Market is rocking 400,000, the Windows Marketplace is getting by on 60,000 or so available apps.
So if new apps are your thing, you’ll get much more choice with another phone, but it’s enough to stock up on social networking and productivity apps, and with a few games for your spare time, the Marketplace is looking healthier than it has for a while.
Nokia Drive sat nav comes as standard and it’s free. It uses Bing Maps (now rebranded Nokia Maps) but has the advantage over the Google alternative because you can download the maps rather than connecting to them online, saving on roaming charges when you’re abroad.
Media and connectivity
The music player will sort and sync your tunes using the Zune software, which makes it nice and easy to manage your music.
It also comes with an extra treat in the shape of Nokia Mix Radio, a sort of simplified version of Last.fm, which offers set playlists of tunes in a variety of genres. So you can choose rock, soul, pop etc, and stream a goodly selection of old and new beats – and the best bit is that it’s free, except for your data charges.
Performance and battery life
It’s nice and fast thanks to the single-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor backed by 512MB RAM which seems to whizz through app opening and web browsing.
As with all the Windows Phone handsets we’ve seen so far, there’s no option to expand the memory via microSD card. This is a shame, but at least you’ve got a fairly respectable 16GB of storage on board.
The 1450mAh battery gave a pretty good account of itself, delivering a good day and a half of steady use.
- Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
- 8MP camera with 720p HD video recording
- Bright, sharp 3.7in AMOLED screen
- Fast processor
- No expandable memory
- No front-facing camera
- Windows Marketplace seems puny compared to rivals
Verdict: It’s still a question of taste whether you prefer the simplistic layout of Windows Phone to the busy versatility of Android, but Nokia’s latest makes good use of all the OS has to offer, and adds a decent camera, fine screen and fast processor too.
More info: Nokia Lumia 800 spec