Review: Nokia Lumia 800

Microsoft and Nokia’s big partnership on Windows Phone has finally resulted in some hardware. Entering the WP7 market as second generation hardware, the Nokia Lumia 800 is now available...

Nokia Lumia 800

Microsoft and Nokia’s big partnership on Windows Phone has finally resulted in some hardware. Entering the WP7 market as second generation hardware, the Nokia Lumia 800 is now available on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, so before you sign that contract, take a look at what works and what doesn’t.

Hardware

The Nokia Lumia 800 is now the companies flagship hardware on offer in Australia. The 3.7” touchscreen features smooth curved glass and stunning black levels, the best of any phone I’ve used to date. On a personal device like a phone, viewing angle aren’t super critical, however they are impressive on the Lumia 800, so just be careful when reading that confidential message on the train.

The single piece design is only available in a single 16GB model with no user-replaceable battery or microSD card slot for expansion. These two noteworthy items are likely to frustrate some first-gen WP7 owners looking to upgrade. The Lumia 800 does support a 1450mAh battery which will get you through a day’s worth of use and as expected will need to find its way to a charger each night.

The company renowned for having great cameras on their devices, has included an 8 megapixel camera on the back with no front facing camera available. The rear camera features a Carl Zeiss lens, aided by a dual-LED flash and photos get geotagged automatically.

The Lumia 800 is powered by a Qualcomm 1400 Mhz processor and 512MB of RAM which comes tother to provide a very slick experience. Strangely the dedicated Nokia apps like Drive and Music were amongst the slowest performers.

 

Software

The unique partnership between Microsoft and Nokia means the Mango-powered Lumia 800 comes with Nokia made apps out of the box. Nokia Music, Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, App highlights.

This does provide an interesting environment when essentially Nokia and Microsoft apps are competing and included on the shipping device. When you unbox this phone, you essentially have a choice to make.. Microsoft Zune or Nokia Music, Bing Maps or Nokia Maps – a strange choice I’ve never experienced before. On other platforms, 3rd party apps that compete with build-in apps aren’t allowed, but in this instance we have two 1st parties competing.

Nokia Music and Nokia Drive (turn-by-turn navigation) are important differentiators, providing some much needed selling points over other WP7 manufacturers. To get both of these for free could potentially save you a monthly music subscription fee and an annual fee for navigation maps.

Nokia also offer Photo Studio, a downloadable free app, available from the Marketplace under the Nokia section. Photo Studio allows for easy panorama creations, photo effects and all your basic editing needs.

 

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Issues

Unfortunately the Lumia 800 does have some downsides, no device is perfect. There’s currently no tethering available so any data plan you get with the device will have to be used by the phone alone. This may arrive in a future update but for now tethering isn’t an option.

While the camera does a decent job, but don’t be fooled by the 8 megapixel label, this is still a smart phone camera, so don’t expect miracles. The iPhone 4S still holds the title of best camera phone I’ve used.

Network wise the Lumia 800 suffered in areas where network signal strength was low. In locations I’ve successfully used other devices (using the same micro-SIM) the Lumia 800 at times presented no network at all. We all hope to never be in fringe locations, but unfortunately it does happen even when in areas that coverage maps would indicate otherwise.

 

Overall

There’s no doubt about it, the Nokia Lumia 800 is a great device that feels natural in the hand. Although amongst the first Windows Phones from Nokia, this phone matches everything we expect from a second generation device. Compared with the original Samsung Omnia 7 reviewed early December 2010, the Lumia 800 is a great successor.

Whether you’re upgrading to your second Windows Phone or making the switch to Microsoft’s tile-loving mobile platform, you could certainly do a lot worse than the Nokia Lumia 800. The biggest question now is, how long till the 4.3” Lumia 900 reaches Australia’s shores.

For more information, check out Nokia Australia.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.