Mobile Phones Guide

Nokia Lumia 800 review

Nokia Lumia 800 - A Beacon of Hope

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Launch SRP S$775

Overall rating 8/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
7
Value:
7.5
THE GOOD
Free turn-by-turn navigation app, Nokia Drive
Attractive unibody design
Impressive colors and details from AMOLED display
THE BAD
Low battery mileage
Smudge and fingerprint magnet
No option to tether internet from device


Overview and Design

Overview

Nokia’s renewed strategy to work with Microsoft has finally materialized in the form of the Nokia Lumia 800. With Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop declaring it as “the first real Windows Phone”, hopes and expectations are running high on Nokia's latest smartphone, powered by Microsoft’s updated Windows Phone 7.5.

Deep down, the Lumia 800 is armed with some fairly decent hardware. This includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chip, with its single-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz coupled with an Adreno 205 GPU. With 512MB of RAM to work with while most other devices of its class have moved on with 1GB of RAM, we have to wonder if that will be sufficient for its multitasking aspect. If you're more particular about the phone's hardware, here's a quick listing of its specifications:

 

Key highlights of the Nokia Lumia 800

  • Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8255 single-core 1.4GHz processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen / 800 x 480 pixels
  • 8-megapixel camera / autofocus, LED flash
  • 16GB
  • 1450mAh battery
  • 142g
  • 116.5 mm x 61.2 mm x 12.1 mm
     
  • Price: S$775

Design and Handling

Handling the Lumia 800 is like riding a bike. And in this case, the bike is the Nokia N9. it’s understandable for anyone to confuse the Lumia 800 and its unibody design with Nokia’s first and only MeeGo device. The design is downright similar to the N9, and we were not too surprised by the microUSB port hidden underneath a hinged cover. Likewise, you'll have to prop the cover open before you can gain access to the micro SIM card holder. That's right, if you're planning to purchase the Lumia 800 off the rack without a contract, there's still a need for you to either cut your SIM card to micro SIM size, or request for a new one from your telco. This step is probably not necessary if you are swapping from an Apple iPhone 4 or 4S to the Lumia 800.

The contoured design, coupled with a convex screen, does remind us of how we swiped the MeeGo interface on the N9. And it's not too different on the Windows Phone 7.5 interface. As we swiped across the menu, be it up, down, left or right, we were pleased at how the convex design made it easier to sweep across the 3.7-inch display. This is a size that works well, neither too big to require two hands nor too small for your eyes.

There are some slight changes to its design, but ultimately, the overall design doesn’t deviate too much from what we saw on the N9. For those who are wondering about the smaller 3.7-inch display, this is easily explained by the inclusion of the three standard shortcuts for Windows Phone devices. With Microsoft stipulating those three shortcuts as a necessity for all Windows Phone devices, we have 0.2-inch shaved off the screen real estate, leaving it with a smaller, but still manageable 3.7-inch screen size.

Handling the Lumia 800 is somewhat similar to how we felt on the N9, even with its weight boosted to a slightly heavier 142g (from the N9's 135g). As mentioned, with the new shortcut keys, the screen size is reduced by 0.2 inch, but that did not change the overall dimensions of the Lumia 800. Sharing the exact same 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm dimensions as the N9, the Lumia 800 is perhaps one of the heftiest Windows Phone devices to date. Some might see the weight as a disadvantage, but for those who prefer a more solid and sturdy feel to their phones, the Lumia 800 has the right weight balance, topped with a sleek uniform design. Similarly, oil smudges will make a frequent appearance on both the screen and its non-glossy body.

With its volume and power buttons located at the same right profile, an additional camera button (which is also a required hardware button for Windows Phone OS) is fitted towards the lower right profile. When we attempted to capture photos, we realized how the curved body didn't give us a good grip between our index finger and thumb. As such, we had to take extra care to hold the Lumia 800 with both hands while we pressed the camera button to capture the shot.

The new hardware buttons definitely add a new dimension to the usability of the device (as compared to the N9), mostly in how the back, home and search buttons are sufficiently sensitive to our touch. While we aren't too crazy over more buttons on the Lumia 800 as compared to the cleaner N9, there are some upsides to having a dedicated camera button to capture images quickly, and a more obvious shortcut button to return to the previous screen(s).  We do miss how we can unlock the N9 by double-tapping on the screen, and find it much more cumbersome to depress the power button and slide upwards on the screen to unlock the Lumia 800.