Nokia Lumia 800 Review

It’s been a long time coming, but the fruits of Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft has finally arrived in the form of the Nokia Lumia 800 and 710. We finally got some time to review and play with the 800, and it’s safe to say that the device is a sign of good things to come from Nokia and Windows Phone.

The Lumia 800 measures 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm and weighs 5 ounces, which is a bit on the heavy size for a device with a 3.7″ display. That said, with the extra heft comes super solid build quality. With its matte polycarbonate body, this phone is built like it’s meant to last. We’re also especially excited about its other color options. Besides for black, the phone also comes in a choice of eye-popping magenta or cyan, which can both match the Windows Phone live tile color scheme to a T. These color choices are a breath of fresh air from the standard black and white, that most smartphones are covered in nowadays. The design is also unique in the way its top and bottom side are completely flat. Between that and its unibody-like body, the design and form-factor of the Lumia 800 is very reminiscent of the older generation iPod Nano, and we like it! There design also provides easy access to the SIM card slot that is located at the top of the device, so that you don’t have to remove a battery cover for access. Our only major gripe however with the device’s design is the plastic cap that covers the MicroUSB port, as it feels like it has the potential to break off at some point. We were also surprised to discover that the Nokia Lumia 800 only accepts Micro SIM cards. Fortunately we had no problem popping in our iPhone’s SIM into the unlocked Lumia 800 for testing.

The 3.7” ClearBlack AMOLED display on the Nokia Lumia 800 packs in a WVGA 800×480 resolution. It’s also made of a 2.5D curved glass piece that has been seamlessly integrated in to to unibody design of the Lumia 800. The display provides great viewing angles, gets plenty bright and its colors are super vivid. That said, because the display is PenTile based, there is a bit of a pixelated / silvery mesh artifact on the display. We’ve seen this kind of artifact on many other phones, including the new Samsung Focus Flash and many of Motorola’s phones with qHD displays. Fortunately, It’s something that most people wouldn’t notice, and the display is still overall a very good display, but we are a bit bothered by it.

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Under the hood the Nokia Lumia 800 is packing in a 1.4GHz single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 processor with 512mb of ram and 16GB of on-board storage. Performance on the device is excellent. While we don’t have any apps we could use for benchmark testing, we can say that our experience using the device was that it works very fluidly and responsively. Multitasking was a pleasant experience and apps generally pop up and respond quickly.

Aside from the usual Windows Phone fare, Nokia has bundled the Lumia 800 with some special apps like Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music. Nokia Maps feels a little bit redundant when you have Bing Maps available to you, but we love it’s inclusion of detailed public transit routes. Also, the Nokia Drive app is quite welcome since it offers turn-by-turn directions while you’re driving, without having to shell out money for a GPS navigation app. Nokia has also thrown in some non-standard wallpapers for the Lumia 800 which are very nice, and much more interesting than the ones you’ll find on most Windows Phones.

When it comes to browsing the web, the device feels quite speedy. The device has support for HSPA+, which gives it an edge over the first generation of Windows Phone handsets.  The SpeedTest app reported download speeds of 261 KBytes/sec in New York City. Windows Phone Mango also brings Internet Explorer 9 to the table which feels like a much improved and smoother web surfing.

The Lumia 800 packs in an 8MP Carl Zeiss lens with f2.2 aperture optics, auto focus and 720p video recording. It also sports a dedicated camera button. The camera is pretty responsive, but touch to focus is a bit laggy. Overall, the camera produces great shots with sharp visuals and generally accurate colors. Overall, it’s not the best camera on a smartphone out there, but it’s one of the better ones. Also, unfortunately, the Lumia 800 lacks a front-facing camera.

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Call quality on the Lumia 800 is very good, if not exceptional. I could hear callers well and they said the same of me. We did notice however that the device would often show less signal bars than some other phones we were using in the same area. We’re not sure if that means that Lumia 800 has less signal strength, or that the other phones aren’t putting out accurate readings. As far as battery life is concerned, we got nearly a full day out of the Lumia 800’s battery with moderate use, making it about on par with other smartphones.

We’ll have a more in-depth review of the HTC Radar and Windows Phone Mango soon, but to summarize, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango really addresses most of the gripes we had with the first generation of Windows Phone.

All in all, the Nokia Lumia 800 really isn’t all that different than the other new similarly  sized Windows Phones on the market like the HTC Radar and Samsung Focus Flash, nor does it bring anything spectacular to the Windows Phone table. It is however, a solid effort for a first run, and it’s definitely a sign of good things to come from Windows Phone running on Nokia devices. By partnering with Microsoft and going with Windows Phone, Nokia seems to finally be headed in the right direction. it’s really a win win scenario for both parties. The Nokia Lumia 800 is set to be released in the U.S.A. in early 2011, but in the meanwhile it’s available in select European countries. You can also pick it up unlocked at Amazon for $699.

The Good: Excellent performance, design is a fresh of breath air, excellent build quality, very good camera, Nokia Drive and Nokia maps are nice additions

The Bad: No front-facing camera, a bit on the heavy side, No LTE support, no MicroSD slot for additional storage, no Internet Sharing feature – not yet anyway, battery is not removable

Update 1/15/2012: Check out our full review of the Nokia Lumia 710 for T-Mobile


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