Nokia Lumia 800 (TELUS) - review

Added on by TEK.GADG.

It's finally here. The flagship Windows Phone from the Finns, Nokia Lumia 800. Announced at Nokia World last October, the Lumia 800 is the first flagship from Nokia running Windows Phone 7. In the age of iOS and Android, it is becoming harder and harder for new players to gain grounds. Is Nokia Lumia 800 a worthy challenger to the market leaders? Let's find out. 

Hardware

 

  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor
  • 3.7-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display
  • 800 x 480 resolution, 252 PPI
  • 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm
  • 1540 mAh battery
  • 7 hours talk time, 17 days standby
  • 16GB memory
  • 8 megapixel senor, Carl Zeiss lens, 720p video recording, dual LED flash
  • HSPA 850/1700/1900/2100, up to 14.4 Mbps download speeds

The hardware design of the Lumia 800 is simply gorgeous. The unibody polycarbonate shell exudes class, and the curves are as graceful as a phone can be. Only the edges of the display are curved, but it gives an illusion of the whole display being convex. This may sound like a subtle design choice, but it makes a world of difference in use. Fingers slide off the screen with ease, and there is less effort in maneuvering your thumb on the screen. Nokia did not skimp out on the functional aspects either. Machined polycarbonate body feels sturdy enough to bounce off bullets, and the curved gorilla glass laughed at the prospect of getting scratches. The design is a perfect marriage of strength and beauty.

The 3.7-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display takes up most of the front, sandwiched by the ear piece and Nokia logo on top and Windows buttons on the bottom. Volume rocker, sleep switch, and two-step camera button extend along the right side, and left side is void of buttons. Headphone jack sits on top left of the device, and microUSB port and SIM card slots are hidden under plastic covers on top. There is a grill on the bottom of the device that hides both external speakers and the microphone. The 8 megapixel camera, LED flash, and a metal banding with Nokia logo can be found on the back. The device has a unibody design, so there is no way of changing batteries.

This is simply the most beautiful smartphone available right now. It looks pretty in the pictures, but it really is stunning when you are holding it in person. It is incredibly difficult to put the phone down once you have it in your hands. Although it is not the thinnest phone at 12.1mm thickness, it feels much skinnier than other phones thanks to its tapered edges. Many smartphones these days have recycled and boring designs, but Nokia managed to make something that is very minimal and uniquely Nokia.

Display

The Lumia 800 has a 3.7 inch ClearBlack AMOLED display, with resolution at 480 x 800. That is 252 pixels per inch. Colors are vibrant and saturated on the AMOLED display, but there is a trade-off here. The display is PenTile-based, which means there are less sub-pixels on this screen compared to RGB-based displays. This results in slightly less sharp text. This isn't a deal breaker, as some people do not even notice this difference, but it is something to note.

Despite its PenTile arrangement, the display is a joy to look at. Nokia's ClearBlack technology offers deep blacks and almost 180 degree viewing angles by blocking outside light and allowing only the light from the display to be emitted out. The blacks are so deep that it is hard to distinguish the edges of the screen from the black bezel around the screen. It looks amazing in person.

Software

The Lumia 800 ships with the latest version of Windows Phone 7 Mango update. Windows Phone 7 is still an underdog in the market share battle, but it is a top notch mobile operating system. User interface is certainly the most modern and clean out of all, and it is not missing any functionality compared to other platforms like Android and iOS.

What it lacks in apps, Windows Phone 7 more than makes up for it with great core functionality. Bing search suite on Windows Phone now has Bing Vision, Bing Voice, Bing Music, and Local Scout. Bing Vision searches products by book, CD, DVD covers, as well as QR codes and microsoft Tags. This allows users to compare prices on the go and find the best deal around them. It is an essential shopping tool. Bing Voice is like Siri and Google Voice Search. In addition to searching the web with just your voice, you can also open apps using Bing Voice as well. Bing Music can listen to a part of a song and find it on Zune Marketplace, so you can stream it or purchase it on your phone. Lastly, Local Scout is a yelp-like app that finds restaurants and other places-of-interest near you. Internet Explorer 9 is also a very good mobile browser. Thanks to hardware acceleration, pages loaded very fast and scrolling is butter smooth.

Nokia has a history of including great navigation functionality on their phones, and they continue the tradition with the Lumia 800. Nokia Drive, included free-of-charge on Lumia devices, provides turn-by-turn, voice-guided navigation. The app even works in no-coverage areas as well, because map files are stored on the phone instead of downloaded each time. This is better than what iOS and Android offers out-of-the-box.

Windows Phone 7 also has very impressive multimedia features. Zune Marketplace offers Zune Pass unlimited streaming and downloading for just $9.99 per month, which is a really good deal. Zune Pass works across Xbox, PC, and Windows Phone, and it is a really affordable and convenient way of getting new music. Zune music player's UI is simply stunning, and provided very good sound quality. Video playback on the Lumia 800 was great as well, offering HD playback and subtitles on the stunning AMOLED display.

Windows Phone 7 on the Lumia 800 just feels really good to use. It never stalls on any task thrown at it, and the interface maintains its fluidity and sophistication in every part of the OS. Included apps come in handy in numerous situations. Windows Phone 7's relatively smaller - but rapidly growing - app catalog was not a problem at all, thanks to strong core apps on the Lumia 800. You can really tell Microsoft and Nokia thought very hard on making the best platform possible.

Camera

The 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics performed well in most situations. It comes with a 28mm lens with a f/2.2 aperture, which is pretty wide for a phone, so you can get more in a shot. It generally determined good exposure levels, and the colors looked great on the photos. Autofocus was fast and accurate, and the dual-LED flash came in useful at night. Thanks to its wide aperture, the camera performed better in low-light than other smartphone cameras.

Under settings, users can adjust options like white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, saturation level, and even metering mode. The camera software in Lumia 800 offers more options than some point-and-shoot cameras! It takes great pictures as it is, but you could take even better pictures if you take advantage of all the options. Video quality was good too, shooting 720p video at 30fps.

Battery + Network

Nokia knows how to make phones, and it certainly shows in the solid network performance of the Lumia 800. It has crystal clear call quality, and it never dropped any calls. 3G speed is consistent as well. The Lumia 800's battery lasted a full day with heavy usage that included an hour of video, four hours of music playback, an hour of browsing, and fetching three email accounts every hour. It could even last a day and a half with light usage. There is a software update coming soon that will reportedly double the battery life, so it only gets better from here.

Thoughts

Nokia Lumia 800 is a result of a hard, but necessary transformation for Nokia. Symbian was getting stale and competitors were just getting too good. Though they risked alienating old users, Nokia had to do something to avoid withering away like many giants that came before them. 

Luckily, they made the right decision - and then some. Nokia Lumia 800 is simply a marvelous smartphone. Hardware design is nothing like what came before it, delivering a modern and minimal design. Software is just as sophisticated as the hardware design. iPhone and Android phones feel obtuse and antiquated in comparison. This isn't just the best phone Nokia's ever made - It's one of the best phones on the market right now. It gets a perfect score in our book: Four out of four enjoyment balloons.

 

The Lumia 800 is priced at $24.99 on a 3 year contract, and $529.99 off contract at TELUS. It comes in Cyan, Black, and Magenta.

Sean