Light of new beginning: Nokia Lumia 800

After the February 2011 announcement that Symbian will be dropped, Nokia was heavily panned for its decision. As a Nokia lover and long time user of Symbian, I am no different. Symbian, in my opinion, is the original smartphone OS and Nokia will be abandoning it in favor of Windows Phone. Nokia market share was sliding with advent of iPhone and Android jumping in competition. Nokia was to blame for missing out on huge opportunities. Nokia was eying on keeping the price low while other manufacturers were either keeping prices dirt cheap or giving devices the premium price tag, of course with better responsive touch phones.

Microsoft on other hand had already burned it’s hand twice in mobile business. Windows Mobile steadily rose to its peak in 2007 and fell faster than Jack and Jill. Microsoft also came up with it’s own hardware too, I’ll be too happy it was named something “Kin”. Microsoft faced flak after failure of Windows Vista but it came up with Windows 7 to counter. In mobile world it has failed in both OS (Windows Phone 6) and hardware (Microsoft Kin), Microsoft only bet being in mobile business was Windows Phone 7.

Did two ailing companies make a success story?

Nokia Lumia 800 Nokia and Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 800 is the first device manufactured by Nokia to feature Windows Phone 7. From design perspective, it was quite similar to Nokia N9 released earlier with Meego. Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia N9 differ by an additional camera key, touch responsive keys below the display and placement of LED flash at back. There is no front facing camera in Nokia Lumia 800 as compared to Nokia N9.

Nokia Lumia 800 side Nokia Lumia 800 back side

Nokia Lumia 800 front is dominated by 3.7″ AMOLED screen with curved Gorilla Glass and ClearBlack antiglare filter. AMOLED screen makes the screen bright and energy efficient (that does not mean phone battery will go on and on). AMOLED has a distinct disadvantage in sunlight but ClearBlack antiglare filter makes black looks black in room or in sun hence keeping the screen text and details visible in any lighting condition. Gorilla glass makes the screen exteremely scratch resistant. This is evident from the fact that I have kept my Nokia N8 has been kept in my bag, a girls hand bag and even in my pocket with keys and coins, result: screen not a scratch since more than 1 and half years now.

Below the screen are 3 touch sensitive keys for “Back” used to return to previous screen or page, depending n application. “Windows” key to invoke the menu and “Search” key which invokes Bing search engine. The left side of Nokia Lumia 800 is without keys and right hand side has 4 keys. The Volume Up and Down key, Power key and Camera key. The Volume keys are very helpful in reducing the call volume when in call, volume of media playback of system including games and music. Just increase the volume for high volume ring, reduce it in case you prefer silence and put it to zero for vibrate to take over in case of meeting. No hassles of changing profiles, just reduce the volume. The power key apart from switch off and on the phone, also locks the screen and switches it on for unlock gesture. Probably the most useful key of the phone is the camera key. Doesn’t matter your phone screen is locked or not, just long press the camera key and you are ready for shoot. This is very helpful when you want to shoot without missing the window of opportunity. The back side of Nokia Lumia 800 is 8MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash. The look is pretty eye catching and sleek. In world of where every one is going for curves, the edges are a welcome change.

Nokia Lumia 800 bottom Nokia Lumia 800 top

The boy is made of unibody polycarbonate plastic. The battery is not user replaceable but with OTA update, users have reported battery life has increased. The body is unicolor and polycarbonate, you won’t notice minor scratches as is is same color as a whole an not like other manufactures which have a colored coat on top of different colored body underneath. It feels good to touch and is as one solid block.

Polycarbonate is a very durable material and has high impact-resistance. It is stronger, usable in a wider temperature range.

The base of Nokia Lumia 800 is speaker which does a pretty good job. The placement very good considering many vendors now putting speaker module at back of body resulting in muffled sound when on table or bed. It is loud enough not to miss a call. The top part of the phone as 3.5 mm Nokia AV port which can be used to connect to earphones, headphones and even TV output. On slight press to a specially designed lever exposes the micro-USB port for charging and data cable. It can be charged via USB port as well. The slide out pops the micro-SIM tray. The tray has grooves to keep the SIM securely in place. Hardware wise Nokia Lumia 900 is an impressive device. Nokia has put in great effort to make it stand out.

When you have a device, general public are always a great choice for first hand feedback. Nokia should be proud to hear that two of our fellow actually considered replacing their Blackberry and iPhone with Nokia Lumia 800. From a general perspective, Nokia scores 10/10 on design.

Now the phone is switched on, now let’s take it for a ride.

Screen unlocked
Unlock notification Unlock notifications

Slight press to the power key and we are presented with unlock screen, which we have to gesture top i.e. pull up to go to menu or last used screen. But before we actually see the OS underneath, the unlock screen has few details. As you can see, it shows time, day and date. Below the dates, you can see any missed events, in our case here we have 1 missed call, 2 messages and 1 mail. (If you miss so much having a smartphone, you are pretty busy person – so we just replicated it). The top part shows the signal strength, internet used (“H” indicating 3G in our case), profile (silent here) and battery status.

Main Menu Main Menu

Windows Phone has a unique UI. It is tile based and all information is available in menu tiles called hub. There are different hubs like People hub, messaging hub. We can see Phone hub can show the number of missed call and Messaging hub showing number of unread messages. People hub tile is auto updated so everytime you see the phone you remember your buddies – be it Facebook, Twitter, GMail, Windows Live. Google Mail is integrated into Windows phone (also we have other mails also), so here we have a tile for showing the unread mails. the Pictures Hub shows the slideshow of pictures on phone. The Marketplace tile indicates the pending updates. Calendar hub shows any pending agenda or meetings. If you don’t like the placement of tiles, you can modify that – add new ones, delete, re-arrange – play around. If you want someone to be in touch regularly, pin them to it and you get constant updates from social networks you have added them to – so never miss any moment of their lives.

Every minute the phone is a new phone with all the tiles being live updated and a fresh look everytime. All this is done without actually going into or opening the application.

With all the UI updates to keep you up to date, Nokia Lumia 800 is powered by 1.4 GHz single core processor and 512MB RAM. Nokia has punched in a GPU for improved visual performance. The performance is insanely smooth. The hardware and software are very well integrated and we did not face any lags or hiccups. The main menu may not be having everything you need. Fear not, a lot is hidden behind the arrow key pointing right on screen. Here we have all the individual applications, settings and other details required for tinkering.

Extended menu Bing search

The dedicated search key takes you to search page, which always welcomes you with a beautiful picture and sometime they have included message also – fun fact, tourism etc. The Bing search is location based so it can automatically suggest relevant results. Bing also has image and voice search. There is also Internet Explorer 9 which has same web standards and graphical capability as available for desktop.

Call history Calling pad

Exploring the hubs are a world in itself. Let’s start with the Call hub. In call hub, you encounter the history screen which has list of last incoming and outgoing calls. You can access the contact list or toggle the calling pad button to display the number pad for dialing the number. While dialing the number you can either call or save the number.

People hub Contact quick search

The People hub or simply contacts (you’ll gradually know it’s more than just contacts) is probably the best ever contact and social network integration on any mobile OS is on Windows Phone 7. People Hub connects to various social networks and brings in the feed. On top of People hub, you’ll find your own latest update and below it the list of contacts you have. In our case all the contacts were pulled in from GMail, the instant we gave our details. You can scroll the contacts, or press the alphabet for list of alphabets with which your contacts name begin. In selected contact, apart from details saved, you also see their latest update – next time you know your conversation starter. You can also search using the search key or add a new one. Swipe to one side, you have What’s New. This is the feed pulled from Facebook and Twitter and is constantly updated. All this is done without even starting Facebook and Twitter. The integration is so good, we found ourselves not using the official Facebook and Twitter apps. Just go into People hub and update your thoughts, select where it should be reflected.

Instant update on Social Media Notifications

What is social network without notifications. The all-in-one notifications will notify you of any update or response in one place. You can easily respond\reply to any interaction. For Facebook, you are presented with option to Comment and Like. For Twitter, it is Reply and Retweet. The attachments are opened in hub (or browser) itself, so you’ll never need the official app.

Facebook integration Instant tweet and retweet

The Messaging hub, is one stop shop for all your messages. All messages are arranged in a conversation way. Start the messaging hub, select the contact, type and send message. To reply, same way – open the message, type reply. You can add attachments to the message (normal SMS will be automatically converted). You can individually select a message to be deleted, forwarded or copied.

Messaging messaging
Message conversation Messages quick menu

One of the best features of Nokia Lumia 800 is its mail. Almost all smartphones have mail integrated in them. The phone stores the mail in HTML format and displays the same, any links or images in them are displayed if network is available. But sadly none of them could do the Windows Phone 7 way. All smartphones have a delay even displaying in offline mails but Nokia Lumia 800 could do it in a flash. Just open the mail and it’s there, even when offline. That’s not all, you can scroll messages after messages and all open without a delay and feel like as if you are using broadband. It displays the mail in a threaded view, so all your mails are together. You can easily select individual mail for deletion. Most of people using Windows Phone 7 and Nokia Lumia 800 will agree with me that it has the best social and email integration, period.

email email multiple select

Games hub contains all your installed games and scores synced. The best feature we liked is creation of avatar which reaction to our gestures -it’s slightly kiddish but its good to have a light heart.

Games

We needed to fill out Games hub with some games so we head over to Marketplace. Which has abundance of apps and more coming in.

It’s a fact that when Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft, developers for Windows Phone 7 increased by leaps and bounds and so is the apps.

Marketplace menu Marketplace updates
Marketplace applications Marketplace games

On starting Marketplace, you can choose from Apps from Nokia, applications (from other developers – including Microsoft) and Games. Also you can see if there is any pending update, which you can do with one click. The update count is also shown on the Marketplace tile. The Nokia included apps in Nokia Lumia 800 are

  • Nokia Transport for location based public transport schedule and navigation application
  • Creative Studio for photo editing
  • TuneIn Radio – local and global radio streaming
  • WRC Live to follow FIA WRC series

One of the important features of a smartphone is its calendar. Windows Phone 7 is no different. With the calendar synced perfectly all across, be sure not to miss an appointment. The same will be reflected on the live tiles, so whenever you unlock phone you are bound to notice the detail.

Calendar Calendar day view
Calendar To-Do Calendar Agenda

Catering to all spheres of consumer, how can media playback be left behind. Microsoft had some success in media industry with Zune which has been incorporated in Windows Phone 7 in Music+Video hub. Nokia with some of finest music phones added to the mix it’s hardware to make Nokia Lumia 800 stand apart. Zune software is needed to copy music and videos to the phone. The Music+Video has sub-menu Zune which includes music, video, podcasts and radio. It also has History which shows the last played song and even FM radio channel.

Music & Videos Music & Videos history
Music & Videos New Music & Videos

Another of finest integration in Windows Phone 7 is Pictures hub. The pictures hub can show images clicked from camera, albums (created or pulled from Facebook), sorted date wise and pictures of people (from People hub). The pictures in phone are run as slideshow on live tile of Pictures hub. The caching system of Windows Phone 7 is excellent. In our trial period, we would have opened pictured from albums (on Facebook once) and in some cases pictures from People hub (posted in Twitter). The next time we opened, the images opened in full glory in less than a second. Considering we were on GPRS, this is not possible. We tried with other pictures in album and we can safely conclude that images are cached in Nokia Lumia 800, which can be opened very fast the next time. This is very helpful if you have limited data bandwidth. Open the image once and next time you open it you are not using your bandwidth. we are not sure how long the image will be cached or the size of cache but this is still helpful if you want to show off your Facebook picture.

Pictures My albums
Pictures by date People Pictures
Pictures Picures

Nokia has put in Nokia Lumia 800 8MP Carl Zeiss optics and dual flash. The daytime shots are bright and sharp. Flash is bright enough to fill the in dark room, but even with flash the low light performance is average. It seems the low light shots performance to be more of software than hardware as we could find some delay in flash being fired when picture is captured and flash. No camera phone gives impressive pictures in lowlight but expecting Nokia Lumia 800 c0ming from Nokia and Microsoft partnership they can try improving the low light pictures – may be an update is coming.

Capture photo Photo options
Capture video Video options

In still photo view, you can see Settings key, Zoom keys and Switch to Video but once you press the Settings key, you witness a plethora of options.
Flash: Automatic, No Flash, With Flash
Scenes: Auto, Backlight, Beach, Candlelight, Macro, Landscape, Night, Portrait, Snow, Sports, Sunset
White Balance: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade
Exposure Value: -2.0 to 2.0
ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
Metering Mode: Centre Weighted, Frame Average, Centre Spot
Effects: Normal, Black & White, Sepia, Negative, Solarise
Contrast: Minimum, Low, Normal, High, Maximum
Saturation: Minimum, Low, Normal, High, Maximum
Focus Mode: Normal, Macro
Resolution: 8MP 4:3, 7MP 16:9, 3MP 4:3, 2MP 16:9

With range of options in photo, how can Video be left behind.
Flash: On, Off
Scenes: Auto, Backlight, Beach, Candlelight, Macro, Landscape, Night, Portrait, Snow, Sports, Sunset
White Balance: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade
Exposure Value: -2.0 to 2.0
Effects: Normal, Black & White, Sepia, Negative, Solarise
Contrast: Minimum, Low, Normal, High, Maximum
Saturation: Minimum, Low, Normal, High, Maximum
Auto Focus: On, Off
Resolution: 720P, VGA
Flicker Reduction: 50Hz, 60Hz

There is no front camera in Nokia Lumia 800, while it is available in Samsung Omnia W which is in lower price range. Keeping Indian perspective in mind most people might not see it as hindrance as 3G is costly, not many 3G enabled phones, video calls costly as compared to audio calls. We have other things in mind. With Skype taken over by Microsoft, it’ll definitely be available on Windows Phone with video as Skype offers video calls on PC, Android and iPhone so how long will Windows Phone be away.

With a lot of features put in by Windows Phone 7, Nokia has also put in exclusive features. One of the features is Contact copy, which is helpful when you are changing phones for the first time – makes it easier to switch. But the Nokia exclusive that makes us want more.

  • Lifetime Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive for turn by turn navigation.
  • Nokia Music for free streaming music service and music store
  • App Highlights for suggesting apps based on location

There are few things we would like Nokia could’ve done better. The placement of Power key could have been improved. Many a times we found ourselves shutting to almost shutting down the phone while reducing the volume. Even when in screen lock position, on long press we encountered the shut down gesture. With use of power key, it’ll be habit in gradual way and may not be much issue later on is our assumption.

Nokia Lumia 800 power off gesture Lumia 800, Switch off

Bluetooth is limited i.e. can’t use for file transfer to other devices. This is a big hindrance considering it has lot of Social features but can’t sent file to person sitting next to you. I would love if Microsoft does something about. Dependence on SkyDrive can be reduced i.e. putting the file on Twitter and not on SkyDrive and sharing a link.

With above few point to be considered, Nokia Lumia 800 is a impressive device. With curved Gorilla glass, unibody polycarbonate plastic it is an instant attraction and one of finest looking handsets. Windows Phone 7 is fresh and brings a lot of social features. That’s not all, the email and image caching is one of the finest features needed by a person on move. the keyboard is responsive and we hardly got any typing error. Internet Explorer 9 brings in lot of improvement in browser front too as we could find page rendering smooth and fast. HTML5 compliant we enjoyed a lot of Youtube videos on move and performance was stunning considering we used it on GPRS, 3G and Wi-Fi. With screen size of 3.7″, 800 x 480 pixels and ClearBlack technology gives one of the best displays. In my opinion, it is the best smartphone with social integration available in market now.

We would love to thank Nokia and Microsoft for this wonderful device. We would also like to thank Bloggers’ Mind for getting me this beautiful device for review and @NokiaIndia for trusting and contacting me to use it for sometime. To be honest, this very device prompted me actually consider this as an option for My Next Phone.

Gallery:

Nokia Lumia 800 box Nokia Lumia 800 box
Nokia Lumia 800 box Nokia Lumia 800 box open
Nokia Lumia 800 contents Nokia Lumia 800 contents
Nokia Lumia 800 User Guides Nokia Lumia 800 cover
Nokia Lumia 800 Charger USB Data/Charging cable
Nokia Lumia 800 earphones Nokia Lumia 800 contents

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