Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 800?


Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 800?

The Lumia 800 is a stylish looking handset and its build quality is also first-rate. It’s a fun phone to use, thanks to Microsoft’s slick Windows Phone 7.5 software, which has excellent integration for social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Nokia Mix Radio streaming service may not be revolutionary, but the fact it’s free and has a good selection of tunes and playlists makes it a welcome addition. We also like Nokia’s Drive navigation software, especially as you can download maps to avoid incurring roaming charges when using it abroad.

The range of apps available for Windows Phone is growing steadily. Even so, you stilll won’t find anywhere near as many in the Windows Phone Marketplace as you will in Apple’s App Store or Android Market.

The phone’s battery life is on a par with most other smart phones so you can expect to have to charge it at the end of each day. Call quality is excellent and it’s good at maintaining a connection in weaker signal areas.

If you’re not overly concerned with having a particularly high-resolution screen, and are willing to put up with a camera that’s not quite as good as other similarly-priced smart phones, then the Lumia is a good option. This is especially true if you’re looking for an alternative to the iPhone that still offers a very polished user experience.


Operating system

The big difference between the Lumia 800 and previous Nokia smart phones is that this handset runs on Microsoft Windows Phone software. Naturally, it uses the latest Mango version of the operating system, which includes a number of new features, not least of which is support for multi-tasking.

Microsoft’s previous mobile OS, Windows Mobile, was a mess. Thankfully the company went back to the drawing board and came up with a brand new interface. The results are very impressive. Once you’ve used it, it’s not difficult to see why Nokia’s head honcho decided to dump Symbian in favour of it.

Windows Phone looks absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to some slick 3D effects and its dynamic design, it feels more modern than even Android or iOS.

The main homescreen displays a column of live tiles that dynamically update to shows you various information. For example, the People Hub flicks through photos drawn from your social networking contacts, while the messaging and mail titles show you any unread messages you might have.

You can also pin applications, pictures, contacts and other bits and bobs to this homescreen to use as shortcuts. Swiping right reveals your full list of apps as a single scrollable list.

You can tap the search button to quickly find a particular app, or if you’ve got more than 44 entries in the list, Windows Phone automatically divides up your apps alphabetically so you can quickly jump to groups of apps.

NOKIA DRIVE (map)

A unique Nokia add-on is an application called “Nokia Drive” which works with the on-board GPS. This is a free turn-by-turn navigation program that allows you to preload maps onto the handset so you don’t incur data costs to download them on-the-fly, a key weakness with rivals such as Google Maps. From what we have seen of the application it looks very usable, and the ability to download maps before you set off provides a significant challenge to the likes of TomTom and Garmin.

Other software features include Xbox Live integration, Nokia’s own streaming radio service and music store, mobile versions of Microsoft Office and Outlook plus integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Of course, there’s a music player and a video player but the Lumia 800 does not have an FM radio.


Design

The Lumia’s design will bring on a sense of déjà vu for anyone who has previously seen Nokia’s N9 handset. The body is hewn almost entirely from polycarbonate and is available in three colours: black, cyan and magenta. The two long edges are curved like the old iPod Nano and the back is gently sloped at the top and bottom.

The result is that the phone looks slightly oblong when viewed side-on. Despite the use of plastic for the body, it has a very premium and sturdy feel. Besides, Nokia says that the plastic casing helps the handset’s phone reception.

This is pretty much a make-or-break device for Nokia, alongside the cheaper Lumia 710 and rumoured Lumia 900 Windows smartphones. If they cannot attract customers to this platform then the future will look very bleak, but luckily this particular device does seem to be very promising indeed, and perhaps will lead to a change in Nokia’s fortunes.

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