It has been several months since Nokia presented its first models with Microsoft Windows Phone, and the Lumia 800 has won over users in many markets where it appeared, especially in Europe, because people love the innovation and the modern design, among other things.
It comes with a 3.7-inch 480 x 800-pixel screen, a fantastic polycarbonate unibody available in several colors (black, cyan, magenta and white), an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash, and Qualcomm's 1.4 GHz MSM8255 Snapdragon Scorpion processor and Adreno 205 GPU.
Build & Design
The Lumia 800 is an atypically-shaped device which has inherited its design from Nokia N9, the company's only device with the MeeGo operating system, which makes it recognizable on one hand as well as fresh and up-to-date on the other. In times when what once was an advantage for the iPhone has become its shortcoming – a stylized and special design, but so all-present now days that it is impossible not to come across it at every other table at a restaurant – the fresh look coming from Nokia hits the bull’s eye.
This is not the slimmest device (shown here) with Windows Phone, but it feels exceptionally good when held in hand, due to its dimensions (116 x 61 x 12 mm) and the semicircular left and right edge. Ergonomically speaking, it is hard to find equal competition for Lumia 800 even among smartphones with any other OS. It weighs 142 grams, which is a lot for 3,7-inch phone, but the polycarbonate material from which it is made leaves the impression that it is much lighter. Furthermore, the solidness which the device radiates and the touched up appearance of the unibody give an exceptional feeling of reliability – the kind Nokia got us used to in its days of glory.
The entire front side of the Lumia 800 is embellished with a 3.7-inch display, covered in Gorilla Glass with slightly convex edges. This is an AMOLED screen, and the whole construction seems impressive when held in hand, as well as when the device is used. Windows Phone is an OS which requires quite a lot of left-to-right finger movements across the screen, which the convex nature of the edges and the smooth film covering the display are good for. The area situated just below the screen is also covered with Gorilla Glass, and it includes three capacitive control buttons specific for Windows Phone: Back, Home and Search.
Also, Microsoft's mobile operating system has an exceptionally contrasting user interface (always a black or white background with icons of glaring colors), which is well handled on AMOLED displays, giving you the impression the letters, icons and other objects float on the glass surface, and as if you are actually touching these elements.
The 480 x 800-pixel resolution on a screen with a smaller number of pixels and a bigger diagonal than the one the iPhone 4/4S has to offer provides significantly lower pixel density than what the Apple device offers (252 ppi compared to 330 ppi), however, despite this, the imaging sharpness looks almost identical.
Still, I would prefer if the display was a bit brighter (as with Nokia N9, for example), but this is why the device has excellent contrast, which is not lost even when exposed to direct sunlight or even with the widest possible viewing angle. It can be concluded that, despite not following the most current market trends when it comes to resolution, this screen provides above-average quality of imaging, and Lumia 800 is the best device with Windows Phone on the market in this regard. Due to the lower resolution and the smaller screen diagonal, users can rest assured that the battery load will not be too great either.
It should be pointed out that the Lumia 900 uses the same type of screen (AMOLED) which is also covered with Gorilla Glass and has the same resolution on a 4.3-inch diagonal. This means that the Lumia 900 has a lower pixel density (217 ppi) and that its screen draws more energy than the one the Lumia 800 has, and while nearly everything we said about the Lumia 800 virtually goes for the Lumia 900 too, that's not true when it comes to the screen.
Other Buttons and Ports
There are no keys on the left side of the Lumia 800, while the right side (see here) includes the volume control keys, the power button and the camera button. They are made out of lacquered metal, which fits well with the design and provides a discrete touch of style. There is also a metal plate on the back side of the device (see here), around the camera’s lens, but apart from carrying the device’s logo it holds no apparent purpose.
The bottom (see here) includes just a perforation which hides the microphone and the speaker, while the standard headphone jack is situated on the upper side, as well as the micro-USB port and the micro-SIM slot (see here). Again, the superiority of Nokia’s design is underlined when it comes to the performance of these ports: the micro-USB cover has a light magnet that makes it easily foldable and solid enough at the same time, while the micro-SIM is inserted in a miniature drawer which can be drawn out of the casing with a click (just like clicking a pen) once the micro-USB cover is lifted. Solidness is guaranteed, along with exceptional availability of all the elements this device offers. Owners of other smartphones who boast of supreme design – for instance, owners of iPhone 4/4S – can only dream of such clever design. They access their micro-SIM cards with much more effort.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is delivered with Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), and this platform's exceptional flexibility essentially guarantees the option of upgrading to Windows Phone 8 once it is launched -- this is expected to occur in the second half of the year.
The single-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon is powerful enough a chipset to make everything run smoothly. Windows Phone 7.5 is a well-optimized operating system which will work immaculately with far slower processors, but the Lumia 800 is a versatile top model and its users will consume a lot of multimedia files, play demanding games, download complex web sites… A dual core processor is usually standard for these activities, but we did not come across a task that ran slowly or with glitches on the Lumia 800, despite its single-core central chip.
The thing is that Microsoft has still not built in support for the most demanding software into Windows Phone, so Internet Explorer does not support Flash elements nor Microsoft Silverlight. It is true that neither does the iPhone, but lack of support for their own technology is a huge flaw for Microsoft. This flaw is present for all smartphone manufacturers who use Windows Phone, Nokia included, because of Microsoft itself. The Lumia 800 is an exceptionally fast device, but partially this is because the tasks which frequently slow down a smartphone most cannot be performed on it either.
Windows Phone is a rather strictly defined platform, almost entirely closed down to all manufacturers when it comes to modifying the user interface, and the Lumia 800 is not different than other Mango devices in this regard.
Still, apart from its design, this smartphone differs from non-Nokia devices with Microsoft’s operating system as it comes with free Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive. If these are not enough, it also also has Bing Maps, which makes this a fully functional GPS device which can be used for offline navigation as well, free of charge. Depending on personal tastes and what individual user wants from GPS, these three applications are quite sufficient and provide answers to every wish. Thus, the Lumia 800, just like many other Nokia smartphones of the new generation, is the best smartphone for those who frequently use satellite navigation.
The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with F/2.2 of aperture creates photographs of above-average quality, especially compared to the previous Windows Phones. Even under poor lighting conditions, the images are solidly sharp and the colors are realistically interpreted, while those taken with good lighting and in sunlight can be compared to the photos taken by iPhone 4S when it comes to the quality. And it records 720p video clips, also offering above-average quality.
The Lumia 800 does not have a secondary front-facing camera. This is a clear limitation, and not one that can be blamed on Microsoft
The Lumia 800’s battery has nearly the same capacity as the one on iPhone 4/4S, but will last nearly twice as long with the same usage intensity. Such optimization of the platform, with such a display and a processor are quite merciful towards the battery. You should expect less energy frugality from the Lumia 900.
After testing the Lumia 800 for several days, it is perfectly clear that Microsoft and Nokia have made a terrific deal by burying the hatchet a year ago – this is convincingly the best Windows Phone device, apart from the bigger, but otherwise almost identical Lumia 900.
Just about all the Lumia 800’s shortcomings boil down to the platform being flawed (no Flash or Silverlight, no microSD slot), some of which are expected to be remedied with the upcoming arrival of Windows Phone 8. There's not anything to be done about the lack of a front-facing camera, though.
A rather overly-defined concept of this platform has resulted in the previous devices featuring Microsoft's mobile OS looking so much alike that it was difficult to differentiate them, thus making them uninteresting. The Lumia 800 is different, especially regarding its design and performance, and it offers a far more pleasant and promising experience while working with Windows Phone than any other competitor does.
Furthermore, the Lumia 800 feels fantastic when held in hand, offers optimal ratio of resolution and display size, as well as exceptional contrast. The device is fast and economic when it comes to battery use. Everything seems well thought on the Lumia 800 and this is surely a smartphone that will do a great job for Nokia’s (as well as Microsoft’s) return to the big league of mobile gadgets.