We’ve just been up close and touchy-feely with the Lumia 800, Nokia’s big bang at Nokia World here in London. The Lumia 800 is the heavyweight of Nokia’s new Lumia Windows Phone 7 line, but as expected since Nokia announced its alliance with Microsoft, it does come in at a lower price point than WP7 phones from competitors. Our video preview has the highlights of the phone - read on for our first impressions.
With its squared corners topping off slightly curved sides, the Lumia 800 looks more than a little like its preceding N8 and N9 Symbian smartphones. Unlike these powerhouses, it’s not made of aluminium, but of polycarbonate that feels surprisingly lightweight. It doesn’t feel cheap (though two of its colour variants – fluorescent pink or blue – don’t exactly help the case) – in fact, this feels quite pleasantly like a phone you don’t need to be too precious with.
The 3.7-inch AMOLED screen stretches almost to the very edges of the front face, with three touch-sensitive areas at its base for Back, Start (or Home) and a Search key, which functions as a Bing search rather than a universal search one might expect if coming from Android or iOS. A zippy 1.4GHz processor keeps it beating, with 16GB of on-board memory to store your stuff. As with all WP7 phones, there is no microSD slot to beef up the storage.
Windows Phone 7 handsets are largely differentiated by their casings, since Microsoft imposes strict hardware requirements on handsets running on its OS. Along with a daringly coloured portfolio, Nokia has made its mark with an eight-megapixel snapper in the Lumia 800. Like the N8 and N9, this camera is a Carl Zeiss lens with auto- and touch-focus plus an LED flash. We found the shutter was near-instantaneous and it performed quite well in the blue-tinged surrounds of Nokia World.
There’s no front-facing camera as there is in latest Windows Phone 7 Mango handset, the HTC Titan – though to be fair, that behemoth is the only Windows phone with a front-facer as we write.
Thanks to its announced alliance with Microsoft, Nokia gets to load on its own Nokia Maps onto the Lumia range, while other WP7 phones are stuck with Bing Maps. This means you also get Nokia Drive, a sat nav app with free turn-by-turn navigation. We couldn’t test this as the coverage here at the conference centre is appalling, but it could be Nokia’s ace in the hole. As with other Nokia handsets, you can download maps for offline use later to save money on data charges while out and about.
The other Nokia extra is Nokia Music – again, a bonus feature on top of Microsoft’s Zune music store and player. It offers an MP3 store stocking about six million tracks as well as a player, and on top of that, ‘gigs’, which shows events going on around your GPS location. This was another feature we’ll have to wait to test in the full review, thanks to shoddy reception where we are right now.
The touch-screen is easily the best we’ve encountered on a Nokia phone with feather-light responsiveness and a fast, comfortably sized keyboard. No deviation from standard WP7 here. The email app is a particularly mighty step up from Symbian email, with linked inboxes and easy switching between accounts. The dual screens at the Start menu comprise the live tiles, customisable with your choice of favourite apps, and a list of all programs.
The People Hub is the hyper-social contacts book we’ve come to love in WP7, aggregating your friends’ contact details with their social networking ones as well – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to be precise. You can swipe to view your list of friends, an aggregated social feed, and posted photos only.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is coming in at €420, which puts it a healthy £100 below the £500 or so price tag of WP7 phones such as the HTC Titan or Samsung Omnia 7. This, along with its free sat nav offering, could be what Nokia needs to put it back in the smartphone game, but one thing’s for sure, Nokia on Windows Phone 7 is far more palatable than on Symbian.
We’ll have our full video review up tomorrow, so check back then!
Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone have confirmed they will be stocking the Nokia Lumia 800, while Phones 4u is opening pre-orders today.
UPDATE: Prices have yet to be confirmed for contract phones, but Orange has said the phone will be available to its customers in November. A register-your-interest page (that means you'll get updates first) is up at www.orange.co.uk/nokia800