Nokia Lumia 800 review

9 Nov 2011

As a physical specimen, Nokia’s first Windows 7 phone is spot on, but it isn’t quite the finished article

Price when reviewed 
440
Buy it now for 
4

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop uttered those infamous words “we are standing on a burning platform”, the future looked pretty bleak for the company. A leviathan that once dominated the industry had fallen behind its main rivals, and was in danger of becoming an also-ran in the smartphone race.

Nokia’s answer was to unceremoniously dump Symbian and replace it with Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Now, nine months after that landmark speech, we finally have the first of its new generation.

Nokia’s hopes rest on the Lumia 800; the big question is, can it combine the company’s traditional mobile phone manufacturing strengths with Microsoft’s slick, yet immature OS?

Physical design

Initially, it seems the answer to that question is yes, at least as far as build quality and design is concerned.

The Lumia is a real beauty, but not in the traditional sense. Surprisingly, Nokia has decided to build it, not from aluminium, but a solid chunk of polycarbonate plastic. You might think this would make it feel cheap – in the way the Samsung Galaxy S II does; in fact, by using techniques borrowed from the world of aluminium case design, Nokia has achieved a very high quality of finish.

Nokia Lumia 800 - front

Thus, all the detailing has been machined, instead of moulded: the combined speaker and microphone grille on the bottom edge, the chrome-rimmed 3.5mm headphone socket on the top edge, and the seamless chrome inset surrounding the camera lens on the rear.

The chassis itself is one piece, and it’s uncompromisingly rigid. Any attempt on our part to get it to flex was stubbornly resisted.

And anyone resistant to the idea of sheathing their pride and joy in a cheap protective case will rejoice at the scuff-resistance of the Lumia’s body – with colour running all the way through the plastic (even the brightly-coloured blue and hot pink versions), and Gorilla Glass on the front it should still look smart at the end of your contract, even without the kid-glove treatment.

It isn’t perfect, though. We’re not entirely convinced by the shape: the rounded edges fit snugly into the palm, and it’s a very grippy phone, but we’re not keen on those sharp corners – they have a tendency to dig in after a while, especially during gameplay. And the tiny pop-up door covering the micro-USB port is extremely flimsy.

Software

Aside from those minor points, though, the Lumia 800 is lovely, and its new operating system offers plenty to get excited about. And aside from the new “Mango” version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, there are a couple of extras, unique to Nokia handsets.

First up is Nokia Drive, which sees the company’s free satnav app ported across to Windows Phone. Given the paucity of satnav products for Windows Phone so far, this is a boon, and all the better for its downloadable, locally stored maps. That gives it a big advantage over Google Maps on Android handsets, which let you cache small areas, but not whole countries, and on the iPhone, which comes with no free satnav solution as standard.

Nokia Lumia 800 - top edge

Nokia is also making a big thing of the Lumia’s Nokia Music app, and in particular the “Mix Radio” feature. This is a Last.fm-alike – a series of themed streaming, semi-interactive radio stations, maintained by Nokia staff in Bristol. There isn’t much control over the content, aside from the ability to skip tracks that disagree with you, but service is free and if you come across tracks you like you can download them directly from the Nokia MP3 store.

Elsewhere, the Mango update offers plenty of useful improvements. There’s broader and deeper support for social networks out of the box. Twitter and LinkedIn support is now baked in, and there are more Facebook features than before, including integrated calendar support, video upload and Facebook chat. The latter is of particular interest, and is integrated in the messaging view with SMS texts and Microsoft IM, allowing you to converse with the same person across multiple services on the same screen.

Details

Price ex VAT £367
Price inc VAT £440
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £26.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.buymobiles.net
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 13hrs
Standby, quoted 14 days

Physical

Dimensions 61 x 12 x 116.5mm (WDH)
Weight 142g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 3.7in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other

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