Review: Nokia Lumia 800 – Windows Phone 7

April 10, 2012 / Technology / 8 Comments

[April 11 Update: Fixed a lot of typos. Now I know blogging on the iPad is not a good idea!]

Nokia sent me the Nokia Lumia 800 about a month ago. And I have only one word to describe it: Wow. And that brings me to the end of review. Kthxbye.

Nokia Lumia 800
The Amazing Nokia Lumia 800

I kid.

True to Nokia’s roots, the Lumia 800 has excellent built quality. It just feels… premium. But what really blew me away was the operating system. Windows Phone 7 exceeded most of my expectations. In some ways, it is even better than Android Ice Cream Sandwich! (Yes, the Android fan girl just said that. And since I’m an Android fan girl, I obviously think Android is better than iOS.) Before you dismiss me, allow me to explain.

What’s Great

Contact Management
I always hold Google Contacts as the epitome of great contact management. With just a simple log in all your contacts will be available on any non-iOS device. Windows takes this further. It imports all your contacts from Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc and merges them smartly. It also has a messaging feature that merges good old SMS, Facebook Messenger, Windows Live and Yahoo Messenger. With just a few taps, I know which network my friends are online and I can chat. If they’re not online, it’ll be sent as an SMS. All is this is baked into the OS, no third party apps to contend with. It’s just freaking intelligent!

The profile screen compared to Android ICS
User Profile: Android ICS vs Windows Phone 7

Beautiful Interface
Okay, this is a bit subjective. I’m probably tired of looking at home screens and ugly lists of apps. So the unified interface on Windows Phone 7 is really a breath of fresh air. Here are some shots compared to my ICS-flavored Nexus S.

The homescreen compared to Android ICS
Homescreen: Android ICS vs Windows Phone 7
The app screen compared to Android ICS
List of Apps: Android ICS vs Windows Phone 7
Xbox Live Avatar
My Xbox Live Avatar

Smart Features
There are little things here and that really blow me away. One of these things is the location-aware Nokia Music. It tells me which gigs are available near my house. It’s not that useful in a small country like Singapore but I can imagine the possibilities in the larger country like the US or Canada.

The music screen compared to Android ICS
Music: Android ICS vs Windows Phone 7

The other one is the Windows 7 Connector. I got an OS update notice and I started to panic. I assumed it wouldn’t support Mac OS Lion. Wrong! It does. And it even syncs music from iTunes. The file transfer process was almost on par with iOS and much cleaner than Android ICS. Oh and the update went well. Now, all it needs is over the air updates…

Windows Phone 7 Connector on a Mac
Windows Phone 7 Connector on a Mac

Email Rendering
If I were RIM’s CEO, I’d lose sleep right now. Not over Android, not over iPhone but over Windows. Being Microsoft, obviously the Outlook integration is the best in the market. It behaves just like a mini Outlook 2010. But what surprised was the free email integration. It renders Gmail better than Gmail on Android! Check out the photo below!

The email screen compared to Android ICS
Email: Android ICS vs Windows Phone 7

What’s Not So Great

The number and quality of apps
Well, as expected of a latecomer to the ecosystem war, the Marketplace does not have much apps and for the apps that exist, the quality isn’t quite the Apple standard yet.

One big hole in the Windows ecosystem is a good Google Reader app. I’m hoping the upcoming Nokia Reader will change that.

Internet Explorer is slow
No surprise that as a designer, I really dislike IE. And this dislike has unfortunately extended to mobile Internet Explorer as well. While it render pages quite nicely, it’s unbearably slow!

Could use some enterprise-friendly settings
The Nokia Lumia really has the potential to give RIM a run for its money with the amazing Office integration. What will totally bring RIM to its knees would be some good enterprise settings like VPN and proxies. Imagine being to access corporate intranets with this!

Verdict

This is a great phone, especially given the short time Nokia and Microsoft had to make this. The build quality is top notch. The experience is fast, sleek and nothing short of amazing. However, it’s not quite good enough to pull power users from Android or iOS just yet — with issues like a lacking app ecosystem. Let’s hope they can fix it by the next few iterations, so that when this Android fan girl is due for the next phone change, I will buy a Windows Phone instead.


  • http://newyorkcanwait.com Iman

    As an iOS fangirl, I also love this phone! It’s definitely tempting, especially once its app ecosystem grows. I just love the interface. It also helps that the Nokia Lumia is designed so beautifully.

    • http://nanyate.com Ivy

      Cool! I hope the ecosystem grows soon though! I’m due for a phone change in less than a year!

  • http://one-parade.com/ Marjorie

    How is Nokia doing financially? I read a lot about Blackberry and Nokia in places like Singapore but they’re starting to be incredibly rare to find here in the US. I’d go as far to say that they’re a dying breed here. It’s kind of a shame because my first cellphone was a black and white Nokia with a screen the size of a quarter. That thing was a brick — virtually indestructible! Nice to see a modern day Nokia you feature here. I personally have gone from Android HTC to an iPhone. I’ve tried to venture from iOS, but I always go back.

    • http://nanyate.com Ivy

      Nokia is not doing that well financially. They’ve only sold 1+ million Lumias so far. Not sure how they’re doing in the developing markets, but they’re probably facing pressures there too with cheaper manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE. Singapore doesn’t have many BlackBerry and Nokia users actually. BlackBerry is doing quite well in the semi developed markets like Indonesia and Malaysia. For Singapore, the iPhone wins hands down. The entire country belongs to the Mac cult. Everybody here has the iPhone – cab drivers, grandmothers, kids. We’re starting to see more Androids, but still nowhere close to what it is in the US.

      Nokia is hoping to recapture some market share in countries like ours with the Lumia range. After playing with the phone, I think it shows a lot of promise but it’s not iOS/Android-replaceable yet.

      I’m the opposite. I recently got an iPhone 4S, played with it for a couple days and gave it to my mum. I like control. But so does iOS. We just can’t get along. I’m quite frustrated with the new iPad too but it’s pretty nifty and there hasn’t been an Android tablet that makes me go wow, so I’ll live with it. Hahaha!

    • http://one-parade.com/ Marjorie

      Kind of disappointed that my suspicions of Nokia were correct. They really were producing great quality products, though I can’t vouch for any of their newest models. Excuse my ignorance on Singapore, I was going by friends I knew who all carry Nokia/Blackberry. I suppose they’re in the minority as well! Had no idea Singapore was more similar to the US in being more and more iOS driven. (Though Android is very quickly growing just as popular!)

      Personally, I hope Nokia can keep up. Only time will tell.

      I have some friends who are like you… They want complete control! I tried to love my Android, but even after customizing it to look incredibly adorable I had crashing issues and glitches. I’m an iOS fan because of the dependability, even if it means sacrificing customization. Then again, give me the ability to change my wallpaper and I’m good. Haha :)

    • http://nanyate.com Ivy

      I totally agree with you on dependability of the iOS. My iPad has only crashed once since I got it. My Android is a different story. I restart my phone almost daily. It is annoying but the control I have kinda makes it up. I really hope they fix these bugs soon though!

  • http://watermia.org Amber

    That phone actually looks really cool. I have always thought about using a Windows phone, but my boyfriend said it wouldn’t be very compatible with his Android. I have to admit that I wouldn’t be able to go to an IPhone. As much as the IOS is pretty cool, I just never used a Mac ever. Plus, I have been using a Blackberry for so long, and I am ready to upgrade to an Android. They are supposedly the phone that can be customized the most. It is something that I look forward t quite a bit.

    However, everything that I read from your article on the Windows Phone looks interesting. It might make me change my mind when the time comes.

    • http://nanyate.com Ivy

      If you like control, Android is still the way to go. You can do practically anything you want with it. Downside is that it is quite buggy. You would have to put up with frequent crashes. But if you want a phone that just works and you’re not too fussy about having lots of apps, Windows Phone is really a great contender. The experience really blew me away. I had more fun using it than my iPad and my mum’s iPhone 4S. But of course, iPhone 5 is coming out, we’ll have to see what improvements Apple decides to make in their next iteration. :)