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, and is perfect when you need to call someone, of course for this you’ll need a good data and call plan, as the BSNL full talk time plans for Uttar Pradesh you can get if you’re in India.

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.