The union between Nokia and Microsoft, announced more than a year ago, was the subject of much debate and speculation.
Could the once great Nokia revive its fortunes in the smartphone space by teaming up with Microsoft?
There were plenty of doubters at the time but having spent more than a week with the Nokia Lumia 800 – we can say the marriage of Nokia’s always- impressive hardware and Microsoft’s latest smartphone operating system works.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is basically a rebadged version of the N9 – released last year running the MeeGo operating system.
In terms of size and design it’s exactly the same and feels good in your hand with a solid quality build.
It has a striking 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touch ClearBlack display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels which is easy to read even in bright sunlight.
The top and bottom edges are tapered and slightly thinner than the rest if the body of the phone.
The device is made of one piece of sturdy polymer material that is the same colour all the way through so even if the Lumia 800 does get a scratch or a nick it will hardly be visible.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass covers the display which has a slight curve at the edges and three virtual buttons at the bottom.
There are no physical keys on the front of the Nokia Lumia 800 – just three touch sensitive icons – back, home and search.
The top edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack plus a microUSB port hidden under a small flap beside an equally hidden microSIM card tray.
The left side is bare, as is the bottom apart from a speaker grille while the right side has a volume up and down key, an on/off/lock key and a dedicated camera button.
It’s 11.65cm long 6.12cm wide and 1.21cm thick with a weight of 142g.
Any review of the Nokia Lumia 800 is as much about the hardware and how it combines with the Windows Phone operating system.
The home screen features a series of live tiles – they’re live because, at a glance, users can immediately see how many missed calls they’ve had, new messages, unread emails, mentions and interactions in social networking sites and much more just by looking at the screen.
Apps, and there are plenty which can be downloaded from the fast growing Windows Market, can also be pinned to the home screen complete with their live information.
A couple of apps to take advantage of this are eBay and Qantas.
eBay users can pin a watched item they are bidding on the homescreen and see at a glance, how high the bidding is getting, without having to dive into the app.
In the near future there will also be a Qantas app which will give users the ability to pin their flight information on the Lumia 800’s home screen.
The users can see if the flight is delayed, on time or commencing boarding.
A number of developers are hard at work creating apps that can take advantage of this ability. In fact, there are so many, the Windows Market is the fastest growing app store in the world at the moment.
The operating system is smart and easy to navigate by swiping through the various pages of each app.
Some apps are not as intuitive as others with symbols at the bottom of the screen not clear as to what they are meant for. Thankfully touching three small dots on the right side of the screens reveals the label for these symbols.
We’d have preferred the names were there in the first place rather than having to waste an extra press of the screen each time.
It’s also possible to aggregate all of your social networking accounts into a single stream as well as accessing sites like Facebook and Twitter through dedicated apps for the Windows Phone platform.
There’s direct access to your Xbox Live account so you can access your account and interact with your friends.
What we liked about the platform was its elegant simplicity and the ease users can navigate the menus.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is a feature packed device that backs up its excellent design and smooth operating system with a wide range of useful features.
The built-in 8 megapixel camera, complete with Carl Zeiss optics, is impressive with pictures looking accurate and colourful. Videos were also sharp and bright.
Also included is Nokia Drive – a built-in GPS system that’s more than just maps. It provides complete turn-by-turn direction and even has the look and feel of a dedicated GPS device complete with 3D view, landmarks and points of interest.
An accessory is also available to mount the Lumia 800 in your car.
While we’re on the subject of maps, the Lumia 800 also has a Maps app to find locations and to even get walking directions.
And users are also able to access maps of other countries for free.
If you’re a music fan Nokia Music will give you plenty to listen to including Mix Radio which can stream all types of music and playlists for free.
The Nokia Lumia has a 1.4Ghz processor and offers enough speed for quick navigation and switching between apps.
The screen is also very responsive with easy scrolling through the various screens and all the apps.
The included Internet Explorer browser rendered pages well but did take a few seconds longer for pages to completely load when compared to other smartphones we’ve used recently.
Battery life was also above average and we got about a day and quarter with fairly high use which included calls, browsing and shooting pictures and video with the camera.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
The Nokia Lumia having only 16GB of storage was a little light in our opinion especially since there is no memory card slot to expand the device’s capacity.
There is an additional 5GB of cloud storage available using Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
Being able to view the content you’ve created on a smartphone either wirelessly or with a cable on your TV screen is a regular feature of many devices but not the Lumia 800 unfortunately.
A feature we would have like to see is wi-fi hotspot which allows other devices to connect to the internet wireless using the smartphones’s cellular connection.
This is a common feature of Android smartphone and the iPhone and is conspicuous by its absence on the Lumia 800.
The Nokia Lumia 800 is a respectable alternative to the iPhone and the myriad of Android smartphones on the market.
It’s a step in the right direction for Nokia and the Lumia 800 will appeal to the many users who first entered the mobile phone space years ago with a Nokia device and are now looking to purchase their first smartphone.
With so many features included out of the box, the Nokia Lumia represents excellent value for those looking for a device that goes above and talk and text and who don’t want to spend big money on apps.
The strong ties to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, used by 90 per cent of the world’s computer users, and Microsoft Office – makes the Lumia 800 an ideal option for those who need to easily work on an access their files remotely.
Nokia’s Lumia 800 may not lure dedicated iPhone and Android users away from their devices but will still win many fans with its combination of stylish design, powerful feature set and the easy-to-use operating system.
Nokia Lumia 800
Price: $699 or on Telstra, Vodafone and Optus plans.
Four stars (out of five)