Nokia Lumia 800 First Impressions

, posted: 9-Mar-2012 10:23

Back before the iPhone existed, I was a huge Nokia fan. I coveted the N95 but could never afford the price. I liked their E-series communicators, and for some time the very quirky E70 was my favourite device. Once the iPhone and the subsequent flood of Android full-screen touch devices came out, Nokia dropped right off my radar.

Fast forward a couple of years to the launch of Windows Phone. I grabbed the first model I could get my hands on - a HTC Trophy. It was... adequate. Nothing spectacular, and a little bit let down by the first iteration of Windows Phone 7. It worked fine, but lacked the finess of the iPhone. No multitasking, missing apps, and generally a bit slow. I dropped Windows Phone and returned to iPhone land when the 4S arrived.

So, my initial impressions of the Nokia Lumia 800? Nokia is back!

The hardware is absolutely stunning. Not since the original iPhone have I enjoyed the "feel" of a phone so much. The solid polycarbonate body is really nice in the hand, and the blue colour is eye-catching. The cool thing is that the colour is impregnated right through the body, so scratches will barely show up. I'm really interested to know how Nokia fit the guts inside the body, because there are zero seams on the outside. Even the compulsory serial number and FCC ID are hidden away under the nifty sim-slot hatch.



Windows Phone has come a long way since that first release on the Trophy. The build that comes with the Lumia 800 (7.10.8107.79 as at the time of writing) is fast, complete and a real joy to use. I'll go into the full details of the software in a later post, but let's just say it does pretty much everything you can do with iOS and Android, equally as well (and better in many cases). For this post let's stick to the hardware.

The camera is fantastic: 8 megapixel with a Carl Zeiss lens, and it will capture some very nice shots. Nigel Parker has a good post about some default settings to capture great images (ISO 200 and high contrast), but I have to suggest Fhotoroom instead of Thumba for image editing. Very similar apps, but Fhotoroom just feels nicer, and comes with the option of a "virtual lens" to capture and process images in the one application. Video capture goes up to 720p HD, and once again Nigel shows just how good it can get:



One of the great things about Windows Phone is it is really focused around getting good photos, quickly. The Lumia 800 has a dedicated camera button, and this will work even when the phone is locked. You just hold the camera button down to fire up the camera app and then shoot away. And don't worry: if you use a passcode to lock your phone, the camera app won't let users see your previous photos because the phone is still locked.

And then there's the screen. I'm sorry to swear but OMFG, what a screen! The 800's OLED screen is drop dead gorgeous. It's not massive, but I've never liked the gigantic 4" plus screens anyway. The contrast is incredible, and the deep black looks fantastic behind the Windows Phone default tile layout. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that black on an OLED screen is BLACK. No backlight, no pixels, just jet black. The black areas of the screen look no different to when the screen is physically turned off. This also helps with battery life of course, especially if you're reading white text on a black background.



Finally, to round out the hardware first-impressions: the battery seems fine. I've been using this as my main phone for a couple of days, and I'm a very heavy user. Constant twitter, email, web and music.

Yes, you're going to have to recharge this phone every night, but that's no different to any other smartphone in my experience. Being a gadget nerd, I have micro USB cables everywhere: home, car, office; so I can also top up and sync the phone wherever I am.

Overall, the Lumia 800 (available in two colours: Nokia Lumia 800 black or Nokia Lumia 800 blue) is the best looking smartphone hardware I've seen in years, backed up by some very lovely software - but more on that in a followup post!

About the author
 
Hey. I'm Ben, also known as @nzben on Twitter. I'm a gadget-obsessed software developer. I spend my days building stuff using Microsoft tools and frameworks, but my website runs on Linux, and I harbour impure thoughts about learning Ruby on Rails. I've built apps for all the current mobile platforms except BlackBerry, and at one time walked around with three phones in my pockets while testing apps. I come at the Lumia 800 with a bit of experience in Windows Phone, but my my most recent phone was an iPhone 4S, so I'm no fanboy. Feel free to comment and ask questions - I love a bit of feedback.

Other related posts:
Kids and the Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia Lumia 800 Battery Issue
Nokia Lumia 800 as a Remote Office






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Telecom New Zealand
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Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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