Nokia Lumia 800 Review
Thanks to Vodafone AU for giving us this phone for a review. You can get your Lumia 800 from Vodafone AU today!
The Nokia Lumia 800 is Nokia’s first take on the Windows Phone platform (and it’s also running the latest Mango update aka Windows Phone 7.5), after having abandoned their MeeGo/Symbian platforms. So how exactly does this phone, which is the first result of a partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, handle itself? Out answer is pretty straightforward – pretty damn well. If you want to know more, continue reading our review!
By far the most striking feature of the phone. The saying ‘if looks could sell’ hold true here because without even having to switch on the phone and test out that gorgeous screen, you can just see how beautiful this phone actually is. In fact, it feels even better in your hands than it looks and that’s not something we’ve ever said about a phone! The smooth Lumia 800 shell feels like it was made by the gods for your hands and passed down as a gift (yes it’s that nice to hold). The point being here is that every person we’ve ever shown the phone off to say that this phone looks incredible and it handles very well. But it’s not all about pretty looks here because in true Nokia fashion, the build quality on this phone is just spectacular. A single unibody polycarbonate (high grade plastic) shell is what you get with the phone so you know that even if you drop it on the ground, it won’t crack (we probably reckon it’ll probably even proudly show off it’s scratch off like a scar). However, despite all the beauty, it’s still a slightly larger phone that we would have hoped, with a thickness of 12.1mm being slightly on the large side for us (overall dimension of 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm). Despite that, the curved AMOLED CBD screen makes it look thinner than it actually is and we do tend to forget we’re holding a phone that is 2.8 mm thicker than the iPhone 4S. Aside from that, the 3.7-inch screen is a little small for our eyes (which is where the Lumia 900 comes in for those looking for a large screen), but it’s the perfect size for those looking for an iPhone sized phone. One issue that did bother us was how fragile the charging port cover was, as you can see in the picture below. It seems that if we were to force it, it would snap and that’s not something we’re impressed with.
The phone isn’t a slouch in the specs department either, and it features a 1.4 GHz Scorpion Adreno 205 processor, a 3.7-inch AMOLED CBD screen, 16GB of internal storage (non expandable of course), 512MB of RAM, as well as a rear 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual-LED flash. The speaker grill, which is at the bottom of the phone could be improved a little however, as the sound isn’t as great as it could be (we know a few tweaks wouldn’t help in the future). As for the weight, it tips the scale at 142 grams (which is only 2 grams heavier than the iPhone 4S) which is why we said that we easily forgot about how thick it was since it was rather light. Overall, the build quality on this phone is exceptional (you just know that Nokia have take every bit of care when making this phone), it looks drop dead gorgeous (easily one of the best looking phones we’ve seen) and despite it’s thickness it’s still a great phone in the Design/Hardware section.
At first look, the Nokia Lumia 800’s 480 x 800 may look quite low and disappointing when you think that some modern phones are running on 720p screens. That is, until you notice that the Lumia 800 is running on a AMOLED CBD technology, which we have to say has to be one of the best screens we have ever seen on a phone. Furthermore, due to the screen’s size, the phone has a 252 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) density which is quite decent. Blacks and deep and colors just pop, despite the standard Windows Phone resolution, which can be considered low(ish) in 2012. We also realize that the Pentile Matrix RGBG subpixel might throw people off here (removed from the Lumia 900), but we found it almost impossible to spot until we were quite literally looking at the phone from a few centimetres. Nokia’s AMOLED CBD (Clear Black Display) has come quite far recently, and we have to say it easily outshines out Omnia 7’s Super AMOLED screen but up close and from afar, a credit to Nokia for being able to have such a rich screen. In terms of brightness, it is a little higher than normal AMOLED screens but after having seen the Omnia 7 screen for such a long time we feel that it’s the pefect match of brightness and clarity (though we would never turn down an opportunity to see a 720p Nokia phone in the future).
Something that we’ve found extremely impressive is Nokia’s implementation of Corning’s Gorilla Glass screen, adding to it an extra advantage of purchasing the Lumia 800. Gorilla Glass is essentially a touch screen, where is is almost immune to receiving light scratches (ie: putting your car keys in the same pocket as the phone). It is of course not scratch proof, but it’s much better than a phone without Gorilla Class. Also with the screen, thanks to it’s deep black’s that the AMOLED CBD screen brings (with the black model), it can be hard to tell where the screen bezels are since they blend into each other (which we think is cool because it can look like the entire width is taken up by the screen). It’s not much, but it’s just something we found cool.
Nokia has employed an 8 megapixel camera with f/2.2 Carl Zeiss optics (it’s a wider lens than the Omnia 7), autofocus, dual-LED flash and the results are fairly impressive, at least during the day and we’ll get to that second part later. Nokia’s 1.4GHz processor really allows the Camera to be quick – very quick, in taking pictures at least. It starts up a tad faster (from screen lock) than the Samsung Omnia 7, and it’s able to focus VERY quickly which is something we feel is going to help people who want to capture spur of the moment pictures. Autofocus also seems very accurate, where as on the Omnia 7 it tended to be a little inaccurate at times (a little blurry, maybe a little unfocused). So in conclusion – in the day, shots from the Lumia 800 are very good, color reproduction is quite decent, and the detail is quite good.
We took 3 different pictures below. The top pictures are from a Nokia Lumia 800, the bottom from a Samsung Omnia 7.
From left to right – Medium High Light, Low Light, and No Lights (basically main lights turned off). As you can see, there’s quite a bit of noise in the pictures, and it seems to do better in no light situations as opposed to low light situations (probably helped by the dual flash).
However, sidestep over to the night and that’s when the Lumia 800’s camera disappoints. While it seems that Nokia’s engineers easily reduced Noise Reduction during the day, they seems to have transferred it all to any pictures taken at night. The quality is terrible – The graininess of the picture is truly visible once you view it externally (it looks fantastic on the phone which is quite deceptive) and noise is quite prominent. Color reproduction is still natural during night shots, but we weren’t fans. Compared to the Omnia 7, it’s a much better camera overall but during the night (despite better colors) it seems worse off (see picture comparisons below).
Another issue with the camera is it’s Macro mode (ie: close ups). If I wanted to take a close up of something, say for instance a paragraph on a page of a book, the Lumia 800 is unable to do so without getting some distance between itself and the book which completely shatters the point of a close macro shot, however it does do quite well once you do get that distance. Of course, when we say Macro we don’t really mean like on a DSLR, we just simple mean a close shot of an object. This might have something to do with Nokia’s f/2.2 lens setting, but we’re not entirely sure. Aside from that, the camera is quite good and we tend to use it more for every day shots even if I have my Omnia 7 with me as well. See the comparisons below.
Anyone that’s ever used a Windows Phone knows that the performance is second to none, and it’s no different on Nokia’s Lumia 800 which is buttery smooth. If I thought my Omnia 7 was fast, the extra 0.4GHz in the Lumia 800 pushes even faster if that was even possible. It starts up quicker, it starts up the camera mode faster and is overall much snappier. I fear that if Nokia were to put a dual-core CPU in it, it might be a little too fast for us (joke!). It’s easily the snappiest Windows Phone we’ve used, and everything just works so well that we’re a little worried about how they could really improve the performance since it is restricted to Microsoft’s OS.
When you compare a Windows Phone to an Android or even an Apple device in everyday task speeds, the Lumia 800 will win which can easily be seen in Microsoft’s Smoked by Windows Phone campaigns. Even in our own tests, we were able to best out the latest phones (iPhone 4S, Galaxy Nexus, etc) in such activities such as taking a picture, posting it to facebook/twitter, and so on (tasks that everyday people tend to do most often). It’s great that Microsoft have been able to craft such an exquisite and vivacious OS, a step away from their usual plain and boring mantra that they had employed till the end of 2010.
The only issue we have on the performance side is that apps still take much too long to open, but that’s not really a Nokia problem but more of a Windows Phone issue where 3rd party apps can take forever to open (when you compare it to an iPhone 4S). Still, while it’s something to be improved on, apps which have been updated to Mango do make it easier to swap back to the game/app extremely quick. The only issue is that not all apps are there quite yet (not even Plants vs Zombies!), but we’re sure in time they’ll all be as quick as the native apps.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn integration, Xbox LIVE games, Microsoft Office, ZUNE, and the Live Tiles really do make this one of the most attractive OS’s in the market. Add to that, Nokia has the best collection of ‘Nokia’ only apps for the Lumia 800 such as Nokia Music (Similar to Zune, but with offline music as well), Nokia Maps (It’s like Bing Maps, but MUCH better for places where Bing Maps doesn’t work properly, such as outside North America?), and Nokia Drive (a free turn-by-turn voice guide Navigation system). Nokia have also recently added Creative Studio, further adding to the list of Nokia only apps which gives you another reason to pick up the phone.
The only thing missing from the Lumia 800 is Internet Sharing aka tethering. It’s disappointing that it’s taken Nokia this long to implement this feature, but they say it will be here by April so we can look forward to that at least, but for now it’s a negative.
As we said in performance, everything on Windows Phone is generally buttery smooth and we have yet to run into ANY lag whatsoever which is always great to see. As for the Windows Phone Marketplace, the app count is currently at 70,000 and growing quickly so you can find most of the big apps on the store. Those which aren’t there should be coming soon and as the Windows Phone user base grows, so does the marketplace.
When we got the phone, the battery life was average at best. The phone’s battery would last, but would need a charge every day and that was quite annoying to say the least. However, after a recent 12070 update (coming to Vodafone soon) to the phone, the battery life has been increased tremendously! A normal day’s usage (oh High Display) consisted of 1 hour of tv shows, 1 hour of music, perhaps 3-4 hours of Twitter/Facebook/Internet Browsing, and by the end of the day you would be looking at perhaps 10% of battery left (in a normal 10 hour day). Not too impressive. After the update however, you’re looking at a massive 20 hours of battery life.
The same routine above left me with 30-50% battery depending on a change of activity lenght. Furthermore, turning on battery saver boosted that even further and turning the screen display down to low would get you through two days of the same routine! Since we got the battery update fairly early in the phone’s life, we used that score in the review as it seemed more fair (since most people would be on the update soon).
Here’s a picture below to prove it with the battery on 40%.
Obviously quite impressive results, and we hope to see even more improvements in the future of this great phone.