Nokia Lumia 800 £399

8th Mar 2012 | 19:08

Nokia Lumia 800

Have the battery life issues finally been rectified?

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

The best Windows Phone device on the market impresses, but still with some room for improvement

Like:

Quality design; Clever interface; Speedy browser; Intuitive contact linking; Xbox integration

Dislike:

Internet text display dodgy at times; No Flash video; Zune player takes ages to copy video across; Video recording not impressive; Battery issues still prevail

Overview, Design and Feel

UPDATED: We've now updated this review based on usage of the Nokia Lumia 800 for around four months, which has included the first formal OS update, so take a look at our updated findings, complete with star rating.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is the first Windows Phone handset to spring from the Microsoft / Nokia tie-up announced roughly a year ago.

The Nokia Lumia 800 shares its exterior styling with the previously substantially less hyped Nokia N9, a Meego-based smartphone, although the screen size is reduced from 3.9 inches (854 x 480 pixels) to 3.7 inches (800 x 480 pixels) to conform to the Windows Phone spec list.

The CPU, however, increases from the 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 to the 1.4GHz MSM8255 Snapdragon/Scorpion which certainly helps add snap to the Windows Phone Mango operating system.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The Nokia Lumia 800 (£400 SIM-free), although being the more expensive of the two Nokia Windows Phone offerings (the other being the £299 SIM-free/£199 PAYG Nokia Lumia 710) shares the Nokia N9's 16-bit AMOLED ClearBlack display whereas the Nokia Lumia 710 sports a 24-bit ClearBlack TFT.

Nokia lumia 800 review

This being said, even though the colour depth is theoretically deeper than in the Nokia Lumia 710, AMOLED screens are seen as better than the older TFT technology due to the more vivid colours and better contrast ratios.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Moving away from Nokia comparisons, the Lumia 800 also has to compete with the likes of the HTC Titan and HTC Radar Windows Mango phones. When we compare screen size we find the Nokia Lumia 800 feeling a little small with the HTC Radar and HTC Titan entering the fray with 3.8-inch and 4.7-inch screens respectively although all competitors are limited to the same 800 x 480 pixel resolution.

Obviously the iPhone has managed to be a success with a smaller screen at 3.5 inches, but the trend towards bigger displays is increasing all the time, and we have to say we're fans of those over four inches thanks to the improved internet and media experience.

Nokia lumia 800 review

This means that the pixel density on the Lumia 800 is a little sharper, but in our side by side comparisons we noted very little difference between them.

When it comes to internal storage the Nokia Lumia 800 and HTC Titan are equal with 16GB of fixed internal storage, with the Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Radar weighing in with 8GB a piece.

Based on the two manufacturer's product specs it soon becomes apparent that the Nokia Lumia 800 is intended to compete against the HTC Titan and the Nokia Lumia 710 with the HTC Radar.

When compared dimensionally with the HTC Titan (131.5mm x 70.7mm x 9.9mm and 160g) we note that the Nokia Lumia 800 (116.5mm x 61.2mm x 12.1mm and 142g) cuts a very slim profile, with a lighter yet reassuring weight.

The physical appearance of the Nokia Lumia 800 is a dream to observe and handle, with its smooth curves fitting snugly to the hand both with and without the protective case provided in the purchase packaging.

That said, if you're used to handling the current crop of super slim handsets doing the rounds in today's phone shops, you can't help but feel the Lumia 800 is a little on the chunky side, even compared to the iPhone 4S thanks to it being around 10 per cent thicker.

Nokia lumia 800 review

However, that's not to say it isn't an attractive device, with its large 3.7-inch AMOLED screen pushed to the sides of the chassis and a cool curved polycarbonate shell gives the phone a very premium feel indeed.

Nokia has worked very hard on the unibody design here, using top-mounted flaps to cover the charging port and SIM slot, but sadly leaving the battery inaccessible. Intriguingly, we're seeing a microSIM here, which seems to be the fashion for the next wave of smartphones.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The battery is something we can get on board with as this isn't the first Nokia device to have an enclosed power pack and makes sense if it allows a greater design freedom.

There was no easy option for battery removal on the Nokia N8 or Nokia E7, for example. The problem is that with a charge lasting no more than a day, the option to switch out the battery, as with the Nokia Lumia 710, would have been nice.

The microSIM is somewhat more of an annoyance, since we couldn't even carry an old Nokia as a back-up because the SIM card is a different size.

SIM card adaptors are available, but use them at your own risk since they have a tendency to wedge in some phones. Add to this the frustration when you find that some operators charge for providing a microSIM when on a standard SIM contract.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The SIM to microSIM switch comes down to the simple issue of space. In the phone, the microSIM sits within the metal assembly bottom right.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is quite reasonably priced, costing nothing on as little as a £26 Orange or Vodafone contract with Carphone Warehouse compared with HTC Titan starting at £31 pm with Vodafone and £36 pm with Orange.

Interface

Nokia lumia 800

The major difference between Nokia Lumia series and other Nokia phones is the fact that it uses the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system. The system itself is nothing new, of course, releasing its latest incarnation (WP 7.5) on the HTC Titan and HTC Radar in 2011 and due for an update to Windows Phone Tango later this year.

A major point for and against WP7 for some is that it looks completely different to iPhone, Android, Symbian and Meego as the concept of application grids is nowhere to be seen.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Instead of the more standard home screen, or "Start Screen" in the case of Windows phone 7.5, the Nokia Lumia 800 uses "Live Tiles", fitting a 2x4 grid (although Calendar and Pictures tiles are full screen width) of tiles on the screen, vertically scrolling to display as many tiles as you wish to add.

Adding tiles to the Start screen is as easy as left swiping to the apps list, long pressing an app and selecting "pin to start", with removing a tile requiring a long press on the tile on the Start page and then tapping the drawing pin with a line through it.

Moving tiles around is just as easy, requiring a long press and then dragging them to the desired location.

Nokia lumia 800 review

At first we were unsure about the large tile based layout, finding it a little cumbersome and poor screen real estate usage, but within a couple of days our opinion changed. The major advantage is speed of use. You don't need to be looking as closely at your phone to use it as the chances of miss pressing are greatly reduced.

Having now used the phone for a few months, finding our way around the GUI is second nature. However, it still feels that the Start Screen could be better used, since although the 2 x 4 grid of Live Tiles visible at any one time act more as information sources as well as application icons, we still miss having access to more apps from a single switchable home screen.

Going forward, there will also be more advantages to the system as the Live Tiles as applications are able to show dedicated information instead of an icon - for instance, the BA app will turn into a QR code when you're about to board a flight which can be used in place of a boarding pass.

The other section of the home screen is the apps list, which is quite standard, and somewhat antiquated in some ways as it is just an alphabetical list of your apps, or app groups in the case of Office and Games.

Nokia lumia 800 review

In its defence this form of app list layout is, again, easy to navigate, knowing exactly where an app will sit in the list as done in the Windows PC start menu. This is further aided by the soft search button on the left hand side of the list providing a live filter of the list based on text entry.

This all means that folders are long gone, but after a while you realise that in this format, you don't need them - although as you fill the phone with apps, we would like the ability to sort them into little groups. Being able to search by letter isn't enough - we want customisation in the same way users are able to group together contacts and pin them to the start menu.

A backward step in WP7 is that the top status bar is not interactive like we have become accustomed to with other operating systems.

Nokia lumia 800 review

To toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Flight Mode on/off you have to go through Settings, which was a major frustration until we found an app on the Marketplace called Connectivity Shortcuts which brought this functionality to the Start screen as Tiles.

Another frustration is that the status bar often only displays the time, meaning you have no knowledge of connectivity or remaining power until you swipe down from the top of the screen to see these elements.

Microsoft thinks this cleans the screen up, but given knowing your signal is a pre-requisite for a lot of applications, we'd at least like the option to keep it there constantly - plus too many applications don't support the swipe-down method.

On a more positive slant, the repeated use of familiar icons throughout the user interface for specific functions, means that you know what a button does at a glance without having to read it. In this way the GUI feels intuitive rather than learnt.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Another feature Symbian users have become accustomed to over the years is the use of profiles to quickly switch between different scenarios in their daily life like, General, Silent, Meeting, Outdoor, Pager and Offline. Sadly, these are all gone except for Offline, which is now Flight Mode, and the ability to put the phone into vibrate only mode.

Although profiles have been around for many years, their usefulness has increased more recently with the invention of location and time-based auto profile switching apps, and this is what we really missed.

We had become used to having our phones automatically switching to sleep mode at night, conserving battery, dimming the screensaver and changing response to phone calls and messages at night and returning to normal mode the following morning.

One major area of frustration while using the Nokia Lumia 800 has been repeatedly hitting the back button to close Internet Explorer and other apps, because there's no Close/Exit button. The current WP7 coding means that apps close via the back button, but only from a specific screen which has to be navigated back to before the app can be closed/exited.

We have identified a way to ease the pain in Internet Explorer by opening the menu, selecting tabs, and closing all open tabs, at which point, a single tap on the back button now exits the app.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Even long pressing the back button to open the task manager does not provide an option to close open apps, but only permits switching between apps. This said, however we did not note any speed reduction with six apps showing in the Task Manager.

This is assisted by the fact that only a very select set of the apps on WP7 devices can run in the background and the rest are suspended (disabled) when not on top - we were very impressed with the speed of the Lumia 800 throughout testing and in truth, didn't see any real necessity to actually shut down the applications.

One major problem we did note: sliding your finger across the touchscreen would sometimes be inexplicably registered as a tap, opening an app or zooming into the text. We had hoped that the joint Microsoft OS and Nokia FW updates released in February would have fixed this, but sadly not, although the issue does appear to be occurring less often.

If you want to learn more about the new Microsoft mobile operating system, then check out our Windows Phone 7.5 Mango review.

Messaging

Nokia lumia 800 review

The Nokia Lumia supports the standard SMS, MMS and email with a few differences.

During initial phone set-up you are asked to set up email + accounts settings which enables the user to add Windows Live (Hotmail, Xbox LIVE, Messenger, Calendar and others), Outlook (Exchange and Office 360), Nokia Mail (provided by Yahoo!), Yahoo! Mail, Google (Mail and Calendar), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other email accounts (POP and IMAP) as well as providing advanced setup to manually use your accounts.

One interesting thing we found was your LinkedIn account is added automatically if it is linked to your Windows Live account. Another thing to note is that during initial phone setup you are asked for a Windows Live and Nokia account. The Windows Live account you use at this point cannot be removed from the phone.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Once all of your accounts are set-up there are a number of ways to get social. The first is the Messaging app which merges SMS, MMS, Windows Messenger and Facebook chat although they are not grouped so you have to laterally swipe to switch between SMS/MMS and Facebook.

We were also surprised that Nokia Chat contacts aren't imported alongside Facebook contacts, since they could be associated with the Windows Live and Nokia accounts already added.

This may be down to Nokia's gradual phasing out of its OVI/Nokia service or the result of the lack of influence Nokia was able to gain over the current Windows OS. Whatever the reason, the impact is minimal based on the alternative social communications methods available.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The integration of Facebook and Twitter into the base OS makes communicating easy, with the ability to instant status post and check on People's (contacts') activity quickly from the People or Me app.

If you do wish to do more, Microsoft has created a Facebook app and Twitter has its own. You can also add to this with self-developed apps from Foursquare, Flickr, GetGlue, Evernote and many more.

Text entry is clean and easy with its keys large enough for the average fingers to work around without many incorrect presses and an auto complete suggestions bar between the keyboard and the entry field.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Words are automatically selected depending on which information you're adding, which is a nice touch, and you can tap on a word to be given the option to add it to the dictionary or long press to bring up a cursor to select elements of text.

Nokia lumia 800 review

However, this long press takes ages when you're trying to just tap an element of the text to interact with - it's miles slower than the competition. This does leave us reminiscing about the simplicity of operation of simple arrow navigation screens provided on other operating systems.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The keyboard is excellent on the Nokia Lumia 800 though, with fast typing speeds easy to attain. But it's not as intuitive as the Symbian, Apple or Android options out there, since we noted around two or three more mistakes per message and less accurate second-guessing of what our fudge-fingered keyboard mashings were actually trying to say.

Finally, we were surprised to see that although Microsoft Communicator has been rolled out to all Nokia Symbian Anna devices, it doesn't appear in the new Nokia Lumia 800. This may be down to the lack of our use of the Nokia Lumia 800's Exchange Server integration and the associated functionality provided.

Contacts and Calling

Nokia lumia 800 review

Contacts

Initial set-up of the Nokia Lumia 800 generates a cloud based "People" (contacts) list based on Windows Live, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google and others accounts you set-up with information from the different services merged to create a single combined list.

This relies mainly on the same contact names used across the services with any remaining duplicates easily merged by opening a Person (contact) from the list and tapping on the link button and selecting another Person (contact) to merge with them.

It's all about making things more personal and we love the easy way suggestions of people to link can be added by a single tap.

Nokia lumia 800 review

In addition to this, People (contacts) can be transferred from your old Bluetooth-enabled phone in seconds via the pre-installed Contacts Transfer app to be merged with the cloud based information previously downloaded.

The only downside to this system is that we have not been able to find a way to hide some contacts and show others from the same service. You can set all contacts to display, link up all your buddies, then shut down the rest of the people from Facebook or Twitter you don't want to see, but this can lead to erratic contact info in our tests.

Nokia lumia 800 review

A nice way of achieving this would be to group/categorise contacts in the different services and display or hide contacts via the groups/categories they are in.

A frustration that can occur when merging People is that if a specific field is slightly different between services it is duplicated for each service.

Once everything is set up the People list can be swiped vertically, searched via the soft search icon (magnifying glass in a circle) or quick navigated by tapping on one of the start letter indicators which brings up a quick A-Z with any unpopulated start letters greyed out.

A left swipe transitions to the What's New screen showing recent posts from your People on the services that you have set up (such as Twitter and Facebook) where a single tap enters a reply to post/conversation screen.

Nokia lumia 800 review

A second left swipe transitions to a tile list of your recently interacted with People records and a third and final swipe returns to the original People list.

Calling

Calling is an area where things seem a little awkward as you have to tap on the "Phone" tile which opens a phone history screen which equates to a call log. At the base of this screen, the soft bar contains, from left to right: voicemail access, dial screen access, People access and search functionality for the phone history screen.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Once in the dial screen, all is kept excessively simple as although the dial pad shows letters there is no way to make use of them in terms of smart dialling to bring up contacts. In this area we had come to like the live search/matching window above the dial pad on Symbian devices.

Call quality on the Nokia Lumia 800 is excellent, partially due to its polycarbonate chassis meaning that there are no large pieces of metal for radio signals to bounce off. This is also the reason for the high speed and accuracy of GPS fix discussed later in the Maps section.

We used an Orange SIM for the initial testing, and found that signal was maintained well, with the 3G signal switching quickly between Orange and T-Mobile on the Nokia Lumia 800.

Since then we've also used Vodafone, T-Mobile and O2 microSIMs, with no change in performance.

Internet

Nokia lumia 800 review

When it comes to the internet, the Nokia Lumia 800 is one of the fastest mobile internet experiences we have encountered, with lightning response loading pages in less than a second and the weight of the TechRadar website in less than 3 seconds when connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot only capable of c.1.5Mbps (on its best run).

It's not faster than the Safari browser or the option on the Samsung Galaxy S2, but it's easily good enough to be a decent experience for web browsing on the go.

We tested all three devices side by side over a 3G and Wi-Fi connection, and out of three tests, only once did the Lumia 800 manage to load a site faster than both devices, which was the mobile version of the BBC site.

For heavier web browsing, we'd still recommend something from the iOS or Android stables (with a comparable processor, that is. Dual core technology seems to be a big boon here).

Nokia lumia 800 review

That problem we mentioned earlier with the touchscreen being erratic is most problematic here - you're trying to scroll through text and it will start to zoom in and out, even though no taps are registered. Nokia needs to sort this, and FAST.

Although there is an Internet Explorer icon most people start the internet session with a search which is where the bottom right search button (magnifying glass) and the Local Scout app come into their own.

Nokia lumia 800 review

One tap on the Search button and up pops the Bing search app, but when you look closer this is so much more than the standard Bing website. At the bottom of the screen in the soft bar, are three or four icons, depending on if you have permitted the search app to use your location information, which are, from left to right:

  • Local Scout: Tap the buildings icon and the separate Location Scout app will start, displaying local places of interested based on food, entertainment and shops, and generally comes up with good and relevant results, even in the UK.
    Nokia lumia 800 review
  • Music Recognition: Tap the musical note icon and the phone listens for music in the background, identifies and provides a link to an album containing it on the Marketplace. Again, the implementation is excellent and probably will have the likes of Shazam worried.
  • Text Translator and QR Code/ Microsoft Tag scanner: Tap the eye icon and the camera turns on, and if you position a section of text in front of it, it provides automatic over-the-air translation between a selection of languages. If you have a QR code or Microsoft Tag instead, it will read it and respond.
  • Audio Search: Tap the microphone icon and the microphone turns on and anything you say will be entered in the search field and the results of a web search will be displayed as if you had typed it in and pressed enter. It's nothing compared to Apple's Siri - but it's still OK if you want to eschew tapping words into the phone.

All this said, the one big limitation is that Adobe flash player does not support the Nokia Lumia 800, providing the message "Sorry Adobe Flash Player is not available from Adobe for your device's operating system or browser."

Nokia lumia 800 review

We were informed by Nokia, during the initial testing and review period, that this is a result of Adobe playing catch up with Internet Explorer 9, and that support is soon to be provided. But sadly as time has progressed, this issue continues to annoy and limit the usability at times.

The debate over Flash video on mobile devices is still raging, and now Adobe has announced it's scrapping the system in favour for HTML 5, we're excited at the prospect of it being over.

However, the fact remains that the Lumia 800 still can't render internet content properly - we've marked down the iPhone for this consistently, as the Galaxy S2 shows mobile Flash video can look fantastic without impacting system resources.

We can't guarantee that the issue is related, but we haven't been able to access a single Nokia competition page on Facebook within Internet Explorer on either of the Nokia Lumia devices, either.

Camera

Nokia lumia 800 review

One of the big changes for Nokia is that the new Nokia Windows Phones lack a front facing camera which places them on the back foot to start with when compared with the HTC Titan and HTC Radar and other non-WP7 devices.

This move came as a surprise as Nokia devices have long had front facing cameras with the similarly packaged Nokia N9 having one in the bottom corner.

This is exacerbated by the recent acquisition of Skype by Microsoft providing an even stronger link to video calling.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The Nokia response with respect to the lack of the front-facing camera is that the production turnaround time for the initial Nokia WP7 devices meant that they needed to have their functionality focused on their intended user-base, and those using video chat make a very small portion of the market. As the range expands these kinds of features are sure to return at some point.

Although the Nokia Lumia 710 also falls short with its lack of a front-facing camera, the upcoming Nokia Lumia 900 is to incorporate a 1.3 CMOS camera at last. This is an opportune time for this to be re-introduced based on the recent release of the first Skype beta for Windows Phone.

The rear camera on the Nokia Lumia 800 sports the same specification as that on the HTC Titan with a 8MP f/2.2 camera lens and Dual-LED flash, capable of up to 720p HD video recording.

It's a step forward when compared with Nokia's Symbian phones, as there's a touch-based method of focussing and capture feature like that offered on the iPhone enabling better control on the subject focus on photographs.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The Camera app comes with the standard settings to control Scenes (default: Auto), White Balance (default: Auto), Exposure Value (default: 0), ISO (default: Auto), Effects (default: Normal), Contrast (default: Normal), Saturation (default: Normal), Focus Mode (default: (Macro) and Resolution (default: 8MP 4:3) as well as a new Metering Mode (default: Centre Weighted) which controls how the camera manages exposure based on the light conditions across the photograph.

A nice touch on the Nokia Lumia 800 Camera app is that you are able to transition directly between the Camera and the Captured Shots and Videos by tapping the soft arrow icon or swiping towards the WP7 hard button bar, returning to the Camera by swiping away from the hard button bar again. This kind of seamless integration shows this is a next generation phone.

Once in the image viewer, there are options to share on Facebook, use as wallpaper, delete, add to favourites or auto-fix. Having played with auto-fix, it does a good job, with the only pity being that it does not remove red-eye, so you'll need a third party app for this.

Also when you select to share to Facebook, auto face recognition kicks in if you tap the tag icon on the upload screen, enable the naming of the image and tagging of anyone in it prior to uploading.

Nokia lumia 800 review

DAYTIME: This was taken with default settings

Nokia lumia 800 review

TAP FOCUS & CAPTURE - CLOSE: This was taken with tap to focus and capture with a near field subject.

Nokia lumia 800 review

TAP FOCUS & CAPTURE - DISTANT: This was taken with tap to focus and capture with a distant subject.

Nokia lumia 800 review

MAXIMUM ZOOM: Maximum zoom provides good resolution and colours.

Nokia lumia 800 review

RED-EYES: Night Mode with flash provides a good colours, but there is no red-eye flash.

Nokia lumia 800 review

FIREWORKS: Night Mode with no flash provide a good colour and contrast of fireworks display.

Video

When it comes to Video capture on the Nokia Lumia 800 we were quite disappointed, since it's not possible to change zoom while recording, which seems mad.

To make things worse, continued press zooming is achieved by step changes between six levels, which feels very clunky.

Nokia lumia 800

Video quality in daylight provides good colour depth and sound, but the speed of response to changes in brightness and focal range is very poor. Although the image quality improves as expected when switching from VGA to 720p, the speed of response remains poor.

In low light, the Nokia Lumia 800 struggles to focus even more. The dual LED flash can be turned on permanently while videoing, enabling focus and colour settings to achieve closer to daylight quality.

Media

Nokia lumia 800 review

Music

Music playback on the Nokia Lumia 800 is to Nokia's usual standard through headphones, but the speaker playback is disappointingly tinny when compared to that of previous Nokia models like the Nokia N8.

A nice touch is that music playback creates an overlay bar that slides down over all apps when the volume keys are pressed to provide play/pause fast-forward and rewind functionality when tapped, no matter where you are in the phone.

Nokia lumia 800 review

When it comes to selecting what to listen to the Nokia Lumia 800 provides Nokia Music and the Music and Video default group.

Nokia Music opens to show the number of tracks saved on the phone. A quick tap then opens an A-Z list via either Artist, Album, Song, Genre or Playlist.

Tapping on your selection from the list opens functions differently depending on the filter being used. The Genre, Artist and Album tabs start instant playback is the right hand play symbol or album art is tapped, but open a lower level selection screen if the text is tapped which is a nice touch, missing from the Symbian music player.

A swipe to the left from the main Nokia Music screen provides access to the Mix Radio which is a streaming service transmitted through the data connection so Wi-Fi is strongly recommended as most mobile data contracts aren't unlimited.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The good news is that the playlists are refreshed each week and there's a choice of genres to pick from that you can either listen to over-the-air or download to your device to listen to offline.

And overall, we're mixed in our feelings over Mix Radio. Sure, we like having genre-based playlists to pop on in the background, but for some people they'll have to sit through hours of songs they don't like over a month of listening.

Also, we found that when the screen mis-read our scrolls for taps, it would open up another playlist. It's easy to duck back out of it, but then you'll find you can't skip tracks any more as your allocation has been 'used up'.

Another swipe displays the Mp3 Store providing the ability to purchase music and a final swipe transitions to a local gigs list which is nice if you fancy seeing an artist live.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Moving on to Music and Videos, this app grouping is the standard Windows Phone option, lumping in Music, Videos, Podcasts, Radio and items from the Marketplace. From this screen you can swipe left, transitioning to playback history, New media, applications (which lists Nokia Music) and back to the initial screen.

Tapping on Music opens a similar interface to that presented in the Nokia Music app other than that the Zune Smart DJ feature is available which finds similar artists and creates a playlist of similar music. It's easy to use and songs open quickly, with the aforementioned quality of audio impressing.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Tapping on Podcasts opens a swipeable screen displaying a list of either audio or video podcasts which performs the same as the album and artists lists for music with a tap on the left hand image starting playback and tapping the name opening a list of all podcasts on that feed.

Tapping on Radio opens a standard FM radio which requires headphones to work as the radio antenna and thus does not playback though the phone speaker. The simple radio is FM only and supports station favourites.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Finally, tapping on Marketplace opens the Marketplace, which provides access to purchase additional music for your personal collection from the Microsoft store.

One thing missing is audiobooks, because there's no support for users to listen to them unless you obtain all of your literary soundbites via the OverDrive (an eBook host) and access it through the mobile client - but many people won't be willing to do this.

Pictures

The Nokia Lumia 800 uses a Pictures (gallery) app which show images from the Camera roll (showing captured images and video) and Albums (displaying images from the Camera Roll and personal SkyDrive and Facebook pictures).

Nokia lumia 800 review

It also provides a view sorted by date and a view showing your favourite images. Finally two left hand swipes transitions to a What's New screen showing recent image posts from all social accounts set-up on the phone.

Video

Video playback on the Nokia Lumia 800 is accessed through the same group as Music, displaying a list of all videos with the ability to swipe to lists in television shows, music videos, films and personal videos (captured on the device).

The media select interface works in the same way as the music interface as they are parts of the same app.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Playback is limited to landscape phone orientation and is an enjoyable experience due to the high quality screen providing excellent contrast ratios and the simplistic interface with a transparent controls overlay sliding off the bottom of the screen after a few second delay.

There's also a fit to screen option which maintains the aspect ratio, but expands the image to fit the screen whist cropping where necessary.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The only limitation on playback is the quality of the speaker mentioned above if you can' be bothered monkeying about with headphones.

Battery and Connectivity

Battery life

The Nokia Lumia 800 we were provided for our original review lasted a day before showing the critical battery warning.

It lasted marginally longer when we updated the software, which was supposed to fix the issue completely, and after the latest Microsoft OS and Nokia FW updates the battery remains good enough to last up to one day between charges. This is a slight improvement, but in practice it's still worse than other phones on the market.

The one great improvement provided in the last Nokia FW update is the ability to recharge the Nokia Lumia 800 from empty without the use of a PC to force it to wake up, and the ability to make better use of Nokia's charging technology to enable speedier transfers.

However, we've got good news: there's another update that's popped up in Singapore that's said to double (that's right, double) the Nokia Lumia 800 battery life. Whether that will be the case in real use, we've yet to see... but we're crossing our fingers and will update the review when we are able to.

We were using the Mix Radio a fair bit, and on occasion enjoyed a movie session - but even then, the battery drain was too high, with around four hours of video obliterating the power pack to critical levels.

When we compare the specifications the competition is interesting with the Nokia Lumia 800 achieving 780 minutes GSM talk time and 265hrs GSM standby in comparison to 410 minutes and 460hrs from the HTC Titan.

The overall standby times may be down to the Nokia Lumia 800's 1450mAh battery compared with the HTC Titan's 1600mAh offering.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Charging of the Nokia Lumia 800 is achieved via its single micro-USB connector enabling charging via mains adaptor or PC USB, keeping things simple. A nice touch is the offset hinge rocker mechanism on the micro-USB cover making opening the cover a lot easier than previous devices.

Press on the raised area next to the headphone socket and the other end of the cover pops out. No more trying to hook your fingers under a tiny ridge.

To aid battery management there is an option in the phone settings to turn on battery saver automatically when the battery level drops below a pre-set figure, switching certain services off like automatic email retrieval and background applications.

Connectivity

As usual the Nokia Lumia 800 comes packaged with a USB to micro-USB cable for charging and physical connection for synchronisation and data transfer.

In addition to its hard connectivity the Nokia Lumia 800 supports Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n with the usual WEP, WPA, WPA2 (Enterprise & Personal) methods available.

The first time the Nokia Lumia 800 is connected to a PC the standard automatic driver setup occurs followed by a request to install Microsoft Zune software which is Microsoft's response to iTunes providing access enabling synchronisation of music and video between PC and phone.

Nokia lumia 800 review

We're still very disappointed in the lack of drag and drop options for the Zune interface on the PC - we want to just chuck songs and movies on our device through a standard Windows Explorer interface without having to spend ages synchronising them over, but Microsoft is having none of it.

Obviously, you can drag and drop the files within the Zune application to the little phone icon in the corner, but unless you fancy faffing around with third party applications, this is the only way you can manage it - in the same way as iTunes.

So if you want to plop a video on the device or simply bung over a few tracks from an obscure folder, you'll need to select the relevant items in the Zune player and wait ages (especially in the case of video) to get them across. Even though the system says it accepts MP4, our files were clearly in the wrong codec and couldn't be played without copious conversion.

However, the same files were instantly playable on the Galaxy S2 - why Nokia (well, in fairness, Microsoft) has to be so convoluted, we don't know.

One thing we do like is the ability to wirelessly sync: if your phone and PC are on and plugged in (and connected to the same network) any items you've flagged for syncing will automatically jump across while you sleep - if you don't turn off your computer at night, that is.

Maps and Apps

Nokia lumia 800 review

Maps

When it comes to maps and satellite navigation, Nokia has been leading the pack for a while now. Disappointingly, the Nokia Lumia 800 has limited functionality in this area when compared with Nokia's Symbian offering.

The Nokia Lumia 800 comes with Bing Maps as standard, pre-installed alongside the limited-functionality Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive navigation apps.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Using the Drive app highlighted a number of limitations when compared with the latest version of Nokia Maps on Symbian Anna and Belle devices. The first of which is that it is not possible to set your home location.

Add to this that destination setting can only be achieved by text entry search, which however good it is - and it is very good - is still a major limitation compared to online favourites, selecting from a point on the map, selecting from categorised points of interest (POIs) and selecting a location from your contacts available on Symbian devices.

Accepting these limitations, the speed and accuracy of location is excellent, finding our location within a couple of seconds on every occasion. Once in navigation mode we also noticed the lack of voice files including the 'with streets' option, developed on Symbian, which use text-to-speech to include road names in the navigation guidance.

Nokia lumia 800 review

When we first used the Nokia Maps offering we were surprised to find that it doesn't use the on-device map data installed via Nokia Drive. This is, of course, one of the biggest selling points for Nokia smartphones, along with camera capabilities provided by Nokia's long-standing partnership with Carl Zeiss.

Why download hundreds of megabites of Map data for Nokia Drive and then ignore this, using over-the-air map data on Nokia Maps? It leaves us baffled.

Once we had accepted this limitation of Nokia Maps, we were further bewildered by the lack of integration between Nokia Maps and the operating system, and even with Nokia Drive.

Sadly, Nokia Maps is also limited to text entry searching for setting your destination. But what left us further exacerbated is that once the destination was found, there was no option to navigate using Nokia Drive. Instead we had to either use OTA turn by turn pedestrian or car navigation with no voice guidance, or close Nokia Maps and open Nokia Drive, re-entering and selecting our chosen destination.

Nokia Maps does provide Places, which are a form of POI overlayed on the Maps that can be accessed for information about them, Qype reviews, guide information and pointers to other places in their vicinity. These can be chosen as a destination, but there's no categorised menu, although the icons used are based on the simple food, entertainment, train/bus station categorisation principle.

All in all, Nokia's Drive and Maps are good at what they do, but feel too disconnected to be provided from the OEM for the device at present.

In addition to the Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps apps, there's a standard WP7 Maps app. Opening this app displays your current location using downloaded maps like Nokia Maps, rather than on-device data like Nokia Drive.

The bottom soft button bar provides access to Local Scout, Navigation (without voice), My Location and a search facility. Although the interface is crisp, the app doesn't stand up to the Nokia Drive offering. But it exceeds that currently offered by Nokia Maps due to its much better integration in the Windows Phone OS.

With a combination of the integrated Local Scout and Contacts integration provided in Bing Maps and the vehicular satellite navigation, albeit unintegrated, provided by Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps is somewhat redundant in its current form.

Apps

Although the re-installed apps list is somewhat limited, the quality of apps available via the Marketplace is impressive. When compared with other app stores, quantity is not everything as this often brings a drop off in quality.

That said, we'll run through the pre-installed apps in alphabetical order as displayed in the on device apps list.

First in the list is the Alarm app. Operation is simple, tapping on a plus symbol in the soft button bar at the base of the screen to add alarm providing time, repeat, sound and name entry fields and finally tapping on the floppy disk symbol in the soft button bar to save.

Tapping on the repeats entry field provides a Monday to Sunday multi select list with the only thing missing being a start and end date, but this is something that can be achieved in the calendar app instead.

Once an alarm is set the alarm slider toggle is displayed next to it to enable/disable it and a long press opens an edit screen where it can be deleted.

App Highlights is another Nokia WP7 only app which appears to be Nokia's suggestions from the Marketplace. In some ways this app doesn't need to exist alongside the standard Marketplace app although the shake based 'surprise me' functionality is fun.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Calculator is simple and easy to use with large buttons and an even larger display with standard operators and a single memory.

Calendar opens by default in day view, lateral scrollable agenda and to-do views. All entries are colour coded based on which cloud service they are saved on.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The cloud services available are based on those that you set-up in the email and accounts settings discussed earlier. Views have the same icons in the soft button bar, namely (from left to right): the date, new event/task and day/month toggle.

Creating a new entry appears no different to other phone calendars with Subject, Location, When How long, Reminder, Occurs, Status, Attendees, Notes and a private toggle.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Games is the link between WP7 and Xbox Live. Once the Windows Live account associated with your Xbox Live account has been added to your phone the app opens on the Collection screen installed games at the top and suggestion for trial and purchase below.

A quick swipe to the left displays your Xbox Live account credentials and avatar, with further swipes transitioning to friends and messages, game and turn requests, spotlight and back to your collection.

Nokia lumia 800 review

As mentioned at Nokia World some console and WP7 games are integrated to the degree that you can transfer your game between your console and phone by taking a snap of a Microsoft tag detailing your game progress, such as Kinectimals.

Nokia lumia 800 review

Help + How-to is another app which feels like it should be in settings rather than taking space on the apps list as it is on device help rather than a functional app.

Office provides access to mobile versions of OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint capable of working with documents either on device or on Microsoft cloud-based services like SkyDrive, SharePoint and Office 365.

Although these apps have reduced functionality compared to the full PC variants they can do more than enough for mobile users. Things like formulae in Excel are supported with help and guidance during entry.

One thing we found interesting is that when you tap the plus symbol to create a new document the options are limited to Word and Excel, however you can open the pre-loaded OneNote and PowerPoint documents and save them as new documents.

Nokia lumia 800 review

The last app on the list is We Care, which is less of an app and more of a privacy statement from Nokia. Unless this is going to be used for more in the long run, it should be moved to an about screen in Settings or removed completely. Luckily a long press does give the option to uninstall.

Nokia lumia 800 review

If you decide you need more than comes pre-installed which will probably be the case a quick trip to the Marketplace app provides a one-stop shop for third party apps.

On opening the app you are presented with a list of the main categories, namely: applications, games and music which can be added to by your mobile provider.

Nokia lumia 800 review

When we were using an Orange SIM card we had an additional 'Orange Selects' entry at the top of the list showing what Orange thought we may need to better our experience.

From here you can either tap on a category or swipe left to lateral scroll through the three default category screens, or you can search from any of these screens to find what you want.

Sadly Orange is the only UK operator to fully embrace the Windows Phone environment, since using Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile SIMs provided no similar 'Selects' menu item. None of these other networks supported pay via mobile bill within the Marketplace either.

Verdict

Nokia lumia 800 review

The Nokia Lumia 800 is a very attractive device with a nice weight, and when the on-contract price is free, it's even better. Although the Nokia Lumia 710 has been released as a cheaper alternative, the Lumia 800 doesn't feel at all threatened by its new competition.

We liked

The size, shape and weight of the Nokia Lumia 800 provides a quality feel, and is a unique shape compared to many other phones on the market.

The GUI feels intuitive with a very impressive speed of response, providing a continuity of feel between applications.

The pre-installed Internet Explorer 9 is a super zippy browser, although not the fastest around - but we are impressed with how much of an improvement Microsoft and Nokia working together has made.

The use and merging of multiple cloud sources for contacts, calendar and social apps is well executed, and is actually one of the easiest to use when it comes to linking contacts together.

The games, with their Xbox Live integration, provided a nice look and feel, with the ability to transfer game progress between console and phone.

We disliked

No profiles and this automated profile transitioning as provided on Symbian^3 and newer devices - although this is a problem many smartphones have nowadays.

The phone speaker is disappointing based on previous Nokia devices with a quite tinny sound quality; certainly not among the best on the market, especially in loud conditions.

Battery performance is poor compared with other recent Nokia devices - none of the Finnish bullet-proof battery life we used to be able to rely on, and the update has failed to fix this.

Video recording is not up to recent Nokia standards with no zoom whilst recording and poor light and focus response worsening further in low light environments.

Mix Radio still needs a bit of work to be a truly stand out feature, and the touchscreen issue, although intermittent, rankles when it disturbs what you're trying to do.

Verdict

Although we had our doubts during initial familiarisation with the Nokia WP7 environment, the transition from the Symbian environment will be much less painful than expected for those still entranced by the Nokia brand.

In less than 48 hours we went from wanting to return to our old phones to not wanting to let go of this one. After four months with the Nokia Lumia 800 we still don't want to let it go, although we have had to accept some of its negatives to make the most of its positives.

Whereas the start screen tiles initially felt a little unwieldy and wasteful of the display real estate, the reasoning behind the UI styling soon became apparent so that we realised it is all about simplicity and intuitiveness.

Start screen icons are large to minimise the chances of incorrect icon selection. The phone dial pad screen only has what it really needs to make a call. The alphabetical apps list is the easiest way to find apps, since we all know our A-Z.

We did note a number of issues with the review device, and while many have been rectified by software updates, some remained. The biggest stumbling block of these is the poor video capture and lack of zoom during recording, for which Nokia has promised a future Camera update.

The result of our time with the Nokia Lumia 800 has left us wanting more. The big question you have to ask is: do you buy the Nokia Lumia 800 with WP Mango installed or do you wait to see what devices Nokia releases on the next and Nokia-influenced Windows Phone 8 devices late this year?

We can't look at the phone as just a list of specs. It's the best Windows Phone device out there, but there is room for improvement. We said the same thing with the last crop of WP devices, and while we're happy to wait a little longer, we hope that we start seeing some Microsoft-fuelled superphones in the near future.

Thanks to Orange for supplying our microSIM for our original review.

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