The Lumia 800 Packaging

Last week , i received a brand new Nokia Lumia 800, as gift for having published 3 apps for Windows Phone 7. I managed to make 2 by myself, but the last one i had difficulty to test it without the phone in question so Johan Strandberg helped me create the last one.

I’ll make three distinct articles in this great occasion:

  1. Nokia Lumia 800
  2. Windows Phone 7
  3. My Apps

Anyway, one week after the reception and living with it, here’s my current opinion on the actual Lumia hardware…

The phone

Build quality . . . kicks ass

The phone quality in general kicks ass, it feels very robust, coherent and different compared to the ubiquitous boxy Androids and iPhones. It even comes as standard with a protective silicone casing, which isn’t anywhere to be found in any other phone i know of.

The buttons feel solid, and are satisfying to click. There is a power/lock button, a volume up / down and a hardware camera button. Finally, the buttons for Windows Phone 7 are really pretty, back-lit and hidden behind the glass and integrate nicely visually, but the downside is that they’re tactile and not mechanical: they can be triggered by mistake and that is not cool.

Nothing to make too much fuss about, but still there’s some nit-picking to be made there.

iPhone 3g and Lumia 800

The camera . . . Does The Trick

The camera is really good, with auto-focus that is triggered by a two-step buttons like in normal point-and shoot cameras… Very nice to use. It incorporates a dandy LED flash which leans strongly toward green hues but does the job for emergency purposes. Otherwise, the quality is very good for the occasional must-takes ;)

There aren’t any protections for the camera lens, which makes it easy to smear it with the fingers while grabbing the phone, and the silicone casing makes it rather hard to clean it up while not preventing debris and other joyful stuff to get around it… But still, the lens is at an intuitive position when it comes to taking a picture so let’s stop the nit-picking…

Rear view

Screen . . . The Best Thing Since Sliced Samples

The screen especially has extremely brilliant execution: it has a rounded shape that is extremely pleasant to touch, some special treatment that makes it glare much less compared to iPhone 4 / 3. Colors are beautiful, the pixel density is pretty close to retina, and the best about it is the deep blacks it is able to create.

Simply put, in complete darkness a black background is indistinguishable from the black frame of the phone. It’s per-fect. Any other smartphone display looks washed-out in comparison. Plus, the luminosity is terrific. A very successful aesthetic experience, and a pleasure to use even at low brightness…

Some say that the glass coating is so well made that the images look as if they’re floating on the surface of the phone. While i personally didn’t experience it that way, several people who saw the phone thought the same, so that’s worth reporting. Conclusion: Brilliant.

Screen face-offs

Ergonomics . . . Oh no .

I’ve had a few Nokias in the past, pre-smartphone era, and they all had very brilliant ergonomics. This one, i’m afraid to say, is hit-and-miss in that area. The weight of the phone is larger than iPhone 3gs, and the bulk is more. The shape is rather angular which makes it not slide in the pocket, and finally the battery in unaccessible (forget about changing it, is the message).

Buttons while sturdy, are not terribly well placed. The power button is too close and haptically similar to the volume buttons, which results in mistakes of operation.

Buttons all on one side

Battery life . . . [Really] Ass.

Even by today’s remarkably low smartphone standards, the battery life doesn’t exceed a day by normal use, without 3g. This is laughable, and the brightness adaptation doesn’t seem to work at all. (it sticks to medium, and never goes to low, even in pitch black darkness… Not cool again. Let’s hope that the software is to blame…

 

The Sound . . . Yes . . .

There is a normal 3.5 mm jack output which is placed at a nice position on top of the phone. The quality of the sound overall is very good, however i did notice some interferences and small sonic glitches when touching the screen without playing any sound. Still very discreet sounds that are imperceptible once anything at all plays.

Perhaps it comes from the fact that the phone can actually play normal FM band radio, which on the other hand i really like. The stations are easy to find, reception is stereo and very good, and nothing to complain about !

The sound level of the external speaker on the other hand, is disappointingly low, then suddenly hurtfully high and tinny, and the position of the speaker makes it easy to obstruct it by mistake… Nothing that an iPhone does particularly better, but sadly Nokia lost the opportunity to improve that bit and take the lead.

 

The Performance . . . It’s all there.

I’m not sure exactly what the embarked processor is inside, but there is certainly only acclaim to be made on the raw performance. Everything feels snappy and fluid in the OS, and nothing seemed to slow it down. More on that when reviewing the Windows Phone 7 OS and its apps, but the 3d performance is pretty and fluid in games as well. Conclusion, it’s all there.

OS face-off

Conclusion: I’m diggin it!

If you read my review down to here, you may think the whole picture looks grim. I just wanted to underline stuff that i didn’t read in other reviews, and that results in a few additional low points that i found were not up-to-par with a modern everyday phone priced around 450€.

It may all sound more negative than it is, but in usage this phone has charisma. Its screen brings it to life and overall it’s up there with the best. It’s solid, beautiful and somewhat original in a sea of copycats.

If the Top Gear cool-board was still going on, this would be in Cool, or maybe even in Sub-zero :)