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Nokia Lumia 800: Seriously speedy

In terms of durability and funky design, Nokia’s Lumia 800 definitely ranks high, but its true potential is curtailed by the OS.

tech reviews Updated: Jan 23, 2012 12:43 IST
Shayne Rana

Nokia’s “Piece de resistance” handset — the Lumia 800, is their first in the series and is based on their MeeGo running N9 device. This one, though, runs on the latest version of the Windows Phone 7 OS — Mango.

The Lumia 800 is built out of a single block of Polycarbonate plastic. Don’t let the ‘plastic’ part sway you, as the handset is quite durable. The 3.7-inch, slightly raised gorilla glass display, although quite a fingerprint magnet, survived quite a bit of torture without giving in to scratches. So, in terms of durability and funky design form, the Lumia 800 is definitely high on our ranking. If the slippery shell doesn’t meet your fancy, worry not. Nokia has thrown in a rubberised case that makes it much easier to manage.

Powered by a 1.4GHz Scorpion processor and running the Windows Phone Mango (7.5) OS, the Lumia 800 is a seriously speedy handset. When it comes to functionality, it manages to do everything it’s capable of extremely well. WP7’s stripped down; visually simplistic user interface is what keeps most of their handsets, irrespective of processing power, running quite smoothly. The Tile and Hub set-up is really what makes WP7 so attractive. Unfortunately for Nokia though, this fantastic piece of hardware can’t live up to its true potential that’s curtailed by the OS.

Although the WP7 is a user-friendly system, it’s still in its nascent stage and will require a considerable amount of tweaking before it can really give Android or iOS a run for their money.

What we also noticed with the otherwise crystal clear display was that whites usually took on a slightly yellowish tone. This was especially noticeable on websites with white backgrounds. Other than that, visibility in broad daylight from any angle was top-notch.

A major downer is that Nokia has missed on including any audio enhancements. Audio quality was consistent with any other high-end smartphone, but it could have surely been better with a few options to personalise the output. We found the decibel level low, especially in crowded areas. The built-in FM radio was just fine and even managed to pick up signals quite well on a daily commute through the city. Nokia has pre-installed TuneIn for Internet radio options as well.

Once again, we were plagued with the Zune menace, meaning we had to make sure that our videos were first compatible with the software, before it could take its own sweet time to transfer to the handset. Once on the handset, the picture quality, Nokia’s Clear Black Display enriched the colours. Sixteen gigs of internal storage space is also quite a bit to keep media lovers satisfied, even if they can’t extend it further.

In the connectivity domain, the Lumia 800 comes across as a capable smartphone. Packing 3G Wi-Fi capabilities under its belt, you’re good to go wherever you are. What is lacking, though, is the facility to create a hotspot, something even Apple made sure of including in their latest devices. While we’re quite fond of the IE browser on WP7, the lack of Flash and Silverlight support was a bit of a setback. Speed-wise, the browser functions very well. Setting up accounts of any kind is a breeze, just sign in and let the device do the rest from syncing with People’s Hub for your contacts to e-mail and calendar dates. Social networking, chatting, posting messages is a real easy task on the 800.

The Lumia 800 includes Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Bing Maps, which we thought was overkill. There’s also the Weather Channel and Nokia’s App Highlights that showcases a list of Lumia 800 friendly apps, specifically chosen for the device. You can shake the handset to get new apps displayed.

An 8 megapixel shooter is strapped onboard the rear of the Lumia 800 with Dual LEDs comprising the flash. Settings include scene modes, white balance, ISO settings, a few effects and a Macro mode. The maximum resolution is 720p HD for video.

Image quality was not what we expected from a Nokia device. Image focus was a problem in most areas when talking about quality in slightly low lit outdoor conditions. Video recording, in stark contrast was quite good with pretty decent audio levels.

A 1450mAh battery sits under the Polycarbonate shell and is quite capable of providing users with a fairly decent battery life. On 3G, though, don’t expect too much as we were barely able to use it for a full day before it required a charge.

What we like
Fantastic hardware
Lots of internal storage space
Decent video recording

What we don’t
WP7 system needs tweaking
Image quality
No audio enhancements

Verdict

At Rs. 29,990 (MRP), Lumia 800 is one of the more expensive WP7 handsets in the market. Cheaper options like the HTC Radar could pose as a competitor. If Nokia is looking to make a serious comeback, this device, as well built and powerful as it is, is just too pricey. The last thing we need right now is another “premium” type product with limited functionality.

Rating: ***1/2