A smartphone that's eye-catchingly different.
The Lumia 800 is Nokia's first smartphone to use Windows Phone 7 (WP7) – the new mobile operating system (OS) from Microsoft it switched to last year, after abandoning its own long-serving Symbian OS. Until now, WP7 smartphones have looked much like any other, but the Lumia 800 has a striking design that instantly sets it apart.
The Lumia 800 is carved from a single block of plastic and, as a result, it feels exceptionally solid. Since the plastic is dyed before the blocks are carved rather than sprayed afterwards, the Lumia 800's case also has a deep, rich colour and a lovely matte finish. The material is still relatively soft though, and so prone to showing scuffs and scrapes all too easily. A rubber case is included although this does hide the phone's good looks.
The other key part of the Lumia 800's gorgeous design is its screen – a rounded rectangle of curved glass that wraps around its front face and sits slightly above it. Ordinarily, such an expanse of glass would run the risk of easy damage, but the Corning Gorilla Glass is extremely tough and highly resistant to scratching, although it can still chip or crack if dropped directly onto a hard surface.
The 3.7in screen has a seemingly high resolution of 480x800 pixels, but it's markedly less impressive in action. The problem is that Nokia has used a display technology called PenTile Matrix that makes screens cheaper to produce, but the side effect is a visible fuzziness on straight edges in an image. The problem isn't apparent in photos, but it's all too clear with text and this is a problem given that WP7 uses large lumps of text for its ‘Metro' interface.
Despite a much-needed major update late last year, Windows Phone 7 still lags behind iOS and Android in terms of features and sophistication, but at least its choice of apps is growing, with around 50,000 now available. Windows Phone 7 is refreshingly simple to use though, and has some genuinely clever features. Our favourite are the ‘live tile' icons on its home screen that can, for example, combine messages and social networking status updates for your contacts and even show a quick summary on the icon itself. This makes it easy to get an at-a-glance overview of friends' activities and messages all in one place, without the need to open an app and perform a manual update.
We have no complaints about the Lumia 800 when it comes to call quality, but its digital camera is a little disappointing. Its eight-megapixel images aren't as detailed as we'd expect, nor colours as accurate, but it's otherwise fine for quick snapshots and the two flashes are bright enough. The Lumia 800's non-removable battery lasted for a lengthy 45 hours when playing MP3s non-stop with all wireless connections disabled, but some owners have reported poorer performance and Nokia is readying a software update to address this.
Although the Lumia 800 is a seriously stylish smartphone, it is let down by its mediocre screen and Windows Phone 7 still isn't as polished as the competition. That said, it's a good choice for anyone seeking a simpler alternative to other smartphones, but Nokia's upcoming – and cheaper – Lumia 710 might be worth waiting for.
Read more reviews
The Lumia 800 looks lovely and Windows Phone 7 shows promise, but the screen's quality is disappointing for a smartphone at this price.
Stylish looks, great build quality, promising operating system
Mediocre screen and camera quality
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