Nokia’s big comeback vehicle into the smartphone arena is their latest flagship model, the Lumia 800, a first in a new series. This is the first handset from the company to have come loaded with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Mango OS and they’re banking on its successes, is what it seems like. At a recent reviewers meet in Mumbai, I had the opportunity to get a closer look at the device. Here’s a quick hands-on preview of what’s coming in mid-December.

Design
The one thing Nokia has managed to stay consistent with in terms of quality, is its form factor. The Lumia 800 lives up to the hype and is truly a well-designed mobile handset. While the Android community is focusing on making handsets slimmer, Nokia seems to be focused on build quality and chic design. The polycarbonate mono body design is truly remarkable and the craftsmanship of handset with its smooth- edged and raised glass gives it elegance and definite sex appeal. It was also rather light weight, making it easy to hold and provides no hindrance whatsoever, while in your breast or hip pocket.

Well balanced and overall a great design

Well balanced and overall a great design

Nokia’s ClearBlack Display manages to enrich colors to quite an extent and keep reflections at bay. In bright lit conditions and the “great outdoors”, it makes legibility of data on the 3.7-inch screen quite high. If only they could do something about the smudges and the fingerprint issue.

Suffice to say, Nokia nailed this one with the design. What was a bit of a “put-off” was the fact that the Lumia 800 functions with a Micro SIM. A little iPhone-ish if you ask me and totally unnecessary. Switching over, obviously implies cutting your current SIM card or getting a new one and if, for whatever reason, you decide to switch to another handset, you’ll require a SIM adapter or need to change the card, once again. I say stick to a standard people!

All sides

All sides

The Lumia 800 will be out in 3 colors viz Black, Cyan, which is more like Aqua Blue and Magenta, which is more like bright pink. They’re quite funky and yet manage to maintain a sense of decorum, for lack of a better term.

Features
The base is still Windows Phone 7, which is not customizable to a large extent, so don’t expect too much from Nokia. That’s the sad part. What Nokia has done here is unveil a remarkably good looking handset with great specs, but nothing new and truly exciting in terms of customization. A couple of extra colour themes for the tiles don’t really count, nor do a few extra apps thrown in for free. What we expected to see from a company once held in the highest regard in all of mobile-dom, is something, anything, more than what you get with any other WP7 handset. It’s not like the WP7 system was laggy to begin with, but the 1.4GHz processor will ensure that the Lumia does not disappoint when it comes to speed of access for all your app or media needs.

Some preloaded apps thrown

Some preloaded apps thrown


Let’s talk about what Nokia does include as extra features, though. First off – Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive. It would have been a much simpler option to have integrated the two, which I believe, would have made for a better user experience as well. There’s also Bing Maps that comes pre-loaded with WP7 devices. It’s a bit much in terms of navigation. Pre-loaded content will include an MSN app, Weather Channel and App Highlights option in the Market Place that will feature apps that Nokia had selected for the handset. Another quaint little feature in this section is “Surprise me”. By shaking the handset a little bit, the first app in the section gets shuffled around, with a new one taking its place.

Connect to all your favorite soical networks and email on the go

Connect to all your favorite soical networks and email on the go

Then again, going with Microsoft and the simple and nimble interface didn’t really give the Finnish company too much room for customization. The overall experience with the Lumia 800 felt very similar to the HTC Radar or the Samsung Omina W, and again, it is simply the slick design that will truly capture your attention.

Media
In the media department, Nokia Music and Mix radio have been added onto the device au gratis. Mix Radio is a very well-designed app that will cater to your online radio needs and allows you to personalize the system quite smartly. Nokia Music also adds the Gigfinder update to the system making it easy to know what’s going on in your area, in terms of music events etc. It’s also a space for users to get downloaded music, of course. What’s truly agonizing about the whole WP7 experience, to which the Lumia 800 is no exception, is Zune interfacing. It’s worse than using iTunes. So far, developers have to still create an app to support multiple video codecs, which will make it easier to transfer files to the device. That’s one of the areas iOS beats WP7 to a pulp.

For work and Play

For work and Play

The 8 megapixel camera strapped onto the rear of the handset is capable of capturing video at 720p, which is quite commonplace, nowadays. The lack of HDMI out or even NFC for that matter (which Nokia is quite gung-ho about these days) also proves to be a bit of a downer. I tried the camera, while at the meet and found that indoor pictures with the LED flash were a bit on the darker side, but I’ll wait till I can fully test it in all conditions before “passing judgment.”

First Impressions
While the Nokia Lumia 800 is surely going to make loyalists quite happy thanks to the superb design, WP7 still has to find its place in the popular mobile OS list. It’s going to be big, I still maintain that sentiment, but there’s definitely more room for improvement. The Lumia 800 is expected to hit Indian shelves come mid-December, just in time for the Christmas rush. Pre-orders will commence in the first week of December, maybe even sooner. Although the price has yet to be officially announced, I estimate the price to be in the Rs.24,000-26,000 range, as WP7 handsets don’t usually feature heavy price tags.
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On the whole, the Lumia 800 might not have impressed me too much, in terms of overall features. I do like the design and believe that the handset has quite a lot of potential. Stay tuned to this space for the full review before the year is out.

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