The very first mobile I had, and every subsequent device, was a Nokia until I started a new job in 2007 where I was issued a Windows Mobile device and stopped using my 6310i.  I hated that very first WM phone that required a stylus to tap out text messages and it was only when the HD2 (the first and only WM device to have a capacitive screen) came along that I found some love for the platform.  Everyone I knew up until then had had Nokia phones and we were always comparing the latest models so it made me sad to see them slipping into obscurity.

I was really excited when the partnership with Microsoft and Windows Phone was announced and so when the Nokia Lumia 800 was finally shown off at  Nokia World last year I contacted Nokia asking them for a unit to review for, talk about on TDL Mobile, and also to show off to people I was trying to persuade to choose this as their next mobile device.  I had received a reply from them saying they would add me to the waiting list and in the middle of January I was told they had a device I could use for 2 weeks.  I provided them with an address and the phone was delivered the next day.  Finally holding a device with that “Nokia” logo at the top again brought back fond memories and I couldn’t wait to see how the device felt to use.

Since the Lumia 800 has been out a while now, with plenty of reviews already available, I thought I’d share my impressions and comparisons to my existing device which is a Samsung Omnia 7.  I’m also going to avoid covering the Windows Phone operating system but for anyone that would like to read more you can look back to my Thoughts on Windows Phone 7 and More Thoughts on Windows Phone 7.


When I opened the box I discovered the phone itself, wrapped in protective plastic, and underneath this are a series of trays containing (in order):

  • Quick Guide and User Guide
  • Protective Rubber Case (I’ve not had one of these included with other phones)
  • Charger (European plug in this case) with USB connector
  • Micro-USB cable for use with the charger for tethering (sorry Jose!) to a computer
  • In-ear headphones for connecting to the socket at the top of the device

The Lumia 800 makes a real impact and feels really well built in the hand such that I was reluctant to put it in the protective case but since I’d be responsible for any damage I decided to use it.  Compared to my Omnia 7 the Lumia 800 doesn’t feel like it is going to slide out of your hand and with the rubber case it feels even safer.  When I first switched the phone on I was greeted by the standard Windows Phone setup screens where I entered my Windows Live ID.  After those few small steps I was greeted by the familiar Windows Phone home screen and this looks amazing on the 800’s AMOLED screen with Nokia’s “ClearBlack” technology.  The curve of the Gorilla Glass screen has a real impact on how the tiles look and raises the impact when viewed for the first time.

I had planned on switching to using the 800 immediately but since it needs a Micro-SIM I was unable to use my existing SIM from my Omnia 7.  So I used the 800 on Wi-Fi only as much as possible and this did give me the chance to compare these two devices as I switched between them.  I certainly prefer the display of the 800 although this is offset by the fact the 3.7” screen is smaller than the 4” AMOLED screen on the Omnia 7 and while the resolution is the same (being fixed with Windows Phone) in direct comparison I’d choose the larger screen.  Thankfully the virtual keyboard of Windows Phone is just as usable and I have found that typing is just as accurate.  Really screen size is a personal preference but for me, having already dropped down from the 4.3” screen of the HTC HD2, I’d always choose a larger screen but visually the Lumia 800 wins easily.  I’m certainly very excited about the Lumia 900 coming to the UK.  I would add that everyone I have shown the 800 to the first comment has always been how amazing (Ed: “everyday”?) the display is!

After obtaining a Micro-SIM from T-Mobile I was able to switch exclusively to the 800 and I have really enjoyed using this device.  As I’ve already said the screen is amazing and I have easily adjusted to the smaller 3.7” size.  The main differences I have noticed is that the Omnia 7 has a hardware “home” button and this can be used to turn on the device but with the 800 this is capacitive, as are the “back” and “search” buttons, and so does not work with the phone off.  This of course is another personal preference and I could adjust to this after prolonged use of the 800.  The device itself feels really solid and the buttons on the right hand side for volume, power, and camera reflect that.  Since I’ve mentioned the camera I’ll include a side-by-side comparison of the 5MP Omnia 7 and the 8MP camera on the 800.

Samsung Omnia 7 (5MP)
Nokia Lumia 800


As I’ve said on the TDL Mobile show the two main benefits of having Nokia making Windows Phone devices is that they aren’t also making Android phones and so aren’t distracted or splitting their marketing budget and the additional services they are able to bring to the platform.  The three main services are Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music.  While not as advanced as some turn-by-turn navigation applications the free Nokia Drive provides a 3D map and gives good clear instructions as each turn approaches.  You can also choose between night and day colours for those travelling late at night.  Nokia Maps is also a useful application and works in much the same way as the alternative Bing driven “Maps” on Windows Phone.  I think my main disappointment with Nokia Maps is it also provides the directions to places instead of switching to Nokia Drive with the destination pre-set.

Nokia Music is a really great way for people to enjoy music on the move without requiring any registration or tethering.  There is a great selection of play lists across various genres and these easily downloaded and stored on the device (or you can just stream if you’re not worried about bandwidth availability or caps).  The nice part of Nokia Music is that it also accesses your own music stored on the device so you get a single point of entry to your personal collection.  There is also the ability to purchase music from the Nokia store.  The interesting difference between the Lumia 800 and the Omnia 7 is that the 800 has a lower volume level and that also seemed to follow through to listening via a Bluetooth headset.

The main negative aspect I found of switching devices is a limitation of Windows Phone and that is there is no simple way to just re-install all your applications.  While I can appreciate not everyone would want every application they have ever purchased or used to get put onto their new device there must be a better way.  I either had to use the online Marketplace to view my previous applications and then manually search for them on the phone or I could re-install them from the web but that would be even more time consuming.  There is also the fact that at the moment there is no way to copy over game progress meaning they must be all started again which is frustrating if you’re almost at the next achievement (for Xbox Live games).

So overall I’m incredibly impressed with the Nokia Lumia 800 even though I still feel disappointed that it is closer to a generation 1 Windows Phone due to the lack of front facing camera.  The other criticism I have is that the cover to the Micro-USB port flips up and I’d be concerned that this would be snapped off too easily (this compares to the sliding cover on the Omnia 7).  The fact that is my only real criticism, apart from personal preferences like screen size or hardware home button, speaks volumes about how much I love this phone.  I should also add that the biggest benefit of the Lumia 800 is the 16GB of storage and has really made me appreciate how limiting the 8GB of the Omia 7 can be.

I would not hesitate to recommend the Lumia 800 and have really enjoyed showing it off to people that had been considering this device.  They were impressed with the quality of the display and also the Windows Phone operating system.   I would happily switch to using the 800 permanently as my only device although for me I wouldn’t purchase one only because of my preference for bigger screens.  I am even more certain that my next device will be a Nokia when my contract expires in October 2012 and hopefully it’ll be running Windows Phone 8.

I’d like to thank Nokia for loaning me this device and hopefully I can get my hands on a Lumia 9nn series for review in the future.

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