Review: Nokia Lumia 800: Microsoft doesn’t have to buy Nokia, they already did

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Every time I visit Facebook my browser asks me if it should go ahead and translate the website. That’s what happens when you’ve been living in a foreign country for over four and a half years and nearly everyone you know speaks English as a second, and in most cases third, language. During my time in Finland I’ve made a lot of connections, especially at Nokia, where I worked between March 2008 and May 2009. The only reason I bring this up is because something incredible happened last year. Something I never thought would be possible. Out of the 92 people who I know well enough to call a Facebook friend, the number of them who work at Nokia hit zero.

At one point more than half of my friends were Nokia employees, so what exactly happened? It all started when the company reported their Q4 2008 financial results. The numbers showed that profits compared to the same quarter a year ago were down 69%. In response to the dismal figures Nokia announced a voluntary resignation package (VRP). In other words, if you knew you were a talented employee who could easily find another job somewhere else, all you had to do was resign and you’d get up to one year’s salary depending on how long you’ve been with the company. If that sounds odd to you, then know that this is the result of Finnish labor laws, which offer an incredible amount of protection to employees. As a company you really can’t fire someone unless you go out of your way to prove that they’re no longer fit for the job. The VRP was so successful that it was extended several times, though with slightly less generous terms.

Shortly after the initial VRP was announced I found myself sitting opposite a good friend of mine at a downtown restaurant in Helsinki. He told me that he and his wife have been thinking about taking some time off for a while now, and that they wanted to pursue their love of traveling. After he resigned it wasn’t too long until another friend of mine decided to do the same thing. One by one more of my friends announced their intent to leave Nokia. Some went back to school to finish that PhD they never got around to handing in, some left to work at companies that aren’t even related to the mobile industry, and a few even joined some of Nokia’s competitors, namely Samsung and Apple.

After Stephen Elop (pictured above, left) became the CEO of Nokia on September 20th, 2010, the resignations kicked into overdrive due to an increased sense of uncertainty. Everyone started asking themselves: What path would the first non-Finnish citizen in charge of a 140+ year old company choose to go down? Less than five months later, on February 11th, 2011, we found out. Stephen announced that Nokia would ditch Symbian, the platform that once held a dominant position in the smartphone market, but failed to evolve fast enough to catch up with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. He also said the company would ditch Maemo/MeeGo, the Linux based operating system that was going to put Nokia back on the map thanks to its innovate “Swipe” user interface.

The future, according to Elop, was going to be Microsoft’s Windows Phone. That came as a surprise since the platform, at the time, had thus far failed to gain any traction. Most would say that’s still the case today. Then common sense kicked in and it seemed like an obvious move due to Elop’s relationship with Microsoft. Between January 2008 and September 2010 he was in charge of Microsoft’s Business Division, the unit responsible for Microsoft Office, one of the company’s main sources of revenue. He was also on Microsoft’s Senior Leadership Team. Conspiracy theorists and those with some pretty wild imaginations have said some interesting things about these facts, and it’s not that hard to see why.

All that back history is necessary to understand the significance of the Nokia Lumia 800.

Now reviews aren’t something I particularly enjoy doing, and I’m thankful that my colleagues at IntoMobile love to play with the latest gadgets and possess the ability to go on and on about yet another smartphone, but as soon as this device was announced I felt that it was my duty to get my hands on one just to see what the new Nokia was all about. Why then is this article going up now when the Lumia 800 has been out on the market for more than two months? Because I live in Finland I’m quite difficult to deal with from a logistical standpoint. Nokia USA couldn’t send me a review unit, and it was the same story with Nokia UK. As for Nokia Finland, I had to wait until the device was close to launching, which in this country is next Wednesday, the first of February. I probably could have scored one earlier had my friends in Nokia’s marketing department still been with the company, but they all left before the Lumia 800 was even unveiled. But enough of the behind the scenes, let’s dive right in.

The first thing you notice about the Lumia 800 is just how small the box it comes in actually is. I don’t have the box that came with my iPhone 4 anymore, but from memory alone I’d say it’s comprable in size. The packaging is very Apple like, which is to say clean, compact, and appealing to the eye. Besides the device you get one of the prettiest wall chargers I’ve ever seen in my life. Again, it’s very Apple like, and I say that with the best possible intentions. It’s white, ridiculously small (pictured below), and has a standard female USB port. The microUSB cable that comes inside the box isn’t white however, it’s sort of black, but not really. Some might say that’s a flaw, but whatever, I’m fine with that. There’s also a pair of headphones inside, though I never bothered unwrapping them. They look terrible, and honestly, if you have enough money to spend on the Lumia 800 then don’t you have enough to also buy an awesome set of headphones?

Focusing now on the actual device, I’m torn. Looking at the Lumia 800 reminds me of the Nokia N9, the last real Nokia smartphone. Having played with the N9 on several occasions, I can’t believe Elop decided to get rid of Maemo/MeeGo. Myriam Joire, Editor in Chief of Engadget Mobile, agrees. In her Nokia N9 review she admits that she would “pick MeeGo over Mango, despite its weaker ecosystem.” Sibling rivalry aside, there are few things I loathe more than shiny plastic, and the buttons on the side of the Lumia 800 are incredibly cheap and reflective. The buttons on the Lumia 710, Nokia’s cheaper Windows Phone, are matte and the same color as the rear of the device. Can you guess which one I like more? Another flaw of the side buttons is that they rattle. Watch the video below to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

The rest of the device, the black plastic, which Nokia likes to call polycarbonate, because the word plastic has some negative connotations, seems solid enough that it can withstand a drop or two. I wouldn’t know though since I haven’t dropped this thing during the two weeks I’ve been using it. On the flip side, the few times I’ve dropped my iPhone 4 I nearly had a heart attack. It wasn’t until I cracked the back of my iPhone 4 that I finally invested in a case, which makes me sad because the iPhone 4 is gorgeous and most of that beauty disappears when you wrap it inside a thick piece of plastic, but hey, it’s good to be practical sometimes. Speaking about cases, the Lumia 800 comes with one. It’s a silicone shell that wraps around the whole of the smartphone. Putting it on was extremely difficult and it took me a good five to ten minutes. Less than a few minutes later, after deciding I’d rather go without the case, taking it off was even more challenging, so much so that I cut my thumb in the process!

Next up is the screen, which measures 3.7 inches diagonal, uses AMOLED technology, and has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. The Nokia N9, which is the exact same size as the Lumia 800, has a 3.9 inch screen. Blame the required Windows Phone buttons for that necessary shrink. Something to note, the pixels are arranged in a PenTile configuration. What the hell does that mean? The folks at Ars.Technica do an incredible job at explaining PenTile, but the short version is that not all colors are represented equally, and text can appear somewhat fuzzy. Going from the 3.5 inch 960 x 640 pixel screen on my iPhone 4 to the Lumia 800 was painful. Forget about the text being less sharp, the color reproduction simply wasn’t right. My “killer app” on mobile devices is the web browser, where nearly all content is displayed as black text on a white background. The white on the Lumia 800 isn’t white at all. When I complained about this on Twitter I got an @ reply from Natasha Lomas, Mobile Phones Editor at CNET UK, who described the white perfectly by saying it has a nicotine hue. It really is like the color of a filter of a cigarette butt.

The top of the Lumia 800 is an area you’ll be spending a lot of time fiddling with. For some strange reason the people who designed this thing decided to hide the microUSB port behind a door that needs a few seconds of manual dexterity to open. Every time you want to charge your phone, you have to flip open the door. Luckily Nokia decided not to include this frustrating “feature” on the Lumia 900 that’s going to launch later this year on AT&T. Next to the door is the SIM card slot, which only takes microSIM cards. I already cut my SIM card back when I got an iPhone 4 in September 2010, but I know lots of people who don’t want to cut their SIM because shoving a microSIM card into an adapter that then goes into a phone is easily an experience that will shave a few months off your life. The first time I put my SIM in the Lumia 800 and powered it on the device didn’t recognize it. After I took it out, checked that I actually did everything right, it finally worked. Beats me what I did wrong in the first place.

So here’s where the fun begins, the part where I talk about Windows Phone Mango. Let’s start with the startup process. Despite the Lumia 800 having a SIM card inside, and thus a connection to a cell tower somewhere outside my flat, the phone asked me what’s the current date and time. It’s a minor annoyance, I’ll concede that, but it’s something that gets under my skin since one of the first things I used to do after setting up a Symbian smartphone was to tell the phone to go fetch the correct time and date from my operator. Your phone shouldn’t have to ask you what time it is and what day it is, it should just know. Another niggle is that I had to go a few screens into the setup process before the phone asked me what language I can understand. My Finnish is terrible, but it got me through to the menu where I finally selected English and the device rebooted and continued the setup wizard.

Once you’re all set and done you go to the start screen, and it’s so sparse that I immediately went to the full list of applications to see what was really on my device. I wonder, how many people are going to do that? How many people are just going to use the default start screen that’s configured at the factory and that’s it? As an experiment I tried to delete everything off my start screen, and the phone actually let me do it. This let me setup the device with the things I truly cared about, which in my case are just eight tiles: Calculator, Alarms, Internet Explorer, Messaging, Phone, Facebook, Twitter, and a shortcut to one of my favorite sites on the internet, Techmeme.

Before I get to the apps, let me mention the things that the phone doesn’t have. First, there’s no world clock, so I can’t tell what time it is in New York, San Francisco, or Dallas. Second, there’s no countdown timer, which I use in the kitchen multiple times a day. Third, there’s no ability to read PDF files out of the box, you have to go to the Marketplace and download Adobe Reader. What kind of crazy back room politics prevented that feature from being a part of Windows Phone? All of this is on the iPhone, by default.

As for the apps, you shouldn’t need to install Facebook or Twitter because that functionality is baked right into the operating system, but the way Microsoft does it goes counter to the way those services actually work. See, in Microsoft’s view of the world it doesn’t matter what services your friends are using. You simply go to your friend via the People app and then see everything they have to say about their love life, their job, and their cat. In the real world people use different services differently. There’s stuff I post to my highly curated list of Facebook friends that I’d never post on Twitter, and vice versa, because I don’t bring my work life to my social life. Microsoft thinks that all social networks are the same, and that’s fundamentally a broken concept since the reasons multiple social networks exist is to mirror how humans have multiple social circles in the real world. Hence why I opted to install Facebook and Twitter and not go through the People app.

There’s also limitations with what you can do with the baked in integration. Last week while flipping through a magazine I saw an ad for a concert that I knew my girlfriend would enjoy seeing. Instead of typing out the details of the concert, which would have been time consuming, I just snapped a picture of the ad thinking I could easily post it to her Facebook wall. Turns out I can post photos to my Facebook wall, but no one else’s. If I go to my girlfriend’s contact listing in the People app I can write something on her Facebook wall, but I can’t upload any photos. What do I end up having to do? Opening up the Facebook app, going to her wall, and posting the photo of the ad for the concert. All that effort just because I wanted to save some time by not having to type everything out.

Another similar anecdote is photo albums. There’s an album that I maintain on Facebook that has pictures of movie ticket stubs. When I go see a movie I snap a photo of my ticket, upload it to that album, and then throw the ticket in the trash. Can I upload straight to that album from the camera app using the integrated Facebook functionality? Nope. I have to load up the Facebook app.

This exposes yet another problem, one that no one likes to talk about. When a developer bakes the features of a service into their application, or in this case the whole operating system, by the use of APIs, they’re always playing catchup to what the service is actually capable of delivering. There’s a reason people want to use an application dedicated to a particular web service, because that app will have not only all the features said service provides their users, but because the app also uses similar design and experience metaphors that users are already familiar with. What happens when Twitter or Facebook add a new feature, does Microsoft guarantee that they’ll port that feature to Windows Phone? iPhone and Android users don’t care, they’ll just grab the latest version of the Facebook app.

Turning to more fundamental aspects of the device, how’s the keyboard? There’s a learning curve, but I can safely say it’s good. It’s not iPhone 4 good, but it would be highly unfair of me to judge a device I’ve been using for two weeks to a device that I’ve been using for 16 months. And I really gave the keyboard a beating too. Besides the web browser being my killer app, I also text like a 14 year old girl. The Messaging application in Windows Phone is hands down amazing. It’s so delicious that I want to eat it. Every text message has a time stamp, there’s no fancy graphics, it’s just a threaded list of text that looks like a designer’s wet dream. Thumbs up to Microsoft on that one.

And as for the browser, it’s good when it wants to behave. Rendering isn’t too bad, though scrolling through a long block of text makes the browser want to zoom in on the text for some odd reason. One thing that’s incredibly disappointing is that the HTML5 version of Google’s Gmail service doesn’t work. The browser forces you to use the mobile version of the site optimized for feature phones. Why am I not using the Windows Phone email app? Because I don’t want to, that’s why. I’m not a fan of push email, I’d rather check my email on my own time, and as I said earlier, I prefer to use a web service with the design and experience metaphors that I’m already used to. Google designed a mobile site that does just that. Android has the best implementation of how Gmail should work on a mobile device, but of course that’s expected.

Looking at Windows Phone applications, that’s where things get downright depressing. Shout all the numbers you want about 60,000 apps, but there’s no official BBC app. Twitter’s app is prone to not only crash, but it stutters as well. Video playback, in any app, is also problematic. Whereas the iPhone will not play a video unless a certain amount of it has been buffered, Microsoft likes to play videos immediately and will resort to skipping frames and then speeding up a video as it’s being downloaded in the background just to prevent a delay between when you hit play and when you see something on your screen. It’s not that Windows Phone isn’t capable of playing videos properly, it totally can, it’s just that the philosophy of giving people something to look at instead of making them wait a few seconds is really hurting them here.

Regarding application discovery, I’ve looked at what the Marketplace recommends, I’ve looked at what Nokia’s own “App Highlights” app recommends, and I’ve even installed “AppFlow App Discovery” to try and find some awesome apps that take advantage of all the features that Windows Phone gives developers … and I didn’t find anything compelling. Nothing really stands out and screams quality. Not even the third party Twitter clients that people have been recommending I try out, apps like Peregrine, Rowi, and Seesmic; my benchmark is Tweetbot on the iPhone.

Looking to get some other people’s thoughts on Windows Phone, I had lunch with my girlfriend and some of her friends. I’m kicking myself in the ass for not recording the ensuing 60 minute discussion. First and most telling is that none of them figured out how to unlock the device. They all tried to swipe the lock screen image to the left or right, but not up like Microsoft would have them do it. After they got to the start screen all of them lasered in on the Internet Explorer icon. That brand comes with so much baggage that Microsoft should have just called the browser “Web” or “Internet” or anything really, but not Internet Explorer. One of the first questions they asked me was why wasn’t I using Firefox or Chrome? They thought that because I have a “Windows Phone” I could install full blown Windows apps.

To give you an idea of what kind of girls I’m talking about here, they’re all in their early 20s, my girlfriend has a Nokia N8, her best friend has a Nokia feature phone that she flat out refuses to replace because it does calls and texts just fine, another girl has an iPhone 4, and another has a Nokia E72 that she loves because of the keyboard. After demoing Facebook integration, Messaging, and the web browser, none of them were interested. In fact, the girl with the Nokia E72 said she’s in the process of saving up for an iPhone 4 and that my demo of the Lumia 800 actually made her even more confident about purchasing Apple’s smartphone.

What else am I forgetting here?

Oh right, how does the Lumia 800 connect to a computer? I’ve got two laptops, one of them runs Windows 7, the other runs Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The Windows 7 machine is more of a travel laptop and home theatre PC, so I didn’t even bother testing the desktop integration. My MacBook Pro however, that’s my work laptop and the machine that has all my contacts and calendar entries. One quick Google search and the first result points me to the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac, which I can’t install myself, instead I have to install it via the Mac OS X App Store, something I’ve never done before. The process itself wasn’t painful, but getting the Lumia 800 to talk to my Mac was. The trick is to connect the device to the computer, then launch the Connector. If you launch the Connector and then connect the phone, it doesn’t work. After getting everything talking to each other I realized that the app only does media syncing, not contact and calendar syncing.

This is where the “Contacts Transfer” app on the Lumia 800 comes in handy. I totally forgot I had it, thanks to it being buried in a long list of apps, but after I loaded it up and made the app connect to my iPhone it failed to actually do anything. At this point I’m practically pulling my hair out and I’ve resorted to manually entering in the names and numbers of some very important people. Soon after doing this I load up the Marketplace, can’t really remember what I was looking for, and the phone says that there’s an update available for the Contacts Transfer app. One click install, start it up again, connect it to my iPhone, and now the damn thing actually works!

As to the cellular portion of the Lumia 800, there’s no easy way to say this without offending someone, so I’ll just go ahead and say it: Dead zones are things that do not exist in Helsinki. No matter where I am, even on the subway, I have full bars, and that’s true on every device I’ve ever owned. Did I speed test the Lumia 800? No, not really, I never felt the need to since browsing was comprobable to my iPhone 4. As for voice calls, the two people I called said I sounded fine, they couldn’t even tell I was using a different phone, but both those people sounded tinny compared to memories of previous calls. It was as if the EQ setting on the device was set to “extra treble” or something.

How’s the battery life? In two weeks of testing there was only one occasion where the phone died on me before I could get it to a charger. That being said, this is a device that needs to be charged nightly. With my usage patterns there’s no way in hell I’d get two full days out of this thing. Compared to the iPhone 4, the Lumia 800 is only about half as good.

Maps are another killer app for me. I often joke that I can’t even cross the street without my smarpthone in my hand, but it’s painfully true since I’ve been using GPS enabled phones since the Nokia N95 way back in 2007. The Lumia 800 comes with three map applications installed by default. Yes, three. There’s Microsoft Maps, Nokia Maps, and Nokia Drive. Microsoft Maps is beyond horrible. I tried searching for a restaurant and Microsoft Maps couldn’t find it. I then typed the address in, and it still couldn’t find it. Nokia Maps on the other had no problem finding the place, though I had no idea how to get the compass working so I could tell which way I should walk down a particular street. It’s “good enough” I’d say, but I’d much rather have Google release their own Maps client for Windows Phone. And Nokia Drive … I haven’t had a car since the summer of 2007, so that’s that.

How’s the WiFi connection manager? Easily on par with that of the iPhone. It does a great job in my flat, where there are more access points than I care to count, and it does great with my favorite cafés too. When you’re connected to WiFi, everything goes through WiFi. When you’re not, everything goes through your operator. Simple. Worlds better than Symbian.

The multitasking, is that any good? No, it’s half baked. Apps take about half a second to resume, and depending on the app it doesn’t return to where you used to be within the app. In other words, the app basically relaunches. Kind of disappointing, though the platform is admittedly only 15 months old. It took Apple four years to put multitasking into iOS!

So here we are, over 4,200+ words later, can you guess what I’m going to say about the Lumia 800? It’s pretty much exactly what I’ve been saying since as far back as I can remember, that everyone should just stay away from Windows Phone until Apollo comes out, Apollo being the next major version of the operating system. Even Nokia believes that consumers will have to wait until Apollo to see the best of what they’re capable of delivering. These words were said back in October of last year by Niklas Savander, Executive Vice President of Markets for Nokia:

“When you look within the Windows Phone ecosystem and compare how the Lumia performs, there we have a contractual agreement with Microsoft for a certain amount of engineering which we can use for differentiation. However, we have to be very careful on how we use that one because we cannot fragment the developer ecosystem. If that starts forking, that’s not useful at all. We made the decision to go to Windows Phone when Mango was pretty much done, so we were able to impact some elements of it but you’ll really see the fruits of what we can do with Microsoft when the Apollo version of Windows Phone comes out.”

And that pretty much sums up Nokia. With the Lumia 800 they essentially slapped together some parts from China in a body that was designed for the company’s last flagship device and then loaded up Microsoft’s software on it. With the next version of Windows Phone a little bit more effort will be put on making it look like it actually had some design decisions made by the folks sitting in Finland, but really, all bullshit aside, Nokia isn’t in charge of their future anymore.

Microsoft is.

  • http://www.gtdaily.net/?source=disqus George Tinari

    Great review.

  • http://twitter.com/cendelsfree cendelsfree

    The Lumia 710 has failed in US. Elop show us the sales numbers.

    • Anonymous

      The Lumia 710 started selling in January, less then a month ago …  Failed? You seriously thing you can evaluate anything based on less then 30 days of trading?

    • JGsmartypants

      If you were an actual Nokia employee not only would you speak better English but you wouldn’t be posting here.

  • Kristian

    While I’m used to more technical reviews, I think you sum up the situation pretty well. Lumia feels like a “we must release something” phone, the real deal is coming later, hopefully. 

    The article is just a bunch of text though, more images and possibly some sub-headers would be appreciated, though I do understand that WP7.5 lacks screenshot feature.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Long essays are actually something I feel the internet needs more of.

      I’d write more of them, but there’s no financial incentive, that and these things take quite a while to write. There’s only so many hours in the day!That being said, I do agree that I could have worked more on providing images and some formatting, but I only had two weeks to review this thing. And unlike the type of reviews you guys at AnandTech write, I’m not trying to be objective. I’m just putting my thoughts down on paper and seeing what people think.

      Maybe I’m still mentally stuck in 2006/2007, back when I started writing and it was more … “pure”, but is that really a bad thing?

      • Kristian

        There are definitely readers for all kinds of reviews :-) Not everyone wants to read about the tiny bits of each SoC and why this cellular chip is slower than the other. 

        After letting my brain process this a bit more, this essay style makes sense too. I was trying to jump over paragraphs but I couldn’t because the text just flowed. Usually, I read the introduction and final words in AT reviews, and possibly check out some specific parts. 

        I see you added some pictures too, that’s great!

  • http://twitter.com/lollipoppen1 lollipoppen

    Away with the awful bloatware Zune.
    I hate it.

  • Tom

    Ditto. Thought I might get one in South Africa – it lands here in the next 2 weeks. Had the worst experience ever with the Nokia Navigator and swore I would never go back. I like the look of the Lumia, but looks like you’ve spared me 2 contract years. 

  • JGsmartypants

    I can believe MeeGo was abandoned, quite easily. It had no future. Sure you can find some people who will buy a phone with no ecosystem, but they are the sort that wouldn’t get you past a single quarter of sales. With Microsoft, Nokia has a chance. With MeeGo fighting for attention of developers against iOS, Android, Windows Phone (which MS would still be funding with or without Nokia)…it would never have worked, although I’m sure it would have made the 0.01% of phone users who visit phonegeek websites happy.

    It sucks, and it didn’t have to be this way (if only Nokia had made smarter decisions in the mid and late 2000s) but it’s true. Abandoning MeeGo was the only way to survive.

    • JGsmartypants

      As someone who OWNS a MeeGo harmattan device, I can tell you it’s not very good anyway. It’s beautiful, but far too laggy (yes I am on the latest build) and not differentiated enough from iOS or Android. There are good ideas to be sure, but not enough to make most people say “yeah I’ll give up half a million apps for this”

      Meego is dead. Beautiful OS at the wrong time.

      • http://post404.com/ Randall Arnold

        I occasionally see lag on my N9 but only when it wakes up.  That last update helped a great deal there, but still happens.

        But I disagree strongly with your overall assessment.  I find the N9 to be a fantastic phone with some tolerable quirks.  I don’t need “half a million apps”, just a few, so yeah I easily gave them up.  ;)  But to each his own.

    • http://post404.com/ Randall Arnold

      Ecosystems don’t magically appear: they are developed by launching compelling product(s) and backing them with incredible buzz and customer support.  Apple came completely out of nowhere with iPhone and in short order had a powerful ecosystem that overtook and displaced others that were very well established.  The same could have easily been done with MeeGo or ANY compelling solution.  Nokia failed and there is absolutely no reason for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Newman/100001803717276 Gregory Newman

    to me the for real Nokia Windows smart phone is the Lumia 900 . The main trouble with Windows phone 7 smart phones was they came to the market with specs that did not equal The Android’s or the Apple Iphone Microsoft I hope has learned a lesson from bringing to the market place products that cannot equal the competitors in specs. The Windows 7.5 mango smart phone without a front facing camera’s are a product that will be hard to sell because everybody knows skipe will be integrated into Windows smart phones therefore in America the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710 may not sell well both of theses models have to get front facing camers The stock N9 with an upgraded Windows metro OS with the drivers to operate the Nokia N9′s hardware should replace the Lumia 800. If Nokia wants to  make a quick multi million $ sale they should put Android on the Lumia 900 as well as keep Windows Metro 7.5 and 8 On the Lumia 900. I predict that if Nokia’s keeps falling they may convert to selling Windows smart phones as their flagship smart phones and sell 2 Android smart phones models to stay in the market place. something I felt they should have done in the first place because there are a lot of Android fans. I am a Windows Mango 7.5 fan but realize Androids are popular so a Phone manufacturer should sell a couple of Android Models to make some money but what the hell I am in not in business and Maybe Nokia just could make only one type at this time so they picked Windows which is not a dumb move because everybody is making Androids so being different is not a bad idea. If Nokia smart phones sale fall low enough Microsoft may indeed buy their smart division and be like Apple a hardware/software company something they don’t want but they may have no choice to become if they want stay in the smart phone Tablet business.     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Newman/100001803717276 Gregory Newman

    to me the for real Nokia Windows smart phone is the Lumia 900 . The main trouble with Windows phone 7 smart phones was they came to the market with specs that did not equal The Android’s or the Apple Iphone Microsoft I hope has learned a lesson from bringing to the market place products that cannot equal the competitors in specs. The Windows 7.5 mango smart phone without a front facing camera’s are a product that will be hard to sell because everybody knows skipe will be integrated into Windows smart phones therefore in America the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710 may not sell well both of theses models have to get front facing camers The stock N9 with an upgraded Windows metro OS with the drivers to operate the Nokia N9′s hardware should replace the Lumia 800. If Nokia wants to  make a quick multi million $ sale they should put Android on the Lumia 900 as well as keep Windows Metro 7.5 and 8 On the Lumia 900. I predict that if Nokia’s keeps falling they may convert to selling Windows smart phones as their flagship smart phones and sell 2 Android smart phones models to stay in the market place. something I felt they should have done in the first place because there are a lot of Android fans. I am a Windows Mango 7.5 fan but realize Androids are popular so a Phone manufacturer should sell a couple of Android Models to make some money but what the hell I am in not in business and Maybe Nokia just could make only one type at this time so they picked Windows which is not a dumb move because everybody is making Androids so being different is not a bad idea. If Nokia smart phones sale fall low enough Microsoft may indeed buy their smart division and be like Apple a hardware/software company something they don’t want but they may have no choice to become if they want stay in the smart phone Tablet business.     

    • Anonymous

      Explained this to your before.
      WP does not support OMAP-based SoC’s
      So WP cannot run on a N9…
      There will be better support coming with Apollo, but even then.

      And besides all that, your logic is flawed.
      There’s no reason why they can’t use a Qualcomm SoC to implement what the L800 lacks compared to the N9.
      Which is not CPU/GPU incidentally.

  • Thomas

    You just wrote down my experience after 2 months with this device. I’m especially p**** off by the meagre battery life (yours did not seem to suck, but mine does!) and that Nokia doesn’t deliver on the promise of frequent updates. That was something I was really looking forward to and I had high expectations because the Lumia was conjured to be Nokia’s and Microsoft’s love child. But still, battery lifetime fix part 2: Sometime in the future; Nokia Drive improvements (so far it’s sort of a Skobbler type of nav app with just the basic features you need): Sometime in the future, etc. :(

    I’m gonna list it on eBay this week, I’m done with it.

  • Des

    Great review, I’ve had a Focus for 14 months now and had zero issues (beyond the zune software).

  • http://post404.com/ Randall Arnold

    Thanks for this well-developed piece Stefan.  I received a Lumia 800 as part of the Nokia Developer Champions program and am giving it a go.  It definitely has drawbacks, mostly software-wise for me, and critical feedback can help Nokia/Microsoft IF they will listen.

  • Whatever

    I’ve come to think that it shouldn’t be allowed to review anything before you’ve used a device for at least a few days – the review is well written but some of the points are just cringeworthy – “I didn’t know how Facebook posting works so I couldn’t post a photo”, or that the problem with syncing is that you don’t know how to use mac app store on an old OS X. Also, the downright terrible maps – yeah, well, don’t hold your breath waiting when Google will release their maps for iPhone.

    • http://twitter.com/NotRahmEmanuel NOT RahmEmanuel

      …and I won’t hold my breath awaiting any reasoned, logical arguments from you.

      Fact is, Apple maintain total control over apps for iOS. Meanwhile, nearly all their own apps are siloed for iOS / OSX devices. Where’s GarageBand for Windows? Or Siri for Android & WP?

      I’d say it’s almost a certainty Apple are keeping Google Navigation off their devices, much as they did with Google Voice (“Reason for rejection: duplicates certain of iPhone’s core functionalities.”)

  • Anon

    I gave up about a third of the way in, but here’s what I read:
    Hi I don’t like doing reviews, but here’s my review of a product I don’t like.
    Have I told you how much I like my iPhone? Let me tell you about it. Oh, and this other phone I’m reviewing? Yeah, it’s not an iPhone, so, I don’t really like it. It’s not made by Apple, so I don’t really like it.
    I have friends who worked for Nokia. Now Nokia makes phones for Microsoft. I don’t like Microsoft, so, now I don’t like Nokia either. So, I really don’t like this phone made by two companies I don’t like.

    As a reviewer, you should be impartial and have no bias. You clearly have a large bias against Microsoft; most other reviews of this phone is generally positive. As journalist, please write without bias in the future.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Thing is that I’m not a reviewer. Think of this as an essay more than anything else. I’m not trying to be unbiased, and pretending to be would just hurt my writing.

      As for the word “journalist,” that’s reserved for people who tell stories about things that actually impact people’s lives, whether it be wars, the economy, or government.

      I tell people what I think about a consumer electronic gadget … see the difference?

      • http://www.reda-ek.com/ Reda

        Everybody has his/her own style and I don’t think there is an official format for reviews, yet ;-) I personally liked the introduction so keep up the good job!

        However, I would also say that long posts and reviews that can be perceived as biased can put off people (maybe a summary and a disclosure section at very top – iOS user, ex-N employee, etc – might give some additional context)

        I know a lot of people who only texted and called with their nokia and upgraded to the iphone because of peer pressure, experience or whatever reason (even if it was more “complicated”, believe me). So, don’t rely too much on your current use of your smartphone because you might miss the big picture and not see what a new experience might bring

        All in all however, I still like this review

      • Anonymous

        my neighbor’s step-mother’s base pay is $80/HR 0n the c0mputer .She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her paycheck was $7597 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more,

        • Anonymous

          dfd

        • Anonymous

          http://zapit.nu/1od

  • Anonymous

    Nice and well written review, however somewhat different to my experience with the Lumia 800 ! Try as I might I cannot get the buttons to rattle, I’ve heard others mention it , but mine are rock solid. Also I sense an understandable tinge of bitterness throughout, and find continuous comparison to the iPhone somewhat irritating. I have also shown my phone to friends who’ve been impressed with it and quickly worked out the basics. Many of the issue’s you’ve criticised the phone for, as you say, are personal preference, the email for example, I find the email client on Windows phone to be superb, and as for the ‘out of the box state’ , every phone I’ve ever used required some setting up before use, Symbian or Android (I don’t use the iPhone) I also find the web experience good and as my eyesight is not exactly 20/20 I have not seen the effect of the pen tile display, although again, I know others who have and who dislike it. Overall, from personal experience the phone you’ve reviewed seems like a different handset to the one I’ve been using for the last couple of months, but again people have a different view on things and mine obviously differs with yours. As a piece of writing, I bow to your superior skills :)

    • http://www.nokiainnovation.com/ THE_TRUTH34

      I have to agree with Carman58 my experience differs also, no rattling at all here and as for Pen tile display i haven’t had an issue, the case took me 15 seconds to put on and about the same to take off. As for not having certain things out of the box, you failed to mention they are easily downloaded and to even compare an iphone to having things out of the box almost made me chuckle, my symbian devices still come with more out of the box then the iphone. I think the write up was good, but like all reviews its based on personal preference, good job but I don’t necessarily agree.

  • Jim

    I think you should rename the article
    the nokia lumia 800 vs the iphone as thats basically the review you have given.
    It written well though.

  • http://rolandtanglao.com roland

    +1 to more long pieces, stefan, don’t let the nay sayers drag you down! and your “discussion with 20 somethings” in Finland about Windows Phone mirrors my discussions with my friends of all ages in Canada, bring on the post Mango future :-) !

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      What are your friends saying about Windows Phone Mango? I’d love to know!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A2GVHELH7WTTKBITUYULZOK7ZE Purple

    I’m an Apple fan for several decades, and have an iPhone and several Macs running right now, in addition to many Macs over the years. So I am an Apple person all my life. I’ve not had one desire to ever consider getting an Android phone. Not one. But I can say that the Nokia-Windows phone has made me think about even getting it as a 2nd platform. It really looks cool, and Windows Phone seems really attractive to me compared to iOS’s boring icons all in a row. Of course the thing is I’ve invested in lots of iPhone apps, and it makes it easy to sync if ever I got an iPad. For me, the important turning point could be a year after the launch of Windows 8 when it is established both as a desktop and tablet platform, and when the Microsoft app store has built up further numbers. In 2 years time, the Nokia-Windows phone could be a true competitor.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Will Nokia exist as it currently does in 2 years time is the question you should be asking yourself.

  • http://www.rickycadden.com Ricky Cadden

    Great review – I especially appreciate the narrative background, as mine is obviously similar. I’ve been using a Lumia 710 for a couple of weeks (reminds me, I need to return this thing), but from a different perspective. 

    My existing Windows Phone experience has been with an HTC HD7, so I wanted to see the “Nokia” Windows Phone experience, vs the HTC one. At the risk of a spoiler (full blog post coming to my site soon), I wouldn’t trade my Android for a Windows Phone full-time just yet, but I personally feel the “Nokia” experience is far superior to the “HTC” one on Windows Phone.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Does it honestly matter if the Nokia Windows Phone experience is better than the HTC Windows Phone experience if neither of those experiences are going to make you switch from Android?

      That being said, can’t wait to read your post!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OPLGGOVUVN3SE257SAT5I6I36U Harry

    i just switched from My N95 8GB to an iPhone 4s in December, when I thought I’d lost the N95. It got found, but I won’t part with the iPhone. The N95 still feels like my favorite girlfriend from the past in my hand. Thank you for letting me know that Nokia won’t be getting wonderful again (soon anyway.)

  • http://smartphonegeeks.in/ Rohit Palit

    A great article… People would love to see more pics of your Lumia 800 and possibly some talks about the pro’s and con’s of the device, though. Instead of all-the-way Nokia bashing.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      There are billions of pictures of the Lumia 800 on the internet, plus who knows how many HD videos on YouTube, so why should I go out of my way to take a few more with my vastly inferior point and shoot camera?

      As for pros and cons of the device, I think I’ve made my case. The device itself is OK, it’s the software where things get problematic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mariusz-Lasota/100000116182661 Mariusz Lasota

    This review is absolutely useless. The reviewer hates Microsoft, hates the fact that Nokia has anything to do with it and everything in this review revolves around this hatred. He criticises Windows Phone for   unlocking the phone by swiping up rather than to the side and backs the argument by saying that him and a bunch of his friends never thought of that 
    (“They all tried to swipe the lock screen image to the left or right, but not up like Microsoft would have them do it”). I am sorry but my 4-year old son seems to be more intelligent than all those people together, because he got the idea immediately.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      So if your 4 year old son had 600 Euros, what phone would he buy?

      • Anonymous

        Why that question? You can get the Lumia 800 for less than 400 euros.

        • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

          Really? Where?

          • http://twitter.com/evileuropean evileuropean

            Seen it for £289 new on eBay. 

          • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

            I just went to eBay to confirm what you said, and you’re correct, but there’s a catch. All the Lumias as that price point are locked.

          • Thomas

            Two months ago I picked an unlocked off eBay from a professional seller: Brand new, T-Mobile Germany branding (but really unlocked!), along with a 50€ voucher for the Marketplace (but in reality it was a preloaded prepaid Master Card). This cost me 400 €. But as I mentioned above somewhere in the comments, the battery life sucks. If it weren’t for this, I’d keep it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mariusz-Lasota/100000116182661 Mariusz Lasota

        I was merely trying to show that vast majority of your criticism is biased beyond reason and based on the assumption that anything non-Apple way is the wrong way. I can assure you that anyone who is not biased as you finds plenty to like about Lumia 800 and Windows Phone. People who are not preconditioned by Apple to swipe in a particular way or for that matter, do anything in a particular way, find Windows Phone very intuitive.
        As for the design… I do not find iPhone ugly but certainly it is NOT exceedingly beautiful as you seem to infer between the lines. It is merely appealing and there are some other devices, which have a much more interesting design. iPhone, although an excellent device, is simply not worth the money. Surely, there are some things I don’t like about Lumia, too (for one thing, the non-removable battery, which makes me very uncomfortable – but iPhone has the same flaw) but it strikes a much better balance between the price, quality and functionality than any iPhone ever did.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mariusz-Lasota/100000116182661 Mariusz Lasota

        I was merely trying to show that vast majority of your criticism is biased beyond reason and based on the assumption that anything non-Apple way is the wrong way. I can assure you that anyone who is not biased as you finds plenty to like about Lumia 800 and Windows Phone. People who are not preconditioned by Apple to swipe in a particular way or for that matter, do anything in a particular way, find Windows Phone very intuitive.
        As for the design… I do not find iPhone ugly but certainly it is NOT exceedingly beautiful as you seem to infer between the lines. It is merely appealing and there are some other devices, which have a much more interesting design. iPhone, although an excellent device, is simply not worth the money. Surely, there are some things I don’t like about Lumia, too (for one thing, the non-removable battery, which makes me very uncomfortable – but iPhone has the same flaw) but it strikes a much better balance between the price, quality and functionality than any iPhone ever did.

      • Anonymous

        So the iPhone is a great device for four-year-olds? Windows Phone is for grown-ups, clearly.

    • ab

      “The reviewer hates Microsoft”

      You say that as if it was a bad thing.

  • http://twitter.com/warpdesign_ Nicolas Ramz ?

    Nice review, even if it sounds like Nokia/MS bashing… As a WP user, I have to agree with most of what’s related, even though I’d like to say it’s ready, it’s not, not yet. I did a review of Nodo, and said it was a really good first start, but wasn’t ready yet. And we have to admit with Mango it still isn’t ready. Problem is: who knows where Apple & Android will be once Apollo gets released ? (Android already made a big step forward with ICS)

    That said, I’m positive about Microsoft/Nokia, because putting out WP in about 2 years like they did is really impressive: that’s not an easy task, and they have a lot of things done properly. The phone clearly isn’t the iPhone/GalaxyNexus killer MS/Nokia need, but it’s the first true WP phone: Nokia is the true company that invests heavily in WindowsPhone, unlike HTC/Samsung who just re-release old Android designs and put WP on it. And I don’t think Microsoft can be successful without them: I think WP needs an iPhone killer to start up…

    One thing I don’t agree with though, is the unlock: my father, who never touched a smartphone before playing with the Lumia found its way in 3sec. first touched the phone, noticed the little slide up animation that invites you to swipe up the lock screen, swiped up, and it was unlocked. And that’s without me telling him nothing about the unlock process.

    If you’re familiar with iOS/Android though, I guess you first try what you’re used to, which of course won’t work with WindowsPhone, since it’s not a copy of these OS…

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Thanks for the insightful comment!

  • Anonymous

    Useless review. I guess the reviewer got fired from Nokia by Stephen Elop! :p

  • vg

    Good, exhaustive and lengthy review, thank you very much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alec-Spyrou/1512501654 Alec Spyrou

    Sorry but a lot of your posting is about how you personally prefer to use the phone i.e. it’s not an iPhone. For example, “I want to control when I get my email” …”so I use the web browser”

    You can use the local messaging feature and request a manual download of emails at that time. Better functionality and total control.

    Sorry your essay was not that good.

  • Anonymous

    Listening to almost all of the people … I do not like my X phone for this or that or my Y phone for this or that PLUS mango and Lumia 800 have issues and are not ready yet.
    On the other hand people are swarming back to iPhone after starting or having tried Android.

    Gentlemen, there is a reason for all of that.
    It is because currently Apple has the best product by far at a close price to the competition.
    Plain and Simple.

    If the others ever catch up has to be seen in the near future; 
    The problem here with MS, Nokia or Google is the following :
    a) Will they catch up first or get bankrupt in the process ?
         MS has nothing to lose, WP is small as a business anyway, Nokia has to lose everything.
    b) By the time they catch up Apple will be another 2 light years away because they are leaders, innovators; not followers.

    If it was me I would try to somehow differentiate myself as Apple did in 2007, currently there is no other way of winning this one. Maybe barely surviving but not winning.

    Finally, what is the real attraction to WP; standardization (see apple), performance via min. h/w standards (see apple), gradual roll out of features (see apple).
    The only real thing is that the app icons are updating and can show you live latest statuses;
    You have pretty much the same concept (minus updating the icons/tiles) in iOS.
    And believe, that wouldn’t be hard to achieve.

    PS. For the people saying that Stefan is comparing to Apple, what did you expect ? You always compare a product vs. the similar product on the same category / level (smartphone / high-end) to provide a perspective. If you do not know this or the basics or reviews (which I believe Stefan did pretty well for a beginner) then pls do not comment.

    • Jared

      Ummm…correction.  Android has the largest global market share so you hypothesis that Apple is the greatest phone is FAR from accurate.  By your standards you must think that Android phones are the best product because you seem to think market share is the only qualifier.  BRAVO.

      • vballas

        Jared, lets talk business. What do you think is the ONE biggest measuring point for business. It is not revenue or market share. It is profitability. What is your % of the profitability pie. An Apple has around 2/3 of the total market smartphone. So they do not need the mid/low level ‘smartphones, that poor people buy and affect on a high level the market share. But many people that have some money eventually return to Apple.
        Having said that I also ignolage that Apple is slowly loosing their lead. Unless they come by with a radical positive change in the next 1-2 iterations of iOS / iPhone they will eventually lose their lead in this market. They would still mandate a big percentage and profitability thought, for a longer time.

        Plus they could be introducing new products (iWatch, iTV) that could support or even further push their profitability shares.

        • jalyst

          Nice necro, everyone really gives a shit about your thoughts 1yr+ after the article was live & your last post, NOT. What’s wrong, too scared to respond within a reasonable time-frame, lest you’re countered…

  • arrow outlet promo code

    Its the first window based phone by the nokia company. So the future of the company will be depend on this phone. But its get failure to become the popular. Not too good phone as the nokia’s previous models. 

  • Marin

    Great stuff Stefan. I think this phone is exactly what you can expect considering they pushed it out in about six months. It’s the N9′s design with a Windows Phone Mango code that was already locked down before Nokia decided to push it. The Lumia 900 should be fun but will still follow that same format. 

    The interesting thing for me will be seeing what happens in January of 2013, as we should see if the relationship between Microsoft and Nokia really is as “unique” as they’ve been saying. Nokia’s code contributions to the underlying platform may be there by Tango or Apollo or whatever and many of those little, day-to-day cell phone usage things that Nokia’s mastered could be in there. 

    I still see the Lumia 800 as encouraging because it shows that Nokia always-stellar design with a modern smartphone operating system can be a compelling alternative to iOS or Android, even if the first shot out of the gate is lacking in a few areas. 

  • Anonymous

    I think nokia missed (once again) an opportunity with the N9/meego. The N9 is not perfect, but very small innovations (especially Swipe) make this phone kind of addicting. Right now every time I touch another phone I want to swipe, and I think how lame it is that I cannot do it (its like a primeval instinct). This is the kind of differentiation nokia needed.

  • Cherepanova

    You’re an idiot. Nokia Lumia 800 is the best thing created by humans. Ever. You got fired from Nokia?

    • Ps02210

      That’s extreme sarcasm, right? If not, you’re insane.

  • TheScreamingBrain

    Does someone seriously pay you to piss on Windows Phone? All your articles are the same, pissing on the OS or the handsets. Yeah, we get it: you love all iShit and hate everything else. Please refrain from writing more “articles”!
    No wonder those girls didn’t want a WP after your incredible negativity!

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Keep the hate comin’!

      • Blackwood

        Not so much hate, but I have to be fair I love my Lumia and would not swap it for my brothers IPhone!!!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JDK7MV3NLU3RT4QU3QVT3K2MPM Kaye

    erer

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JDK7MV3NLU3RT4QU3QVT3K2MPM Kaye

    fdf

  • Mrigank Bhowmick

    I wish you could get your schoolchild faced snotty nose out of the well, and gaze out at the sea surrounding you. I cant believe that apple gets its job done without even paying the fanboys like you. I couldnt believe my eyes while reading your review you dipshit. 

    • Anonymous

      What the hell is your problem man….
      If you don’t like a review you criticize the points you think are weak.
      You prove “why” you think they’re weak.
      You don’t attack the person doing the review.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003098969093 Reza Gerami

    Reading this review, the word “butthurt” comes to mind multiple times. Having used a WP7-phone for quite some time and currently sporting a Nokia N9, I can’t agree on much this dude has to say. More whining than analyzing, really.

    • Anonymous

      Well TBH there’s not much content in your post either…
      Where’s the “substantiated” corrections to all his supposed technical mis-observations?
      Saying “I own or have owned both” doesn’t mean anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521895067 Juan Diego

    How cheap. You take your time to record a video to just show how you play with the baby rattle? You call that a review?? oh well…

  • Alom

    you are a stupid freak…

    • Anonymous

      Pointless comment is pointless….
      At least post something intelligent, that counters the flaws in his arguments.

  • Alom

    you are a stupid freak…

  • Manny

    i dont know what he is talking about with the buttons. I own a lumia 800 and it is one of the best built phones i ever had. Rock solid and no rattles. And about the cover, it only takes arounf 5 secs to put on and 5 secs to take off. EASY!!! I think this reviewer is just biased or has something against Nokia’s. To be honest i didnt read to whole review as it actually made me sick. Cos I own a Nokia and i know better…

    • Anonymous

      The buttons are known to be an issue for some L800 & N9 (to a lesser extent) usrs.
      It has been improved on the 900, but the 900′s also regressed in some ways.
      Mainly from an aesthetics & build quality stand-point….
      I do agree that him complaining about the cover is a rather petty thing…

  • DanXav

    Interesting read! I have recently had my work mobile updated from a Samsung Galaxy S1 to the Lumia 800 and at first I was very disappointed. After now having the phone for a couple of weeks and “playing around” with it I am starting to like it more. However, I still feel that there is so much missing than an Android based phone and I hope with the Apollo update the phone can really challenge Android and iPhone. 
    Little things like no stopwatch, countdown, world time, lack of apps, no focus on video, no home screen function on IE and the inability to “personalise” the phone (other than changing the colour!) are just a few things that annoy me.
    One thing that really is a hassle for me not being Finnish and living in Helsinki is the process of 
    synchronising my contacts with Windows Live ID which recognises me from the United Kingdom. It automatically thinks I am in the UK and when I want to buy an app from the Marketplace it has the prices in £ and I cannot register my Finnish credit card. I have to set up a new Windows Live ID with my location as Finland, backup all my files from my phone, then reset the phone, add backup and reinstall all the apps and then sync the new Live ID and then add the addition UK LiveID. I have given up with this idea as it seems a really long winded way of a such a simple task. 
    Things I like about the Lumia 800…..built in music finder, word scanner with translator, very good voice controls, smooth scroll, the quickest “boot up”, automatic backup of contacts to Windows Live. Perhaps I will find more positive things in the coming weeks but I look forward to the Apollo update if in fact the Lumia 800 will get the update.(a couple of conflicting reports on the web about whether or not Mango will be updated with Apollo).

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