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Nokia Lumia 800
The Nokia Lumia 800 is one of a pair of Windows phones from Nokia, marking a radical change of direction from the Finnish manufacturer who announced that they were partnering with Microsoft earlier this year.
Featuring a 3.7" 480 x 800 pixel touchscreen display, an 8 megapixel camera with HD video recording, and a 1.4 GHz single core CPU with 512MB of RAM, the Nokia Lumia 800 is pitched very much at the midrange smartphone market against some very tough competition.
If the Lumia 800 looks familiar, it is because the design approach used is almost the same as the Nokia N9, and indeed the physical dimensions are identical, except that the Lumia has a slightly smaller display and a set of buttons on the front. The N9 is now shipping, and reviewers have been enthusiastic about the build quality and the very beautiful display, and it is likely that the Lumia 800 will share those qualities.
The display is a slightly curved AMOLED panel with ClearBlack technology. The edges of the display look like they blend into the case. The N9 demonstrated that this particular type of screen is very bright with high contrast, and the screen design makes the image appear to "float" which should be particularly impressive with the tile-based Windows interface.
The unibody design is a pleasingly minimalistic affair which is tapered at the top and bottom with some ancillary controls on the side. On the back is a metal plate with the Nokia logo and an 8 megapixel camera, and apart from the flash near the camera the rest of the back is completely smooth. The camera itself has Carl Zeiss optics and is capable of 720p video capture, although one thing notably missing from the Lumia 800 is a front-facing camera for video calls.
As far as Nokia is concerned, the biggest development here is the software. The Lumia 800 runs Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed "Mango", the latest update of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS that debuted last year. Mango's user interface is completely different to anything else on the market, using active tiles that display useful information (such as the number of email messages or the weather) rather than dumb icons such as those on the iPhone, Android or Symbian devices. This different look and feel permeates the whole operating system, and it makes Windows Phone feel very much more modern than rivals.. at least on the surface.
Some other features with Mango include an advanced web browser built on Internet Explorer 9 and the ability to upload up to 25GB of data to Microsoft's Skydrive service. There is a small but growing application library available too, and for most users Windows Phone 7.5 will certainly do everything that it needs to do. Right at the moment, Windows Phone handsets are still quite rare so the whole thing will have plenty of "wow factor" when you show it to your friends.
A unique Nokia add-on is an application called "Nokia Drive" which works with the on-board GPS. This is a free turn-by-turn navigation program that allows you to preload maps onto the handset so you don't incur data costs to download them on-the-fly, a key weakness with rivals such as Google Maps. From what we have seen of the application it looks very usable, and the ability to download maps before you set off provides a significant challenge to the likes of TomTom and Garmin.
Other software features include Xbox Live integration, Nokia's own streaming radio service and music store, mobile versions of Microsoft Office and Outlook plus integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Of course, there's a music player and a video player but the Lumia 800 does not have an FM radio.
As with almost all smartphones these days, the Nokia Lumia 800 supports 3.5G data, WiFi and Bluetooth plus USB connectivity. As well as GPS, there is an accelerometer, proximity sensor and magnetometer.
The Lumia 800 has 16GB of non-expandable flash memory, there is no microSD slot because Windows Phone does not support removable memory. Inside is a 1450 mAh battery capable of giving up to 9.5 hours talktime and 14 days standby time on 3G. The Lumia 800 measures 117 x 61 x 12mm and weighs 142 grams.
Available in black, cyan or magenta colours, the Nokia Lumia 800 also includes a matching soft cover in the box in addition to a charger and data cable. There are some snazzy headphones available as an option too.
This combination of software and hardware is compelling, and the sleek design of both makes many rivals look old-fashioned. Yes, Nokia fans are going to be in for a shock when they compare the Lumia 800 to their old Symbian handsets, but then Symbian is reaching the end of its life in any case.
Priced at €420 before tax and subsidy (so about €500 SIM-free in the shops), the Nokia Lumia 800 undercuts the base model Apple iPhone 4S by over €100. Although the iPhone has some very cool features that the Lumia can't manage, it is certainly an interesting alternative when you take everything into account.
Nokia say that the Lumia 800 should be available in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy during November 2011 with Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan following by the end of the year. Other countries and regions should see the Lumia 800 during early 2012. The launch will be accompanied by a large scale advertising campaign which will include having a whole load of people wandering around as tiles.. so don't be surprised.
This is pretty much a make-or-break device for Nokia, alongside the cheaper Lumia 710 and rumoured Lumia 900 Windows smartphones. If they cannot attract customers to this platform then the future will look very bleak, but luckily this particular device does seem to be very promising indeed, and perhaps will lead to a change in Nokia's fortunes.
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