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Nokia Lumia 800: 48 Hours as my Daily Driver

The folks at Nokia were kind enough to send me a Lumia 800 for a few weeks even though Jon had already gotten his hands on a review unit. Okay, it wasn’t so much that they’re kind (though they are) as that I badgered them until they said, “Fine! But only for two weeks.”

I’ve been using the 800 as my daily driver since it arrived Monday afternoon, and so far I really like it. A few key points:

1. The design is really lovely. Some of you won’t like it, perhaps because the screen is too small (3.7-inches) and the profile is too thick (12.1mm) which is fine. I maintain this Nokia looks just different enough to qualify as, “Unlike any other mobile phone currently on the market,” and is plenty viewable and pocketable. Something about the cool black glass of the display juxtaposes really well against the vaguely grippy, curved plastic of the seamless polycarbonate body. Lumia 800 is a nice piece of kit.

2. Specs are meaningless. Lumia 800 has a single core, 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor. Top-shelf Android and iOS phones now sport dual-core processors. So what? Lumia moves through Windows Phone OS 7.5 with plenty of speed and grace. Mango is apparently less demanding – and more hardware optimized? – than either of those other operating systems.

3. Windows Phone 7.5 continues to look pretty, at least to me. The more I use it the more the superficial charm of lovely type and a fresh take on the mobile phone UXwear off, and the more I pay attention to how the thing actually works in day to day use. The jury’s still out on that as I get used to little things like the nuances of text selection, and so on. But in general, Mango is still making me happy.

4. Mango’s onscreen keyboard is arguably the easiest to use of any virtual QWERTY on any smartphone currently out there. Note my use of the word “arguably,” and see also iOS and HTC’s Android keyboards.

5. Spotify for Windows Phone > Spotify for iOS

For now, I have three main reservations about the device, which I’ll present in order of most to least important. Oddly enough, I think most of you will find the order to be inverted from your perspective: That is, my #3 would likely be your top reason to hesitate before buying the Lumia, and vice versa:

1. Nokia sent me the black Lumia 800. It’s very handsome, what with the matte black plastic body framing the glossy black of the ClearBlack AMOLED Gorilla Glass display. But I really like the Cyan color I got to paw at Nokia’s US media day a few weeks back.

2. Lumia 800 (and the 710, for that matter) lacks a front-facing camera. A lot of people still don’t care about front-facing cameras. I Skype a fair amount with far-off friends and relatives, and sometimes I do it from my phone. So I want a front cam.

3. The Windows Phone Marketplace doesn’t have anywhere near the selection of apps offered by the Android Market or Apple’s App Store.

Battery life has been good, and reception using the AT&T microSIM from my iPhone 4 has been good.

Also, I’m not totally sure about the camera. I’ll shoot a few shots, they’ll look a little bit washed out or undersaturated or something, and I’ll keep thinking it’s disappointing considering the 8MP, dual-flash, Carl Zeiss pedigree. And then the next shot comes out really nice.

Okay, back to testing. More soon. Meantime, if you’ve got Lumia 800-related questions, you know what to do: Post ’em in the comments!


Noah Kravitz

Noah Kravitz mourned the day that Star Castle was replaced in the pizza parlour he frequented as a kid. The sadness ended when he saw an older kid...

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