Nokia Lumia 800 reviewAt first glance you’d be tempted to ask yourself where the designers at Nokia have been hiding all these years.

The Nokia Lumia 800 comes with a 3.7 inch screen, surrounded by a beautiful polycarbonate unibody design. The device is the first product to emerge from the partnership with Microsoft. And Nokia’s attempt to turn the tide on a dismal couple of years where its shares have plummeted around the 3 EUR mark recently.

Needless to say, Nokia has a lot riding on going all in with Windows Phone. And despite what people say about how they should have stuck with Meego or went with Android – The Lumia 800 is a neat device with the essential apps available on the Marketplace. On top of that, it’s also great for making phone calls.

Nokia Lumia 800 Review: The Good and The Bad

The Good Things

Call quality

When I answered my first call with the Lumia 800, I was taken by surprise by how clear and crisp the call quality is. I’ve owned quite a few phones in my time and this is the first where I’m truly praising the call quality on a phone. This is by far my favorite to make calls with.

Email

I don’t know what it is, the Metro UI or the fact that it’s different & new UI. But emailing on this thing is amazing. If you’re using Gmail, Outlook or your own domain. It’s a great experience to write on and if you’re constantly sending out emails – the Lumia 800 and Windows Phone is what you’re looking for.

Keyboard

Arguably one of the best keyboards to write on. Accurate most of the time, though you do need to careful where you press as you might accidentally press Send or Delete depending on the orientation.

Nokia’s Mix Radio

Mix Radio is a feature that comes along with Nokia Music. This is my favorite part of owning a Lumia 800 and has pretty much replaced TuneIn Radio for me.

Mix Radio allows to listen to different playlists of genres. You can stream the playlist over wifi or 3G. Or you can download it and make it available for offline listening. And its all for free! The only catch here is that you can only skip up to six songs an hour and you need to refresh the playlist after 30 days. Other than that it’s a great for listening to music and you’ll be up to date with all the latest hits.

Metro UI

Even if you’re not a fan of Microsoft or Windows – you got to applaud them for releasing something completely different from that of Android and iOS.

On the surface, iOS and Android are quite similar in design, with Android giving more in terms of customization.

Sliding through screens is natural gesture for holding a phone and there’s no need reposition your hand if you’re just browsing through status updates. The tiles on the home screen are big because its meant to stop you from accidently mispressing on applications.

The Bad Things

Buttons

Compared to the price of an iPhone, this phone is cheap for a high-end smartphone. Despite the positives, after forking out 400€, you’d expect the build quality to do the design justice. Sadly that’s not the case.

Fresh from the shop and opened from its packaging –  the camera button on the Lumia 800 was loose and slightly out-of-place. Not a deal breaker though, but certainly something you wouldn’t expect from Nokia and their flagship device at the time.

If you happen to among the unlucky to have this problem and take photos regularly –  you’ll find this to be particularly annoying when trying to auto-focus.

Apps

Don’t dismiss Windows Phone just yet because of a lack of applications. It’s early days for them and Microsoft seems to pulling out all the guns to promote greater developer participation. Even so as to reaching to startups and setting up an App Campus at Aalto University.

Yet, after you download all the essentials such as Evernote, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn & TuneIn Radio. You’re left with a somber feeling of emptiness. Browsing through the Marketplace you will find some gems like Skyscanner, and games like Breakout. But otherwise you’re still limited to what you can do with your Lumia 800.

Camera

The camera is a bit shoddy. If you’re looking for an excellent camera, you’d be better off going for an iPhone or the new Nokia PureView 808 (41 megapixels!) Nonetheless, the camera does its job quite nicely when you want to capture special moments. Although you’ll see some decrease in picture quality with little light – the camera works very well on a sunny day.

But regardless of the shortcomings of the camera. Nokia appears to provide a solution for those not so good pics with their Creative Studio app. A Photoshopish app, that allows you to edit your photos.

Skype

Okay, so long story short. Microsoft buys Skype. They release a beta version and then officially release it on the Marketplace. Sounds great doesn’t it?

That is until you find out that it doesn’t run in the background. Meaning you won’t be able to receive messages or calls when you’re not on the app itself and your phone is locked.

This is similar to what Skype was like on iOS 3 back in 2009. It’s not all bad though, considering the speed to which they’ve released it and that they’re probably working on integrating it into the next update of Windows Phone 8. Much like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are at the moment.

What I see happening is that Microsoft is going to integrate Skype Chat into the Messaging app, like it is for Facebook chat at the moment.

Still it’s the first version and the calls themselves are solid. It’s  just that you won’t be able to do anything else.

Can’t take screenshots

Although I’m thankful WP7 has copy and paste now. I still can’t get over the fact that it’s not possible to take screenshots. Apparently it’s only possible with iOS out of the box, whereas on Android you’ll have to root it or download an app.

You think this is a tiny issue to complain about and perhaps you’re right. However, when you’re traveling and don’t have access to a printer it’d be nice to be able to take a screenshot of your boarding pass and save it. Instead of relying on free wifi at airports or incurring monstrous data roaming charges.

Wrap up

The Lumia 800 is a great device for business users who are on the road and are constantly writing emails. Despite its lack of applications, the device is a worthy challenger to the status quo of iOS and Android. But it’s not the final product to come out Nokia’s factories. Expect more to come out of Windows Phone on Nokia and the ecosystem encompassing it.

It’s a good phone with all the essential apps available for download. The camera is below par compared to other Nokia handsets. But seeing as this is their first WP release, it’s a strong start for the Finnish manufacturer. And it’s a phone worth considering if you’re not looking on paying over the odds for a smartphone.