Review

Nokia Lumia 800 review: success or failure?

In the past few weeks Neowin has seen numerous bits of news about Nokia's flagship Windows Phone: the Lumia 800. Although we've seen this news there hasn't been much information about what the phone's actually like; it's about time that happened. The main question we have on our hands is: is the Nokia Lumia 800 worthy of being a good Christmas present?

From the early leaks of the Nokia “Sea-Ray” it was clear that the phone itself was going to be a very good looking phone, however the question of specifications and how Nokia would put its own spin on Windows Phone had journalists across the Internet pondering.

When the device was launched, it was not just another device from Nokia, it was a look into the future of Nokia. It appears that the company knew this too as they progressed to launch one of the biggest Windows Phone based campaigns that the operating system has ever seen (in Europe anyway). Due to the 'Amazing Everyday' campaign, Windows Phone awareness seems to have risen, at least the statistics seem to suggest so.

Specifications

The Lumia 800 is based on the design of the N9 and specification wise it's very similar too. Sadly it seems Nokia has removed some of the features from the N9 such as the front facing camera, but as Windows Phone doesn't have many applications for it this isn't such a big deal. The full specification is as follows:

  Nokia Lumia 800
Product Codes RM-819
GSM Bands 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G/4G Bands HSPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
Display 3.7-inch 480 x 800 ClearBlack AMOLED
252 ppi pixel density
8-point capacitive multi-touch
Gorilla Glass
Processor Qualcomm MSM8255 "Snapdragon" chipset
1.4 GHz single-core "Scorpion" CPU
ARM Cortex-A8 based
Graphics Adreno 205
RAM 512 MB
Storage 16 GB internal storage
Connectivity WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
A-GPS
FM Radio
Camera 8 MP rear camera with autofocus
Dual-LED flash; Carl Zeiss optics
720p video recording (rear)
Ports MicroUSB (charging, data)
3.5mm audio jack
SIM card slot
Sensors Accelerometer
Magnetometer
Gyroscope
Light sensor
Proximity sensor
Battery Li-ion 1,450 mAh non-removable
Launch OS Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango"
Launch Date November 2011
Size & Weight 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm
142 g
Price £470 (~US$735

 

Out of the box

The device I received was unlocked and therefore was free from network branding. Regardless the Lumia comes in a plain blue outer box which typically lists such information as the IMEI and several other bar codes. As the device was actually set to be my personal device I was anxious to open it (I had prolonged it so I could get a camera to take pictures for Neowin) but when it came to it I removed the casing to reveal the actual box. The packaging is very much what you would expect from Nokia, eco-friendly and inevitably 100% recyclable.

Unboxing it was very typical of any smartphone. The device greets you first once you open the box and after pulling it out you're free to look underneath its bed where you find two boxes – one with documentation and the other with a free silicone case (I have to say I was happy when I saw that). You're then left with a mains charger, headphones and USB that's used for both data and power.

Assembly out of the box is next to none. Due to the battery not being removable, the phone didn't require a huge amount of setting up besides inserting the micro-sim into the roof of the device. I decided to add the case that comes with the device and would highly recommend everyone to do so due to the fact that the polycarbonate body seems to pick up marks very easily. The given case allows access to all the phones features including the speaker on the rear. Access to the micro-sim is blocked however, not that you will be removing it very often.

When the Lumia 800 was first released there we many journalists noting how good the device felt in your hand. I was a little sceptical about that claim because plastic phones generally feel rather tacky and low quality. When I did pick it up I noticed two things, firstly that for a smartphone it's quite heavy and secondly that my preconceptions of it were totally wrong. Somehow Nokia has managed to create a plastic (or as they like to call it “polycarbonate shell”) body that feels smooth in your hand, a premium feel that is difficult to compare against other plastics. 

The ClearBlack AMOLED display on the Lumia accompanied with Gorilla Glass makes for a pleasurable viewing experience. My issue however is that for some reason the screen seems to attract a lot of fingerprint marks. Yes, you maybe thinking “well duh?”, but coming from a Samsung Omnia 7 I was used to wiping the screen a lot less often. I seem to be wiping the screen of the Lumia once every two or three times I use it, compared to the 5-6 times of use I got from the Omnia 7.

It's a small issue and one that a screen protector would likely fix.

Software

Nokia being Nokia, they have added some of their mapping awesomeness on top of Windows Phone to accompany Bing maps. In addition to the juice that Mango provides, Nokia have thrown Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music into the current Mango fruit salad bowl. It's nice to have variety, eh?

Nokia Drive is simply Nokia's famous sat-nav (GPS) which has a wider range of features and more advanced GPS capabilities when compared to Bing maps alone. Nokia Maps is an app that seems to be a combination of local scout and a mapping system. You can ask for directions to a location and it will provide photos and locations you may want to visit, and combined with local scout you should never be in an unusual city without anything to do ever again.

Lastly is Nokia Music which at Nokia's announcement they seemed very impressed with. Essentially it's a little like Last.fm and Zune in terms of you buy music from the MP3 store and you can listen to music on the go; similarly it provides suggestions of artists you may like. In all honesty I don't understand why a Zune Pass or Spotify user would switch; I guess it's just another alternative that people are free to choose.

Camera

On to the camera, which for many is a key selling point of a phone. Nokia have always gloated about how good their cameras were, but would they be able to make another device that come with a good camera? Before getting ahold of the device I looked at some reviews of the camera of the Lumia and also some apparent video footage too. My reaction? I wasn't impressed to say the least. The camera quality looked like a camera phone that was made in 1999.

Reading the specification it 'boasted' a 8MP camera with a Carl-Zeiss lens, so why were people getting these results? I didn't rule out the camera completely though, I was interested in what type of result I may get and in fact the camera was one of the first features I tested on the phone upon unboxing it.

The overall verdict? It appeared that those who had taken photos with the device previously had been playing 'Who can take a photo the fastest?' as when I took a photo the quality was far above average, at least compared to my previous Omnia 7. Pressing the dedicated camera button loads the camera, pressing it again takes a picture as with any camera, but holding it down halfway focuses the camera and results in a good quality photo.

You can see an example of what I call a 'good quality photo' below. Needless to say it was tempting to use the camera of the Lumia to create the images for this review instead of the dedicated camera that I did use.

Battery

The biggest issue I have with this phone. It's been reported several times that the Lumia 800 has battery issues and when I checked to see if my phone was infected and found it wasn't it still made me think “wow, battery life is pretty slim.”

On idle the phone seems to hold its ground. Nokia claim a 9 ½ hour talk time on a 3G connection and 55 hours of music play back. In all honesty I don't believe that to be the case: the battery might possibly have the power to be capable of lasting that long but news released today suggests it may be the software not utilizing the battery power.

It has been said there will be a fix for the issue in January but for many users it maybe a big problem, especially for users that use their mobiles as music players as well. Yesterday I logged into Spotify on the phone and listened to my playlist for 2-3 hours. By the end of that time the battery was next to none and required a recharge.

Conclusion

So after speaking about all of that, the question remains: will the Lumia 800 put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas?

Having used the device for over 48 hours yet being familiar with Windows Phone, I enjoyed using the device. It provides a lot more than what I was using previously and meets any of my needs in terms of media. Again my biggest issue is the battery, however with January only around the corner I think that if you're unlucky enough to pick up a Lumia 800 with a huge battery issue, look forward to the software update which will hopefully realise the 55 hours of music playback that Nokia claims it has.

The Lumia 800 also packs a fantastic camera and sleek body whilst keeping ports discrete, a benefit for those that enjoy a great looking device without having large intrusive ports in the side of the phone.

So now that question is answered the next question is, will you be buying a Lumia 800 this Christmas? Tell us in the comments below.

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51 Comments

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For some reason Lumia ads here aren't mentioning WP at all.
It's actually not uncommon for phone ads to not talk about the OS they run but being kind of a WP7 flagship one would think that they'd want to point that it's not Android nor a classic Symbian with a custom UI.

rSAP (which is actually te same as SAP, no rSAP does not exist) IS not a Nokia profile, it is done by the VAG group. The Lumia supports the PBAP profile just fine which is what the rest of the world uses.

SAP is somewhat of a retarded and ancient system. WHat's the use of just accessing the SIM fro the phone to make calls with the carkit radio.

And yeah.. we'll enjoy transferring today's filesizes over Bluetooth.. that was useful way back when we did not have internet access everywhere. Way more convenient to put it on your 25GB of Skydrive space and access from there.

Had one for a week at the start of December but it went back. Battery life was a day with minor usage and little more than 8 hours with medium usage. This was with turning off everything I could to help improve battery life.

The biggest problem for me was the Bluetooth profiles supported were not up to my needs. I have a Nokia car kit built into my VW Passat and it works of rSAP (Nokias own developed profile) and yet this phone does not support this. It doesn't even support Bluetooth file transfer from phone to phone.

Ringtones cannot be selected from your saved music you have on the phone, only file specific ringtones and then only for call tones but not SMS, RSS, email etc. Audio from both the earpiece and speaker is very lacking also.

Trying to get my contact off it at the end was a session and a half which included Windows Live, Excel, Outlook and about 4hrs of my time!!!!

It was a great looking phone and worked well at certain things but too many drawbacks made it a pain to live with for the few days I had it.

I just bought “a cyan” at Amazon Germany… delivery December 23 (I hope)
I had a Optimus 7 until I lost it in a pile of snow (I live in Greenland) - and I just loved it! (I mean I loved the phone - not the snow)

The pre mango optimus was smooth and sleek in every way, so the lumia cant fail.

What about the outdated hardware con? Single core cpu, low memory, and low res screen. No thanks, I'll stick to Android.

Joey S said,
What about the outdated hardware con? Single core cpu, low memory, and low res screen. No thanks, I'll stick to Android.

You again... trolling again.... derp you

Anthonyd said,

You again... trolling again.... derp you

This, I'm afraid.
It's been explained multiple times that Windows Phone doesn't need a dual core. Android and iOS already don't fully utilize the second core, more of a marketing thing.

Tom said,

It's been explained multiple times that Windows Phone doesn't need a dual core.

So why will the Apollo update support it then?
Tom said,

Android and iOS already don't fully utilize the second core, more of a marketing thing.

Android has true multitasking, so yes it does utilise multiple cores, both through parallel processes and threads. Just take a look at Nvidia's Tegra gaming demo's to see four core utilisation examples.

Your arguments against multicores seem like a luddite attitude to me. Just because Windows Phones don't have parallel processing capabilities, doesn't mean every other mobile OS which does support it is underutilising it.

Joey S said,

Android has true multitasking, so yes it does utilise multiple cores

Fanboy delusions, gotta love em. True multitasking has nothing to do with core utilization, bro. He stated that Android doesn't fully utilize multiple cores, which is true, it has terrible threading. Saying otherwise doesn't make it true.

Karanlos said,
ICS has true multicore support so yes android has multicore support.

That's good to hear, but between now and Windows Phone 8 release in the summer, I wonder how many phones actually even get that update, or release with it.

Seeing as Microsoft (and Apple) is far better at pushing out updates, there's a high potential for more people using WP to end up with better multitasking even though android released ICS half a year before WP8. Which would be funny since multi-core Windows Phones won't release until WP8.

Joey S said,
What about the outdated hardware con? Single core cpu, low memory, and low res screen. No thanks, I'll stick to Android.

The guy's just like android .. rehashing the same BS over and over and over again..

Joey S said,
What about the outdated hardware con? Single core cpu, low memory, and low res screen. No thanks, I'll stick to Android.

Wow i think i can get around the swear filter with some android joke: you're an incredible S.

paulheu said,

The guy's just like android .. rehashing the same BS over and over and over again..

I am still using a HTC HD2 as my main phone, which has been released on november 2009, running OCed on 1,5ghz daily use, with adreno 205 gpu, 512mb ram, capacitive 4.3" screen, the capability of running mango (mine has Android ginger one)

Would be the best damn phone on the market if it had at least 32 gigs of storage and an ff cam... these two little shortcomings are enough for me to stick w/ my Omnia7 and wait for another big bang WP device... the design is spot on, so much sexier than the plastic nightmare Focus S and the boring HTCs.

I'm still disappointed that WP makers can't be arsed to put an SD card slot in the bloody phone. Also why no 1GB RAM? I know, that many will complain that you don't need it, but I rather have it, then later on miss out and have to buy another phone, that needs it. I run a lot of applications, and so I need that much.

But I can't wait to test the phone out, when I get it from Nokia. If they don't wait forever to process the order.

The Lumia 800 is well design piece of hardware; even at 12.1mm it feels great in hand. However, it does fall short in a couple of key areas.

First off, there is no gyroscope in the Lumia 800; Not supported.

On the issue of battery life, I get about a day use out my 800. My battery reads 1508 mAH, but only charge to 1384 mAH; very weird.

Pictures taken with the Lumia 800 are terribl, to say the least, when compared to other second gen WP handsets, even the damn 5MP Focus takes better pictures than the 800. The camera app on the 800 is also missing a number of WP settings (which are present on all WP) such as:

1. Wide Dynamic Range
2. Photo Quality
3. Anti-Shaking
4. Sharpness

Did you take the picture above (in the post) with the 800? if you did, what are the settings?

Edited by gullygod, Dec 22 2011, 10:03am :

dekoy said,
First off, there is no gyroscope in the Lumia 800; Not supported.

False statement, there is one and some appz are even using it, like nokia app highlight.

Anthonyd said,

False statement, there is one and some appz are even using it, like nokia app highlight.

No there is no Gyroscope... hit ##634# or whatever to go in the Nokia Diagnostics and try to run any test on the Gyroscope. It will tell you that it is not present.

The shaking functionnality in the Nokia highlight app is from the Accelerometer.

However most of Dekoy other complains can be fixed with software updates.

All in all, I really like my Lumia 800 and everyone who see it, likes it (Even some hardcore iPhone fanboys and Fandroids that I work with... They wouldn't buy it but they don't have anything bad to say about it )

Kwanza said,

No there is no Gyroscope... hit ##634# or whatever to go in the Nokia Diagnostics and try to run any test on the Gyroscope. It will tell you that it is not present.

The shaking functionnality in the Nokia highlight app is from the Accelerometer.

However most of Dekoy other complains can be fixed with software updates.

All in all, I really like my Lumia 800 and everyone who see it, likes it (Even some hardcore iPhone fanboys and Fandroids that I work with... They wouldn't buy it but they don't have anything bad to say about it )


My bad then

dekoy said,
The Lumia 800 is well design piece of hardware; even at 12.1mm it feels great in hand. However, it does fall short in a couple of key areas.

First off, there is no gyroscope in the Lumia 800; Not supported.

On the issue of battery life, I get about a day use out my 800. My battery reads 1508 mAH, but only charge to 1384 mAH; very weird.

Pictures taken with the Lumia 800 are terribl, to say the least, when compared to other second gen WP handsets, even the damn 5MP Focus takes better pictures than the 800. The camera app on the 800 is also missing a number of WP settings (which are present on all WP) such as:

1. Wide Dynamic Range
2. Photo Quality
3. Anti-Shaking
4. Sharpness

Did you take the picture above (in the post) with the 800? if you did, what are the settings?

The image I quoted (with the lanyard and keys) was taken with standard settings on the Lumia. I allowed it to focus and then took the photo.

I think all of the SD card slot days are numbered... If Microsoft/Google/Apple are all moving away from this then it's history as networks get better and Cloud access becomes better. Added to this no company/government dept wants removable storage as it opens the door to hacking and security breaches.

The only people kicking and screaming about the SD cards no longer being available are the ones who want to hack and swap ROMs etc. All good to them and HTC will likely provide you a microSD until they realise they arent making money any more and discontinue it.

The world is moving to Cloud, its been predicted, everyone who reads these sites has been well aware that its comming. If you have used a Windows Phone in the last 6 months then you know you have Huge Cloud storage, 14million Songs on Zune with Zune Pass.. Added to that if you have a Nokia Lumia then you have Nokia Music too.

I love my Lumia, and the Focus it replaced, and Mozart before that. Nokia separated Windows Phone from Android. And thats a good thing.

rxsoob said,
I think all of the SD card slot days are numbered... If Microsoft/Google/Apple are all moving away from this then it's history as networks get better and Cloud access becomes better. Added to this no company/government dept wants removable storage as it opens the door to hacking and security breaches.

The only people kicking and screaming about the SD cards no longer being available are the ones who want to hack and swap ROMs etc. All good to them and HTC will likely provide you a microSD until they realise they arent making money any more and discontinue it.

The world is moving to Cloud, its been predicted, everyone who reads these sites has been well aware that its comming. If you have used a Windows Phone in the last 6 months then you know you have Huge Cloud storage, 14million Songs on Zune with Zune Pass.. Added to that if you have a Nokia Lumia then you have Nokia Music too.

I love my Lumia, and the Focus it replaced, and Mozart before that. Nokia separated Windows Phone from Android. And thats a good thing.

The problem is you have to pay $10/month for Zune Pass on to of $70-$80 for the smartphone plan(voice + data + extras).

HawkMan said,
I don't believe the no SD card should have a negative impact

On the score at the end. It's how WP is designed and has toting to do with Nokia or the phone.

And damn the pos comment button is badly a laced when typing on an iPad.

HawkMan said,

On the score at the end. It's how WP is designed and has toting to do with Nokia or the phone.

And damn the pos comment button is badly a laced when typing on an iPad.


Wrong. WP7 supports expandable storage, but not removable storage. My old Samsung Focus supported it and I used a microSD in it...

Although I do agree, the devices need more storage and other devices like iPhone can have 64GBs if you buy that model... There isn't much of a choice with windows phones... 16GBs or the high way.

I love the physical design of the phone but I'm not a fan of the operating system. I'd probably have bought one if it had Android.

Needless to say it was tempting to use the camera of the Lumia to create the images for this review instead of the dedicated camera that I did use.
==========================
How would you have taken a photo of the phone itself though

I get about a day out of the battery, its not great but inline with other smartphones. Hopefully, the update will give us a little bit longer.
You didnt mention how fast the Lumia is. It handles WP7 with ease, even when multi tasking.
The only other gripe i have is the USB cable/power cable is a bit short.
As for the finger prints, it does mark easily but the display is so good, you cant see them when its on.

the better twin said,
Needless to say it was tempting to use the camera of the Lumia to create the images for this review instead of the dedicated camera that I did use.
==========================
How would you have taken a photo of the phone itself though

I get about a day out of the battery, its not great but inline with other smartphones. Hopefully, the update will give us a little bit longer.
You didnt mention how fast the Lumia is. It handles WP7 with ease, even when multi tasking.
The only other gripe i have is the USB cable/power cable is a bit short.
As for the finger prints, it does mark easily but the display is so good, you cant see them when its on.

I was going to use it for the images that didn't have the device itself in the picture.

At your other concerns, the comment on the processor I didn't add due to the fact that being smooth seems to be a Windows Phone thing... not just a Nokia thing. Mostly every Windows Phone I've used runs extremely smoothly, the 1.5ghz the Nokia has just insures no lag.

8.0? Really Tom?
You can argue all you want about the battery issue, and I am with you in this but lack of SD card support cuts that much points? Galaxy Nexus doesn't have it and so does 4S, but they didn't got that low scores
And the display is Gorilla Glass. Its scratch-resistent, so it can't get marks easily.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
8.0? Really Tom?
You can argue all you want about the battery issue, and I am with you in this but lack of SD card support cuts that much points? Galaxy Nexus doesn't have it and so does 4S, but they didn't got that low scores
And the display is Gorilla Glass. Its scratch-resistent, so it can't get marks easily.

First off, scratch resistant and mark magnet are two different things. The screen picks up marks very easily and I've found that myself. Throwing 'WELL IT'S GORILLA GLASS' at me doesn't evidence anything.

Secondly I mentioned the SD card because Nokia are supposed to have a 'special' relationship with Microsoft. Had they tried to I imagine they would've gotten SD card support and for that reason it becomes a disadvantage over an Android for the fact it hasn't. The worst part is that it's not even got a 32GB+ model meaning that for people who use their phone to hold lots of music are screwed and forced to get something else. Making people pick another device because yours doesn't cater to a need is defiantly a disadvantage.

Tom said,

First off, scratch resistant and mark magnet are two different things. The screen picks up marks very easily and I've found that myself. Throwing 'WELL IT'S GORILLA GLASS' at me doesn't evidence anything.

Since I bought mine 2 weeks ago I've cleaned it once, and that was because the salesman was demoing some things to me I asked him to show.

No offense, but I really don't know what you have on your fingers to create these marks, I'm holding it in the light right now and all I can see is some dust from my pocket.

Tom said,

Secondly I mentioned the SD card because Nokia are supposed to have a 'special' relationship with Microsoft. Had they tried to I imagine they would've gotten SD card support and for that reason it becomes a disadvantage over an Android for the fact it hasn't.

Wait, what? How does that logic even work?

hynesy said,
Wait, what? How does that logic even work?

It works if you are an Android fanboy doing a test for the Lumia. And you'll end with a 8.0/10.0 score for bad reasons.

Anthonyd said,

It works if you are an Android fanboy doing a test for the Lumia. And you'll end with a 8.0/10.0 score for bad reasons.

I'm sorry, did you just call me an Android fanboy? If you knew me at all (which you don't) you'd realize that to be a LAUGHABLE comment.

I don't have any issues with my Lumia Battery standard 24hours smartphone life.

I find that reviewers complain about battery life on all smart phone reviews and don't really take into account that they are using the phone for hours on end.

Reviewers complain about that because some are old enough to remember owning phones that went for days without needing a recharge

Plus any phone that can't handle heavy-ish load for a full working day is a big fail imo.

Neobond said,
Reviewers complain about that because some are old enough to remember owning phones that went for days without needing a recharge

You calling me young!!! I too remember the days of charging a Nokia overnight and being set for a week.

To put it in perspective my Lumia's battery life is about the same as my iPhone 3Gs was, so you decide if that's good or bad.

I had an iPhone 3 and now a 4 and I learned that turning stuff off (spotlight search among others) means I can get almost two days out of it (medium usage) before it looks like it needs a charge

I'm running the Lumia full tilt with WIFI, Exchange Sync and the works turned on. Ill have to play about with it and see what I can push the battery life too with settings tweaked.

Neobond said,
Reviewers complain about that because some are old enough to remember owning phones that went for days without needing a recharge

Plus any phone that can't handle heavy-ish load for a full working day is a big fail imo.

I agree 100%. Battery tech needs some improvement. I should be able to go at least 2 days on a charge.

Neobond said,
The battery issue doesn't affect *all* Lumia 800's, see here: http://www.neowin.net/news/nok...-on-lumia-800-battery-issue

And ? Please try the diagnostic tool and post the results.
The average for smartphone nowaday is a day of batterie, the lumia has 1 to 2 days of battery, how is that "below the average"? False statement is false.

edit: Also you are aware that it takes 2/3 weeks for the calibration on WP devices? Just saying before this looks like a 10min review.

Anthonyd said,
I totally disagree with the battery life, it's in the average (1day), not less. In fact, I can do up to 35h-40h with my Lumia 800.
And the shell & display don't mark easily, see this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...eature=player_embedded#!;

As Neobond has noted. Not all Lumia's have a battery issue and even though mine doesn't, it still is a pretty low battery life compared to for instance a galaxy S2.

Tom said,

As Neobond has noted. Not all Lumia's have a battery issue and even though mine doesn't, it still is a pretty low battery life compared to for instance a galaxy S2.


SGS2 is gigantic phone for 180cm+ people with large battery. You better compare it with Galaxy W with same size and same hardware.

The only large problem with Lumia 800 is that it's overpriced by 50%.