Nokia Lumia 800: Hands-on with the Phone that Could Save Nokia

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Hannah Boukley is a busy mum-of-one who divides her days between looking after her son and working full time as an editor for mobile phone website, Recombu.

Hitting the shops this week is Nokia’s first smartphone to run Windows Phone operating system. I’ve been lucky enough to have been using it for the last couple of weeks and I’m really impressed, it deserves to be a big hit for the Finnish phone giant.

The Lumia 800 is a stunning handset, with beautiful curved edges. It’s made from a single piece of polycarbonate which ensures that it feels tough but not heavy. I’ve been using the black version but it’s the vibrant Cyan version which has really caught my eye. The design is near-identical to the N9, the handset running Meego that, unfortunately, never made it to the UK.

Like the iPhone 4S, the Lumia uses a microSim which sits under a flip-out door at at the top. This door doesn’t actually flip back which is a bit of a design flaw in my opinion. I flipped it back too far and now it won’t close and has a horrible dent in.

Of course the main difference with the Lumia 800 to previous handsets is that it runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, version 7.5, codenamed Mango. Right up to version six, Windows on a phone was horrible – cumbersome, fiddly and slow – everything you don’t want with an operating system. Thankfully it’s totally different now.

All features are displayed as Tiles which run vertically down the screen and you flick up and down. You can also change the colour, choosing from a selection including red, green, blue and even lime and pink! Some of these tiles are live which means they update automatically. For instance, if you have an XBox Live account, your avatar will move around the tile.

What’s particularly good is the integration. Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook for business and, of course, Hotmail accounts are all supported and you can choose to view them together or separately. In addition, when you sign in to all of these accounts, all the contacts sync into the People list. It’s pretty good about linking contacts so automatically pulls together, for example, John Smith’s Facebook, Twitter and Gmail details so they’re all in the same place.

The 3.7-inch screen isn’t the largest on the market. Although it’s the same as the iPhone 4S, Nokia’s includes an AMOLED screen which has a fantastic contrast ratio including very deep blacks and bright colours. It’s great for movies and games.

If there is a weak spot about the phone, it’s the camera. It’s a respectable 8-megapixels and there’s an LED flash but pictures are disappointing, shoot in less-than-favourable conditions (ie a British grey day) and shots looks dull and soft with muted colours. From anyone other than Nokia this would be acceptable but Nokia has a pedigree of including excellent cameras on its phones so it’s a huge disappointment.

Nokia has a lot hinging on the success of the Lumia 800. Over the last few years the company has seen Samsung, Apple and HTC eat into its once dominant market share. Microsoft, too, needs a hit for its Windows Phone operating system which just hasn’t been as successful as Android and iOS.  If Nokia’s huge fanbase buy the Lumia, it could be a huge hit.

I really hope the Nokia Lumia 800 is a success. It deserves to be. The simple interface makes it a great handset for someone looking for their first smartphone and the build is fantastic. Check out my full review here.

At the moment there’s been no official word from Nokia as to how sales have been going. However, Orange confirmed it had more pre-orders for the Lumia 800 than any other Nokia phone – including the N8.

The Lumia 800 is out now on Vodafone, Three and Orange and it’s definitely worth checking to see if you can get some discounts.

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