Just when you thought handsets couldn’t get any better than the iPhone4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the quiet Fins have emerged from their Scandinavian shed and illuminated the smartphone market with their first Microsoft ‘combo’ smartphone; a phone that is fast, friendly and fun. Apparently, you can now have a whole world of home and leisure, business and pleasure, at your fingertips. While most smartphones make similar claims, the Nokia Lumia would appear to have some evidence to support this assertion. In the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nokia Lumia 800, we are experiencing the pinnacle of mobile phone design – until next season’s models are launched, anyway.
The Lumia 800, with its 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, throws out vivid colours and sharp images using ClearBlack display technology, with images never at risk of being washed out by poor back-lighting. In addition, it has a capacitive touchscreen (as used by the iPhone) and is much more sensitive, offering greater visual clarity, though you have to use your finger and not a pen tip to work it – keep that biro at bay.
On the back of the phone, you’ll find the eyepiece of the impressive 8 Megapixel Carl Zeiss camera equipped with LED Flash, autofocus, touch focus, face detection and up to 720p of video recording. The casing is a seamless, one-piece, black polycarbonate design. Sleek, light-weight and tough, this casing isn’t likely to break in a hurry – though don’t try testing it to destruction, just in case. One of the few drawbacks to the phone however is its lack of curved corners, making the Lumia’s square edges a little angular to hold. Press too hard and, after being kept on hold by customer service, you may end up with stigmata – or sore palms at the very least.
At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the three classic Windows Phone navigation buttons: ‘back’, ‘search’ and the ‘Windows’ key. These keys are finger-sensitive and emit a pleasant glow when touched. The screen itself is divided, patchwork-like, into squares, each representing a different app or function. Business users fans will be pleased to learn that each tile of this digital duvet can be customised, so if you need to pin your media player or emails to the home screen, no problem.
Some of the tiles are ‘Live Tiles’ which update on the home screen when anything connected to that tile happens. So, the ‘People’ tile will show you pics of the folks you’ve stored as contacts. If you pin one of those contacts to the home screen, and sync it with the relevant apps, it’ll come to life when your contact sends out a new status, email, text or call – so you can see their beaming face, and decide whether to beam back or to grimace and screen the call.
With a generous internal memory of 16GB, a 1.4 Ghz Processor and 512 MB RAM, the spec of the Windows Mango operating system means that this hand-held number may act as fast on the web as your home PC. It can glide effortlessly through mighty programs including mobile-friendly versions of Word, Powerpoint and Office.
The Lumia 800 has a few unique ‘Nokisms’ that are the first children of this Finnish marriage with Windows. These include a free navigation app that works in over 95 countries to give you voice directions, sat-nav style; some cool little music functions that can pull songs from FM radio that match your genre preference and play them to you juke-box style; and the ability to make use of your GPS location to give you a list of local gigs, food and culture in your vicinity via the Local Scout app. All of this comes free with the handset, as does the smooth-operating, flash-enabled Internet Explorer 9 with tabbed browsing. There’s also improved copy & paste functionality, not to mention X-Box Live integration that keeps note of your game scores.
Some people may want a phone that they use just for leisure; some may want a work phone, but for those who desire a phone that can do everything, the Lumia 800 is worth a look. It’s the first glimmer of a phoenix rising from the ashes of Nokia’s former mobile phone empire – one that might finally put them back on the smartphone map.