There have been numerous reviews about the Lumia 800. People with various technical credentials who can spout the Kernel versions of a phone faster than you can Bing (yes, you realize this is a review about the Windows Phone 7.5) the results, have written long texts about how and why and where this phone excels and fails. However, what does a layman think about using this phone? Here’s an analysis –
The first thing that stands out when you unlock your Lumia 800 is the user interface, with beautifully arranged tiles based on a black theme that looks like a pool of infinity. You can of course add the tiles of your choice from the menu list onto the start screen for easier but a problem with the rearrangement is faced where you sometimes end up having a strange looking void in the middle when you rearrange tiles to suit your preference. This might prompt you to look for other apps to add there or just leave a gaping black (or white) hole in the middle. A grid alignment feature would have helped here.
Although the black theme (using the ClearBlack technology) looks the best with the Lumia, the light theme with the Teal is also a great choice; if you’re ready to compromise on battery life. Light does sap the energy out of the phone so it is a bit of a downer for someone who isn’t a fan of black.
Another thing that users might find cumbersome would be the scrolling that one has to do even on the start menu if you have pinned a lot of apps to it. So, the large size of the tiles acts as a boon because it is good for those with normal sized fingers – unlike some other phone interfaces where you need to be a hand model to fit your fingers properly – but it also means a lot of scrolling at times.
Another thing that is quite pleasing about this phone is the extremely accommodative keypad. I believe that the mark of a keypad should be judged when you try to type in complicated passwords into your apps or when you’re using proper nouns and the Lumia 800 keypad does well to sense the movements. Of course the normal everyday English typing is great and the wavy lines below wrongly spelled words do remind you of Microsoft Word at times. Easy typing ensures that one doesn’t struggle while texting, tweeting or instant messaging.
This is probably the part where most users would feel that they’re not getting as much as other OS platforms. The Windows Marketplace is a difficult place to be in for a user who is accustomed to the Android or iOS. With a dearth of many basic apps, like Instagram and YouTube, that most users would expect, you’re left wanting for more. For someone who is mostly using twitter clients other than the native ones, the lack of the same in the Marketplace was quite a difficulty.
Twitter for Windows Phone is well done except for the lack of being able to reply to multiple people and an interactions column which means keeping a track of retweets and followers is difficult. One must mention the prompt notifications though, integrated with the phone.
Native Facebook app, although it has a slight learning curve, works like a charm and makes you want to use Facebook as often as possible. However, for an extremely Facebook savvy person who loves notifications as they happen, this might cause disappointment. Yet, I must add that as an annoyed Facebook for Android user, the speed on this one was really pleasing.
SkyDrive is clearly the forte on this phone when it comes to virtual storage, as it integrates seamlessly, all the data that you would like on the cloud from your phone. It’s one of the best apps they have out there and a recommended download for anyone using a Windows Phone.
Internet Explorer while not as scary as its desktop counterpart still leaves a lot to be desired as it lacks basic functions like a reader view (for those long texts) and can be quite annoying at times due to its strange zooming functionality which renders text too small or too big to be read on screen.
Skype is sort of funny here because it uses the back camera so if you’re video chatting you can probably show the other person what you’re looking at rather than your own self. In this regard a front camera is sorely missed on the Lumia 800.
One cannot praise Nokia Maps enough though. With a minimalist view that makes sure you never get lost, it is a pleasure to use and loads extremely fast without draining your battery. Use it wherever you are and be assured that it won’t let you down.
You want to get down on your knees and beg for a dedicated notifications tray of any sort. Only emails and text messages notifications linger on whereas the rest are lost quickly. So, unless you’re the one who checks the phone the moment there’s a notification ping, you’re going to be quite bothered. One hopes that the subsequent editions of this phone do have this basic feature at hand; otherwise you’re left checking all your dedicated apps to understand where that ping came from.
Once you have configured your email, Facebook and Twitter accounts to the phone, you will be impressed by the way they are all integrated to easily connect with your contacts and see their recent updates on various platforms. The email integration ensures that you will not miss an email and attachments are downloaded without issues. Of course, not many people are now using Windows Live so it being integrated into your phone means that you will be seeing updates from as recent as two years ago (the last time someone bothered with hotmail).
I have to say that the phone has given me stronger wrists than before. It is on the heavier side, weighing in at 142 grams and maybe not a preference if you want sleeker phones, with a thickness of 12.1mm. However, getting the black one means that you do have a phone that gives a monolithic appearance thanks to the monoblock design.
The 8MP camera with the Carl Zeiss Tessar lens ensures better quality pictures even on full zoom and in low light. What does disappoint though is probably the lack of in-built filters for the camera that other phones provide. Of course, the picture editing application can be downloaded but nobody complains about built-ins.
The battery life isn’t much to write home about, especially with data services running. 3G consumes a large amount of battery and charging is slow at times. It is more advisable to use the phone on wi-fi instead.
This is a phone that requires patience, as the Windows Phone is new in the field of smartphones, facing stiff competition from established users. It is all a question of waiting for a better application market and the provision of a few basic features which might restrict the phone. However, the UI and integration are its redeeming factors that ensure that people will keep talking about this and the subsequent Lumias (this is the plural, in theory) in the future too.