My 2 days with the Nokia Lumia 800

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It’s unbelievable that within 8 months after Nokia announced their partnership with Microsoft to use Windows Phone platform for their high end smart phones, Nokia would introduce not one but two Window Phone devices: Lumia 800 and Lumia 710Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO, even calls Lumia ‘the first true Windows Phone’. Click on this link for a list of new features in Windows Phone 7.5 (code name “Mango”).  Even better news is that these devices are ready for shipping to the six European countries this fall and have already been picked up by 31 carriers already. Russia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Singapore are targeted to receive the Lumia 800 by end of the year.  There’s still no information when the Lumia series will be official released in the US, but CES is just around the corner and we should expect Nokia to plan something big.

Tom Messett from Nokia invited me to a bloggers meeting on the first day of Nokia World.  I still remember him saying ‘Make sure that you’ll be there, you don’t want to miss it.’   I followed Joao, Mark, Michael, Dani, Jay, Aditya, Sara, Ed, Varun and the other bloggers to a meeting room on the 2nd floor and we were greeted by the Nokia Connects team. Upon entering the room, we were all assigned a number.  Numbers 1-20 had a seat around this big rectangular table. CJ, Kriz, Stephen Q, Stephen from the NSD team and I received numbers 21-25.

Every blogger received a Lumia 800 with a micro sim card to use for the next 24-48 hours.  The whole room literally lit up with flashes from camera and camera phones that snapping pictures of the retail box and Lumia 800 unit itself.  I felt that the 25 bloggers were part of an elite club.

Over the next hour, I tried taking as many pictures of the unboxing, retail box content, N9 – Lumia 800, N950- Lumia 800, E7 – Lumia 800 comparison pictures for our readers.  We noticed that readers usually love to see lots pictures accompanying an article.  We have posted two photo sets on our Flickr page, select the set you’d like to see: one, two.

When I opened the box the first thing that came to my mind was that the Lumia and the N9 are nearly identical, I noticed the front facing camera was lacking on the Lumia.  I read that NFC is also not supported yet on the Windows Phone platform, but this technology isn’t widely used yet, it won’t be a deal breaker for me.  I will refrain from comparing the Lumia 800 to the N9 because I understand these two devices are for 2 different target markets.

Special thanks to Chintan Dave for lending me his N9 to take the comparison pictures.

Lumia 800

Lumia 800 has a unibody polycarbonate chassis that oozes sexiness, a 16 GB HDD and only 512 MB RAM, which is too little if this is to be their flagship Windows Phone device.  It weighs 142 grams and will be available in three colors: matte black, cyan and magenta.  After turning on the Lumia 800, the bright 3.7” curved glass screen will mesmerize you and below you will find the familiar Windows Phone buttons: back, menu and search buttons. The user will need to setup Windows Live and Nokia Account or do it at a later stage.

The WP User Interface (UI) is clean and the first thing that you’ll notice on the start screen that there are tiles which are essentially shortcuts to app.  Some tiles, live tiles, are dynamically updated with background image, badges or information.  For instance, the People tile shows your contacts’ avatar and it is updated frequently.  Clicking on the <– button will bring you to the apps section.  Long pressing the back button will show you a list of the apps that are open and running in the background,

You will find essential apps like calculator, alarms, settings, email accounts and installed apps listed in alphabetical order. The kinetic scrolling is awesome and responsive. Long pressing on the ß on the bottom left allows the to toggle between open apps.  You can watch my Lumia 800 demo below.

Camera

Lumia 800 has an 8 MP auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics that are usually found on the Nokia high-end N series devices.  Unlike the 12 MP N8 that has Xenon flash, Lumia has dual LED flash.  The pictures are stored locally and can be uploaded to Windows Live Skydrive with one click.  I thought that the pictures taken with the Lumia 800 would automatically be uploaded to my Skydrive and I have lost all but 1 picture when I had to reset the device after my 24 hours trial.

The picture above was taken with the Nokia Lumia 800 with Randall (L) and Ash (R).

Email, apps, etc

Email

Email setup is quite easy, go to settings>email+accounts to setup your email, facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other accounts.  Windows Live account was automatically added when you initially setup your phone.  I use MfE and Gmail to sync my mail, contacts, and calendar entries on all of my Symbian devices. This is also possible for your Lumia 800 and the process is quite simple.

  1. In the email+ accounts setting, click on + button to add a new account
  2. Scroll down and choose advanced setup
  3. Enter your credentials, click next
  4. Choose ‘Exchange ActiveSync’
  5.  Type in m.google.com for the Server and click on ‘sign in’ button

Your Gmail email account will appear in the app list as an Outlook icon, to pin it to the start menu, long press on icon and select ‘pin to start’.

Another cool feature is that the user can link multiple email inboxes on the device into one unified inbox. It’s totally up to the user which inbox to link.

Apps

The user can go to Marketplace or Nokia App Highlights, similar to Top Apps for Symbian, to get your apps.  I am quite happy with the selection of app available for Windows Phones. I noticed many of the apps (Netflix, Fandango, US Today, Kindle for Windows Phone) are US centric, many I have learned to live without on my Symbian devices.  However, I do miss not having Gravity, a must have Symbian app, on the WP, perhaps we will see it ported to WP or MeeGo in near future.

Office app allows the user to view, edit or create OneNote, Word and Excel documents.  The user is also able to view and edit PowerPoint presentations. The user can retrieve documents from the phone, SkyDrive, SharePoint or Office 365.

Nokia Maps, Drive, Music are exclusive WP apps for the Nokia Lumia series. I was confused with Nokia Maps app, it has 4 screenshots, and in the about me section there’s a ‘go to marketplace’ button. Nokia Drive is a full-fledged GPS solution like the one you find on many of your Nokia devices. The user can download maps through wifi onto your device that will save you data cost.  Nokia Music can be used to listen to your music collection, find gigs, purchase mp3 and listen to mix radio.  Mix radio has many genres and channels that play music continuously and there is an option for the user to purchase tracks they heard.  You can pause the station and continue from where left off. I didn’t see the option to download the mix for offline use, maybe it is only available for the Nokia Asha range.  I do believe it is a nice complement to the Zune music and video app that comes standard with Windows Phone.

Etc

The user can use the Zune software on (PC) or Windows Phone 7 Connector (Mac) to sync songs, pictures, movies, videos and even update your software to the latest firmware.  Users can purchase a Zune Pass and download as many songs from the catalog as you like for $9.99 per month.

When I got to Heathrow airport for my flight back to the US, I noticed 5 giant screens displaying the Lumia 800 Amazing Everyday 60 seconds advertisement continuously.  You can watch the video of the Nokia Lumia 800 Amazing Everyday below.

Marco Argenti, Senior Vice President Developer Experience, announced during the Nokia Developer Opportunity session on the 2nd day of Nokia World that there will be 25000 Nokia Windows Phones made available for developers world wide.

Currently, tethering is unavailable for the Lumia devices because of strict FCC guidelines Microsoft is following.  Nokia PR mentioned that Nokia is working on a solution to bring tethering to the Lumia users.  We’ll give you an update when the app becomes available.

Conclusion

I only had the phone for over 24 hours and was quite impressed with it.  I’ts intuitive, easy to use and I believe the learning curve for the Windows Phone platform is quite easy. Email setup was a breeze; many apps can be downloaded from the WP Market Place.  Lumia 800’s curved glass, clear black display and 8 MP autofocus camera with Carl Zeiss optics, 720p HD recording are some of the hardware plusses.  It is totally different experience than the old Windows Mobile 6-6.5 OS and I will be spending time to create infant/toddler centric apps.  Definitely is a one of the best-looking Windows Phone in the market.  There are a few drawbacks that might refrain users from choosing this phone: NFC, front facing camera, Swype, accessing folders, swipe.  Most of the mentioned drawbacks are just Windows Phone limitations and they can be addressed in the next release.

I believe Nokia has a hit especially when you see the large marketing efforts in Europe, especially in the UK.  For our non-European readers, we will have to wait until Nokia announces when the Lumia series will become available in your region.

Nokia even released a Symbian app called Nokia Lumia 800 on the Nokia Store to let users ‘try it like you own it’.  You can also head over to Nokia’s Facebook page and check out their Amazing demo.

Shout out to the Nokia Connects team for making Nokia World 2011 extra special with this exclusive loaner device.

Time I used the Nokia Lumia 800 was shorter than the time I put into writing this article and I hope you enjoyed this article.  Let us know how we are doing by leaving a comment below.

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