First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 800

I was lucky enough for the people of Nokia Connects to send me a Nokia Lumia 800 to trial for two weeks. It arrived yesterday, and in the evening I set it up. These are my first impressions… they are far from definite, because this is the honeymoon period where you particularly see the good things and overlook the drawbacks, but still they reflect on some basic first findings.

In order to be as structured as possible, I have split my impressions in positives and negatives and made a distinction between the software and hardware.

Positives:

Windows Phone Mango:

  • The start screen is a nice way of getting to things quickly and have a quick overview of some important information, such as calendar, weather, tasks, and social network notifications. The only thing I don’t know is whether in the long run it will be limiting – let me remind you that I come from Android – or refreshing in the sense that it lets me play around less and therefore I waste less time.

  • The people hub is really quite amazing for several reasons:
    • The ease with which you can add your facebook, google, twitter, linkedin, etc. accounts and the way it starts importing all the relevant information.
    • The fact that you can create groups that allow you to filter people and their updates/information.
    • The fact that you can comment in the actual people hub.
  • The Me tile is also very handy to see what Notifications you have and you can very quickly post to your social networks. The Me tile and People hub do transform how you interact with your SNS… it makes it much more “immediate”.
  • I like the fact that there are lots of trial versions of a “Pro” app in the Market Place. A nice way to get to check out the app before you start taking out your wallet.
  • I am really glad to see that Nokia maps and drive is available. I always enjoyed it on my Symbian phones and I am looking forward to using it again. Just the feeling of downloading your maps and voice navigation packs is gratifying… no more sucking up battery and data simply navigating somewhere (as is the case in Google Maps).

Nokia hardware:

  • The phone is simply a beauty. There is not much more to say. It looks great.
  • The materials feel and look nice. It is a high quality plastic that doesn’t feel plasticy and doesn’t feel “cold” as some metalic materials do.
  • The build quality is very nice. It is a unibody design and that of course gives it immediately a feeling of robustness.
  • The screen is bright and pretty legible, with high contrast and rich colours. The fonts are nice. I do need some more time to play around with it to see how well this size works in all circumstances. I’ll be the first to admit that 4.3″ is large for one-handed use, but WP is actual pretty ideal for that size, as it relies a lot on swipes to get around instead of hunting for buttons on the top AND bottom (they are all on the bottom). I would love to see how well the Lumia 900 fits in your hand and how easily it is operated with one hand.
  • Audio speaker is pretty good, though not stellar. It performed decently on my “speaker test”; i.e. I could hear my podcasts well enough on my commute to work in the car.
  • The buttons on the right side respond pretty well and the ports on the top (SIM card and USB) are well hidden, but easily accessible once you know how.

Negatives:

Windows Phone Mango:

  • The install experience in the market was not very good. Often times the download and installation would hang, and “require my attention”, as the phone says. Naturally, when you set up a phone you install more apps at once then you normally would, but still, I hardly ever experience that on my Android and never on my  iPad.
  • In order to get multiple Google calendars to sync, you need to use a workaround as described here. It does work now, though, and it is only a one-time setup.
  • I haven’t been able to configure my Exchange account from work, after succesfully doing so on stock Android, TouchWiz android, iOS, Symbian^3, and S60 3rd edition. Pretty incredible.
  • I haven’t nailed the problem down completely, but I believe the phone has problems downloading stuff when the application is not in the foreground or the screen is turned off. This happened to me when downloading Maps and when downloading apps.
  • Though I quite like how the keyboard works in terms of language selection and prediction, I thoroughly dislike that there is not haptic feedback. I know it may be silly, but in a noisy environment I don’t here the “clicks” of the keys and that means there is all of a sudden only visual feedback, which I currently don’t find to be sufficient.

Nokia hardware:

  • The phone is pretty large for the size screen it has. I realise this is because in reality the hardware was for a larger screen (the N9), but I would have liked it to be a little more compact.
  • It uses Micro-SIM instead of Mini-SIM. There are instructions for how to cut your SIM card, but I simply ordered a simple Guillotine from Amazon for 7,90 euros which did the job really nicely and also gave me two Mirco-SIM adapters.

As a complete side-note, as your will probably be aware, Windows Phones are managed through software of a computer. I personally use a Mac at home, so had to do with the simpler Connector software (which you can download from the Mac App store). The software actually integrates very well with the Mac environment, syncing movies, music and podcasts from your iTunes library and syncing photos and recorded videos to iPhoto. So I am now back to downloading my podcasts via iTunes and then syncing them to the phone via the Connector software for Macs. It works really nicely and is a good enough solution for me.

Overall, I have to say that my first impressions were very good and it is really inviting to use. In the beginning it really does take some getting used to, and I am actually still not in my groove, but I believe that the way WP works makes a lot of sense and is enjoyable once you get used to its usage paradigms.

I’ll happily use the Nokia Lumia 800 as my main phone for the coming two weeks and I’ll post my thoughts on twitter, with another post to conclude my thoughts on the phone.

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