Nokia Lumia 800 Review: You Had Me At Gorgeous

Nokia's Lumia 800 takes the gorgeous design of the N9 and slaps a new coat of Windows Phone 7 paint. The end result is a phone that'll be drooled over by Windows Phone 7 aficionados, and could well influence a few switchers along the way, and it's the subject of this week's Mobile Monday review.

Why It Matters

When Gizmodo US reviewed the Lumia 800, they referred to it as "unattainable Foreign Beauty" -- a gorgeous-looking Windows Phone 7 handset that wasn't easy to get your hands on. That was some time back, though, and Nokia's finally got the Lumia 800 out on Australian store shelves, along with quite a large advertising push. It's easy to see why; Nokia's essentially bet the farm on Windows Phone 7, and until we get a firm release date for the Lumia 900, the Lumia 800 is its "flagship" Windows Phone 7 device. Indeed, given the glacial pace at which Windows Phone 7 devices have hit the market relative to Android, it's something of a flagship phone for Windows Phone 7 itself.

What We Like

It's to Windows Phone 7's benefit, then that the Lumia 800 is in most respects an excellent smartphone. It's got the gorgeous visual style of the Nokia N9, for a start, although the review model I tested with was the black one -- easily the least visually impressive Lumia 800. The N9 was a phone that I loved visually but couldn't quite accept due to the fact that it was a lonely wanderer in a smartphone wilderness, given Nokia's never going to pitch out another Meego-based handset. The Lumia 800 doesn't have that limitation; clearly Nokia's got big plans for Windows Phone 7, even if it is starting things off rather slow in terms of handset models.

The US review didn't much like the top flap which hides the microSIM card slot and microUSB connector, but I think they're a great bit of design; not only can anyone easily work out what to do with them, but they keep the phone's primary ports nicely hidden, which adds to its appeal in a small but nice way.

It's always tough writing about any Windows Phone 7 handset, because so many of them are (and I'm sure I'll catch some criticism for this), a little "samey". That's in the sense that Microsoft's own Windows Phone 7 guidelines mandate a certain look, until very recently relatively similar innards and a relatively similar set of features. It's not quite up there in uniformity of look that you get with iPhones -- but it's close.

Vendors can add their own applications, but these have varied in quality, and few have really felt like an organic part of the operating system; more like applications that you might uninstall in order to get a bit of storage space back than a compelling buying argument.

Nokia's still working within those same restrictions, but they've made the most of it with some genuinely impressive applications. Owning Navteq clearly helps here, with the included Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps applications being the real standouts. I'm less of a fan of Nokia Music, simply because it's merely functional rather than being a real standout… and I've got to admit that if Nokia really wanted to make a splash with the Lumia 800, relaunching the "Comes With Music" initiative, which saw a subscription-based free music download service, would be a great way to grab attention. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

What We Don't Like

There's only a few things that truly annoyed me with the Lumia 800. Lack of video output is a little jarring on a modern smartphone, as is the limitation on storage at a flat 16GB. Again, that's as much Microsoft's design rules as it is Nokia decision, but 16GB these days is what you might expect on a mid-range/budget handset, not something that's meant to be the pinnacle of handsets. If you've got a sizeable portable music collection, you could all too quickly fill the Lumia 800, and while Nokia Music's mixtape streaming is meant to combat this, it's not really the same thing as having your own music onboard.

I also hit a very odd (but thankfully only once-off) bug when loading the Xbox LIVE Extras application from the marketplace; at first the marketplace application informed me that I couldn't run the application in question. A genuinely weird moment; I'm expecting a certain amount of fragmentation when the new entry-level WP7 handsets hit, but not at this stage. Loading it again to grab a quick screenshot saw it install and run flawlessly. Anyone else hit this particular bug?

The Lumia 800's available with any carrier you'd care to name, or outright, but there's a catch here that could bite any buyer who decides to shift carriers during the life of the handset. Rather than produce a quad-band 850/900/1900/2100 device, what you've got are two models of the Lumia 800, with either 850Mhz (Telstra and new Vodafone) or 900Mhz (Optus, Virgin and old Vodafone) 3G compatibility. Not having both means that if you do buy one and want to switch carriers, you're stuck within either the Optus/Virgin or Telstra/Vodafone camps. If you're not going to switch it's not an issue, but it is a potential trap for those who might do so.

There's also a few issues which aren't really Lumia 800 issues, but are worth commenting on in a general Windows Phone 7 sense. The browser has a tendency to be laggy when tested on the same network as Android and iOS phones -- in my case I tested with a Galaxy S II (still with stock Gingerbread) and an iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1. Loading standard web pages, the Lumia 800 sat resolutely in third position behind the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4S, which traded speed results back and forth.

Windows Phone 7's made good progress in the apps department, but from a switching perspective there's still a price issue to contend with. If you were jumping from iOS or Android, you'd be in for a small amount of bill shock -- hopefully if more Windows Phone 7 devices hit the market and it grows there'll be more competition to keep prices down. Video playback is limited to a set number of formats -- which is, to be fair, true also of iOS without jailbreaking. They're all things that are more in Microsoft's control than Nokia's at this stage of the game, but with Microsoft showing it's willing to expand the WP7 market with lower-end models, maybe we'll see some higher end ones as well, perhaps with software that can "upgrade" the Lumia 800's issues in this regard.

Should You Buy It?

For the diehard Windows Phone 7 aficionados, there's little doubt that the Lumia 800 is the phone to buy now. The Lumia 900 is on the horizon, but it's anybody's guess as to when that'll be -- and it's highly unlikely Nokia would stymie sales of the 800 by announcing it particularly quickly. Actually, I've got the suspicion that many of you may have already done so, and how that'll affect overall Lumia 800 sales is something I've pondered on before.

I'm also well aware that, just as there are diehard Apple and Android fans here at Gizmodo, there's a sizeable number of specifically Nokia-centric fans out there who would tear me a new one in several interesting parts of my anatomy if I said anything about Nokia that wasn't gushingly positive. I'll reiterate that I don't hate Nokia per se, but having said that, I won't personally be switching to a Lumia 800. Looking at it from a switching perspective, there's still stuff that from a power user's perspective that I'd personally like to see in Windows Phone 7 -- improved browser, better cut and paste support and consistent search that didn't all too often just dump me in a generic Bing search, for example -- before I'd jump ship full time. The Lumia 800's a solid step in the right direction, but it's not enough to convince me personally.

That doesn't mean that nobody will switch operating system camps, however, and if ever there was a handset that'd make folks take notice, the Lumia 800 is it. It's gorgeous, and there is an elegant simplicity to Windows Phone 7 that works well with this hardware. Those coming out of contract who want an elegant phone that has one of the best industrial designs going should give a Lumia 800 a test drive; despite Nokia's missteps over the last decade of smartphones, the Lumia 800 is one of the good ones.


Screen 3.7 inch 800x400
CPU 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255
Camera 8MP rear-facing, no front-facing
Storage 16GB; No expandable storage
3G Either 850MHz or 900Mhz
Weight 142g
Price $699 or on contract



    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Why? Its hard to see your rant as anything but trolling if you can't give some examples of where WP7 falls down. The thing that convinced me to go with WP7 was a 15 minute side-by-side in a Telstra shop with an iPhone 4. The HTC 7 Mozart offered a measurably better out-of-the-box experience than the iPhone. Maps were much faster and navigation made a lot more sense to me. I was able to get from one thing to another much more easily than I could with the iPhone, which was full of fussy little details that made it hard to see the important stuff without concentrating much harder. It was a Lay-Down Mazare for me.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

          i use a N( and its just so easy with the gesture you always know where you are and you also a swipe away from any other app you want. The back button is confusing as all hell i never know where its going to back to.
          Then there is the search button. why is it an internet search button? why not make it search the app your in and make it 100x better. Skype integration from the phone book or text messages? what you own Skype but you cant get your shit together on this.
          I love Nokia, i love there software Symbian was and still is endlessly powerful and customizable. MeeGo was Nokias ticket back into the main stream. But i really have Elop for his poor decisions one Windows phone.
          MeeGo is the OS of innovation it has such a great community behind it. I hate the the lumia 800 because of everything it stands for and the lost of innovation that its replacing.

        Nokia made terrible errors by going with Windows Phone.

        For starters, the Windows Phone OS has failed dismally since it was released in 2010. Sales were miniscule at release time, and got worse thereafter. We know Windows Phone is heading in the direction of every other Microsoft phone OS (eg Windows Phone and Kin) to sales disaster followed by cancellation.

        While Nokia's previous N9 used the open "Meego" operating system, Windows Phone is the most closed OS ever built (more closed than iPhone). For example, while the coloured squares on the Windows Phone interface may look pretty, the problem is that apps can't send notifications directly to the screen. Instead, they can only send a notification to Microsoft in Redmond USA, which then gets sent to the screen. It involves app developers setting up complex servers (which most won't do), and Microsoft vetting all content that goes into the phone. Nobody wants this kind of thing.

        Telstra and some electrical stores have been pushing Windows Phone hard, with massive promotional budgets, and giant posters around town. However, despite this, Windows Phone still fails to sell. Even Samsung's "Bada" operating system outsells Windows Phone.

        The above phone will be transformed into a useless brick if Microsoft cancels the Windows Phone platform and withdraws support and online services.

          Spell check fail --- i use an N9

          I'm sorry, but the level of misinformation in that post was just too much.
          1. Apps can update tiles on the start screen directly if they want too.
          2. They can also, in a similar manner to Android/iOS have what are called notifications, where all your processing gets done off the phone and a small notification is sent to the phone when necessary. This is to conserve battery and reduce data downloads as data downloads are expensive in sheer cost and battery life.
          3. Certainly up here in Brisbane, there's been no promotion up till the last couple of weeks. Given that the market penetration is pretty good. Even now, I'd suggest the marketing budget is still 10% that of the Android/iOS so no surprise the low amount of traction that gains.
          4. The suggestion MS will just ditch this is frankly ludicrous, they've almost bet the company on the success of this and the similarly themed tablet and desktop OS. Neatly, they've managed to bring together the 3 form factors fairly nicely, such that I think they'll get good corporate traction when you tell a company, you can write an app for the desktop, and with minimal effort, that can be expanded to both tablet and phone support, but only Windows Tablet/phone. Whether this gets them a dominant market share, I doubt, but that's not what they're after initially.

            Very True and for us that know more then what was wrtten above by Telemere will know that Developer is 100% correct and he hasn't even scratched the surface yet.

            Remember: There is a lot of miss information going around about Win7Phones.

          The reason the search button always launches Bing is to remove confusion. You always know exactly what that hardware button does; launch the Bing search application.

          The original Windows Phone release allowed applications to capture the Search button press and provide their own search. You then had no idea if that was how you searched in the application or not. If the app didn't capture the button it then went to Bing. Very confusing.

          Skype integration is almost certainly on the way. Microsoft didn't own Skype when most of the Windows Phone 7.5 (current OS release) work was being done so it would've been hard for them to do deep integration.


          Sort of correct, the introduction of the search icon (as opposed to the dedicated search button) was an attempt by Microsoft to introduce a consistent search experience.

          Only first party apps were allowed to utilise the hard button search key, while third party apps had to introduce their own search functionality within their application (the hard search key was not able to be captured by third party apps).

          This resulted in an inconsistent pattern when searching as first party apps used the button, while third party apps used an icon/button within the app.

          They also made Bing more of a focus in Mango than it was in the first versions as they introduced local scout, vision and music with Mango. They wanted to make that a central part of the OS (and the vision and music parts require quick access). So instead of allowing devs to extend and capture the search button, they forced first party apps to introduce their own search button.

        Yep I agree, windows 7 has the interface to beat I think. I'm still on Android but love using Win phone 7 at telstra shops etc. Planning on buying one to test out. Looks beautiful and zips along on the older cpus! I think for every day tasks, windows phone 7 trumps iOS and android.

          I grabbed a cheap WP7 handset from eBay ($250 for an HTC Trophy) just to try it out... then I facepalmed when a superior LG WP7 handset turned up on Catch of the Day for ~$159!

          Having only played with the OS briefly in-store, I was uncertain about it. Now, I love it!

      That is a ridiculous comment.

        Honestly mate, the tethering on the LG isn't too great while on the move, dunno why. Trying to work out why, though, because I love it in any other respect, frankly. It's very, very nice. For those who don't tether on the move like I do (I work on trains-- but no, don't drive them), if they come up on Catch again and you want a nice Mango handset-- Get one, and then update it. The updates will take a while, sure, but then you'll have a really nice handset for the money.

    I got my Lumia 800 last week and I'm thoroughly enjoying using it. As a long time Nokia user this I guess counts as my first 'proper' smartphone (it certainly craps all over my old N97 Mini) but I've had an ipod touch for a year and a half so I've used a lot of iOS. I'd definitely recommend people try it out if they're in the market for a new phone, but there are certainly some niggles with the OS that need sorting.

    almost half a kg?

      142g. It definitely has more heft than my Samsung Focus but that makes it feel more solid, not overweight.

    A few things:
    1. Under the US review it mentions micro SD card slot but then later on it mentions no expandable storage. Which is it?
    2. 3MP camera? Are you serious? The N8 had a 12MP camera which is still one of the best cameras on a phone (especially in low light). Why Nokia are going backwards I'll never know....

    But overall it seems like a mid-range phone. $699 is a bit pricey though. Maybe $400-500 is a bit more realistic.

      No expandable storage but the camera is 8Mp, not 3.

        Yes; my apologies. There were errors an early revision of the table when importing it; should all be fixed now.

    "....didn’t much like the top flap which hides the MicroSD card slot and MicroUSB connector....."
    ".....16GB; No expandable storage....."
    Which is it? MicroSD card slot or no?

      No expandable storage. The flaps are for the microUSB and microSIM.

    Nice work Alex. I would definately wait for the 900 and will probably look at getting one when the 900 is available and then keep either the S2 or the 900 depending on which one I prefer.
    No SD slot and no front facing camera is a show stopper for me. MS is holding back the hardware 3 years and more, they need to seriously get over that.

    Good review though. Definately helps to decide what to do later.

      3 years? WinPhone 7 hasn't been around half as long as that.

      If you really want front facing camera right now, get the Samsung Focus S; but no SD Card support. Personal experience with the SD Card, i won't bother as I find it causing some lags at times. Yeah Samsung Focus S is a nice phone even not as sexy as Nokia Lumia. Else waot for Lumia 900 this year.

      Hardware is NOT limited by Microsoft. Microsoft has only set a basic requirement and if phone makers wish to go over they can. Win7Phone already has built in support for NFC so if a phone maker wishes to use it, they only need to put NFC in.

      Do not confused hardware for Microsoft as it is completely wrong and it is up to the Phone maker themselves.

      The hardware specs of the Lumia 800 are just way too far behind the competition.
      No front facing camera? That is just laughable.
      I'm more likely to get a Samsung Galaxy Note or Galaxy SIII when it arrives.

    As a bit of an aside, I just had a good play with my mate's new Lumia 710 this morning and I have to say that I am really impressed with it, enough that I am questioning why I wasted a couple of hundred extra on a Lumia 800. The screen is not in the same league but the rest of the phone is terrific. It has physical buttons for back, home and search, which I really like, and the phone itself feels great in your hand. Its got 8Gb of storage which is plenty for most sheeple. It is certainly enough for me until I can get my whole music collection onto one (65Gb of music, so I'm thinking a phone with at least 80Gb of storage). It runs the same CPU as the Lumia 800 so you get all the performance, too.

    what is wrong with the copy and past support?

      Yeah, I really can't imagine a better or more thorough way to do it.

    Maybe i won't have to wait for the 900 after all if they be making a 850Mhz model.

    It looks like a nice phone, but for me Windows Phone just wasn't quite there yet. I switched from a Mozart to an iPhone 4S and I prefer the iOS experience.

    " Lack of video output is a little jarring on a modern smartphone..."

    Does anyone actually use video out from their smartphone? Serious question, as it doesn't seem like a very useful feature for me personally.

      Agreed - who would need outputs with DLNA media sharing available or the potential to use USB as the port of choice. To be honest though I don't even know if WP7 will do either despite having my HTC Trophy for well over a year.

    I just wish Aussie carriers offered it in cyan! Black slabs are boring... hopefully they'll add more colours by the time my plan runs out.

    Also, was unaware of the two-model issue. Thanks for that!

      Sorry wat?
      Its in all colours apart from white which is due out this month i think

      It will be offered in Black, white, pink and Cyan and roumour has a yellow version (But that may be a 900 only)

    Internet browser slow?? Quite surprised by that.. Maybe its just the one site your loading? My DVP loads websites pretty damn fast and they are silky smooth to navigate.

    I've gone from Apple iOS to Android OS and now finally to Windows 7 OS with the Lumia 800, I can say comfortably that using the Nokia Lumia 800 it is a smoother and easier to manage OS then any of the previous, Apple keep turning out the same thing and Android just keep making too many big leaps before it's ready for consumers. I'm thoroughly impressed with the performance of the 800. If you can nab one for cheap enough to try I suggest it!

    I think it's time that Giz AU writes an article about Win7Phone and what it can do instead of allowing miss information to run wide. The Mobile OS can do so much but nothing is being written about it. When Apple/Google release their new Mobile OS you guys write more than you do about the Win7Phone features.

    Giz AU. Go talk to an expect on Win7Phone and lay the miss inforamtion to rest for once and for all.

    I'm wondering about a couple of the things you said were lacking in Windows Phone.

    What about the copy & paste feature do you find needs improving? I struggle to think of what more it needs to do. It copies & pastes. Done.

    Regarding the search hardware button, what could be more consistent than always launching Bing search? This criticism really sounds like something you have held over from the 7.0 version of Windows Phone where some apps were able to capture and use the search button press.

    Ignoring the OS (I think the idea of focusing on info rather than apps is brilliant) what about after sales support. Nokia have dropped the 8 ball in Australia with this phone's Symbian cousins, and consistently had updates months after the rest of the world. Should we expect the same with Windows Phone, especially when the landscape becomes more democratic with Apollo later this year? I'm steering clear of Nokia (and I'm an N8 tragic) until the pattern of support with this new OS becomes clear.

    I love my WP7. My wife runs her business with iOS and has endless issues with setup, syncing properly with Google cal, etc. She would switch now if not for a few critical apps. For focus on info integration over apps, WP7 is much superior. MS cloud services are vastly superior, and the Zune music pass is fantastic. Get the Darkzune hack for full Marketplace access of podcasts. Love the Xbox and Office integration too... Has been great for work, and can only get better with Win8 and upcoming Tablets . Give the MS ecosystem a try... With Media Center PC integration, all my prayers will be answered.

    Having some issues with battery life, seems to deplete quite quickly.
    Went around searching for answers and discovered that there's an update which would resolve the battery issues, does anyone know when this update (1600.2487.8107.12070) will arrive on australian shores?

    i have had the phone for 3 weeks
    - BATTERY LIFE - with location services on it is just atrocious - again iphone 4s is significantly better even with location on.
    - SPEAKERS - too quiet at maximum volume

    minor criticisms include the lack of front faicng camera and memory expansion

    On the bright side i love the windows OS and the market seems to be improving week by week - several banks are now releasing apps although not NAB yet. nokia maps/drive are both excellent. WINDOWS OS is very fast - no lag on the screen although i have encountered a tiny bit of lag loading internet explorer. possibly downloading a different browser would help

    Thought this was going to be a move up from my E72 but alas no.
    Have found out from Nokia that:
    1 - I cannot increase the miniscule font size.
    2 - I cannot transfer the files I had from my E72 to the Lumia - other than contacts. (I cannot access my archived Nokia files & load them.)
    3 - I cannot have duplicate phone number types allocated to the same person i.e. a work & personal mobile number.
    4 - The Zune software is not intuitive at all - definitely more attractive to an XBox & games user rather than as a functional tool & the Nokia site does not recognise this phone model at all.
    5 - The image quality is pretty damn poor for an 8M system - but then again I haven't played with it for the several hours it possibly needs.
    6 - Battery life is exceedingly average & that's after downloading the latest software.

    In short this phone would seem to appeal to gamers & Facebook afficionados, it's not the great looking working tool I had hoped for.
    But maybe someone here knows how to 'fix' this one? Would appreciate it.

    Perhaps the Sony Xperia S then?....

      It was a bit of a hassle to move from my n97 mini to a WP7 handset, but just to respond to your points:
      1 – do you mean the UI font, or application font sizes? Most apps have pinch- or double-tap zoom.
      2 – (a) Contacts etc. I used Nokia's software to sync my N97 Mini contacts, notes and calendar with Outlook, and from there synced with my Hotmail account - which I then linked to my WP7 phone. Something like this was to be expected, as the OS is completely different, but it wasn't really that painful. Another thing I could have done is exported the .csv from PC Suite, then imported that to my Hotmail (I suppose you could do the same with Gmail or whichever).
      - (b) Files. Need access to actual files? Skydrive! I can send anyone a link to a file hosted in the cloud, without having to use my own data quota to send the thing back and forth. Dropbox doesn't have an app (yet) but the website works fine. I do miss having mass storage mode, but there's always going to be a tradeoff.
      3 – Literally just now I did this: (1) go to contact (with existing mobile number) (2) edit (3) edit Windows Live (4) + phone (5) add landline number and assign number type (6) save. Lumia 800 launched with WP7.5 Mango - how can you not do this? If you're accessing your contacts direct from the SIM, AFAIK SIM cards only support one number per contact.
      4 – Zune is media software, and sticks to what it's good at. I do my contact and calendar management on the phone itself or through Hotmail - it syncs automatically, and pretty quickly to the phone.
      5 - yeah, I hear the camera isn't that good.
      6 – there was a patch released on the 28th that supposedly addressed this. But again, you can't expect any iOS, Android or WP7 smartphone to match Sym^3 or S60 for battery life.

      Switching from a powerful, utilitarian system like S60 to something that has a little more show and less substance (iOS, Android, WP7) is always going to require some compromise. I'm happy with the compromises I had to make for WP7, but it's not for everyone.

        1 - Yep, UI font for texts & Contacts - can't be scaled, colour changed.... way too small.
        2 - Hmmm.. nope, I'm not as adept as you are that's for sure! Surely to Christ Nokia would grasp that quite a few people would have a work & personal mobile, might have more than one work location (thereby needing more than two work or mobile numbers) & provide the seemless integration at least from existing Nokia files. Guess not!
        3 - You're far & away more astute than I am at this & try as I might I CANNOT get past step 2! No 'edit Windows Live' ever.
        4 - Point taken. Once again - Hotmail.
        5 - Nuff said.
        6 - Downloaded already & still VERY poor.

        OK, I'll go along with the ascertion that this is a new OS & changes to my MO need to be made. But I have no inclination to spend copious amounts of time trialing a variety of possible fixes for something that SHOULD be fairly straight forward - yes I do expect Nokia to make this transition a hell of a lot smoother than it's been!
        And if you DON'T want a Hotmail account? Doesn't seem at all intuitive for Yahoo! Mail at all, sour grapes from Microsoft? Possibly.

        So I remain bitterly dissapointed with the SOFTWARE & UI. The handpiece itself is solid & adequate - aside from lack of battery change out, additional memory etc.

        Thanks for your help all the same, much more than I got from Nokia. Guess I'm not keen to make all the compromises to tranfer to WP7, for me it's a definite retrograde step for Nokia.

    I've used the Lumia 800 for about a month now, and I really have to say, this phone is the most consistent, most smoothest phone I've ever used. Even when it's loading things it's smooth.
    I previously owned the HTC Desire HD. It was definitely a great phone, and I customised the hell out of it. Rooted it, Flashed roms etc and was fun. But there was always glitches, The phone always lagged no matter what, even in the stock launcher. The hardware I knew was completely fine. But it was the android software that causes all the hiccups, all the glitches etc.
    After I got my Transformer Prime (which also has a lot of software bugs) I decided to ditch the android phone and go for a WP7 and I don't think I'm ever going back to android phones. The WP7 experience is just so wholesome and perfect. Sure there are things in it that bug me, but it's impossible to create an operating system that pleases everyone.
    People always criticise what they don't understand. What they think it too different. But I'm glad I took the shot and tried this phone because I honestly cannot fault it at all(aside from the shitty camera that I never use). It's even a much more smoother experience than the iPhone, and a lot more enjoyable to use overall.
    4.9/5 I'd give for this phone.

    "I personally" as opposed to "I someone else"

    I sometimes use my partners iPhone as a modem for the laptop...using the download allowance she has with her plan. As I rarely use any of my 1.5Gb from my monthly plan - I wondered if you can use the Nokia Lumia 800 as a modem???

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