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Friday, February 3, 2012

Lumia 800: A more practical look (ongoing review)

I've always said that if a phone is designed well, there isnt too much of a need for lots of apps. The Lumia 800 takes this theme to the test with a fully integrated social media experience that makes us wonder why not all phones are being designed in this way.

The Lumia 800 unashamedly looks very similar to the N9 but unlike the N9, this phone has the weight of a whole company riding on its back and is the flag bearer for Nokia's future with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.

The start up time for the Lumia 800 is much faster than the N9 and the phone seems to utilize it's 1.4Ghz CPU well to keep the phone snappy and responsive. By now you have probably read the usual reviews about the Lumia 800 but here it is from a Nokia N9 user.

PROS - Little things that impress

The Tiles - there is a lot of potential on the first screen that you see with the Lumia 800. Each tile flickers with either information or photos. I haven't explored this completely but I the People tile seems to show photos of people in your contact list / facebook aand the Me tile shows you the most recent notificaiton from Twitter / Facebook relating to you. The Pictures shows recently taken photos.

Swipe - In some ways, the Nokia Lumia 800 has applied swipe gestures more in the applications but less in the general interface of the phone. Perhaps Microsoft wanted the Microsoft button to do something central in the Lumia to signal their new role in the Nokia phones. Anyway, we'll talk more about the swipe in the Lumia another time suffice to say it seems like two steps forward and one step back in the use of swipe.

Group SMS - you can create a home tile which has a group of friends. This allows you to tap the tile and text everyone in the group at the same time. When the sms is sent out, the phone does not create 5 versions of the same SMS to appear for each contact but lists the recipients at the top of the one text in the same way emails do normally. This is one step forward in the right direction.

Navigation - The Nokia Map and Drive applications look very similar to the N9's version except the Lumia 800 doesn't allow you to rotate the map in the way the N9 supports. The drive app is very easy to use and those that have never had a look at the Nokia navigation system will be blown away. This will put Tomtom Garmin and Navman all out of business!

CONS - Little things that disappoint 

Contacts Transfer to Lumia from N9 - Had some problems with the Lumia's contacts transfer thinking that the N9 and Lumia would talk to each other pretty smoothly. Instead, the sync failed three times half way through leaving me some of my contacts not copied over and a plethora of <unnamed> items in the phone book. Add to that the fact that there is no "delete all" function in the Lumia, I felt this was a bad start.

Google v Microsoft - One concern that keeps coming up for me with Nokia is this insistence that users choose their allegiance, either you go Microsoft or Google. Google or Bing. Gmail or Hotmail. The Lumia 800 calendar allows you to add your Google account but it doesn't give you the chance to bring in all the calendars in your Google account. Google Docs doesn't seem to work well either and forget about Google Maps when you use the Lumia 800. If Nokia wants to beat Google, they need to accept the fact that people are using Google and transition them over to Nokia's ecosystem.
Eg - allow importing Google Docs to Skydrive, Google Maps to Nokia Maps, Gmail emails checked by Windows Live. At the time of writing, I still had difficulty bringing in my Google Calendar entries into the Lumia 800.

Nokia Maps - Perhaps it will take time but it seems that the search engine for places in Nokia Maps is quite lacking. I searched for a famous cafe in Perth The Imp and it ended up calling the same restaurant Lmp. Perhaps in the future the search results can link to websites like Urbanspoon etc to keep information on the maps more current.

Camera - Full focus (or touch focus as it's called) camera, not auto focus. Photos will be taken faster but not as clear as say the Nokia N8. Full HD 1280 x 720 30 FPS video recording is a lot of fun!

So what do YOU think? Are you a N9 user, looking to buy a Lumia or recently got one? I'll add more to this review but for now leave your comments below and give you an opportunity to shape my next chapter. Stay tuned.

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