Nokia Lumia 800 review: Hands-on with Windows

A first encounter with the new Nokia Windows smartphone got Henry Osadzinski wondering whether Microsoft could outstrip RIM in the business mobile market.

Last week, with sales dropping and profits looking bleak, BlackBerry giant RIM announced that co-CEOs Jim Ballisille and Mike Laziridis were stepping down to make room for former COO Thorsten Heins. 

It’s a sad and yet familiar tale; and one that has echoes of Nokia’s near-meltdown last year following the cancellation of its Symbian and MeeGo project. Then a memo leaked from new CEO Stephen Elop admitting the company was “sinking”.

Several months on, however, the Scandinavian firm’s gamble on adopting Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone operating system appears to have paid off. Gadget Zone got the opportunity to put the new Lumia 800 through its paces and see how Microsoft’s efforts compare to other leading handsets in a business environment.

Like Apple, Nokia has a strong reputation for hardware design. The Lumia is nondescript, but elegant and sits well in the hand. Its Gorilla Glass touchscreen and scratch-proof polycarbonate body mean it’s also surprisingly rugged for such an attractive device. The screen is one of the best I’ve ever seen, with deep clear blacks and a high enough resolution to render everything in sharp, stark contrast.

Although Windows Phone 7 has been around for more than a year, the operating system has taken some time to attract app developers. Being a Microsoft product, the biggest draw is easy integration with the Office suite. Mobile editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook are all included as standard and sync neatly with the phone via Cloud services such as Office365 and SkyDrive.

But, typically for a Microsoft product, every application beyond simple phone calls and text messages relies upon at least one other service or feature to run. 

 

Vodafone UK BusinessThis review was conducted using a trial Vodafone UK Business package. The Nokia Lumia 800 is available free with Vodafone plans starting from £30 a month.

 

Continued...

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Comments
John Stokdyk's picture

 Close, but no cigar for Microsoft yet

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

 

Like Henry, I was very impressed with the industrial design of the Lumia, and the graphical presentation of the Windows operating system, even if the on-screen keyboard proved to be small and fiddly to operate, whether in portrait or landscape view. 

I was particularly excited at the prospect of a seamless way to access, view, share and edit Microsoft Office files stored in an AccountingWEB folder on my Windows Live SkyDrive.  

After documenting the frustrations of iPhone users who wanted to use Excel, I had genuine hopes that the Windows phone would come through. 

As a proof of concept, everything worked as it should. I signed into Windows Live and could view my existing files, or create new spreadsheets on the smartphone. There were some nice touches in the mobile/web version - if you clicked the function button, a menu appeared of some of the most common functions you would use in the context (Sum, Count, Average etc). 

But that was about it for the interface as far as I was concerned. The Office keyboard  was different and even harder to use than the main Windows Phone keyboard  and while I could make cells bigger and smaller by pinching the view with my fingers, there were no other pointer controls available from the touchscreen - so it was impossible to select multiple cells to create a simple SUM calculation. If you want to do anything more than is offered in the available screen shortcuts, you're going to have to enter any formula arguments in by hand, which is not an easy thing to do with this version of the Office software. 

Like many Microsoft projects, the Office implementation will need several versions to smooth out the rough edges and if my experience with the Nokia Lumina taught me anything, it's that Excel really isn't a program designed for use on a smartphone. The desktop spreadsheet is safe for some time to come. 

I didn't have enough time with the device to assess the catalogue of apps in the Windows App store, which is a pity. I  look forward to trying some of them out before too long. In the meantime, I've swapped the Windows phone for an Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S2, the one that Apple is so concerned about. 

 If anyone out there has had a go with a Windows Phone such as the Nokia Lumia 800, do let us know your thoughts.

 

After using a iPhone for

asmith1972 | | Permalink

After using a iPhone for about a year I swapped over to a HTC Windows Phone and it was the best decission I ever made. Yes having a Windows Live account is annoying but the integration with Office especially using Office365 is a god send. The constant improvement being made to 365 and with the recent upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 and the upcoming Phone 8. I beilive Microsoft will make WinPhone the defacto for the business user. Moving or setting up Office365 can be a little confusing so I would recommend getting a partner like Purenetworking or similar company to will assist with this and integrating th WinPhone.