Nokia Lumia 800 - Interface

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Windows Phone has been heavily locked down by Microsoft so unlike on Android phones, you don't see much variation from phone to phone. Once you're familiar with one Windows Phone, you basically know the rest. The only things different manufacturers can tweak are the included apps, and Nokia has indeed added some quite compelling ones which we'll come to shortly. But first, the basics.

The key component to the Windows Phone interface is the Live Tile. These large, rectangular icons not only act as links to your apps (webpages, contacts and many other things) but can also display information such as new messages, status updates or photos. One particularly good example is the Nokia App Highlights tile that periodically promotes new or favoured apps, prompting you to take a look in a way that's useful rather than annoying.

The Live Tile idea is a good one and works rather well. The only downside is that the Live Tiles are arranged in one long list that can get rather long and unwieldy once you've crammed it full. Swipe to the left or tap the arrow in the top right corner and you've got the full list of apps available on the phone.

Nokia Lumia 800 8

One thing to note about the Windows Phone interface is that you're very limited in how you can customise it. You can choose for the background to be white or black and select one of a small range of colours for the Live Tiles. However, you can't add a background picture, which is an easy customisation many people like to make to their phones. Likewise many basics settings are very limited, such as the manual brightness control – rather than a slider you can only choose from Low, Medium and High.

The other key component to Windows Phone is how integrated everything is. Login to your Windows Live, Email, Facebook, Yahoo!, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and you'll find the photos app populated by your albums from Facebook, your contacts from all these services integrated into the one 'People' hub and your Calendar fully crammed. To a degree it's something many other phones offer (particularly Android ones) but on Windows Phone it's so consistently done and tightly integrated that it feels really natural and a real boon.

A good example of this is the Search function. There's a dedicated button for search and when tapped this brings up the option not only to search your phone for contacts, emails and such like - as well as perform a web (Bing) search - but also has three further options; Music, Image and Voice. Tap Music and the phone will listen to the world around you and identify what music is playing. Yes, it's just like the widely available Shazam app but it's great to have it integrated. Image will bring up the camera app and then use it to perform real time translation on any writing within the image, or you can copy the text and paste it into an email or a Word document, or you can scan a QR code. Again, it's not a unique ability but it's great that it's so easy to use. Finally, there's the voice option which simply invokes the voice recognition software, allowing you to speak you search.

Coming onto those Nokia apps, there are just two but they are very useful. First up is Nokia Drive which is a completely free sat nav app, which includes maps for the vast majority of the world. The maps are large and do need to be downloaded in advance but once on the phone you don't need any data connection on your phone to use them. So if you're abroad and want to find your way around but don't want to incur the high data costs of using something like BingMaps then it's a real boon. The interface isn't quite as good as some dedicated sat nav apps such as TomTom for iPhone and ALK CoPilot Live Premium but for a completely free solution it's more than adequate. It's worth noting, though, that you don't Nokia Maps, which is a similar service but one that presents the maps in a style more akin to GoogleMaps. For that style of mapping you'll have to rely on Bing Maps.

Nokia Music, as well as giving you access to the music you've already loaded on the phone, adds a well stocked mp3 store, a local gigs finder and its standout feature, Mix Radio. This presents hour long playlists of music that you can stream or download for free and listen to as many times as you like. You can keep up to four on your phone at any one time and the selection of playlists while not vast is good enough that most tastes are catered for. Considering it's free, it's a real boon.

As for adding other apps, the Windows Phone MarketPlace is still understocked compared to Android and iOS (10s of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands) but we did find a reasonable selection of our favourites. Spotify, Dropbox (unofficial) and Runkeeper were all catered for as was Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies but Stumbleupon and Cover Orange were two examples that weren't available. The MarketPlace is growing but perhaps not quite as fast as one would hope.

Web browsing is in general quite good with an easy interface, fast operation, correctly rendered webpages and an easy zoom system. However, the lack of Flash puts it a step behind Android phones.

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Martin Daler

October 26, 2011, 9:49 pm

"Otherwise, the Nokia 800 looks and feels like a fairly typical Windows Phone"

I realise you guys have a bit of a downer on all things Nokia, but maybe you don't need to betray your prejudice quite as blatantly by trying to pass this off as looking like just any other WP7 phone, when quite clearly in looks at least it is most unlike any other phone out there.

Ed

October 26, 2011, 10:21 pm

I was referring to the OS at that point. Sorry if that was unclear.

ElectricSheep

October 26, 2011, 11:37 pm

Also remember that as part of this desperate deal, MS agreed to give Nokia free reign at the most basic OS level to tweak and adapt it however they pleased. All the more disappointing that it looks as bland as any other WP7 device. (Again, on the OS level).

mato77

October 27, 2011, 2:36 am

I can't help myself, but it feels like one looser found another. (Nokia+Microsoft) I am sick and tired of both. I don't think that this handset sell well respectively capture any noticeable market share in Europe. Promising N9 with Meego was scraped and instead of that American CEO @ Nokia is thinking that we can eat anything in Europe what they will serve :D what a mistake amigo Elop !

anandjm

October 27, 2011, 12:24 pm

Quote: "when quite clearly in looks at least it is most unlike any other phone out there."

Not necessarily. Looks similar to the Foxconn made device more commonly known as Huawei Ideos X6/U9000 or the Motorola Triumph. Can have a look at http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/MOTOROLA-TRIUMPH-US-EN .

ChaosDefinesOrder

October 27, 2011, 2:01 pm

heh read something rather amusing this morning!

Apparently no-one at Nokia speaks Spanish; "lumia" means prostitute according to here: www.wordmagicsoft.com/dictionary/es-en/lumia.php

Lantic

October 27, 2011, 2:42 pm

@Martin "you guys have a bit of a downer on all things Nokia" ... or do you mean they disagree with your bias?

I used to be Nokia all the way but I am disappointed their delayed efforts have produced this, a larger iPod mini clone. Nokia 7110, 8800 ... these were great phones, well built and different from the pack.

So maybe Nokia are to blame, not TR.

Martin Daler

October 27, 2011, 3:53 pm

@Lantic - of course you are correct, TR does not agree with my bias.

But even so, this is certainly no worse an implementation of WP7 than any other, in some ways (navigation, music possibly) it is slightly ahead of the WP7 pack. Moreover the phone itself acquits itself very well aesthetically, successfully differentiating itself from the mass of iPhone and Desire look-alikes.
So I see a lot to like here, and I think the glass is definitely more half-full than half-empty.
I don't actually use a 'smartphone' of any description, never have. So I am at once totally unqualified to comment in detail, but also free of any need to post-rationalise or self-affirm previous purchases.

Antivirus

October 29, 2011, 4:13 am

"the Nokia 800 looks and feels like a fairly typical Windows Phone"

I think the reviewer should have gone to specsavers... :-D lol

ReySys

January 15, 2012, 10:12 am

Is not a typical Windows Phone. I ordered mine thru Expansys Mexico. Came from italy. I use an LG Optimus for a time and is a lot better. I find every application that was in my two previous Blackberries (Storm, 8520). You don´t need to reset each time an Application is installed or removed. The Gorilla Glass is truly genial. Is not the best but the future of Nokia with Microsoft looks promising. I agree battery need improvement. Camera is enough for a phone. I use a decent Camera for that. Consider that our phone companies in Mexico tend to delay a lot new technologies. Definetively wins to Blackberry, Need more Apps compared to Android & Apple. The average people don´t use thousand of apps. Extra storage is a value but with a Iomega Wifii is solved. Beed more accesories. Definetly a leap forward! Is unlocked that gives extra value in my opinion.

FeckDrinkGirls

April 20, 2012, 3:15 am

Both I and my son actually waited for this phone. So far Im onto my third handsetband my son the second. All replacement have been for the same reason LOCKING UP. Factory resets updates all have failed.
You would be on a call thE phone disconnect the call and restarts. It's a massive knock to the Nokia experience

MotorMouth

December 21, 2012, 10:15 pm

If you are going to show how one phone displays text less well than another, the least you can do is show text the same size. In your side-by-side shot, the text on the "other" phone is at least one point larger. It is also a different font. Overall, though, I don't see that it shows that the Lumia 800's screen is any worse at all than the phone it is being compared to.

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