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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Windows Phone 7.5 != Windows Phone 7.5, or, living with a Lumia 800

I just had the opportunity to live for a good week with the new Nokia Lumia 800. Nokia (@Nokia_Connects) graciously provided me with a Lumia such that I could experience it for myself for a couple of days. I will be sad when it needs to go back to Nokia (message to boss: please replease our current phones with this one)! Let me explain (clarifying immediately also the title of this post). This phone is probably the best phone I have ever laid my hands on. Windows Phone or otherwise. For me, nothing comes even close. Beautiful finish. Exellent performance. Great screen. Plenty of nice touches, including a nice share of bundled applications (such as Nokia Drive - more about that in a minute). Perfect balance when holding it in your hand.

Also a welcome improvement over my current smartphone is the camera. The Samsung Omnia 7 only gives me pictures that can be viewed on the Omnia itself. When viewed on a normal device, all pictures are blurry and in short unusable. Not so with the Lumia. Pictures come out plenty sharp and usable, also when viewed at full size.

Is there nothing to complain about? Sure there is. Nothing is ever perfect and neither is the Lumia 800. What are things that I didn't like? The door that covers the device's usb connector is one: it feels as if it could break off easily. Another thing I didn't like too much was the battery life. Some people claim to get 3 days of battery life out of it. With the device that was given to me, I almost never made it to the end of the working day. True, WIFI, bluetooth and a whole bunch of live tile applications are running (exchange mail going to two different Exchange servers, Lync 2010, Skype, and some more). But, to my defense, I don't have that issue with my current Samsung Omnia 7 that is now over a year old (and therefore must have a degrading battery) and which easily lasts until the end of the day.

Also, the bundled Noka Drive application is a bit strange: the application allows you to download maps to your device, allowing off-line use. However, when I tried to do that, very often it would say that a WIFI connection is required to download maps. Needless to say that I was connected to WIFI at that moment. A was able to install the map of Luxembourg with no problem. However, when trying to download the map of Belgium, the device with refuse with the message that WIFI is required. After countless retries, the device finally did manage. The Nokia Drive application in itself is perfectly usable, though also it can be improved. A nice touch would have been if you could select destinations from your address book instead of having to type them. Also, Nokia should make an accessory allowing you to use the Lumia as a GPS device when having it in your car. Now you either need to hold it in your hand, or, put it on the seat next to you. Less then ideal if you ask me.

Other gripes are more pointing towards Microsoft: when configuring the device, I had to re-download and re-configure almost all of my applications - there is nowhere an option that allows you to save all your settings and restore them when acquiring a new phone. The exceptions were my facebook and twitter configurations: as they were linked to my live id, when configuring the Lumia, this setting was kept. A nice application that helps getting your applications back is "Reinstaller" - highly recommended!

Conclusion: the Nokia Lumia 800 is the best smartphone I have ever used. Nothing comes close to it. BTW, I'm looking forward to the Lumia 900 when it becomes available in my country! (hint to Nokia ;-) )

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