I just bought a Nokia Lumia 800 to replace the Android phone I lost last week, taking advantage of that loss to indulge my curiosity and residual loyalty to my former employer. I chose the 800 because it’s smaller than the US-spec 900 and, frankly, sexier than the 710 which my carrier, T-Mobile, offers in their portfolio. That meant ordering one online from one of the many phone vendors I found through Google Shopping.
I received a brand new phone in the original package, and after I changed the sprache from German to English (my phone was customized for Vodafone DE), I was ready to go. After just over a week with the new toy, I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. The bottom line is that I’m really happy with the phone and the OS, despite some significant weaknesses. This is pretty much what earlier reviews concluded.
- Great to look at, fun to use: the team at Microsoft did an excellent job designing and implementing the Windows Phone interface. It’s fast, logical, and simple, and has plenty of lovely little graphic and animation effects that make it just fun to use and play with
- Easy integration with Google and social: it was very easy to set up integration with my Google accounts. After one simple setting, I now have my Google mail, calendar, and contacts on my phone. Adding Facebook and Twitter to the mix was also quite easy. Now my contacts are linked to their respective social profiles, and I can easily share posts and photos to any of those services.
- Decent maps and navigation: Nokia Maps has come a long way; it’s now a very useful and convenient tool for mapping and turn-by-turn navigation. One minor quibble is the separation of Maps from “Nokia Drive” (the turn-by-turn service). The ability to download maps to the phone is also very useful, although I think the downloaded maps work only for Drive and not for Maps.
- Most of the apps I need: I was concerned that the Windows Marketplace would not yet have the apps I use on a regular basis, and indeed there are gaps in the offering compared with Android and the Apple App Store. Despite this, I found most of the apps I use regularly (Shazam, Endomondo, Flickr, Twitter, The Weather Channel, TuneIn, Haaretz), and decent substitutes for the ones that weren’t there (Evernote instead of Astrid, bubblegum instead of Instagram).
- FM radio: this is what I expect from a Nokia phone, and what I missed on my Samsung Android device.
The not so good
- Where are the profiles? I guess Nokia had to give up one of its best (IMHO) features to conform with the Windows Phone program. It now takes a swipe and three clicks to turn off the ringer, and I don’t have more fine-grained control over other sounds.
- Weak headphone output: FM radio is great, but hard to hear with my headphones. Perhaps this is actually a feature; less chance of doing even more damage to my hearing.
- Imperfect Outlook integration: I was surprised to find that I can’t sync my Lumia with my company’s Outlook server out of the box. According to Microsoft, the “Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policy has been implemented with parameters the WP7 device cannot completely enforce.” I had no problem syncing Outlook with my older (Symbian) N8. I would think this, of all things, should work seamlessly.
…and the really impressive
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Windows Phone (and the Lumia phones): the integration of bar code scanning into the search function. Oh yes, it reads and translates text too. Very cool.