First impressions: Nokia Lumia 800

Nokia hardware and Microsoft software: a marriage made in heaven? The quick answer is yes.

NameSmartphone: Nokia 800

While we haven’t quite finished our review of the Nokia Lumia 800, we definitely have some strong first impressions.

The design of the Nokia Lumia 800, as with it’s near-identical twin the Meego-running Nokia N9, is simply gorgeous.

The 3.7-inch 480 x 800 pixel jewel-bright AMOLED screen is as lovely as ever, although I have to admit that Windows Phone 7.5’s tiles aren't quite as shiny as Meego’s icons. Even so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer Windows Phone screen, frankly.

The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass and it’s fantastically robust. There’s a rear 8-megapixel camera and dedicated camera button – a long press on it will wake the phone up and activate the camera, which is very handy.

Aside from that, the key features of the hardware are the three Windows Phone buttons and the neat method of adding the SIM: as with the N9, the microSIM is inserted through a sliding opening at the top of the phone and a pop-out flap reveals the microUSB power cable.

If you’re interested in the specific differences – apart from the OS – between the Lumia 800 and N9, read our full review tomorrow.

Nokia has long excelled at producing smartphone hardware - while PC World hasn't been so keen on Nokia's Symbian software on recent models - and the Lumia 800 is no exception. The 8MP camera is a particularly striking feature. Its touch auto-focus and shooting is fast, and produces crisp, bright images. The settings cover a range of scenes, white balance and exposure adjustment and it handled Auckland’s dreary wet days and poor light as capably as it managed in sunlight.

The processor, while only single core, is a 1.4GHz with plenty of speed – and 1GB RAM – to run Windows 7.5 interface. It comes with 16GB of onboard storage to fill with some of the 60,000 apps from Windows Phone Marketplace. There are a few apps available via the Nokia Collection, which includes Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and CNN.

And how does Windows 7.5 look on Nokia hardware?

Windows Phone 7.5 is a great operating system, and PC World has provided an overview of it previously.

I've previously seen Windows Phone running on Samsung, LG and HTC devices, and while not wanting to detract from those gadgets, the lush hardware of Nokia makes Windows Phone a much stronger proposition for consumers, to my mind.

That's partly because of the better camera and screen for the Lumia 800, and because Windows Phone 7 encourages the kind of sharing, via Windows Live, Twitter and Facebook integration, to bring the shots you take on the phone and your social interactions to the fore. Better visuals make for a better social experience, quite simply.

The new touches here are the Nokia collection and Nokia Maps in addition to Bing Maps. You also get Contacts Transfer (a way to send your contacts via bluetooth between phones) and TuneIn Radio. Surprisingly, there’s no Ovi Music. The small range of Nokia-specific apps is not a huge selling point in and of itself, however. We’ll talk about how Nokia Maps and Drive compares to Bing, as well as providing more detail on performance, in our full review.

For now though, the main advantage of Nokia hardware is that it will get Windows Phone 7.5 into the hands of more consumers, even if only to try it out in store. It's something I think can only be a good thing for an underrated smartphone OS.

The Lumia 800 is available from Vodafone and Telecom today, 2degrees will release it later this month. It's $899 to buy outright.

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Tags lumia 800wp7Nokiafirst impressionsWindows Phone

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Zara Baxter

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