Mobile Phones Guide

Nokia Lumia 800 review

Nokia Lumia 800 - A Beacon of Hope

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Overall rating 8/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
7
Value:
7.5
THE GOOD
Free turn-by-turn navigation app, Nokia Drive
Attractive unibody design
Impressive colors and details from AMOLED display
THE BAD
Low battery mileage
Smudge and fingerprint magnet
No option to tether internet from device


Performance

Performance

With a single-core 1.4GHz processor deep within the Lumia 800, we were pleased that it lived to our expectations with a smooth and seamless interface. Screen transitions were fluid with no visible lags. The same can be said for the scrolling, with the interface reacting quickly to our touch as we scanned through a list of apps within the menu. To stress test how its 512MB ram handles multitasking, we activated numerous apps to determine if there were any perceptible slowdowns in performance. Thankfully, apps switching was snappy, though there were moments when an app required a bit more time to restore to its original state.
 

Multimedia Performance

Though the Lumia 800 comes with a smaller 3.7-inch display, it retains the same AMOLED display found on its MeeGo-based cousin. And that means we received the same visually pleasing experience on the Lumia 800. Videos and images that appeared on the display were rich in colors, and the details are sufficiently sharp with its 480 x 800 pixels resolution. Audio performance could be a little better, especially with the speakers located at the bottom of the Lumia 800. If you do watch movies with the Lumia 800 in a landscape orientation, chances are, your palms will block and muffle the speakers. Our suggestion? Stick to the 3.5mm audio port, which is right at the left edge of the Lumia 800's crown.

Did the Lumia 800's camera impress, as the earlier N9 did? Surprisingly, even though we are looking at the same camera hardware, the answer is no. Though images looked great on the Lumia 800's AMOLED display, we saw something very different when we viewed it on regular LCD screens. In comparison to the N9, we noticed that the Lumia 800 comes with a slightly warmer tinge to its photos, which may not be well accepted by those who prefer a more cooling hue to their images. Noise is prominently found across the images, and details were somewhat lost on the finer areas within the image.


Battery Performance

Windows Phone devices, both old and new, haven't managed to impress us with its battery mileage. Earlier on, we've mentioned how the Lumia 800 went dry with a fair bit of GPS usage. To put things into perspective, we put the Lumia 800 through our regular battery test and compared it against devices with similar specifications. Factors such as battery capacities, display sizes, resolutions and processing power are considered. Our testing methodology involves testing a video with a 480 x 800 pixels resolution looping under the following conditions:

  • Screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections active
     
  • Constant data stream via email and Twitter

We targeted devices utilizing single-core processors to compare against the Lumia 800, which puts the HTC Radar, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S and the N9 as likely contenders. In particular, the Radar gives us a better understanding of how a similar Windows Phone 7.5 device performs, while the Arc S with a larger screen and Android operating system will highlight the potential differences even with a similar 1.4GHz processor. The N9, with somewhat similar hardware specifications to the Lumia 800, is added in to visualize the different performance between Windows Phone 7.5 and MeeGo.

Specifications/Device Nokia Lumia 800 HTC Radar Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Nokia N9
Processor
  • Single-core 1.4GHz
  • Single-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 1.4GHz
  • Single-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 3.7-inch
  • 3.8-inch
  • 4.0-inch
  • 3.9-inch
Display Type
  • AMOLED
  • S-LCD
  • LED-backlit LCD
  • AMOLED
Display Resolution
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 480 x 854 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
Dimensions
  • 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm
  • 120.5 x 61.5 x 10.9mm
  • 112.5 x 63 x 8.7mm
  • 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm
Weight
  • 142g
  • 137g
  • 117g
  • 135g
Battery
  • 1450mAh
  • 1520mAh
  • 1500mAh
  • 1450mAh

The verdict is definitely not in favor of the Lumia 800. With only 259 minutes clocked on a full charge, the Lumia 800 fared slightly lower than the Radar. Even with its supposedly more power-efficient AMOLED display, Nokia's flagship Windows Phone is left with the shorter end of the stick when it comes to battery mileage. The Arc S came up much stronger with an additional hour, while the N9 blazed through the comparison with a strong 435 minutes lead. Though the N9 does have a high battery mileage, do remember that we were not too keen on the sluggish performance of the MeeGo OS. These results only indicate that the power consumption on the Lumia 800 is less then desired, thus its overall low battery life despite a similarly rated battery capacity with the rest of the phones.

Lastly, we come to the portability of the device, which is affected by not just the battery life, but also the overall dimensions and weight. To give it a tangible measurement, we calculate it as a portability index.

Portability Index = Ratio of Battery Life to (Weight x Volume)

As you might have guessed, a higher number translates to a much better portability index. Looking across the compared devices, the Lumia 800, which tips slightly higher on the weight and dimensions scale on top of a low battery mileage, returned a relatively low score. While the sturdiness of its design will be a welcomed addition for some, having a lower battery mileage, and in turn a lower portability index, won't give users a compelling reason to choose the Lumia 800 over stronger options.

Should you be less dependent on Nokia Drive and its GPS activity, the Lumia 800 will survive on a full charge for probably three quarters of a working day. That approximates to probably 10 hours of cellular and data usage mixed with HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity, on top of some audio/visual entertainment on the unit. In our opinion, that falls short of current smartphone standards, which usually run for a whole day under a full charge with the usual calls, messaging and data activities such as web browsing and multimedia streaming.