Has Nokia missed the point with Nokia’s Windows Phone 7 handset – the ‘Lumia 800′?

Sam Hutchings asks - Did Nokia get it right? 'Today saw Nokia shed light on two new Smartphones: The Lumia 800, and Lumia 710. But have those crazy Fins got it right, or are we in for a world of disappointment?'

Nokia Lumina 800

I recently wrote about the Nokia and Microsoft strategic alliance, and came to the conclusion that Nokia made one of the best decisions it could when it came to choosing a new Operating System for its upcoming handsets.

Now the Nokia World 2011 keynote has been and gone, the two stars of the event are shining bright in the real world. But are they all they are cracked up to be? Did Nokia get it right?

Let’s take a look at the handsets, the competition, and the complaints (yep, they have already started flowing).

The handsets

Nokia hedged their bets, and today released two handsets. One, the Lumia 800, aimed at the high end smartphone user, and the other, the Lumia 710, aimed at those who don’t want to break the bank.

Lumia 800

The Lumia 800 doesn’t look like much at a glance: a 12.1mm thick slab of coloured polycarbonate plastic with a curved screen and a couple of touch and hard buttons; all with a Nokia logo plonked on the front.

The most obvious feature is the 3.7 inch, 480×800 pixel AMOLED touchscreen adorning the front of the phone. Using the same ClearBlack technology as the Nokia E7, and supporting all the Multitouch gestures that a Windows Phone 7.7 Mango user can throw at it; this screen is the centerpiece of the whole phone. (Did I mention it sits under curved glass?)

Around the edge of the handset are the normal decorations of any Windows Phone: a micro-USB charger port, a SIM slot (microSIM no less), 3.5mm headphone jack (more about that later), volume rocker, speaker, and the ever-so-useful power button. Oh yes, there’s also a camera on the back. (No, there isn’t one on the front).

It’s what inside that Nokia and Microsoft are shouting about, and they are right to do so. Behind that curved screen, inside the polycarbonate shell, is a 1.4GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 3D Graphics HW Accelerator (apparently…).

Rounding up the internals is an 8 Megapixel camera, with Nokia’s world renowned Carl Zeiss optics and a dual-LED flash.

And guess what… You can get the phone in Black, Cyan, or… Magenta (the colour you never knew you wanted).

Nokia Lumia 710

The baby of the Nokia Windows Phone range, the Nokia Lumia 710 promises a cheap and cheerful handset with a top end experience.

Lumia 710

The Lumia 710 is Nokia’s more wallet-friendly offering when it comes to Windows Phones; but that doesn’t mean it’s a slough of any kind.

Housing the same processor and graphics card as the 800; with the same resolution screen (albeit TFT rather than the AMOLED); the same amount of RAM; and the same OS, the 710 gives other ‘budget’ WP7.5 devices a run for their money.

What makes it different? Beyond the change to a TFT screen?

The 710 loses out when it comes to vision and remembering… With ‘only’ a 5 Megapixel camera, and ‘only’ 8GB of storage. It also comes in a little fatter, being all of 0.4 mm thicker…

Coming in a white or black fronted design, with a choice of black, white, cyan, fuchsia, and yellow for the back.

The companions
Accessories

No handset launch would be complete without a complement of accessories, and the Lumia launch is no different. Nokia have paired with Monster to release their Purity HD Stereo Headset (complete with wires and all) to complement the Lumia phones. It even comes in matching colours: Magenta, Blue, Black, and White.

Applications

As well as a range of vibrantly coloured headsets, Nokia decided that they would build their own suite of Apps into the handsets. Apps that are not available on other other Windows Phone device.

The apps are, with a brief overview:

  • Nokia Drive
    • Like Ovi Maps navigation, but Windows Phone-ified. Even works offline.
  • Mix Radio
    • Streams ‘locally relevant music’ to your phone.
  • ESPN Sports Hub
    • Something about sports, I suspect (YAWN!!!)

The competition

Contrary to what you may think from reading tech blogs today, Nokia are not the only company in the world who make Windows Phone 7.5 devices. Some other names you may have heard of do too. Names such as HTC, LG, Samsung…

From HTC we have the Radar: a similar sized handset with a slower processor, and worse camera (than the 800), but that realises people might like a front camera, and made from a very sexy single piece of metal.

From Samsung? The Focus S and Focus Flash. The S shows it with it’s massive 4.3 inch screen, but matched the 800 in the Camera and CPU stakes. But… it wins out with it’s 1.3mpx front camera. The Flash? It’s just the Lumia 710…

From LG? It all seems to be up in the air at the moment, so who knows…

One more thing

All previously released handsets should get an update to Windows Phone 7.5 Mango over time, so Nokia are having to to fight off phones that have proved their worth as well.

The ugly

It wouldn’t be the launch of a new handset without a slew of complaints. And the Lumia launch at Nokia World 2011 was no different. We start out whistlestop tour of annoyance with commenter mcquade181 over at www.pocket-link.com:

No microSD card expansion?

Stupid microSIM! Stop copying Apple and give me a full size SIM.

No front facing camera.

Small 3.7″ (low res?) screen – give me a 4.3″ screen please.

The earpiece speaker looks like it is a fail, just like the N8′s was, unless they have significantly bumped up the volume. That little narrow slot design just doesn’t work!!!

Plastic case? What’s happened to the nice solid Nokia hardware?

I’m suspicious that all those workers Nokia made redundant in the last year or so were all their older most experienced design engineers and those that are left are straight out of university who think they know everything (but of course know very little).

I’m quite disappointed with the new phones. I was hoping I could go back to a Nokia after ditching my N8 because of it’s seriously lacking earpiece volume. BTW I replaced it with a Samsung Galaxy S2.  

How about a windows phone in a N8 chassis (with the earpiece redesigned of course)?

mcquade181, pocket-link commenter

Someone hasn’t been drinking the Nokia Cool-aid, and seems quite annoyed at some of the decisions Nokia has made.

Given that it’s basically an N9, why is there no 64gb option? Didn’t the 64gb N9 sell better than the 16gb version? When will these companies start listening to what people actually want?

Dave Granger, pocket-lint commenter

Good point Dave. Though, do you really need 64GB in your pocket? Surely 32GB would have been enough.

If you take away the form function and the camera which are lifted straight from the N9 this has to be this most disappointing, underwhelming phone launch this year, after all this hype and wait.  So they integrated Nokia Maps into WP and that’s about it.  No wonder Nokia/Windows killed off the N9 in most countries……identical form functions but WP vs Meego.  They were afraid of the competition.  WP looks old and tired, I’d expected a reskin of WP at least.  My Symbian Anna looks better than that!

Richard Coltman, Engadget commenter

Definitely personal opinion coming through here (I think Anna looks old fashioned already), but some good points. Nokia were supposedly given free reign of the OS, and all they did is clip on some apps. Whilst this is the same design (on the 800 at least) as the N9, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Where does that leave us?

Nokia were never going to please everyone, they knew that. Long time Symbian fans, Microsoft haters, the 5000 members of staff they made redundant. All of those groups will have a bitter taste in their mouth when it comes to Nokia releasing these handsets.

But where does this leave us? Have Nokia got the formula right? Have they gone a step too far? Have they lost their loyal fanbase?

Only time will tell, and it hasn’t been anywhere near time enough yet. My prediction: Nokia and Microsoft is a match well made. One that eHarmony would be proud of.

The worlds opinion? They’re too busy bickering to answer right now.

Sam Hutchings is active on Twitter at @Smutchings where he describes himself as a ‘…full Time nerd and technophile’.

Currently you can pre-order your handset from VodafoneOrange, ThreePhones 4u and Carphone Warehouse - all of them having a variety of introductory offers and tariffs from as little as £20.

Windows Phone 7 Handsets are widely available on O2, Vodafone, Orange and Three and can also be purchased in Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U