As usual with any product review that I do here, there's a little bit of back story to it. I know that's not how you normally do reviews but this is my blog so I cry if I want to :P Anyhoo, the story is my faithful iPhone 4's battery has reached the end of it's life cycle. And a good day, I will need to charge the phone 4 times. Twice if I leave it on standby with a few calls and text. It came to the point that I had to carry the USB cable everywhere and charge whenever I found a power cable. That's a sad way to use a smartphone, I know.
My other option is to replace the battery. That would cost me around RM200. But instead of replacing the battery, I bought another smartphone altogether. I wanted to have another phone anyway and I've had my eyes on Nokia's Lumia 800 for quite sometime now so when I saved enough money I got myself a second hand one from Mudah.my.
First impression, for a 3.7" diagonal phone I think the Lumia 800 is rather small, even compared to the 3.5" iPhone 4. Looking at the pictures online, I was expecting something bigger, like the Nexus 4 maybe. The screen is standard Corning Gorilla glass AMOLED and at the back there's an 8MP auto focus camera with LED flash (no front camera). On the right side there's a volume rocker, lock key and a dedicated camera button while the right side is void of any buttons. You can actually open the camera app with the camera button anytime, even while the screen is lock by long pressing it. Sometimes the camera button works, other times I had to press it longer than usual to make it works.
The phone comes in 16GB capacity and like all other Windows Phone, there's no option for external memory. The phone speaker is strategically located at the bottom of the phone and the sound coming out from it is okay if not wonderful. At the top of the phone is the micro-USB port, 3.5mm audio jack and a micro-SIM card slot. So far I was able to play most audio and video file type that I copied into the phone. To sync and backup the phone, you need to download and install Zune, yes the same software that was used to sync the shortlived Microsft media player of the same name. Using Zune is not as easy as one would imagine it to be. There's a bit of learning curve you need to master to learn how to sync all your apps, music and video but with persistence and a lot of patience, I'm sure you will learn how to use it. Eventually. All major software updates is done through Zune also by the way and last time, it took me nearly an hour to finish.
What attracted me to choose the Lumia 800 over say an Android phone is the Windows Phone 7. Even if you're a diehard iOS or Android fan, surely you will find the WP OS quite eye-catching and attractive. The tiles and Metro UI is so pretty that Microsoft made them the new interface for Windows 8. You can choose between 21 color accent for the phone's theme and swiping and scrolling between settings and apps gives you this cool little animation that is unique to Windows Phone only.
Unfortunately that's where the good stuff ends. Beyond that I can't find anything good left to say about the Lumia 800 and Windows Phone OS in general. First of all as I said earlier, I find the screen a bit small for my liking. The on-screen or virtual keyboard is horrible. I find the keys arrangement and spacing constrained and typo-prone. You will certainly make at least a mistake or two everytime you use the keyboard. That's how horrible it is. The iPhone has a 0.2" smaller screen but Apple made the OS so good, even the virtual keyboard is a pleasure to use.
So far I have yet to encounter any apps that crashes while using the Lumia which is a good thing. The touch screen however would become erratic from time to time. Many times the screen went crazy like when I wanna tap something, it would do something else altogether like the calibration is off or something (and there's no option to calibrate the screen!). I don't know whether this problem is unique to me only or I need to use a different screen protector but this problem is quite annoying to say the least.
There's no physical button at the front of the phone, instead you have the standard back, Windows and search virtual key. Apart from the back and Windows key that I use frequently, the search key is almost useless unless you'd like to search something from Bing. The catch is you must be online and you can't choose a different search engine (like Google) to find stuff online, unless you open Internet Explorer. Speaking of which, IE is the default and only browser for Windows Phone so like it or not, it's the only browser you can use. Nope, you won't find any other browser on the Windows Marketplace also.
Speaking of Windows Marketplace, it's WP's equivalent of the App Store and Google Play. Again, sadly you won't find much useful apps here. Sure there's a few thousand apps in there but all the good and essential ones that I use everyday on iOS and Android is sorely missing. You won't find apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, Springpad, Instagram and most of the popular games title in Windows Marketplace. That's right, now Subway Surf, Candy Crush, PVZ, FIFA 13 and Need for Speed for you! Unlike Android and iOS, developers seems to shy away from making or at least porting popular apps for Windows Phone and it is especially frustrating if you're so used to them on iPhone or Android.
The rear camera although 8MP is quite poor compared to most new Android phone in the market, let alone the dated iPhone 4. You get decent pictures in broad daylight but grainy and dark pictures in low light conditions. That said, the Lumia 800 does have several basic apps that I find useful such as Twitter, Whatsapp, Evernote, Office, Foursquare and SkyDrive just to name a few.
I bought my second-hand Lumia 800 for just under 600 ringgit which is a real bargain for a 2 months old phone. A new model will cost you around RM800 today. Another thing I find unsatisfactory about this Lumia phone is the short battery life. One would have thought that Nokia, which is known to make phones with batteries that seems to last forever (or maybe a week) would do the same with it's Lumia range of phone but sadly, that is not the case. With heavy use (WiFi, browser, email and Twitter) the phone would run out of juice in less than 5 hours.
Bottom line is, the Lumia 800 is a decent mid-range Windows Phone that is certainly better than those entry level Lumia phones like the Lumia 610. If you don't mind missing out on all the cool apps that iOS and Android has, than Windows Phone is for you. It takes a really brave soul or a hardcore geek to use a smartphone that utilizes a very new and young OS like WP. Else, I would advice you to stick with iOS or Android, at least for now. Not until the WP ecosystem matures with awesome apps and features that other established OS has.
This review is based on my personal experience with the Lumia 800. Other people might have a different and better experience and opinion with their one Lumia or Windows Phone smartphone (especially those with fast processors and big-ass screen) but for me, Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone generally suck. For now.