Living with the Nokia Lumia 800

If you call in at Black Marble you’ll see Nokia’s everywhere. They’re talking over the place. It takes me back… I remember when almost everybody I knew had some kind of Nokia or another. I started with the 5.1 on Orange, followed by a sequence of progressively smaller phones. Then came Series 60 and I walked away – I never liked the interface. I swapped to Sony Ericsson and the P800, P900 and P910. I moved to Windows Mobile for time, until I could stand it no more and swapped to an iPhone (much to the grumbling of folk round here!).

I liked my iPhone – it was reliable, flexible and did what I wanted, when I wanted it to (until the last IOS revision, sadly). Windows Phone was tempting – the interface looked great and felt great, but the handsets just weren’t there. I tried an LG and hated it, and the HTCs are just too darned big.

When the Lumia was announced I signed up on the Orange site well before release and I picked mine up on day 1. Now the iPhone is gathering dust (I thought I’d still use it for TomTom but even that has been usurped) and I can’t say I miss it.

Overall I can heartily recommend the Lumia. There’s lots to like. There are some niggles but none that drive me crazy. Over the past two months it’s been reliable, usable and flexible – just like my iPhone was.

The Good

  • Size. Just right, actually. Marginally smaller than my iPhone 3GS, although perhaps a little fatter. Nicely contoured and fits well in the hand.
  • Screen. Great. The AMOLED display is really crisp and clear. Sure, the iPhone 4 has a higher resolution but the standard 800×480 Windows Phone resolution is just fine thanks.
  • Construction. The polycarbonate body feels nice in the hand. The phone is well put together – nothing rattles or wiggles where it shouldn’t and the curved gorilla glass front looks and feels the business.
  • Camera. The Lumia takes better pics than my 3GS did. The LED flash is staggeringly bright when it goes off. I like the various modes that are available, such as night and sunset, and they have been useful more than once. I’d like to be able to use the camera app directly to take Hipstamatic-type pics without needing to post process in an app, though.
  • Speed. It’s a pokey little thing. Apps run smoothly and quickly.

The Bad

  • Charging. Battery life is on a par with the iPhone, so no complaints there, but if the battery runs completely flat I can only use the Nokia charger to revive it, and even then once or twice I’ve had to use the 10-second power button press reset to force the thing to charge. No issue with battery life though – the much discussed problem has never materialised for me.
  • Touch. For the most part it’s great, but every now and then the touch screen can be a little over sensitive, or not sensitive enough – take your pick. This could be a calibration issue or something to do with the gorilla glass thickness, I don’t know. It doesn’t stop me using the phone but occasionally it niggles me when in a game.
  • USB Port Cover. This is another one that’s been debated elsewhere. I like the overall design and that the port is protected, but frankly, it makes plugging the thing in a fiddly process. For somebody that has grown used to simply plonking his iPhone onto the dock connector of a raft of household electrical appliances it’s a bit irritating.

The Apps

  • Nokia Drive. I like this, although in it’s current incarnation it’s no TomTom. I miss the lane guidance and I particularly miss the traffic updates. Supposedly the latter will arrive in an update, and it’s hard to complain when it’s free. Overall it works well and gets me where I need to go.
  • XBOX Live. This is becoming a bit addictive. I have an XBOX (two, thanks to Orange and the Lumia offer) but I never used to pay so much attention to Achievements as I do now. XBOX Companion is funky; Halo Reach is handy and being able to see my gamer friends is great. There are some really good games available, and many of the most addictive I’ve found are free! I didn’t use the iPhone for gaming half as much as I do on the Nokia.
  • Bing Get Me There. I had a number of London Underground and similar apps on the iPhone but they pale in comparison to Bing Get Me There. It’s fabulous, fully featured and free! I go to London regularly, but not regularly enough to be an old lag when it comes to navigating the tube. This is a great app!
  • Missing in action… I had a raft of apps on the iPhone that I used regularly. Some have an equivalent on Windows Phone, but not all. I really miss Hipstamatic, and there are no apps that are its equal for Windows Phone. Others have third party apps but not first party, such as TripIt, which I find really helpful (Trip Hub steps up there). It’s getting better all the time, but it’s not yet at a point where I can match the variety of small but useful apps that I had on the iPhone.

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