Nokia Lumia 800 Review


The kind folks over at Trigger/Isobar asked me to review the new Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone 7 phone. They kindly delivered it in a shiny black briefcase to my offices, complete with a large bouncer and a secret code to open the case.

Let me be clear: I hate Nokia and I hate Windows, especially Windows on the phone. About a year ago I bought a Mac, I bought an iPhone, I bought an iPad and I never looked back. I have had 12 months of painless computing for the first time in my life. So I am not exactly a friendly audience for a combination of platforms which have brought me close to tears in previous years.

My last Nokia phone was an e71, which I struggled to get to consistently to sync with my Windows PC for a long eighteen months. After learning more about the Nokia sync services and Windows security settings than I ever wanted to know, I joyously retired this awful phone into my cupboard and fired up my iPhone 4, never to look back.

With this in mind, and with some trepidation, I ejected the SIM from my iPhone and put it into the Nokia Lumia.

I’m going to keep this brief.

The Lumia is a nice looking phone, thin and slick. As a touchscreen, it has no clutter on the device, and when you figure out how to turn it on (the buttons aren’t labelled in any way, so to realise you have to hit the middle on the side takes some trial and error) you are greeted with the pretty and responsive new Windows Phone 7 OS.

The OS is very nice. It has stolen just enough from its competitors and added enough tweaks that it’s fun, intuitive and friendly to use. It’s nothing like it’s earlier versions which is about the highest praise one could offer it.

My first step with a phone is to get my contacts, email and calendar setup because that’s at the heart of what I do with my phone.

This, unfortunately, is where this short adventure ended. You can very easily get your contacts across from another phone, which I did with my iPhone in about 30 seconds. But, if you want to keep them synced with Outlook and you happen to own a Mac, you instantly have a massive and insurmountable obstacle.

After nearly an hour of Googling and fiddling, I realised that the recommended option is to use Hotmail Connector to do this. However there is no Mac version of that piece of software. The Windows 7 Phone Sync software, available in the Mac App store, does an admirable job of syncing photos and other content, but offers nothing to do with Outlook.

I tried connecting to my Exchange server, but since it doesn’t have a valid SSL cert (admittedly not a good thing) the phone refused to connect. This would be forgivable if my iPhone didn’t just give me the option to ignore this cert error and move on. I’ll manage my risk, thank you very much.

And that’s where the story ends folks. It took me less than 5 minutes to setup my iPhone to sync with Outlook on my Mac and to connect to my Exchange server. Even if there is some solution here I’m missing, I’m not prepared to spend any more time on this. Why should I?

I presume if you’re upgrading from a previous Nokia or Windows 7 device (though how you could leave either of those experiences with a willingness to try those platforms again I have no idea) or maybe from Blackberry or an older Android device, you might be up to the hassle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the user experience on this phone and its social media integration, camera and other features look great.

But I’m past the point in my life where I’m going to fight to get my data to sync to my mobile device. Perhaps this is the luxury and the limitation of having only Apple equipment. For sure that’s what Apple wants, for me to feel locked into their proprietary platform so that any shift is painful. But you know what? I just don’t care. I have enough scars from my previous Nokia experience that to ask me to even give myself a paper cut in switching platforms is going too far. It’s just not worth it.

If I were a professional, paid reviewer I would go through the effort and I might even come out excited about what seems to be a powerful and well designed device. But to the extent that I can simulate the average consumer experience, my conclusion is simple: I am annoyed and I’ve only been trying this phone for an hour. When my iPhone screen powered on a few seconds ago I felt a deep sense of relief. All is well again.

No. No, thanks.