So I got me a Nokia Lumia 800 yesterday, to test it and to spam your timeline with my opinion about it. Spamming might be a strong word, I mean, Lore actually likes Nokia phones.
I actually got late into the cellphone game, I skipped the Nokia 3310 era and went straight for an Alcatel phone somewhere in 2003 or 2004. It could take pictures and send MMS’es and could probably do WAP stuff too and that for a meager 125 euros. Just to say I’m not someone would experienced Nokia’s “magical UI era”.
Years later, somewhere in 2010, I got my hands on a Nokia E7 with some version of the Symbian OS on it. I didn’t like it, it still had a resistive touch screen (“resistive” means you have to really press on it) while the competition – except for RIM – was already sporting capacitive touch screens in their phones, enabling multi touch and “less pressing, more touching & sliding”. There wasn’t a decent free Twitter app. They got something called “Social”, it did Facebook and Twitter but not anything usable for even modest users. But you could share the pictures you took with the super camera in it. Back then, I’d guess not even the iPhone camera could compete with Nokia cameras. And it came with free, turn-by-turn navigation.
Fast forward to 2011, and Nokia released the N9 which sported the Meego OS. Meego is yet another OS based on the Linux kernel, it’s even got a CLI for the die-hard nerds. As usual, the smartphone came with turn-by-turn navigation and a great camera. What I especially liked were its UI patterns. Slide from the bezel (the little black border of your screen) to the inner parts of the screen and you were closing (if sliding from the top) or minimizing (from the side) the application you were in. Double tap on the standby screen and your phone came alive. The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has a similar UI language.
And now I have my hands on the Lumia 800, Nokia’s first smartphone featuring the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 OS. I’ve only put it on for an hour or 3, which isn’t that much. It’s enough to give some first impressions.
While you boot it for the first time, it asks for your prefered language. Afterwards it has to boot again. I want to use my new phone, not boot it again! Luckily it doesn’t take long to boot the Lumia 800. Then you’ll have to enter some Windows Live ID information, but the OS can’t verify it because 8 times out of 10 (ok, I pulled that statistic from a shiny yellow hairy zone) the phone needs APN information to access the data network. “Later” it is then. Finally you’ll meet the Metro UI of WP7.
Metro has a clean design. It’s a bit edgy, and colourful but not too much. I like that. It’s got enough animation in it, which is nice too. Few people like a static interface nowadays.
On to using the damn thing. (My language tends to be edgy too, sorry for that.) I’ve been using Google Sync on my main phone, a BlackBerry Bold 9700, which syncs my contact book with Google Contacts. Useful when you switch phones regularly! Microsoft allows you to sync with different contact providers, like Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and their own Windows Live ecosystem. I entered my Google account information and some minutes later (8 years of networking gives you a fair amount of contacts) my contacts were available on the phone, including avatars from Facebook! I guess it even removed the doubles (which Google Contacts doesn’t do).
Now, you’d think using Twitter as a contact provider gives you automatically access to a Twitter app on the phone, but that’s not true. You’ll have to go to Marketplace and search for the Twitter app. Which means you have to use your Windows Live ID. Thank god (which is my favorite deity) I didn’t delete my Hotmail account from years back. Tap tap on the pretty good keyboard (but why is still in qwerty while I clearly stated my regional settings to be “Nederlands (België)”?) et voila, I could download the Twitter app. It fits in nicely with the Metro UI, and it’s got most of the features. It’s better than the Meego one.
I’ve tried the camera too, but the lighting in the room wasn’t so good so it had to use the flash (which seems to take a while). I’ll obviously test these features more during the next days.
All in all, I think it’s gonna turn out to be a good smartphone (for 499 euros). I’ve heard people saying “but their appstore only has 50.000 apps”, but I find that not to be good argument. It’s always about those 5 or 10 killer apps you’ll regularly use (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Dropbox, MS Office, Evernote, Instagram, Wordfeud, …).