Still relatively new in the UK, Nokia’s Lumia 800 is the first of the firm’s handsets to run Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.
My first ever smartphone was the Orange SPV, it was also the first handset in the world to run a version of Windows.
In 2002 it was the dog’s wotsit and, like the iPhone 4s and Siri today, was like carrying a piece of science fiction around with you.
Over the years I had several other Windows-powered phones but as the halo started to dull, Microsoft’s insistence on replicating the look and feel of a computer’s desktop started to feel unsatisfactory on a much smaller screen.
That said, it worked like peach on my T-Mobile Ameo, though even that needed a stylus and sadly the netbook craze killed off such devices.
The Ameo was pretty much the last time I used a Windows phone. Over the past four years a succession of Blackberrys, early Android handsets and iPhones have served my needs.
But for the past few days I’ve been playing around with a Nokia Lumia 800 on loan from Three.
If like me you’ve previously used a Windows handset, the first thing you’ll notice after turning on the handset is how radically different the operating system looks.
Microsoft have abandoned the mini-desktop thing in favour of big, colourful tiles. Unlike Google’s Android which mimics the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone, this gives Windows Phone a distinct look of its own.
Much as I like my iPhone, I don’t want every phone or operating system to look like it.
There’s ample room for diversity within the tech world and Microsoft are to be congratulated for daring to be different. Especially as the end result looks fantastic – this new incarnation of Windows Phone is big, bright and colourful.
The software includes all the standard apps – email, text messaging, music and video player and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. There’s also a bundled version of Office which lets you create new Word and Excel documents and access content on Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service.
Access to this and the app store requires a Windows Live ID, if you have a Hotmail, Messenger or Bing.com account this will work fine.
The one niggle I have with Windows Phone is the onscreen keyboard which feels a little pokey. I was able to compose texts and emails fine but the ‘keys’ felt just a bit smaller than ideal. But that’s a minor issue when set against the overall look and speed of the OS.
Just as I used to be a big Windows mobile fan, so I used to love my Nokia handsets. Somewhere along the way, they and I parted company with me certain the company had given up trying to offer something exciting and fresh.
But the Lumia 800 feels like a return to glory for Nokia – it looks great and, unlike many of the Android phones I’ve reviewed lately, has a solid, expensive feel.
As with the iPhone, this is largely achieved with a sealed body meaning you cannot replace the battery or remove the handset’s back cover.
As a regular upgrader, I’d rather have a solid, well built phone than the theoretical advantage of replacing a battery 3 years down the line.
The handset has a nice, smooth finish but some people may find it a little slippery to hold. Usefully Nokia includes a rubber case in the box which gives a more secure hold.
The body also has a slight taper to it, ending the middle of the screen a very discrete curve. Again, it’s nice to see someone daring to be different from the iPhone and its flat screen.
I was delighted with both the handset and the software which I feel offer a clearer, better alternative to the iPhone than Android does.
I’m unlikely to to give up my iPhone anytime soon but, like many people, I also carry a work phone around with me.
When my contract comes round for renewal in a few weeks time I can see myself being tempted to ditch my Blackberry in favour of the Lumia 800.