A couple of weeks ago I was invited to go to the Nokia Lumia event in Belgium. Since I’m always in for a good event I went there on a Friday evening to check out the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800 in Belgium. About the event itself I can be short. Well organized, lot’s of people, great fun, gaming possibilities, a DJ, some food and drinks and a (short) presentation about the Lumia 800. (Is there anybody out there who knows why they always keep the presentations short? ). At the end of the evening, we received a Nokia Lumia 800 to test-drive on the condition that we blog our experiences about it. Well, this is it.
Disclaimer: First, I’m not working for Microsoft or Nokia. So all my comments here are purely mine and they are not objective. Second, I’m not considered a consumer user when it comes to smartphones. I use my phone to work with. In fact, I’m not even considered a phone person at all. I don’t like to make a phone call and a good phone call takes less then a minute in my opinion. Because of that, you will two sorts of review here. The first part will handle the experience that my wife and kids had with the phone, and the second part will deal with my experience that I had using the phone for work.
Let’s start with part 1. The morning after the event, I inserted the mini-sim card that we got during the event (a temporary card with some credit and a small data plan on it) and started the phone for the first time. Instead of setting the device up, I gave it to my wife and see how far she could get with it. My wife has never used a smartphone before. She only uses a smartphone when she needs mine to make a call. And with all my devices I had, she always hated the way she needed to find a contact or type an SMS message. I’ve had an iPhone, Androids and my last one was a WP7 LG. None of them could convince here although the LG WP7 came close because she found that a lot easier to find a contact. But it had other issues that she didn’t like. But still… she has a small Nokia phone, that cost less then 50 euro, that isn’t a smartphone, and she still is quicker with the device then I will ever be with any smartphone. The power of buttons you know…
But back to the setup. I was pretty surprised that she managed to setup the device pretty quickly. No issues, she only had some difficulties in the beginning knowing which button did what but reading the manual sorted that out pretty quickly (Yes ladies and gentleman, there are still people that read manuals ). After that, I gave here some random tasks to see if she could manage without me telling her what to do. And surprisingly she managed to download some apps. She got the device on our wireless network, she synced it with my car system, entered new contacts and succeeded in reading my facebook and twitter feeds (mistake number 1: never give your live-id to the wife for testing ). She also set up some email accounts and some more smaller tasks. But this proved to me that the device is pretty easy to use and straightforward. Yes, she had to look from time to time but overall, an easy to use device. Do I say here that my wife is too stupid to use a smartphone? No I don’t, but I know that when she has to do effort for a phone, the phone has lost the battle…
Second mistake I made was giving the device to my children. They are 4 and 5 years old and big fans of my iPad. I wondered if they find it as easy working on the Nokia then they did on the iPad. Besides the fact that the screen was to small in their opinion (okay, they compared a phone against a tablet so maybe not a fair remark but hey, they are 4 and 5 ) they could manage pretty quickly the device. Taking a picture (that would be mistake 3 now that they know how that works…) playing a game, seeing at the pictures, looking through my feeds (luckily they don’t understand English yet…) and even succeeding to check in on foursquare (that one got me really by surprise…). The downside now is that they want to play with it whenever they see it lying on the table…
So for the first part, the conclusion in my opinion is pretty easy. My wife liked the device (her first smartphone device that she liked) and used it and set it up without any problems. It is easy to use in her opinion, the reception on the car worked very well (trust me, it’s not the car kit that’s good, it really depends on the device attached to it…). Making a call was easy and the quality was good (you’ll hear more about that later) and she actually tried to persuade me to give her the phone so that she could get rid of her old Nokia device. (Nice try, but that didn’t work )
About part 2: As I said in the beginning, I’m not a consumer user. I use my phone to make calls (although they have to be as short as possible), texting, tweeting (business…) and reading emails. Responding to emails only when it really is urgent. But I do like to flag al the messages that I need to address when I’m back behind my computer. So just before the test period, I finally managed to go to the store and changed my Sim card into a mini-sim card.
Now for the test period. I’ve tested the device the last 3 weeks where I only was about 2 or 3 days at home. The rest of the time was divided at being at a conference (in my home country but still stayed at hotel), in Munich (Germany) teaching a class and in Seattle (attending the MVP summit). So this means that the phone was tested in different countries, in airports and with little access to 3G. And since my boss won’t like it that I use my 3G in a foreign country (the price is a bit high for that ) I think I have a good test base to see what it is capable off.
Let’s start with the first conference, the one in my home country. Since I had 3G over there, I didn’t really had issues. The phone simply works. Even in a room with 1400+ techies (which means 1400+ smartphones and 1400+ 3G connections on a very small place ) the 3G worked and I was able to phone, text and whatever I need to do. I could access the wireless, get my email messages and so on. No problems detected.
The second part of my journey was to go to Munich to deliver a training. This also means that 3G suddenly has finished working. Now I need to rely on Wireless to get my phone synced with emails and all the other stuff. First the good news. Just by the fact that my email doesn’t get synched anymore automatically and Bluetooth has turned off (I don’t need that when flying / cab / hotel…) the battery life gets stretched hugely. 2 days with my phone was not a problem, even when I was searching for a free Wi-Fi all the time. When you are travelling a lot, the more battery life you can get, the better. Sometimes you just forgot to charge it at night and then this can come in handy. Second was the Wi-Fi. I downloaded an app that put the Wi-Fi icon on my home screen and that proved a killer app. Open the Wi-Fi, see for an open network and off we went. And again, it just works. No technical issues and so on. Oh yeah, and the range was impressive. We noticed (did some comparison with other smartphones such as WP7 phones (non-Nokia), Androids and iPhones) and there was only one Android phone that almost had the same strength in signal or even found the same Wi-Fi networks that I did. So the antenna or whatever is inside the Nokia does a great job.
Last part of my trip was Seattle. This means a different time-zone, no 3G of course and one hell of a week for guys like me… Few things that are important here: Finding Wi-Fi, automatic time-zone change. Good call quality to phone the kids, possibility to text message (calling your boss in the same foreign country is just not a smart idea because of the double foreign cost…).
Again, the phone didn’t let me down. It did everything I need to do without any issue. I found my Wi-Fi’s easily (oh yeah, Europe can learn something from the free Wi-Fi hotspots in the US…) the time-zone changed including my calendar that adapted itself (sounds stupid but I saw differently…). I was able to get my emails (over the Wi-Fi of course) send text messages and so on…
For me, with what I need from a device, this is the companion I need for my work. I’ve had phones that didn’t come close and some that I considered doable. But this one does what it needs to do for me. Making calls (does it really surprise somebody that I need the best quality for this “feature” ), doing text messaging and so on. If I have only one complaint that is the maximum level of sound on the device. When I was in a bar in the evenings (still doing business ) I didn’t always hear my phone ring. (If somebody knows if this can changed…).
The battery life is pretty good if you take the effort to turn off features that you can’t use in a foreign country anyway. I even succeeded in three days but I had to admin that were 3 days of low usage off the phone.
Getting onto networks proved pretty easy. We even had fun with an iPhone user that didn’t succeed in getting onto a Wi-Fi network while I was already downloading mails and stuff… (Yeah, sometimes laughing with an iPhone can make my day ).
From a consumer vision, I probably can see that the phone misses some features. But in all honesty… if you are looking for a phone for business purposes… you really need to give this device a try.
It took me a couple of weeks before