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  1. Nokia Lumia 925 Reivew

    Nokia Windows Phone Lumia 925 Reivew

    Design and build quality

    The Lumia 925 is the first of Nokia's Lumia phones to use metal in its construction, rather than polycarbonate alone. Various rumours before the official unveiling pointed to an all-metal design, but instead, the 925 provides a mixture of both metal and plastic.

    The phone's frame is aluminium, giving a slight nod towards the design of the iPhone 4 -- particularly with the little black lines next to the corners. The back panel is plastic, however, and isn't removable. The whole phone is one sealed unit, much like the Lumia 920. There's no microSD card slot hidden beneath and you can't swap out the battery.

    The use of metal is definitely an interesting addition for the Lumia phones, which have typically boasted colourful plastic bodies. Whether you like this new approach or not is another matter entirely. I'm personally quite keen on the look, but it won't suit everyone. It's a lot more subdued than the brash yellows and reds of other Lumias, making it a safe option for those of you looking for a sensible work phone.

    The downside is that it's less obviously a Nokia phone. I was very fond of the rounded body of the 920 -- and 800 before it. It was immediately recognisable as a Lumia when I saw it in someone's hands on the bus, but the Lumia 925 doesn't stand out in quite the same way. If you've been waiting for a Windows Phones device which will allow you to fit in with your Android mates, it'll suit you well. If you want to make a real statement with your phone, go find yourself a 920 in red or bright yellow -- you'll certainly turn more heads.

    The matte, white plastic back of my review model is also an absolute magnet for any dirt and grime in your pockets. That's particularly important if you've recently got a pair of blue jeans as the dye from the material will soon be covering the back of your swanky new mobile. It's possible to clean it up of course, but that's likely to become a drag after a while. If you're really concerned about it always looking spick and span, you might want to opt for the black model -- it won't show the dirt quite as much.

    Metal is understandably considered a more luxurious material than plastic, but I'm not sure it really shows on the 925. It's not that the 925 doesn't feel expensive -- it definitely does -- but the solid, rounded build of the 920 felt equally so. I have no worries about the build quality and longevity of the 925 -- the display is made from toughened Gorilla Glass 2 and the plastic back offers absolutely no flex.

    Gorilla Glass 2 is toughened to withstand small attacks from keys in your pocket, but it's not impervious to all scratches. I found this out first hand when sliding the phone across the table to show it to my colleague Luke Westaway. I picked it up to find several quite unpleasant scratches across the display. I can't hold this against the 925 as the same will happen to most phones, but it's a valuable lesson to bear in mind if you don't fancy investing in a case or screen protector.

    Where it really trumps the 920 though is in its physical size. Both phones pack 4.5-inch displays and are roughly similar in terms of dimensions, the exception being that the 925 is slimmer and much lighter. It weighs 139g which is a big step down from the 185g of the 920. It might not seem like a lot, but it's extremely noticeable when you hold both in your hands. The 925 is much less weighty when tucked in your jacket pocket, and is considerably more comfortable to hold up for a while if you're watching Netflix.

    Around the sides you'll find a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer and a 3.2mm headphone jack. 16GB of storage is provided as standard, with a 32GB model being exclusive to Vodafone for now. There's no expandable memory, so you'll want to keep a fairly close eye on how many big videos you're storing on the phone.

    There are three little metal contact points on the back. These connect to a case that gives the 925 wireless charging when used with one of the Nokia charging pads. Wireless charging was built into the 920, meaning you didn't have to spoil the nice look of your phone with a case. It's slightly annoying then that it's not built into the 925, but it's an acceptable compromise in order to make the phone slimmer and lighter.

    Display

    The 925's 4.5-inch display has a 1,280x768-pixel resolution, giving it a pixel density of 334ppi. That's the same size and resolution as the 920, so it's perhaps a bit of a shame that Nokia hasn't seen fit to boost the pixel count. It would certainly help differentiate the 925 as a flagship mobile.

    Still, it's far from lacking in pixels as it is. The Windows Phone interface looks incredibly crisp, with no fuzziness around the tiles. Small text on Web pages is perfectly comfortable to read for long periods and high-resolution photos look great. More pixels might help it play specs Top Trumps against the Full HD Galaxy S4, but I'm not sure it would really make much difference in everyday use.

    It has the same Clearblack screen technology from the 920 too. It makes black levels very deep, resulting in lusciously rich colours and satisfying contrast. The colourful Windows Phone tiles look gloriously vivid and it helps make Netflix movies and YouTube clips look great.

    If you find it a bit too rich for your retinas, jump into the settings menu. In there, you're able to change the brightness, colour temperature and saturation of the screen.

    Nokia's also boosted the sensitivity of the screen, allowing you to swipe around while wearing gloves, using a fingernail, or in fact by using any conductive metal. I was actually able to navigate the phone using the metal back of an HTC One.

    Windows Phone software

    Like all of the Lumia range, the 925 is running Windows Phone, Microsoft's own operating system for phones. If you're only familiar with iOS or Android, then Windows Phone, will come as quite a surprise.

    The homescreen is made of various bright, colourful tiles, each showing live information. You can resize them and move them around to customise it to the way that suits you best. Any apps you don't want to give pride of place on the homescreen will be put into an alphabetical list of apps, found when you swipe to the right.

    Once you learn a few of the little tricks -- like pressing and holding the back arrow to show the multi-tasking screen -- Windows Phone is pretty easy to use.

    My favourite aspects are the People and Me hubs. They link together your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, as well as your contacts' phone numbers and email addresses, allowing you to see all updates in one place, and post to your own networks without having to switch between different apps.

    You can also create groups of people that allow you to easily send group texts or emails. The social butterflies among you will appreciate the speed at which you can send out quick invites to meet at the pub after work.

    While Windows Phone is a refreshing change from the slew of Android or iOS phones you'll see cluttering the streets, it's far from perfect. The main issue continues to be the lack of big name apps in the app store. Although there are now 140,000 apps in total, including gems like Netflix and Spotify, many popular apps like Snapseed, Instagram or games like Real Racing 3 are nowhere to be found.

    Windows Phone is also typically the last to be treated to new titles. Spotify has only recently been added to the catalogue, as has Temple Run, just after Temple Run 2 was launched on Android and iOS. If you're an app addict and can't wait to compare scores of your favourite new game with your mates, you'll be better off shopping elsewhere.

    Nokia extras

    To help plug some of the gaps in the app store, Nokia includes a healthy selection of its own software. They mostly revolve around Nokia's maps -- now called HERE Maps, providing local information about nearby businesses and places of interests.

    Fire up the maps app and you'll be able to immediately see nearby restaurants, bars and similar. The City Lens app has been built directly into maps too. Lift the phone up as though you're using the camera and you'll see all businesses scattered around you in an augmented reality view. You can then simply walk towards the one you want to go to.

    Clicking on a business name will bring up contact details, images and user reviews, if they're available.

    Nokia Drive uses the same maps software, but provides turn by turn satellite navigation for use in your car. It shows a ground level view, together with 3D landmarks, with your route stretching forwards, exactly as you'd expect from your dedicated in-car sat nav.

    The roads information is highly detailed and you can download maps to the phone, so you don't need to worry about your connection dropping out. Considering the TomTom app for iOS costs upwards of £40, it's genuinely a great extra for Nokia users to get for free.

    Other Nokia additions include the transit app that gives live departures of local buses and trains and Nokia Music, which lets you listen to music playlists by genre, for free, without ads and with the ability to sync them to your phone for offline playback.

    Processor and performance

    The phone is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, which is identical to the processor found inside the Lumia 920. Those of you still playing the smart phone numbers game will be disappointed that Nokia hasn't given it a boost to compare more favourably with the slew of quad-core phones like the HTC One or Sony Xperia Z.

    For the most part though, the 925 doesn't really need anything that powerful. Swiping around the interface is extremely smooth and responsive and switching between open apps in the multitasking window is free of any delay.

    It handled video streaming using BBC iPlayer and Netflix perfectly well and doesn't bat an eyelid with mobile games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. How well it will cope with demanding games like Real Racing 3is a moot point, as very few are available on the Windows Phone store. The 925 fares well with anything you're able to throw at it from the selection available.

    It did seem more sluggish when using some of the camera software though. Nokia has bundled various camera tools, called 'Lenses' with the phone. I'll elaborate on what these do later, but I found that firing them up and switching between them was subject to quite a few delays. Whether that's a problem with the processor or the software isn't clear, but I can't help thinking that a more burly processor would handle the task better.

    Camera

    At the launch, Nokia spent a great deal of time boasting about the 925's camera skills. It actually contains the same 8.7-megapixel sensor found in the 920, which again won't help you win any spec wars against the other smart phone big boys. Nokia has shoved in an extra glass element in the lens which it reckons makes images more defined.

    I haven't been able to do a truly exhaustive camera test, but my shots for the review so far have certainly been impressive. The delightful grey skies above London's St Paul's Cathedral were captured well, with good exposure overall. There's not much difference between the 925 and the 920 (shown below), but at full screen, the 925 does seem to have a slight edge in clarity.

    Both cameras did a great job capturing the close up detail on this tree bark, with great depth of field in the background. It's very difficult to really see much improvement on the 925, but that's because the 920's was a great shot to begin with.

    It's in low-light situations that the Lumias really shine though. The 920 roundly whooped the proverbial of all top-end smart phones in my recent low-light test, so the 925 has a lot to live up to. Thankfully then, it performed incredibly well. My test scene was extremely dimly lit, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the 925's shot. It's bright, evenly exposed and with very natural white balance.

    The 920 did a decent job of exposing too, but it was very heavy handed with the auto white balance, giving a reddish hue to the scene. The HTC One meanwhile produced a darker scene, with much lower quality than either of the Lumias. The 925 is more susceptible to hand shake in low-light scenes, but so long as you set your shot up properly, it can deliver some superb results.

    Nokia has also bundled the 925 with its new Smart Cam software. It takes 10 pictures in a burst mode, allowing you to edit them in a number of ways. It can track a moving object across the scene to either edit it out completely -- removing a 'photobomber' -- or turn the moving figure into an action sequence photo, shown below.

    The photo stitching isn't as smooth as the shots I've seen from the HTC One's Zoe cam, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless. Furthermore, the 925 allows for greater control over which of the 10 shots are included and allows you to fade some of them out, giving more emphasis to your favourite part of the action.

    The 925 really seems like it's capable of some impressive shots, but I'll be taking a closer look over the coming weeks. Bear in mind though that if photography is of crucial importance, you might want to keep hold of your cash. Nokia is almost certainly working on a proper PureView Lumia, pairing the ridiculous 41-megapixel sensor from the 808 with Windows Phone software.

    Battery

    No smart phone's battery ever really impresses, but I found the 920's to certainly be among the better efforts. Nokia quotes just under 13 hours of 3G talk time from the 925, which is similarly satisfying -- but as always, that really depends on how you use the phone.

    In my early tests, I found the battery to drop quite quickly. I was using the phone heavily, streaming video and downloading apps, with the screen at maximum brightness. After being unplugged in the morning, it would be just over half gone by the afternoon. This is something of a 'worse-case scenario' test, so you'll find it much better with careful use.

    Avoid streaming video when you're away from a plug and keep the screen brightness to a lower level -- or on auto-mode. You shouldn't struggle to get a day of use out of the phone which isn't at all bad, but you'll still want to put it on charge each night.

    I haven't been able to perform my proper battery drain tests on the phone, so I won't give a final conclusion about how it stacks up against other phones. I'll be updating this review over the coming weeks with further tests, so keep your eyes peeled.

    Conclusion

    Nokia has taken much of the key hardware from the Lumia 920 and wrapped it up inside a slimmer, lighter and arguably more luxurious body. The addition of the glass lens makes an already superb camera even better. Sure, the screen isn't Full HD and the dual-core processor won't impress Galaxy S4 owners, but you're unlikely to notice this in everyday use.

    The main drawback is still the lack of good new apps in the Windows Phone app store, but otherwise, the 925 is a brilliant phone. If you're after a truly brilliant camera though, you might want to hold onto your money just in case Nokia launches the much-rumoured Lumia EOS.

    Read more »
  2. Best Mobile Phones for Christmas

    Christmas gift ideas - Cheap mobile phone from Mobileciti

    The 2011 Christmas season has already arrived, and it is a great time to buy a new phone for a loved one or yourself! Apple's iPhone is the dominant player in the mobile phone market, but you can also choose from a great range of Android smartphones from brands like Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG. Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 platform also offers plenty to get excited about and Blackberry range for business. We round-up the best mobile phones on the market this Christmas.

    Browse our range of Christmas priced mobile phones online today!

    Read more »
  3. Nokia Lumia 800 review

    Nokia Lumia 800 review

    You might hear it said that Nokia is on a knife-edge, and that this old king of mobiles will live or die based on the success of its latest flagship phone. We love melodrama as much as the next guy, but such talk is overplaying it. Sure, the great manufacturer has its troubles, and yes, the Lumia 800 bears a heavy burden of responsibility on its 3.7-inch shoulders. However, now that Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop has set his company on a new path, there will no doubt be a slew of new products -- both hardware and software -- over the next few years. In fact, the Lumia 800 was probably rushed to market, having been designed and built within the space of six months and intended as a placeholder for greater things to come. Nokia simply grabbed the overall design of its orphaned N9 handset, threw it together with Windows Phone Mango and then whatever the Finnish is for baddaboom, baddabing. So, does the Lumia feel rushed? Or is this the first stirring of something special? Read on and we'll tell you what we think.

    Nokia Lumia 800 review

    Hardware

    Elop has gone on record claiming that the Lumia 800 is a "refinement" of the N9. That's not a good use of English and we can't let it slide, because every hardware difference between the two devices leaves the Lumia 800 worse off. There's no globetrotting pentaband 3G, which means no AWS support for T-Mo USA's network. The front-facing camera and notification LED have evaporated. The screen is slightly smaller due to the intrusion of the Windows Phone buttons. There's only 512MB of RAM instead of 1GB. Onboard storage maxes out at 16GB rather than 64GB with the N9. NFC is also inexplicably lacking, so the phone can't pair up with Nokia accessories and it probably won't be able to keep up future innovations that Nokia says its working on for Windows Phone 8 (aka Apollo).

    On the other hand, many of the best features of the N9 have made it through. The machined polycarbonate shell radiates precisely the same industrial style, while simultaneously giggling in the face of scratches. The convex Gorilla Glass screen flaunts some of the best workmanship we've ever seen on a mobile device and it fits so perfectly that barely a speck of dust can get caught in its frame. The proximity and light sensors are neatly hidden behind the glass, leaving the front face of the phone almost entirely undisturbed, except for the earpiece, Nokia logo and Windows Phone symbols.

    The left side of the device is a blank expanse, while the volume rocker, power / lock button and camera button are all on the right side -- and they're made of metal, not plastic. There's a neatly drilled speaker grill on the bottom, which also houses the mic. On top we find the 3.5mm jack and next to it a flap for the MicroUSB port, which you push on one side to open. Only when the flap is open can you slide and pop the micro SIM slot.

    Nokia N9 review

    It's hard to contemplate the overall beauty of this device without getting emotional, and we already blubbered enough in our N9 review. Nevertheless, this design is not without its failings, and some of those make us want to cry too. Most importantly, the plastic flap over the microUSB port is too fragile. We managed to bend it trying to close it will the drawer was still slightly open -- and we didn't jam on it hard, mind you. Exactly the same thing happened with our N9, so it's no freak accident. If you buy this device, please be careful -- the flap is replaceable, luckily, but we envisage a long queue for spares.

    The absence of a notification LED is annoying. The N9 had a faint 'always on' clock and notification area on the screen, but that's gone here. Aside from the fact that you have to switch the device on to see any notifications, there's another drawback: if the device is totally discharged, it doesn't even have enough energy to tell you whether it's charging when you plug it in. At that point it's pure guesswork as to when or if your device will be ready to use again.

    We had a couple of random power-related incidents. The phone once died suddenly in the middle of a call and flashed the battery warning, but then it switched itself back on and revealed that the battery was still at 52 percent. On another occasion, the phone initially refused to charge with an official Nokia micro-USB charger -- albeit not the one that came in the package. Both issues were short-lived, but we're keeping an eye on the behavior of our review sample and will update if anything new arises.

    One more thing: the sharp corners and relatively thick 12.1mm (0.48-inch) profile might not suit everyone's pocket. If we look at HTC's rival Windows Phone, the Titan, it has rounded corners and a mere 9.9mm waistline, so it manages to pack a 4.7-inch display without feeling much chunkier than the Lumia 800. As we said in our full review, the aluminum also has extremely high build quality, albeit with a completely different design.

    Performance and battery life

    The Lumia 800 packs a Qualcomm MSM8255 single-core processor -- exactly the same System-on-Chip that powers the Titan, except that Nokia has decided to clock the Lumia slightly slower at 1.4GHz instead of 1.5GHz. Does this make a difference? Not really. In everyday use, we sometimes experienced minor lags when opening up Nokia Drive or Nokia Music, and occasional judders when using a processor-intensive app like Local Scout, but the Titan was no better.

    We don't expect to see any Lumia-owning geeks on the performance leaderboards.

    Surprisingly, though, the benchmarks gave the Titan a clearer lead than we might have predicted. WPBench gave the Lumia 800 an overall score of around 86, versus the Titan's 96. Part of this difference was in proportion to the slower CPU clock speed, but a bigger cause of the disparity was actually the Lumia 800's tardiness in shifting large chunks of data between its memory and storage. Likewise, the Sun Spider Javascript benchmark gave the Lumia 800 a score of 7200ms for surfing on the Web Kit browser, versus 6,500ms for the Titan. Overall, we don't think there's anything to be too concerned about here, but we don't expect to see any Lumia-owning geeks on the performance leaderboards.

    The battery is only 1450mAh, compared to the Titan's 1750mAh behemoth. However, the Lumia's smaller and more power efficient display cancels out this disparity and the two phones end up being roughly on a par. With heavy use, with a fair amount of photography, e-book reading and so on, the 800 will probably die by late evening. With more normal use, involving calls, push email and a bit of music, it could stretch to a day and a half. In the WPBench battery test, the phone lasted two hours and 40 minutes -- against three hours from the Titan.

    Nokia knows how to build phones, so reception and call quality were both reliably average when using the Vodafone network in and around London. There's no HSPA+, but the phone was quick to establish a 3G or HSDPA connection when available. Importantly though, the Lumia doesn't do internet tethering, whether by WiFi or cable, whereas the Titan does.

    Display

    Mango, say "hello" to AMOLED. The Lumia might not be the first to make this happy pairing, but it's a powerful union here nonetheless -- and if you've never used an AMOLED phone before, then you're in for a big treat.

    The key selling point is that any black areas on the screen are completely black. Deep, true, outer space black. Nokia has its own name for this effect -- ClearBlack -- but it's really just the same end result as Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, which is not a bad thing.

    In comparison, LCD panels are just a very dark grey. What's more, when you bump up the brightness on an LCD, you can take a hit on contrast, because that background grey gets steadily lighter. But with AMOLED, the blacks remain implacably perfect no matter how high you push the brightness -- producing a level of contrast on the Lumia 800 that can make your eyes throb if you deliberately mess with the settings while indoors.

    In practice, AMOLED gives the Lumia's display much better outdoors performance. The brightness pierces through smudges and reflections on the glass, while also delivering powerful color saturation. We wouldn't want use it for reading e-books in direct sunlight -- we've got e-ink for that -- but the bold live tiles of Windows Phone seem tailor-made for the Lumia 800's display and we'd certainly choose it over LCD for everyday use in the fresh air.

    The strange pixelation can be distracting.

    Go indoors, however, and it's a different story. Nokia is an extremely savvy player when it comes to building smartphones to a price point. With the Lumia 800 it's opted to use the slightly cheaper PenTile type of AMOLED display. Some phone users take issue with this technology, because it lowers the sub-pixel count and can impact on color rendition due to the excess of green sub-pixels. In the case of the Lumia 800, the green tinge isn't awful, but the strange pixelation can be often be distracting, like a multicolored mesh or grid sitting on top of an otherwise high-res display.

    Photos generally look fine, but fuzziness is clearly visible to the naked eye when it comes to text -- in particular, characters in a thin font seem to 'hum' slightly at their edges, which is a shame because such fonts are a big part of the Windows Phone aesthetic. The picture above shows a snapshot of a single word displayed on the Kindle app, shown on the Lumia 800's PenTile AMOLED, then the iPhone 4's Retina Display, and then the Titan's SLCD at the bottom. Ultimately, whether this is a cause for concern depends on your eye-sight and how you tend to use your phone. If you enjoy reading e-books on your phone, then it's worth trying the Lumia 800 in-store before you commit.

    Camera

    The eight megapixel camera on the Lumia 800 is exactly the same unit that we reviewed on the N9. It's been around for a while and it suffers from a few foibles, but the underlying hardware is top-notch. The Carl Zeiss Tessar lens opens to f/2.2, which is up there with the best camera phones on the market and makes for relatively good low-light performance. Coupled with the Windows Phone OS, which has a fast and easy-to-use stock camera app, as well as the AMOLED screen which is great for framing and viewing pics, this Nokia is a capable stills shooter.

    Nokia Lumia 800 sample stills

    There are two ways to take a picture: you can either press down halfway on the two-stage dedicated camera button to set exposure and focus and then press fully to snap, or you can simply tap the screen on whichever subject you like and it will make all the necessary adjustments and take the shot all in one go. We found ourselves using the latter method more often, simply because it's so blazingly fast.

    A tap on the 'cog' button provides ready access to flash control and a dream-like array of manual options, including ISO, exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance, contrast, saturation, focus mode and resolution. What's more, you can save your settings so they don't get lost when you exit the camera or switch to another scene mode. The only thing missing is a setting for how much compression you want. However, the camera software generally preserves a good level of information, with file sizes mostly ranging from 1MB to 1.3MB, but occasionally reaching 2.2MB for a shot with lots of detail. The same goes for video: 720p files generally came in at around 80MB to 100MB per minute, which is far in excess of many rivals and also slightly better than the HTC Titan.

    Of course, the Titan also has a f/2.2 lens, the same maximum resolution and the same underlying camera software, so we took the two phones out for a spin in the British Museum in order to get a more detailed comparison. Our verdict? It was a close contest, and ultimately we'd be content with either camera in our pocket -- but there are a few differences worth mentioning.

    The Lumia 800's auto white balance often struggled with the varied lighting at the museum, which has artificially lit displays underneath big tinted windows in the ceiling. We had to manually set white balance on a couple of occasions, whereas our Titan generally seemed to pick the right compromise. Below is a highly zoomed-in section from the Lumia shot, which shows a pink cast. Below that is the equivalent from the Titan, which is more accurate. In a our sample video below, we moved the camera from very blue light to very warm light and it actually coped quite well. It's the more the subtle stuff it struggles with.

    Our sample video also shows that the Lumia's autofocus was occasionally slow during recording. It wasn't always that bad, but it was certainly inconsistent. Exactly the same can be said of the Titan, though. Neither camera handles autofocus very well during video, unless your subject is inorganic with lots of straight edges. Any fast motion or panning also destroyed the quality of our 720p video, largely because the compression couldn't keep up -- VGA mode handled motion a lot better, but who wants to shoot in that? But again, the Titan also suffers from this, and in fact the Lumia's compression system copes marginally better. Overall, we need better bit-rates and better autofocus on smartphones before we stop carrying our little video camera around with us.

    Returning to still images briefly, we also found that the Titan's were generally sharper and had slightly higher contrast by default. The antelope eye below is from the Lumia, whereas the sharper one below that is from the Titan. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the Titan's pics were better, and in any case the Lumia could easily be re-configured to deliver the same results. However, the Titan also has useful Panorama and Burst Shots modes, which are missing on the Lumia 800. Factoring in the white balance issue, we'd have to give the Titan's camera a slight edge in this contest -- but phones on other platforms, like the iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note have all-round superior cameras.

     

     

    Software

     

    There's a good chance that the Lumia 800 will be your first Windows Phone, so it's worth checking out the quick overview in the software video above. If you want the full low-down, then please peruse our in-depth Mango preview, as well as our review that was updated when the OS update was finalized.

    If you'd prefer a very quick summary, then take it from us that this OS is fast, fluid and nice on the eyes. Its visual design is a boon not only for ease-of-use -- particularly for people with poor eyesight -- but also in terms of its sheer sassiness, which will be appreciated by anyone who wants to stand out from the iOS and Android crowds.

    This OS is fast, fluid and nice on the eyes.

    The navigation system rarely throws too many options at you, and often cuts out more advanced options altogether. In particular, we miss USB mass storage -- a feature we rely on with our Android phones. It's also a shame that you can can't display multiple Google calendars -- the OS will only display the primary calendar for any account, which is out of keeping with this otherwise very productivity-focused OS.

    The WP keyboard, as always, gets a special mention for being extremely easy to use. It works great on the Lumia 800's screen, but we found ourselves making slightly more mistakes compared to the Titan, whose keys are easier to hit simply because they're bigger.

    Although Windows Phone is still lacking many of the apps that have become popular on other platforms, including Spotify, Dropbox and countless others, it handles core functions rather well, such that you don't necessarily need extra apps in order to handle basic social networking, photography, maps, search, music recognition and purchasing, cloud storage, folder syncing, and other daily tasks. These functions aren't perfect -- advanced Tweeters may struggle with the limitations of the integrated software, for example, which requires you to use SkyDrive for hosting your pictures. However, the Marketplace is growing daily and will offer more dedicated apps over time -- after all, it has the full weight of Microsoft behind it.

    Nokia is going way beyond the call of duty in providing its own apps, which already help to distinguish the Lumia 800 from the competition and will certainly become more of a selling point over time -- particularly when Nokia's Pulse social networking platform emerges from beta testing. In the meantime, Nokia's proprietary offering amounts to three key apps.

    First and foremost, Nokia Drive turns your handset into a fully featured sat nav, based on the Navteq platform that covers 90 countries and also works with offline maps. Need to get from A to B in Mozambique? Then download the 15MB file and off you go. The coverage puts Google Maps and TomTom to shame. You get full voice instructions too.

    Nokia Music adds to the stock player by giving you access to Mix Radio. This is a neat little radio player with eclectically titled categories (e.g., "Golden Era Hip-hop"), which let you narrow down your genre while still leaving it open enough for some unexpected tunes -- so long as you have WiFi access or a cheap cell data plan. The audio quality is on a par with the free version of Spotify, for example, so it won't satisfy audiophiles, but it's fine for listening on the go or plugging into a small dock.

    Finally, Nokia also supplies an app discovery tool called App Highlights, which suggests essential apps like Kindle, eBay and AccuWeather as well as promoting others you might not be aware of. It also has a little gimmick where you shake your phone to be shown a surprise app -- completely pointless, but it emphasizes the underlying purpose, which is simply to encourage to savor the generally high-quality offerings cherry-picked from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

     

    Wrap-up

    Nokia's Lumia 800 is a sophisticated and capable smartphone that melds its hardware beautifully with the Windows Phone OS. Whether it's the best phone for you right now depends on certain factors.

    First, you need to establish whether you're a Windows Phone type of person. If you're thrilled by dual-core processors, extremely high-res screens, large camera sensors, customizable widgets, expandable storage, USB mass storage and other such features, then you'll be better off with Android or -- to a slightly lesser extent -- iOS, because that cutting-edge stuff is currently absent on Redmond's OS. On the other other hand, if you want to be part of a carefully crafted, simple and generally happy emerging ecosystem, then look no further.

    The next question is whether you'd choose the Lumia 800 over another Windows Phone, such as the Titan. The Titan's camera is slightly better, but not enough to be a deciding factor. Conversely, the Lumia 800's design is arguably superior, but not massively so. Instead, it's the display that's the more important issue. If you want a bright and colorful screen for media and general use, and you're not too fussed about the PenTile pixel issue (which you ought to see for yourself before buying), then the Lumia 800's AMOLED display wins hands-down. However, if you prefer a bigger screen that does a better job of displaying text, then go with the Titan.

    Some people will notice that Nokia is building a special relationship with Microsoft, to the point where the manufacturer is able to deliver more exclusive features in its phones and push for things to be added in later revisions. If you're a WP fan, then there might be an argument for committing to Nokia in order to benefit from all those good things to come. However, we think that's premature. Drive is a nice exclusive feature, but there's not much else yet. If anything, the Lumia 800's hardware risks being left behind as Nokia develops apps and platforms based on NFC, front-facing cameras and other (unknown) features that are likely being prepared for Windows 8 Apollo. The Nokia-Microsoft relationship will certainly become more important, but that's not enough to sway a purchasing decision today.

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  4. The first Nokia Lumia smartphones

    The first Nokia Lumia smartphones

    First two smartphones based on Windows Phone introduce a range of new experiences designed to make everyday moments more amazing.

    Nokia Lumia 800

    The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, vivid colors (cyan, magenta and black) and the best social and Internet performance, with one-touch social network access, easy grouping of contacts, integrated communication threads and Internet Explorer 9. It features a 3.7 inch AMOLED ClearBlack curved display blending seamlessly into the reduced body design, and a 1.4 GHz processor with hardware acceleration and a graphics processor. The Nokia Lumia 800 contains an instant-share camera experience based on leading Carl Zeiss optics, HD video playback, 16GB of internal user memory and 25GB of free SkyDrive storage for storing images and music. The estimated retail price for the Nokia Lumia 800 will be approximately 420 EUR, excluding taxes and subsidies.

    Nokia Lumia 710

    The purposely built, no-nonsense Nokia Lumia 710 can be personalized with exchangeable back covers and thousands of apps to bring the Lumia experience to more people around the world. The Nokia Lumia 710 is designed for instant social & image sharing, and the best browsing experience with IE9. It is available in black and white with black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow back covers. With the same 1.4 GHz processor, hardware acceleration and graphics processor as the Nokia Lumia 800, the Nokia Lumia 710 delivers high performance at an affordable price. The estimated retail price for the Nokia Lumia 710 will be approximately 270 EUR, excluding taxes and subsidies.

    Both smartphones include signature Nokia experiences optimized for Windows Phone, including Nokia Drive, which delivers a full-fledged personal navigation device (PND) with free, turn-by-turn navigation and dedicated in-car-user-interface; and Nokia Music introducing MixRadio, a free, global, mobile music-streaming application that delivers hundreds of channels of locally-relevant music. In an update delivered later this year, Nokia Lumia users will also gain the ability to create personalized channels from a global catalogue of millions of tracks. Also integrated in Nokia Music is Gigfinder, providing the ability to search for live local music for a complete end-to-end music experience, as well as the ability to share discoveries on social networks and buy concert tickets also coming in the Nokia Music software update delivered later this year.

    Completing the ultimate mobile audio offering, Nokia also introduced the on-ear Nokia Purity HD Stereo Headset by Monster and the in-ear Nokia Purity Stereo Headset by Monster, co-designed and co-developed by Monster, a recognized leader in high performance audio. Both products provide a fresh listening experience and are the first output of the exclusive long-term partnership between Nokia and Monster, intended to introduce a range of premium audio accessories to reflect the outstanding quality and bold style of the Lumia range.

    The new Nokia Lumia 800 is now available in select countries for pre-order on www.nokia.com and is scheduled to roll-out across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in November, with 31 leading operators and retailers providing unprecedented marketing support in those first six countries. It is scheduled to be available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan before the end of the year, and in further markets in early 2012.

    The Nokia Lumia 710 is scheduled to be available first in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan toward the end of the year alongside the Nokia Lumia 800, before becoming available in further markets in early 2012.

    Nokia also announced its plans to introduce a portfolio of products into the US in early 2012 and into mainland China in the first half of 2012.  In addition to the existing products, which include coverage for WCDMA and HSPA, Nokia also plans LTE and CDMA products to address specific local market requirements.

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  5. Nokia announcements today - new range of WINDOWS phones

    Nokia announcements today - new range of WINDOWS phones, the Lumia 800 and 710, as well as some new Mobile Phones, the Asha range.

    The Windows Phone products are due in Australia in early 2012, however the new 300, 303 and 200 are all due as early as mid- NOVEMBER!

    Nokia showcases bold portfolio of new phones, services and accessories at Nokia World

    Signals new dawn with the launch of Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710, the first Nokia smartphones powered by Windows Phone

    Introduces a range of stylish, smart mobile phones, superior Nokia Maps, partnership for co-branded accessories with Monster, and more

    London, UK - At Nokia World, the company's annual event for customers, partners and developers, Nokia demonstrated clear progress on its strategy by unveiling a bold portfolio of innovative phones, services and accessories, including the first smartphones in its Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia range. The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 brings content to life with head-turning design, Nokia's best social and Internet experience, familiar Nokia elements, such as leading imaging capabilities and new signature experiences. The colorful and affordable Nokia Lumia 710 is a no-nonsense smartphone that brings the Lumia experience to more people around the world.

    Nokia also launched four new mobile phones which feature stylish design, a rich social experience and location-aware technology. The Nokia Asha 300, Nokia Asha 303, Nokia Asha 200 and Nokia Asha 201 blur the line between smartphones and feature phones, offering QWERTY and touch screen experiences, combined with fast and easy access to the Internet, integrated social networking, messaging and world-class applications from the Nokia Store.

    "Eight months ago, we shared our new strategy and today we are demonstrating clear progress of this strategy in action. We're driving innovation throughout our entire portfolio, from new smartphone experiences to ever smarter mobile phones," said Stephen Elop, Nokia President and CEO. "From the Nokia Lumia 800 to the Nokia Asha 201, we are bringing compelling new products to the market faster than ever before. I'm incredibly proud of these new devices - and the people of Nokia who have made this happen."

    "Since Nokia's major strategic shift only eight months ago, the company has found a new energy. It has provided substantial improvements to Symbian, managed to differentiate on Windows Phone and it continues to build on its strong portfolio in mobile phones," says Pete Cunningham, Principal Analyst, Canalys. "Nokia is delivering on its pledges, and is clearly demonstrating its path to future success."

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