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Preview: Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone

It's been a long time coming but Nokia has finally unveiled its first Windows-powered smartphone, the Lumia 800. It shares an almost identical, physical design to the MeeGo-powered N9 but utilises the latest 7.5 "Mango" version of Windows Phone software.

Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" review Nokia N9 review

We described the Nokia N9 as the best looking and slickest device the company has ever produced, so it's no surprise to see the Nokia Lumia 800 use an almost identical design. It's a candybar handset constructed from solid polymer and manufactured from the same material often found in ice hockey helmets. Like the N9, the Lumia 800's polycarbonate casing is coloured all the way through in the manufacturing process, so scratches, dents or marks from everyday use will not show up. The Nokia Lumia 800 will be available in black, cyan and magenta colours.

The Nokia Lumia 800 has the same sized 3.9in AMOLED screen as the N9 but it uses ClearBlack technology (claiming better blacks and improved outdoor visibility) and has a slightly lower 480x800 resolution compared to the N9's 480x854 screen. The screen is coated in Gorilla glass that Nokia says prevents scratches and cracks. The Lumia 800 has no front-facing camera for video calls, but it has a dedicated camera shutter key: a standard requirement on all Windows Phones. The only other physical controls are on the right side in the form of volume buttons and a lock/power key. The bottom houses a speaker while a standard headphone jack, micro-USB port and a micro-SIM card slot are aligned on the top.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is powered by a single-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 processor, has 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. It also has an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics that doubles as a 720p HD video recorder.

If you're wondering why the Nokia Lumia 800 doesn't pack a dual-core processor and doesn't have a memory card slot it's because this hardware isn't supported in Windows Phones. Any Windows Phone device is forced to meet strict hardware requirements by Microsoft, including a capacitive, multitouch display with a minimum 800x480 resolution, a 1GHz or better processor, at least 256MB of RAM, a minimum of 8GB of internal storage, and a GPS receiver. All Windows Phone devices must also have an accelerometer and digital compass, an ambient light sensor, a 5-megapixel camera or better, an FM radio and seven buttons (back, Start, search, camera, power/lock, volume up/down).

These requirements make Windows Phone devices very similar, so physical design and exclusive software is the main differentiator between models. The Nokia Lumia 800 includes Nokia Drive, a free turn-by-turn GPS navigator, Nokia Music, a radio streaming application and ESPN Sports Hub, a sports app which is apparently exclusive to Nokia's Windows Phones. We can't judge until we get our hands on the Lumia 800, but only the Nokia Drive app seems like a worthy and very welcome inclusion. The Lumia 800 also includes a free 25GB of SkyDrive storage, but this is a feature available on all Windows Phones.

Unlike the N9, the Nokia Lumia 800 isn't a quad-band 3G device. It supports Optus and Vodafone's 900 and 2100MHz 3G networks, but won't work on Telstra's 850MHz Next G network in Australia. Nokia may produce a separate model that will work on the Next G network, but this remains to be seen.

The Nokia Lumia 800 will launch in various markets before the end of 2011, but it's not expected to hit Australian shores until early 2012. Pricing and Australian-specific availability has yet to be announced.


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