Nokia's Lumia Windows Phones – was it worth the wait?

Nokia's Lumia Windows Phones – was it worth the wait?
No, it wasn't! Okay, okay, we're just kidding here. It's been quite a bit of a wait since Nokia announced that it's adopting Windows Phone as its main platform back in February, but we've finally been treated to the very first fruits of this new partnership. At Nokia World 2011 this week, the still largest cell phone manufacturer by volume in the world introduced its first Windows Phone-based smartphones, namely the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. Thankfully, the more interesting of the two, the Lumia 800, will start shipping as soon as next month, but after all the waiting to see an actual device, we can't help but wonder – are the Lumia Windows Phones good enough to help Nokia reestablish its brand as a premium phone manufacturer in today's landscape?

First of all, we should note that the announcement event was very interesting, one of the most impressive ones we've seen recently. It's obvious that the people in charge of preparations have given it a lot of thought – all speakers were flawless, while a number of surprises managed to really excite the spirits in the hall – like, for example, the unexpected video link with a Finnish Nokia factory, where they showed how they package a Nokia Lumia 800 and ready it for shipment. And it seems all of this fuss wasn't in vain, as the new Nokia handsets do look pretty nice, especially the Lumia 800 and its fancy design. However, now that the dust has settled, we want to think about how relevant the new products are, and whether or not the wait was worth it.

The flagship

With an up-to-date specs sheet, featuring a powerful, yet single-core 1.4 GHz processor, the Nokia Lumia 800 positions itself nicely among the other serious players on the field. However, it's obvious that this device will not excel with specs. Nokia knows that and has cleverly focused on its industry-leading craftsmanship and reliability in order to drive desire for the handset. Being an almost exact replica of the hot and innovative Nokia N9, the Lumia 800 will probably achieve what the N9 never will, and that's massive user adoption. We're still a bit hesitant about this though, as Windows Phone is also an unestablished platform yet. But it does stand better chances than MeeGo for sure. Interestingly, Stephen Elop went as far as to say that this is actually the “first real Windows Phone” ever! This sure is a bold statement, since we've seen some quite good WP smartphones, and even then, Microsoft's mobile OS failed to gain almost any traction this year. However, when we think about it, Nokia might be the best partner to help Redmond set its foot on the market. Actually, we're pretty sure that the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 will sell not because they run WP, but because they are Nokia phones. And of course, that should be a-okay for Steve Ballmer and company for the time being.

When you look at the whole picture, it seems evident that if there's a right time to launch the Nokia Lumia 800, it's now, and that's exactly what Nokia's going to do. Windows Phone still has a lot of catching up to do, but version 7.5 Mango has just come out, and it's able to offer a contemporary software experience that will cater to the needs of many smartphone users our there. Symbian smartphones are on a decline because of their inferior OS and poor ecosystem, but now, with an OS that actually works, why shouldn't Nokia's handsets sell well, with their awesome design, quality and recognition? When we put things into this perspective, it looks like the wait was actually worth it.

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Invading the mainstream

Just a few weeks after the launch of the Lumia 800, Nokia is expected to release its slightly more affordable offering – the Nokia Lumia 710. Now, what about this one – will it be a relevant product when it finally hits the market? It seems so. After all, it still has a pretty sizable 3.7” LCD Clear Black display, as well as a fast 1.4 GHz processor. In addition, it also looks good, although the build quality isn't as spectacular as with the 800.

But since this is a Nokia handset we're talking about, we can expect that it would be reliable and trustworthy, so people will likely consider it, when the time comes to make a purchase. And with its pretty decent specs sheet, as well as form factor and dimensions that would appeal to the mainstream public, we have no reason to think it won't sell, if it ends up priced appropriately, of course.


It's crazy to think that Nokia has spent all of this time just designing these two phones. And it hasn't. Meanwhile, the Finns have also worked with the WP software in order to bring some unique value to the platform – value that will be available only on Nokia handsets. Now, this is really important, because although Windows Phone is a pretty decent OS, it can still make good use of some big features such as quality navigation and easy access to music, all for free. That's exactly what Nokia has brought to the table.

Nokia Drive, Nokia Music and ESPN Sports Hub are all major features that will surely appeal to consumers. Not only will users be attracted to Nokia's Windows Phones, because of their superior design and recognition, they will also have the upper hand in the user experience field, when it comes to navigation and entertainment, which are two core categories of smartphone functionality.

Thinking about it, the Lumia 800 and 710 Windows Phones look like two very good packages. Unlike Android phone manufacturers, Nokia hasn't taken the monstrous specs approach; instead, it has focused on targeting the average user with two more balanced offerings, which seems to be the right move. We don't think that the 800 and 710 will be irrelevant when they hit the market later this year, as by the looks of it, the manufacturer has done a decent job for the time these phones have been in development. However, we aren't blown away either. It will take even better products, as well as great consistency from Nokia, in order for it to reclaim its lost positions. But it's a nice start, and a definite shift from the unfavorable situation of being on top of the burning platform.

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