It’s been nine months since Nokia’s new CEO, Stephen Elop (formerly of Microsoft), issued his 'burning platform' memo. Now at the Nokia World conference, he’s unveiled “the first real Windows Phone,” called Lumia 800.
There’s some stuff to gripe about, but a lot to like. To get the bad news out of the way: in an age of 1+GHz dual core phones, the Lumia 800 packs a 1.4 single core CPU and just 16GB of storage with apparently no expansion options. Nokia also packed in some exclusive services that might not appeal to everyone, such as a “locally-relevant” music streaming service called Mix Radio and an ESPN Sports Hub. But before Apple fans start tossing around ‘bloatware’ criticism, they would be wise to remember that all iOS devices come with things like iTunes, App Store, and Stocks apps that are non-removable.
I am genuinely hopeful for the Lumia 800, in part because I really do think Windows Phone 7 is a compelling OS (with a dreadful name). If I couldn’t use iOS, it would be my first choice for an alternative, and that’s saying a lot considering that over the last decade I have owned at least one device running every meaningful smartphone OS on the planet, including Symbian, Palm OS, Android, and Windows Mobile.
Microsoft offers 25GB of free SkyDrive storage (a service similar to—and predating—iCloud, though as far as I know, lacking some of iCloud’s third-party sync and backup perks), and the Lumia 800 has a dedicated hardware camera button.
Unsurprisingly, Nokia is going for the international market first. Its phones were practically kicked out of the US after that rush of free phones for which you could buy neon, pulsating batteries. The Lumia is about $580 unsubsidized, but hopefully it comes to the US with subsidized options (as much as I hate the subsidization racket in the US, it’s still the only way phones sell here right now). Preorders start now.