news Nokia has reportedly revealed that its first smartphones to feature the Windows Phone 7 operating system, the Lumia 800 and 710, will hit Australia in March, with the 800 to launch through all major local carriers.
The Lumia 800 is similar in design to Nokia’s N9 handset launched in Australia last year. However, while the N9 ran the now-obsolete Meego operating system, the Lumia 800 will run Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 operating system, which Nokia is standardising on, following a management shake-up in late 2010 which resulted in former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop taking the help at the Finnish firm.
The Financial Review’s technology section quoted Nokia Australia managing director Chris Carr today (we recommend you click here for the full article) as saying that the Lumia 800 and its sister phone, the Lumia 710 would go on sale in Australia in March, with the 800 to sell through major carriers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
Australia has not seen a major launch of a new smartphone running Windows Phone 7 since late 2010, when Microsoft and its smartphone hardware partners HTC, Samsung and LG worked closely with Telstra to bring a swathe of models running the operating system to market. Over the past six months, a number of local Windows Phone 7 enthusiasts have started to question the major telcos as to when new launches would occur.
The gap in Windows Phone 7 launches is believed to have provided a window for rival Apple and Android-based handsets to launch in Australia, with the two operating systems (Android is supported by a clutch of hardware manufacturers, including those also promulgating Windows Phone 7 handsets) currently dominating Australia’s mobile phone market.
The Nokia Lumia 800 features 16GB of storage, an 8 megapixel camera, 512MB of RAM, a single-core 1.4GHZ Snapdragon CPU, a 3.7″ touchscreen running at a resolution of 800×480, and Windows Phone 7.5. It also comes with a micro-USB port. Unlike other smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, it doesn’t feature a near field communications (NFC) chip for mobile payments, which are becoming more popular in Australia.
Many of these specifications are similar to those of existing smartphones on the market. However, in Delimiter’s review of the Lumia 800, reviewer Jenneth Orantia praised the phone’s design, from its “beautifully-engineered” and colourful unibody polycarbonate casing, its curved glass display, slick user interface and “delightfully fluid and snappy” responsiveness. In the review, Orantia wrote:
“There’s no doubt about it, the Lumia 800 is a gorgeous phone. The simplicity, elegance and fully-stocked feature set of Windows Phone 7.5 paired with the stunning hardware design of the Lumia 800 amounts to a lethal combination that will change the game for both Nokia and Microsoft.”
“For Nokia, it’s the first smartphone that really innovates on all levels since the N95, and for Microsoft, it puts a much sexier face on its Windows Phone operating system, which is key for winning over more users. The distinctive design and eye-catching colour options will go a long way towards attracting everyday users, while the huge improvements in Windows Phone 7.5 should prove appealing for geeks and power users that are keen for something different.”
The Lumia 710 is a lower-end, lower-cost Windows Phone 7 phone; similar to the Lumia 800 but aimed at the mid-range market rather than the top-end.
Too little, too late? I’m really not sure.
There is no doubt that the Lumia 800 is a gorgeous little piece of kit, and it will stand out both in marketing campaigns in Australia as well as in users’ hands when they visit retail stores to test out different smartphone models. It really is *that* nice in the hand and that eye-catching when you’re using it. In addition, the Lumia 800 represents the first true fulfilment of the potential that the Windows Phone 7 operating system has promised for some time; in a very similar way that the HTC Desire represented the first true fulfilment of Android when it launched in Australia in April 2010.
However, Australia is expected to see an absolutely huge number of great new smartphones released over the next year. Some in particular, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S III, and Apple’s iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called when it is eventually released), are virtually guaranteed to be instant winners, purely by virtue of the previous models which they are heir to.
The Lumia 800 will be released in Australia just after the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona is held, where manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson and so on release details of their upcoming handsets. In addition, it will be released just a few months before Australians start to get excited about the next iPhone — I expect anticipation to start building sometime around June. Can Nokia prevail against this kind of competition, and, despite its strong history, from what many people will see as something of a standing start?
The company’s N9 handset, which shares most of the design of the Lumia 800, sank virtually without a trace in Australia when it was launched before Christmas. It will be interesting to see if Australian consumers will pay more attention when take 2, the Lumia 800, is launched in March. Can a new operating system make all the difference? Only time will tell.
Some more shots of the Nokia Lumia 800:
Image credit: Nokia