I just got my hands on the new Nokia Lumia 800 with the Windows Phone 7 OS installed. The first impressions are quite nice. The phone is surprisingly well designed and built, with a few exceptions like the slinky and fragile cover for the charger port. In terms of build quality it’s not at par with the iPhone 4, which is a piece of art in that sense, but probably one of the best runner ups I’ve seen.
I have mixed feelings about the OS as I’ve written about before. It’s modern and integrated in a way that I miss in iOS, but it also has a few flaws that I don’t see in Apple’s system. To be fair, Apple had flaws early on too, and the WP7 is a much younger system, so if the engineers and designers at Microsoft really put their noses to the grindstone in fixing flaws and striving for absolute perfection, this product could well be a challenger to primarily Android. I never thought I would say that about anything outside the realm of the iOS-Android superpowers, but there is something interesting about the different path that WP7 takes that makes Android seem… well… a little uninspired.
The Problem of Dual Citizenships
But as much as I love new and different things, there is one thing that really irritates the hell out of me: It’s just too complicated to have dual citizenships in both the Apple and Windows worlds. I still have to invest in one system or the other and set my life up for one of the two. The Apple world works beautifully when you stay true to Apple, and the future of Windows with the upcoming and probably game changing Windows 8 carries some promise in the same direction, but mixing the two does not sound like a good marriage to me.
In some ways it works fine. Google takes care of all contacts and emails that flow seamlessly into my new Lumia, and the same goes for Facebook and Twitter of course. But for me to be able to switch between the two systems smoothly I would want to have Apple’s photo stream for the WP7 phone (perhaps a detail, but an important one once you learn to appreciate photo stream). And more importantly, I would like to have a single market to buy my Apps and other software (content included) from. I realize that this is not likely to happen in the form of being able to log into Apple’s App Store on a Windows Phone, but it shouldn’t be impossible for a company like, say, TomTom to sync their customer database to Apple’s App Store, Window’s Marketplace and Android’s Marketplace; thus having a cross-platform “buy once, use everywhere” philosophy for their products. This would be the fair model as it doesn’t make sense for me to have to buy the product again just because I switch brands on my phone. The same should hold true for other products like books where you shouldn’t have to pay two license fees to read the same book from, say, Kindle’s and Apple’s bookstores. When this works, things become very interesting indeed as you don’t get locked down to either system and could pick up whatever device you like and switch seamlessly.
But until that happens it feels difficult for me to put away my iPhone 4S in favor of the Lumia 800 despite the fact that it does have both magic and performance to it. It IS a quick, well built, smart and even sexy product. And for those of you who don’t mind Windows for your desktop and tablet experience (like I said, Windows 8 does look interesting), this device could be a great choice.