Kiwi journalists have been given their first look at the Nokia Lumia 800, the handset tasked with establishing Windows Phone as a viable competitor to Android and iOS.
The event came almost 12 months to the day after Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced the company would drop the Symbian platform and take up Windows Phone in partnership with Microsoft.
The first of the resulting handsets were launched late last year; in an earnings report released in January, Nokia said over 1 million had been sold.
The challenge for both Nokia and Microsoft in New Zealand is to get the devices into people’s hands, Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston says.
"Windows Phone is kind of a cult classic, but it’s been missing the volume,” Muckleston says.
"Through the partnership with Nokia we’re able to take the good reviews and scale [Windows Phone] out to make it a significant player.”
The Lumia 800 is certainly a tidy device, with a 3.7-inch screen, ‘ClearBlack’ display for visibility in daylight, and bright case colours – although kiwi buyers will be limited to black and cyan (blue).
Stephen Wright, head of product management for Nokia ANZ, adds that the colour is bled through the case polymer, making scuffs and scratches less noticeable.
Talking us through the features, Wright drew attention to the pre-installed navigation app, Nokia Drive, the ‘pin to start menu’ function that allows the user to create shortcuts to apps and music, and the Xbox Live synchronisation.
For browsing, the Lumia uses Internet Explorer 9, which in a quick test seemed smooth and fast, while the 28mm Carl Zeiss wide-angle lens takes great-looking photos and can be activated without unlocking the device.
The handset even has a business appeal, with Microsoft Office apps installed out-of-the-box.
Speaking of apps, the Windows Phone platform has some ground to make up here, but Muckleston says the marketplace has grown to over 60,000 apps, and will reach 100,000 in the next few months.
"It’s clear there’s going to be three ecosystems in the future.”
Telecom will sell the Lumia 800 for $899 and the Lumia 710 for $549, and has already announced some special offers for customers who pre-order. Vodafone will sell only the Lumia 800, and hasn’t revealed its pricing yet.