Nokia Lumia 800 hands-on

Nokia announced a pair of Windows Phones on Wednesday and while the Lumia 710 is a fantastic value, the Lumia 800 was clearly the star of the show. Code-named Sea Ray, Nokia’s Lumia 800 features the same sleek unibody case as the MeeGo-powered Nokia N9, but the similarities end there. The Lumia 800 packs a powerful 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm, and it was impossible to trip this handset up while navigating Microsoft’s slick Windows Phone UI. The 3.7-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display is gorgeous, as it is on the N9, and colors are amazing in apps and during video playback. Hit the jump for more and be sure to check out our hands-on photo gallery below.

The Lumia 800 sports an 8-megapixel camera with the same Carl Zeiss optics found on the N9. While we didn’t snap any pictures or capture any HD video during our hands-on, we have plenty of experience with the N9 and it easily ranks among the best camera phones we’ve tested recently.

We also spent some time playing with Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive, though Nokia’s music product wasn’t available for demo in the U.S. Nokia Maps offers a great alternative to Microsoft’s Bing-powered mapping app in standard Windows Phone builds, and it includes some great features such as the ability to add your own photos of locations. The interface is gorgeous and the phone locked onto our location very quickly despite being indoors at the time.

Nokia’s Lumia 800 is easily one of the most attractive Windows Phones we’ve seen to date, and we’re glad to see Nokia start strong. When it came to the Nokia N9, reviewers across the Web shared a common sentiment: the phone’s hardware is fantastic but the MeeGo operating system is a dead end. With the Lumia 800, the N9 is reborn as a handset with a great emerging OS that offers a unique UI and an ever-growing ecosystem. It’s also blazing fast, equalling Apple’s iOS platform and even besting it in some cases, and it really is a pleasure to use.

Sadly, Nokia has confirmed that the Lumia 800 will not launch in the U.S. this year. 2012 may be a different story but in the meantime, the phone will launch this month across several European countries and in additional markets by the end of the year for €420 before taxes and subsidies.

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