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Nokia Lumia 800 hands-on: Unibody wonder

CNET gets hands-on with the Nokia Lumia 800.

The Nokia Lumia 800 in black, cyan, and magenta.
The Nokia Lumia 800 in black, cyan, and magenta.
Nicole Lee/CNET

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--Mere hours after Nokia launched the Lumia 800 and its lower-end sibling, the Lumia 710, in London, we headed on over to the Nokia offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., to get a hands-on look at the new devices for ourselves. (Read Jessica Dolcourt's take on the Nokia Lumia 710 here.)

Check out CNET UK's full review of the Nokia Lumia 800.

If the Nokia Lumia 800 looks at all familiar to you, you might be thinking of the Nokia N9. Indeed, the hardware looks remarkably similar, with its unibody polycarbonite shell. As our colleague Jessica Dolcourt said, the overall shape and design of the Lumia 800 reminds us somewhat of a stick of gum, and not in a bad way. The unibody design results in a streamlined look from head to toe, with flat tops and bottoms and rounded sides. The body, which is 4.59 inches (116.5mm) by 2.4 inches (61.2mm) by 0.47 inch (12.1mm), feels grippy and solid in the hand. The Lumia 800 comes in three different colors: cyan, magenta, and black. Because it's a unibody design, it does not have a user-removable battery.

The Nokia Lumia was designed from the inside out to fit the curved AMOLED display perfectly in the unibody polycarbonite shell.

Set inside the shell is a gorgeous 3.7-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display. It has a WVGA resolution and the term ClearBlack means it has a built-in polarizing filter that helps it look good under bright sunlight. A Nokia spokesperson told us that the phone was built from the inside out to fit the display perfectly. We were told that there's actually a tiny screw on the phone that when loosened will pop the display out (in case you need to replace it, we suppose). The Lumia 800 is said to be quite durable thanks to its solid build quality and Gorilla Glass display.

Interestingly, the display is actually curved outward slightly (about 2.5mm in depth) so that it looks as if the glass is hovering above the phone. The slight curve results in a smooth side-to-side swiping motion, which was Nokia and Microsoft's intent. In our brief few minutes handling the phone, we did notice remarkable responsiveness during navigation, though that could also be because of the phone's 1.4GHz single-core Qualcomm MSM8255 processor. It doesn't have the 1GB of RAM of the Nokia N9, however; the Lumia 800 only has 512MB of processor memory.

The Nokia Lumia 800 has an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens.
The Nokia Lumia 800 has an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. Nicole Lee/CNET

Nokia has always been known for its excellent cameras, and we're happy to report that the Lumia 800 does have an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and dual LED flash. We tried snapping a few pictures, and there didn't seem to be much shutter lag in between shots. It can record 720p HD video at 30 frames per second and the camera app offers a few extra features like red-eye reduction and motion blur reduction. It supports 16:9 wide-screen images as well.

Other specs of the phone include 16GB of internal memory, with no sign of external media storage. However, users will get 25GB of free cloud-based storage courtesy of Microsoft's SkyDrive service.

Aside from the usual Windows Phone services, Nokia has also contributed a few of its own apps and services. They include Nokia Drive for turn-by-turn navigation thanks to the company's Navteq acquisition (the maps can be preloaded onto the device via Wi-Fi in case you don't get any data connection), ESPN Sports Hub, and Nokia Music and Mix Radio for free streaming music.

The Nokia Lumia 800 will be available in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom in November. Pricing is expected to be around 420 euros ($585 U.S.), and you can preorder yours today through Nokia's Web site.