Nokia's foray into the world of Windows Phone has caused quite a stir of late. The Lumia 800, aka the Sea Ray, has gotten a huge amount of coverage since it was announced only a couple of weeks ago at Nokia World 2011. Having used the handset since then, we’re not at all surprised it’s generating such a buzz. With a refined design and a feature set that puts it at the top of the Windows Phone melange, the Lumia 800 may seem like an obvious choice if you’re after a Microsoft-powered mobile. Before you go and splash out on a £30 a month contract, it’s worth taking a look at the other Mangos on the market.
As of yet, HTC are the only manufacturer to release Windows Phone 7.5 handsets here in the UK with their HTC Titan and Radar in stores in September. These are very different to Nokia's Lumia 800. The aptly named Titan is a multimedia powerhouse with the biggest screen Windows Phone has to offer while the HTC Radar is a refined, good looking work-horse at a great price point. Here’s a quick comparison of all the handset’s design, apps, specs, multimedia, and battery life to help you decide if Nokia's Mango should be your fruit of choice.
The Nokia Lumia 800 has an instantly appealing design. With confident angles and elegant curves, it’s unibody plastic is a joy to behold and is certainly one of the handsets key strengths. With a 3.7-inch ClearBlack AMOLED screen, the Nokia Lumia also promises deeper blacks than either of HTC’s offerings and more vibrant colours. So all in all it’s a good start for Nokia.
If any Windows Phone handset breaks the mould, it’s the Titan. Coming in at 4.7-inches, it's not only the largest of the contenders, but also has the boldest design. With its angular corners and matted black finish, flip the handset upside down and you'd be forgiven for thinking KITT from Knightrider has pulled up at your desk. All it's missing is a flashing red LED. The screen is also a thing of beauty. Despite being less sharp than the Lumia and Radar, it still holds its own delivering rich colours and a very finger-friendly experience.
HTC's Radar is solid. As with the Nokia, it’s been blessed with unibody construction, only this time, Nokia's plastic is swapped out for HTC’s metal (see below). While this makes the Radar heavy, it's also wonderful to use with decent weighting and a crisp, vivid Super LCD display that matches the Lumia at 3.7-inches.
Nokia has equipped the Lumia 800 with some great custom apps. Nokia Maps enables cached mapping while Nokia Drive provides users with an exclusive turn by turn voice guided GPS with the option to download entire country maps before heading out on a journey. The Nokia Music app is also a nice touch, giving you pre-selected mixes to download for offline listening. While you don't get the on-demand action that you'll now be able to enjoy with the Spotify Windows Phone app, it's a nice addition all the same.
HTC's Radar and Titan have generally less functional additions, though for the connected media-centric out there, may well be more appealing. The first app of note is HTC Watch, the on-demand film rental service. This is perfect if you’re out and about and don’t have time to manually fill up your phone with movies. The other application worth mentioning is Connected Media, HTC's DLNA service that helps keep your home media as synced as possible
Are you a reader, a movie buff or a casual user? If you're the first, thanks to its AMOLED screen, the Nokia Lumia 800 is hands down the best for ebooks, letting you black out the background, white out the text and swipe through pages for some high contrast Kindle app time. Thanks to the sharp screen, text looks crisp and the fact AMOLED blacks don’t emit light means you can read for longer without getting tired eyes.
That said, you may also want a mobile cinema in your pocket and they don’t come much more cinema like than the HTC Titan. At 4.7-inches, the screen pulls you into the experience and the inclusion of Dolby SRS means you get audio to match. Despite mentioning the screen’s lower pixel density earlier, this isn’t noticeable with moving images, making the Titan’s video playing the winner of the three.
The HTC Radar is the weakest PMP on show due to its 6.54GB of usable internal storage, yet still manages to deliver a competent media experience. It's smaller size makes it an ideal MP3 Player and the sharp screen means movies and text look fantastic. If you're concerned about memory, 6.54GB means a couple of thousand songs or about 20 movies.
All the cameras on these Mango handsets have f/2.2 lenses which is great to see. This not only reduces blurry shots, but also improves low-light performance. While the Lumia 800 and HTC Titan have 8-megapixels sensors, the HTC Radar’s is but a lowly 5-megapixels.
We expected great things from the Nokia Lumia 800 with the joint highest specs and Carl Zeiss’ endorsement, however the results are somewhat disappointing. Detail isn’t too bad but noise handling really lets the Lumia down. It also produces a blurry picture every now and then which isn’t something we’d expect from a premium camera phone.
In contrast, the on-paper identical HTC Titan fares much better in the image stakes. With decent noise handling, impressive dynamic range and a fantastic macro lens, the Titans camera could even substitute a low to mid-range compact at times.
Finally the Radar with its 5-megapixels camera is very comparable to the Nokia Lumia 800. Despite softer detail, HTC's lower end offering manages to produce more appealing looking picture with better dynamic range. The fact that HTC also enhance the Titan and Radar camera modules by including burst and stitch assist panorama modes make these the winners in this camera race.
On specs and processing power alone, the Nokia Lumia 800’s 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor clocks in just slightly below the Titan's 1.5GHz OMAP. The reality is that neither show any noticeable variance, flying through even the most gruelling tasks. The pleasant surprise is that the lower specced HTC Radar, with its 1GHz OMAP processor does a very good job of keeping up with the competition, only lagging behind in the camera app and when browsing content heavy websites. For everything else performance-wise, the playing field is pretty even.
We would expect most smartphones to last a whole day and fortunately all these handsets do. Starting them up at 7:30 AM and using them moderately, we found that the first to go flat was the Nokia Lumia 800 at about 10:00 PM with the HTC Titan shortly following at about 11:00 PM. The HTC Radar outlasted the lot, switched on throughout the night and dying the next midday.
It’s pretty clear, each of these phones have their strengths. The Nokia Lumia 800 is the best looking of the three and Nokia’s apps are fantastic, with Nokia Drive in particular being a great tool for anyone who spends a considerable amount of time on the open road. While nowhere near as sleek, if you’re into your multimedia, you really can’t beat the HTC Titan. It’s got presence, power and one fantastic camera so if those are important to you, it’s the Titan all the way. Finally, the HTC Radar is the all-rounder. Being the cheapest of the three handsets available from as little as £21.50 per month at Phones4U, if you like your premium hardware coupled with an affordable price, the HTC Radar comes highly recommended.