I think it’s important to start out with battery life for two reasons - I end up spending a huge majority of my time doing battery life tests, and in the case of the Lumia 800 much has been written about battery-related issues.  The full disclosure is that the Lumia 800 unfortunately does have some rather glaring power and charging related problems. The first Lumia 800 we were sampled suffered from a battery-related problem that caused spontaneous rebooting during use and some charging issues. This was swapped out for another that had the updated release version firmware on it. This second device is the one I spent my majority of time with, although this second device also periodically reboots, though not as much.

The second issue is one that becomes visible when you fully discharge the phone, which naturally we do a lot of while testing battery. If you discharge the phone completely, and then attempt to re-charge, occasionally the phone will go into an endless boot loop, where it powers on, starts WP7, detects that the battery is below its power-off threshold, and shut down. Then the cycle repeats. Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal, but for some reason the PMIC (Qualcomm's PM8058) doesn’t really charge the phone while this is going on. I encountered this once, and even after 3 days of charging couldn’t boot successfully until I did a hard reset with the Nokia triple finger salute. The other minor issue is that if you get the phone into this low power state, sometimes it won’t pull any current to charge the phone. It takes a few attempts and getting the phone into the right pre-boot environment for this to work properly.

Plugged in but not drawing any current - Unplugging and replugging eventually gets the Lumia 800 to charge correctly and draw 5-6W.

The latest update for the Lumia 800 as of this writing is 1600.2479.7740.11451 and includes “charging improvements” in its change-log, so it’s possible this issue has been addressed already, though there’s another update coming down the line as well. The Lumia 800 we were sampled only was being pushed “1600.2475.7720.11414” due to Microsoft’s staggered update push progress, so again it’s possible this is totally fixed.

 

There’s a debug menu which can be launched with the dialer code ##634#, and afterwards appears in the normal application list as well. In here you can see the real battery status, charge capacity, and even the instantaneous current draw no doubt as reported by the PMIC. While I wasn’t affected with the bug that sends the charge capacities to 0 mAh, this is still a useful menu.

So the normal corners of our battery life testing are how long the phone lasts while loading pages over 3G and WiFi, and then call time. Page load tests take place with the display set at 200 nits, though on WP7 the only display options are Low, Medium, and High (we selected Medium). We’ve added hotspot tests too which eliminate the display from being a factor, though these aren’t presently able to be tested on WP7.

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)
 
Web Browsing (WiFi)
 
Cellular Talk Time

The Lumia leads the pack of WP7 devices we’ve tested in two out of the three categories, but lags the LG Optimus 7 when it comes to loading pages on cellular data. I’m decently impressed with how well the Lumia does considering its 1450mAh (5.37 Whr) battery, yet it could be better. Having an AMOLED display in conjunction with our primarily white background webpages from the page loading suite definitely makes an impact. I can’t help but wonder whether these numbers will improve or not after Nokia also updates firmware and fixes some of the battery life bugs have been publicly acknowledged.

I noticed some other subtle behavior while testing the Lumia 800. A new feature in WP7.5 “mango” is the addition of a battery saver tab under settings which optionally allows automatic pausing of background data and dimming of the display when battery gets low. In this menu you can also view battery percentage and some estimates of battery life remaining based on historical use. With the second updated Lumia 800, the phone turns off at 5%, presumably to mitigate the reboot loop that sometimes results if the phone is discharged to 0%. So there’s at least an extra 5% of battery life hanging around that no doubt will be exposed with the eventual update.

Introduction and Aesthetics Performance
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  • 465thGTG - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Sounds like you aren't thoroughly familiar with Windows Phone. As far as performance goes, my Titan consistently feels faster and more fluid than my Galaxy S II, which has ungodly specs. Benchmarks may paint one picture, but real world use paints a completely different one.

    Speaking of the Titan, I can't believe Brian didn't mention it at all. Its camera is a clear step above both the Focus S and Lumia 800.
    Reply
  • doubledeej - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    What evidence do you have for WP7 needing dual core? My HTC HD7 runs circles around my coworker's Galaxy S II with a lower clock speed and half of the number of cores.

    WP7 renders graphics using the GPU so everything feels fast and fluid. Android doesn't even attempt to do that until 3.0 (which isn't available on phones). ICS adds it, but not many models are getting that yet.

    AMOLED is beautiful. Fully saturated colors and infinite contrast ratio. I'd take an AMOLED at half of the rated brightness of an LCD any day. The AMOLED screens in production aren't too dim. But some of the LCDs can get too bright.
    Reply
  • french toast - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    I agree AMOLEDS are awesome!, i havnt seen a modern one but i saw my mates HTC desire when that came out and it was cool, if they have improved since then then i want one!

    I havnt used WP7 so i cant comment on responsivness, but what i will say is that multi cores devices actually bring the power consumption DOWN, whilst making something that can be multithreaded eg web browsing even smoother, it also gives games developers power to make better games, the GPU on the old snapdragon is weak, so while the OS may run smooth thanks to miccrosofts supreme optimizations,you cant tell me you wouldnt want better more powerfull engine inside, that gives better battery life as well as better games would you?

    Either way, WP7 whilst clearly very slick, is selling like ice creams in antartica, and i think this has to do with the pecieved out of date specs, like NFC duel core LTE etc, people want the lastest gadgets with the same stuff there friends have..

    Microsoft MUST start delivering some up to date hardware.
    Reply
  • LB-ID - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Brian, just FYI. Article's last page, paragraph three:

    "at least min my mind"

    I believe that should be: "at least in my mind".

    Thanks for the article and analysis!
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Fixed!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Thanks for all the edits/corrections everyone, I've made a number of changes (all those listed here). :)

    -Brian
    Reply
  • comomolo - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    I understand Nokia doesn't want the N9 to succeed or their Windows Phone strategy is doomed. But this is an independent news site, isn't it? Where's the N9 in the comparison charts? Where's the N9 review? Comparing the Lumia with the phone it inherited the design from (the N9) is only logical. Hiding it from your readers is not very professional.

    Yes, Nokia decided to "kill" Meego (that's just a public statement; it's obviously their "plan B" and will be the basis for their upcoming "low end" Meltemi), but for a whole lot of people who couldn't care less about "ecosystems" (which is just a new euphemism for "lock-in"), its applications offer is pretty nice. In some areas, like telephony, is much better than anything else on the market, and because it's fairly open, lots of hacks and community apps and add-ons are being developed every day. Honestly, unless you lack any knowledge of technology (and then, why would you want a smartphone?) the N9 is currently offering much better value than the Lumia or any other Windows Phone 7 device.
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    I'm looking at jumping from Android to WPx... as it is, I am running the free WP7 Launcher on my Android that makes using the phone so much easier than the default Android one.

    I see postings from WP7 owners wishing the titles would rotate with the phone (As we know, not even iOS and Android does this)...

    But there is the cool thing, the WP7 Launcher for Android *DOES* rotate the tiles - which not only looks cool, its handy and allows you to read the titles. Of course the wide titles can't rotate, but this function would SO be worth it.
    Reply
  • Voldenuit - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the great review!

    Minor nitpick, though. The F number by convention is reported as a reciprocal when used with lower case 'f', and as a normal number when used with upper case 'F'. It's just one of those weird notation conventions in photography.

    Example:

    f/2.0 == F2.0 == an aperture with a diameter half the focal length of the lens.

    Camera geek with N8 in hand ;).
    Reply
  • Solidstate89 - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - link

    If they could get that rumored Lumia 900 on Sprint with the 4.3" screen, I would finally be able to switch to a pure software keyboard. The keyboard WP7 uses is utterly fantastic, from its sound to its autocorrect. It's juts great. However on the 3.6" screen on my Arrive, it's a bit cramped even when in landscape mode. However something as large as 4.3" is certainly enough to make me move. Reply

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