Today we have a new comparison for you all; in one corner we have Nokia’s Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 800 and in the other corner the Galaxy S II Android Smartphone from Samsung. Both of these phones are top of the line handsets, they have some similarities but many differences, so let’s see who comes out on top shall we?
The main sections I will be covering today are:
- CPU and RAM
- Dimensions and Weight
- Battery Life
- Operating System and UI
- Social Integration
- Included Accessories
CPU and RAM
The Nokia Lumia 800 sports a sweet 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM 8255 single core processor bundled with 512MB of RAM. Compare this with the Galaxy S II which has its Samsung Exynos 1.2 GHz dual-core powerhouse and a whopping 1GB of RAM it feels like the Nokia is lacking, but don’t be tricked by this, the Lumia 800 still feels smooth as butter no matter what you throw at it.
However I have to say that the Galaxy S II wins here, the pure power can’t be matched and the 1GB of RAM allows for massive amounts of multitasking.
The Lumia comes with 16GB internal memory, but no microSD slot or means to expand its storage. The Galaxy S II on the other hand comes in either 16GB or 32GB sizes, each capable of being expanded another 32GB via a microSD slot. The Galaxy also features On-The-Go (OTG) technology so that you can plug in a USB flash drive or externally powered USB Hard drive.
The obvious winner here is the Samsung Galaxy S II, with its choice in sizes and expandability.
The display on a smartphone can be a deciding factor for some people these days, it can be the difference between a phone being good or being great. A smartphone with clear and colourful screen can be seen as some as a representation of the inner workings of the phone.
The Lumia 800 has a 3.7 inch AMOLED ClearBlack curved capacitive touch screen. Display is seamlessly integrated into a one piece body. Now, the Galaxy S II has a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus display to provide better web browsing. Both devices have a 480×800 pixel resolution, however due to the smaller size of the Lumia images can appear clearer at times. This is because it has a pixel density of 252ppi compared to the Galaxy’s 217ppi. The greater the pixel density, the crisper the image appears.
Now, one handset has AMOLED with curved screen that provides the user with better touch feel and the other has Super AMOLED with bigger screen. For this section I recommend you to judge the handsets from the point of view of your liking. Both these displays are good.
Smartphones these days are starting to replace the traditional point and click camera, due to ease of use and availability, so having a decent camera is a big plus on a phone. The Lumia 800 has an 8 MP auto focus rear camera with Zeiss Optics and dual-LED Flash; the camera can also record 720p HD videos. But one thing is pretty shocking and that is that it has no front camera. Now the Galaxy S II, it has an 8MP auto focus camera with LED flash as well as a 2MP camera on the front side to enable video chat. Similarly the rear camera can also capture HD video; however it records at 1080p instead of 720p.
Both of these devices have decent cameras that I would happily use for everyday shots, however one thing apparent with the Lumia 800 is that it has been focused towards macro photography. By default when entering the camera, the focus mode is set to macro (later software updates change this default to normal focus) and when shooting, boy does it not disappoint with macro shots. But when comparing normal shots with the Galaxy S II it gets let down. Pictures appear grainier and often the colours are slightly off. So this can be a blessing or a curse depending on how much macro photography you plan on doing with your phone.
Another advantage of the Nokia Lumia 800 is the dedicated camera hardware button. Holding the camera button when the screen is off and locked will open the phone straight into the camera for a quick shot.
While the Lumia’s dedicated camera button and superior macro shooting capabilities make it a great camera, due to the lack of a front facing camera I find myself leaning once again towards the Galaxy S II.
Dimensions and Weight
The Lumia 800 has dimensions of 116.5×61.2×12.1mm and as far as the weight of the Lumia 800 is concerned, it weighs 142g. A lot of this weight comes from the sturdy metal body. On the other hand the Galaxy S II has dimensions of 125.3×66.1×8.49mm and in spite of being a relatively big size of the handset, the Galaxy S II is only 116g.
Now, we see that the Galaxy is a bigger handset than the Lumia 800 but it is still lighter and thinner than the Lumia, so the winner is the Galaxy S II.
The Lumia 800 has a 1450mAh 3.7V battery which gives a standby time of 265h and a talk time of 13h on 2G. Whereas the Galaxy S II has a 1650mAh Li-ion battery that gives standby time up to 710h on 2G and 610h on 3G and talk time of up to 18h and 20m on 2G and 8h and 40m on 3G. On standard usage I got 2 days life with the Galaxy S II and 1 day under heavy usage. With the Lumia on standard usage I got about 1.5 days battery life and 12 hours under heavy usage, so you could comfortably use either of these phones all day and then just charge them overnight.
The Lumia 800’s battery life was significantly increased by a software update that saw the idle battery drain drop from 180mA to 80mA.
The bigger battery makes the Galaxy S II clear winner when it comes to battery life.
Operating system and UI
Well where to start? The basically, the Nokia Lumia 800 is running Windows Phone 7.5 and the Samsung Galaxy S II is running Android Gingerbread 2.3 (upgradable to 4.0 ICS). But that’s only where the differences begin! The Galaxy’s UI is based on Samsung’s TouchWiz with the basic 4 static apps along a bottom bar with multiple dynamic homescreens capable of holding folders, application shortcuts, live widgets, custom and live wall papers and then a pull down notification bar which shows you information about missed calls, unread messages and many other application specific information as well as 5 static toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sound and Rotation. Then there is an app draw containing all your installed applications in a 4×4 grid. All this can be changed with many other available launchers in the Google Play Store. The Nokia Lumia 800 on the other hand has a tile homescreen interface, 2 tiles side by side descending down the screen which are scrollable. Instead of a wallpaper for the background there is a single solid colour, selectable from a list of colours in the settings menu. The tiles likewise are a solid colour also selectable through the settings menu. The tiles can be anything from pinned applications to live tiles displaying weather, however there is no folder options. There is no dropdown notification area to be found though, just a basic battery meter, signal indicators and clock. At the touch of a button you can view all installed applications in a list in contrast to the Galaxy’s grid of icons.
Multitasking on smartphones is becoming more and more important and is present in both of these devices. On the Lumia, a hold of the windows soft key will bring up a horizontal gallery of snapshots of open applications, so that you can just browse to the open application you wish to resume. The Galaxy’s multitasking interface differs depending on the Android version you are running. If you are on the stock 2.3 Gingerbread version, then holding the home button will bring up a popup window with a 2×4 grid of icons representing the recently opened applications. However, if you are on the latest Ice-Cream Sandwich it’s a different story. Holding the home button will instead bring up a vertical display of snapshots of open applications that can be swiped away to close them or clicked to resume.
Something missing some the Lumia is a file browser of any sort. There is no way to sort through the internal file system. Sure you can view all the pictures and videos and music in their respective applications but nothing more than that. The Galaxy has a full-fledged file browser for viewing and organising both the internal memory and any external media attached. Also you will notice that unlike most other mobile operating systems, including Nokia’s own Symbian OS, there is no notification area at all. While the “live tiles” on the Lumia do update to show if you have a message or email, that is all you will get. Android and even Apple’s iOS have notification areas for all unread emails, messages, Facebook statuses and all things like that. This is a much needed feature in Windows Phone OS.
Even though the UI of Windows Phone on the Lumia is very easy to learn your way round, the winner of this section still goes to Android on the Galaxy simply due to the massive amount of customisation available and the file browser.
Both these devices tick all the usual boxes when it comes to connectivity, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11N, Bluetooth, MicroUSB, however there are still some slight differences. The Lumia 800 is capable of 3G speeds of 14.4 Mbps download and 5.76 Mbps Upload and has Bluetooth v2.1. Compare this with the Galaxy S II which is capable of 3G speeds of 21Mbps download and 5.76 upload and has Bluetooth v3.0 you see these differences. Also the Galaxy S II is capable of becoming a Wi-Fi hotspot for your other portable devices.
One key thing disappointing about the Lumia 800 when it comes to connectivity however is that the Bluetooth functionality is almost completely non-existent when it comes to data transfer. It can be used to transfer your old contacts from another device but that is where it stops. There is no file transfer options, you can’t share media with other Bluetooth enabled devices or even send a contact to a friend. This I feel is a key feature in the smartphone world these days. The Galaxy is more than capable of these things and will share anything from a contact to a photo or application via Bluetooth.
Another thing that frustrated me, was that on the Lumia 800, every time I locked the screen or it timed out, the Wi-Fi connection turned off too. So if I was chatting to someone on Windows Live or Facebook and the screen timed out or i turned it off to put it in my pocket, I stopped receiving messages because the Wi-Fi was off. In Wi-Fi settings, there was no option anywhere to adjust this to my liking. While the Samsung Galaxy S II can also disable Wi-Fi when the screen is off, this is adjustable between 3 profiles, never disable Wi-Fi, always disable Wi-Fi and don’t disable while charging.
The clear winner here is the Galaxy S II, the ability to take full advantage of its Bluetooth and the ability to create a Wi-Fi hotspot are the main reasons for it winning here.
The Nokia Lumia 800 has some really good features in the social integration section. It has Gmail, Yahoo! mail, Nokia mail, Hotmail, Exchange and there is IM, MMS, and SMS. In the people hub section it has Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn. The People Hub is capable of showing the latest status updates from all your friends and twitter feeds that you follow, as well as displaying all your contacts. The Me Hub allows you to see mentions of you in all social networks as well as update your status feeds simultaneously. The messaging Hub is great because it can show you everyone that is online on Facebook chat and Windows Live. You can start a conversation with one of your friends on Facebook and then in the same thread when they go off Facebook switch to texting their mobile or Windows Live ID without opening a different application or chat thread.
Now the Galaxy S II, it has got Gmail and Active Sync Email, then it has SMS, MMS, and as far as the hubs are concerned it has four: Music Hub, Social Hub, Readers Hub, and Game Hub. You can connect your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts here too. However the whole interface doesn’t come together as nicely on the Galaxy.
The winner here is the Lumia 800, for the way it brings all the social networks together flawlessly.
No one can underestimate the role of music in any phone, smart phone or otherwise. The Nokia Lumia has music features such as FM Radio, Music Player, Audio Streaming, Bluetooth Stereo, Active Noise Cancellation. As far as the format goes it supports AAC, M4B, MP3, WMA, AAC+,EVRC, MP4z QCELP.
The Galaxy S II supports MP3, OGG, AAC,AAC+, eAAC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WMA, WAV, MID, AC3, IMY, FLAC, XM. It, like the Lumia 800, also features an FM Radio and Music Player.
Talking volume levels, the Galaxy S II is louder, providing 66.6dB music volume, 70dB call volume and 75.7dB ringer volume compared to the Lumia’s 59dB music, 60.9dB call and 61.7dB ringer volumes.
Both are solid music players, playing a massive range of audio formats and both featuring FM Radio.
So what do you get these days when you buy a new smartphone? Well if you are buying the Galaxy you’ll get the standard 3.5mm headphones with mic, a USB cable and wall charger. If you buy a Lumia 800 however, you will get all the standard things as well as a nice rubber case to protect your new smartphone with.
Winner is the Lumia for the free case!
So how do we sum up all that’s been discussed here? Well we’ve found that both devices have decent hardware with the Galaxy S II having a powerful dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM and the Lumia 800 with its crisp display and great camera. But what about the short comings? Well the social integration on Galaxy leaves much to be desired without third-party apps, and the UI while being very customisable can become too complex for users new to smartphones. The Lumia 800 may bring great social integration and a simplistic and beautiful UI to the game, but while these have been polished I can’t help feeling like I need more from the device. The limitations on the changes that can be made to the homescreen and interface, the inability to take advantage of the Bluetooth included to transfer files and media are 2 big things that it just can’t shake. The lack of a MicroSD slot leaving the user unable to expand past the limited 16GB of storage too only brings more issues with it too, especially when shooting 720p HD video on the phone. The solid build of hardware is let down greatly by its Windows Phone limitations. One other thing that bugged me was without the included case on the Lumia I found myself constantly bumping the camera button due to its placement.
So what would I recommend? At the end of the day, it’s the Galaxy S II from Samsung that takes this cake. Its raw power, screen size, expandable memory, connectivity and customisation makes it the king of this round up. However for users new to smartphones, the Lumia is a winner with its great hardware and simple easy to learn interface.
Until next time, check out the photos of these great phones in the gallery below!