The Nokia 800 Tough not only wants to be cheap, but also very robust. Is that enough to keep up with modern smartphones as a feature phone?
Everyone talks about smartphones, the all-rounders that are now available for less than 100 euros (for smartphone advice) and that almost everyone in the industrialized world carries in their pockets. But they still exist: feature phones that advertise with a long runtime and a range of features reduced to the basic functions. They are mainly bought by people who oppose the always-on idea. Or by users who do not want to risk their expensive smartphone in special environments – such as extreme sports or on the construction site – and are therefore looking for a cheap second device.
Outdoor smartphones such as the Gigaset GX290 (test report) are now an alternative, but they too can now do quite a lot and cost a few exceptions accordingly. This is where the Nokia 800 Tough comes in, because according to the manufacturer and Nokia licensee HMD Global, it is not only the most stable Nokia of all time, but as a feature phone not only wants to score with a low price, but also a particularly long battery life.
No question: The Nokia 800 Tough looks like a real outdoor cell phone. Thick plastic frames around the screen protect it from falls. The screen, which is almost tiny in comparison to smartphones, should be more resistant than that of the iPhone and Co. simply because of its smaller attack surface. Where the other half of the display on smartphones extends, the tough Nokia 800 has keys – that's right: keys. There is no touchscreen. As before, the phone has a numeric keypad with a few special keys and four-way directional pad. Their feedback in the form of key travel and pressure point is not perfect, but is sufficient for predominantly precise operation.
The martial look of the outdoor cell phone is underlined by star screws, and our test device in the color "desert sand" has a gray camouflage pattern on the back. The screws are real, but they don't make sense. If you unscrew the back, you won't find a removable battery underneath, but only a self-contained interior with no access. The camouflage pattern also offers no real added value, especially since the camera section including LED flash and loudspeaker is protected by a shiny metal plate. The internal encapsulation makes it necessary to be certified to IP68, which should largely prevent the ingress of water and dust. A 30-minute immersion bath in water up to 1.5 meters deep should not bother the device.
The manufacturer also promises that the device will survive falls on concrete from up to 1.8 meters in accordance with MIL-STD 810G and will work without any problems at temperatures between -20 and +55 degrees. After such falls, users should of course not complain about quirks in the plastic. To prevent dust and water from entering, the Nokia 800 has protective caps over all openings. With a large and stable hook on the base of the phone, the device can be put on a strap or secured.
The TFT of the Nokia 800 measures just 2.4 inches and offers a resolution of 320 × 240 pixels (QVGA). Even with such a small screen, that's just under 170 pixels per inch. Of course, this is enough for simple presentation, but nobody can speak of sharp here with the best will. Colors and contrasts are also rather below average and the display level, like that of a ten-year-old smartphone, is far below the display surface. In addition, there is a strong dependence on the viewing angle, in which not only the brightness varies depending on the viewing angle, but also the colors and contrast also become stronger or weaker. This is particularly bad when you look at the screen from above, where contrasts almost completely disappear. The display of the Nokia 800 Tough is at best useful, compared to – of course much more expensive – high-end smartphone panels, the screen of the outdoor model is pitifully bad – especially since we are not talking about a disposable cell phone for 35 euros.
On the back there is a single lens with 2 megapixels, which is supported by an LED flash. Nothing helps – in low light conditions, the Nokia 800 Tough should be left in your pocket and even in good light, the image quality is clearly worse compared to similarly priced smartphones in terms of image dynamics, noise and sharpness. Except for unimportant snapshots, the snap of the outdoor cell phone is not suitable. This also applies to videos that can be recorded at a maximum of 480p and sometimes even jerky. The Nokia 800 Tough's camera is better than no camera – but not much.
Nokia surprisingly calls the device Smartphone – But the phone is far from smart. However, the designation is not to be dismissed entirely by hand, because the device certainly has some features of a smartphone. For example, a Firefox OS-based operating system called KaiOS runs on the phone, which supports LTE, NFC, GPS, WLAN and HTML-5-based applications. Accordingly, there is even an app store from which a few apps can be downloaded, and there are OTA updates of the operating system – almost everything that a real dumbphone cannot do. This is also the reason why users of Google Maps, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube do not have to look into the tube, because all these apps run on the Nokia 800, they are even installed ex works. In addition there are three rather unknown games and the classic Snake,
The fact that their use is hardly any real fun is due to the Stone Age operation, in addition to a not very large and sharp display. Without touch operation, even entering a WLAN password becomes a pain. If you don't know how to use the numeric keypad like ten years ago, you have to first find out how to activate capitalization – or try Google. There is an intuitive way. The pre-installed Google Assistant almost looks like an anachronism, somehow it doesn't really fit the old-fashioned rest of the Nokia 800. Doesn't matter – due to the lack of keys for the volume and the assistant, it will probably not be used too often. Then the flashlight, which was placed in the form of an additional, slightly larger LED on the front of the cell phone. But honestly, HMD: Why is the extra LED, which only functions as a flashlight, much weaker than the flash of a sensible smartphone that is misused as a flashlight …?
With the hardware, no prospect needs to expect miracles. The drive is an ancient Snapdragon 205 with two cores, 512 MB of RAM ensure largely "smooth" operation – no wonder, there are no animations either. In the test, the Nokia 800 woke up at least mostly directly and the awkward movements of the cursor or icon marking, for example in the menu, usually followed promptly. A mere 4 GB of internal memory is waiting for use, plus space for up to 32 GB micro SD cards. In addition to WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and an FM radio, the highlight is probably LTE Cat. 4 with download rates of up to 150 Mbit / s.
In addition to being insensitive to external influences, the Nokia 800 Tough especially wants to score with the battery life – because this is where smartphones usually perform significantly worse than feature phones. The power dispenser of the phone achieves 2100 mAh, HMD Global specifies up to 43 days standby time for this. However, as always with manufacturer information, this should not be achievable in everyday life as soon as one or both SIM cards are inserted and the display brightness no longer glows in Funzel mode. There is also a difference between pure standby and realistic usage times.
In the absence of benchmarks available for KaiOS, we played YouTube videos permanently for a test that was meaningful at least in the WLAN without a SIM card and measured the time that the phone withstood the full battery until it was switched off. In the absence of automatic ambient light detection, we chose the full brightness of almost 400 cd / m². The feature phone managed 8:15 hours at a time – a good, modern smartphone usually achieves similar values in the same scenario despite the much larger, brighter and higher-resolution display, much stronger hardware and significantly more extensive operating system. The Nokia 800 Tough may last a long time in standby, but the endurance is not very impressive in use.
Nokia launches the 800 tough at a retail price of 119 euros. The current price is here in the price comparison. The colors black and sand are available.
Nokia 800 Tough Black
Nokia 800 Tough Sand
The Nokia 800 Tough could be an interesting second cell phone for extreme athletes or construction workers – if it weren't for the high price. Around 110 euros? For that you get reasonably smart smartphones that ESSENTIAL can do more than the Stone Age outdoor cell phone from HMD Global. The tough is tough for that. However, there are even outdoor smartphones for less than 100 euros, and thanks to the touchscreen, they are at least reasonably pleasant to use. This reduces the advantage of the Nokia 800 to the battery life – and even that did not convince us in our test. Simply because it turned out not to be much better in operation than with a reasonably decent smartphone.
The question arises as to why someone should still use a pre-flood feature phone when a smartphone covers the same tasks and can do everything much better. Only the price would therefore be an argument for the Nokia 800 Tough and in our eyes it is much too high. Here we have an always current one Selection of feature and smartphones compiled, which are either significantly lower in price or can do much more at a similar price. We provide information on future-proof smartphones in our article Top 5: The best smartphones with Android One. If you want to spend a little more money than the tested Nokia 800 Tough, you can find help in our top 10 smartphones up to 200 euros. If it shouldn't get more expensive, we have a list of smartphones with Android 9 and exchangeable batteries from 50 euros.