First Nokia phones don't make slam-dunk case for big Windows Phone comeback

Nokia phones are slick, but even fans wonder how well they'll sell running Windows

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Hands-on review from GMANews:

ITWorld readers gave the design and specs mixed but generally positive reviews, though one wished the Windows Phones came without Internet Explorer and another wished they came with the option to run a different OS.

Slick phone doesn't alleviate doubts about OS

The specs don't look that impressive, but Engadget reviewers were "bedazzled" by the Lumina 800 and lukewarm about the 710, at least partially because of the noticeable cost-cutting in the design and componentry.

In his speech at the Web 2.0 conference, Ballmer promised to bring the price of Windows Phones way down to make them more attractive.

Engadget's most effusive praise was that the Nokia Lumina 800 was comparable to Nokia's existing N9 – a sharply designed, plastic-bodied phone with a beautiful display screen running Nokia's Meego operating system, which a GMANews reviewer calls a "combination of the BlackBerry Playbook OS, Android Honeycomb and Apple’s iOS."

The Nokia 800 appears to be a slightly upgraded version of the N9, running Windows Phone rather than Meego, which Nokia has discontinued and will no longer install even on its own phones.

So, if phones of similar quality and slick design hit the U.S., would that fulfill Ballmer's boast that Windows Phone will move up in sales and market share to challenge iOS and Android?

Keep in mind that if it does, that would give most major companies at least four major smartphone/tablet operating systems to support – Blackberry, iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Many will opt for less diversity, though it's not clear from most survey results if they'd end up preferring Blackberry and Windows Phones for their legacy support, or iOS and Android for their support of the latest hardware and virtualization technology.

Phone OSes are a notoriously idiosyncratic choice, both for companies and individuals, so I won't try to guess based only on having read about phones that won't be available here until at least the end of the year.

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