Nokia has today unveiled two phones it plans to launch locally, with the new Windows-equipped range of smartphones heading to stores in March.

The first of the pair is the Lumia 800, a premium handset that takes the well-designed shell of last year’s Nokia N9 and gives the internals a much needed refresh, ditching the Meego operating system and replacing it with Windows Phone 7.

Like the N9, the Lumia 800 will feature an 8 megapixel auto-focus camera with Carl Zeiss lens, polycarbonate unibody phone chassis, 16GB internal storage, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, and support for microSIM. Unlike the 3.9 inch N9 though, there’s a 3.7 inch AMOLED screen with dedicated Windows buttons – Back, Home, and Search.

Last year's Nokia N9 (left) is very similar to the Lumia 800, and they should be: the casing is almost identical.

Nokia’s recommended retail price for the Lumia 800 is $699, with the phone available in four colours – white, black, cyan, and magenta – and heading to all major telcos from March.

Playing with the Lumia 800 today, it’s easy to see that Nokia has done a lot of work here. We originally loved the unibody hardware of the N9 and in the Lumia 800, it’s just  as striking – the single-colour one-piece body looks absolutely superb. Likewise, it feels robust, and is nicely reassuring in the hand.

In use, the screen provides a very clear display, and Windows Phone seems to perform very well. We didn’t see speed issues from our brief play, but time will tell if this is an exceptional phone, and we look forward to reviewing it in more detail soon.

The Lumia 710 held on the left, alongside the Lumia 800.