Why do I call the newly released Nokia Lumia 510 a seed well planted? A seed (the 510) planted in a well maintained garden (Windows environment) will make sure that this seed goes onto become a giant tree (more Nokia Windows phones). For a phone to do well, the initial wow factor will just make users take the phone off the shelf and take one hard look. However, for people to actually buy it and recommend it to others will require that the ecosystem supports it well.
One major point to note is that the Lumia 510 currently runs on the Windows Phone 7.5 platform and will be shortly upgraded to the Windows Phone 7.8 platform. This phone won’t be upgradable to the Windows Phone 8 platform, since Microsoft has made it clear that existing WP7 phones don’t have an upgrade path the their latest mobile Operating System.
Let’s take a look at this phone up close and personal:
What’s in the box –
- Nokia Lumia 510
- USB Data cable
- Phone charger
- Standard charger
- User Manual (Who reads them these days anyway?!)
The phone feels comfortable in your hand with the frosted plastic in the back. On the sides, volume rocker, power button and camera button. For old timers like me, the power button is in the wrong place and the camera and power button can get a bit confusing. There is a standard 3.5mm jack on the top and a mini charger slot at the bottom. Very basic and looks robust! Very Nokiaic! Back of the phone boasts a 5MP camera (LED flash would have been nice) and a speaker. 3 “buttons” in the front with a back key, windows button and a search function button. A notch on the left hand side enables your to pry open the back cover. The 4″ screen is massive!
Our test phone was a black one and as with most touchscreens is a fingerprint magnet. My friend, Vinu, suggested the rub-it-on-your-sleeve solution to get rid of the fingerprints :) As with all phones with the Gorilla glass, don’t drop it warning comes in-built. Gorilla Glass doesn’t make the phone’s screen break-proof.
The first thing I noticed about the startup screen is that this is a Windows Phone first and then it is a Nokia phone, so no handshaking startup logo with the now familiar Nokia startup tone. Only a Windows logo and a “Windows Phone” written on it. The font looks very friendly and the default black background is pleasing to the eyes. Even with the white background, the screen doesn’t hurt the eyes. In the initial setup, have a Live ID handy to download your entire contact list. Luckily, I had setup my contact list on outlook.com (You can sync in your Gmail, Yahoo!, Facebook, LinkedIn contacts to outlook.com). Even if you haven’t set it up on outlook.com, you can still do the syncing on the phone. This feature, really goes a long way in eliminating integrating all your contacts and eliminates having to have an app to do this for you.
Considering that this is a Windows Phone, I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that setting up email accounts was as easy as entering one’s email address and password. No other credentials required!!! I have been through several generations of Windows software – Windows 2.x to 8 (from a “simple floppy install” to download from the internet days). At times, I could feel the drag of a low performance CPU in some screens, but mostly highly responsive surface and neat flow of the User Interface (UI). The title or header for all screens like “People”, “Zune” or “Radio” is huge and is very easy to read. The writing is only partial, suggesting at a very subliminal level that you need to swipe, so swiping is not a learnt art, but becomes intuitive. Kudos to Microsoft on the design!
I talked about how some of the elements in the UI needn’t be learnt and is intuitive. There are some elements which need some training – for example – the long click or tap or hold. This is like the personal computer right-click of the mouse. You can get a few more options like Delete, Move, Set as wallpaper (in case of images), you get the idea… If you want to switch between apps, apply the same trick of long hold on the “Back” button.
Customize – look, feel and apps
You can do all the standard customization – changing colors, ringtones, wallpapers, themes under the Settings menu. The tiles on the “Home Page” are nice and one can move these around or delete them with ease (remember the long click or a regular drag and drop). Some of the colors for the tiles are vibrant. When one changes orientation, the tiles don’t change though. One can change individual ringtones like any other true blood Nokia phone can do. The added feature that comes with this kind of personalization is the fact that the caller’s social status messages also shows up, which is neat. There are 2 inbuilt themes – default is black background with white text and other theme is white background with black text. My experience with most users is that the only customization that people really do is the ringtone (Till the phone gets to be about 2 days old), wallpaper (may be once a year).
Next most important personalization is the app installation. When one browses through the app marketplace, one can see that the market is still not mature enough like the iTunes or the Android marketplace. First let’s talk about what is indeed available.
Some lifesaver apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Tango (Nokia’s own video calling software), angry birds (haahaa, angry birds, a lifesaver?) are indeed present. Yay! for that. Microsoft Office apps with the SkyDrive link is present. Since I signed in with my Live ID, opening my cloud files was a breeze on this baby.
What’s missing – Oh boy, where do I start? Microsoft’s own Skype is not available for the Nokia Lumia 510. Much talked about Nokia city lens is not available for this phone. A better image manipulation and video editing software would also be nice. Apps you don’t need are – Social media apps like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. YouTube app is a web link to m.youtube.com and not a real app in the strictest sense.
This is the ecosystem, I was talking about in my introduction. There are a good number of apps for all purposes and I sincerely hope, every developer also thinks about Windows as well, when they develop for Android and iOS.
For one thing, where this phone really makes a big change is the social media. Sharing your photos taken from your 5MP camera is painless. Take a pic and post it on any of the social media with a single click. Not only that, you can even tag people in the photos and they get alerts once this is done. Cool, isn’t it! The “People” and “Me” tiles on the home page are so handy. I found the animation on the people tag with people pictures a bit annoying. I didn’t find a way to turn it off (May be it is a long click again, who knows?).
Do you still remember this browser called Internet Explorer (IE) with a comet going around an “e”? If you are like me, words like closed source, no add ons, zero cloud support will flash in front of your eyes. Like it or not, IE is the default browser and to my surprise, it was quite quick and did its job well. Going back was quick and following links was quite easy. You can save bookmarks quite easily. YouTube was the only heavy-duty website I tested out with IE and to my surprise there was hardly any buffering and hiccups when switching orientation or going back or skimming through videos.
Music player and Radio
The most delightful feature in this phone is the “Mix Radio”. This feature is such an amazing one and I realized that this is something I have been looking for a long time. A normal radio station plays songs at random, so there may be some songs that you like and most that you don’t really like. Your own collection – you already know what you have, so no element of surprise in it, really. So, if you want the surprise element that radios give you PLUS you want it within your own genre of music – presenting the Mix Radio!!
Nokia Music recommends a collection of songs for you to listen to – It could be a cool collection of Jazz with artists of your choice or you can pick and choose artists’ collections as well. These songs are available for purchase and download as well. The 510 comes with a 3 month Nokia Unlimited subscription so you can download unlimited tracks while the subscription is running.
If you are like me, who just wants to listen at home, you will love this feature. You can also skip songs that you don’t like in the list. One limitation is (I guess there are licensing implications) that you can only skip songs that you don’t like only 6 times. The audio quality is really awesome and is a mighty competition for your home stereo (if you still have one of those that is). The supplied earphones are adequate for an immersive experience for your videos or audio, however I would recommend nicer (read expensive) headphones for best results.
I talked about the lack of image manipulation software in the marketplace, however I’d like to say that what this phone provides is more than what most users will use. You can apply any sort of image correction to your images and apply any sort of filters (like the 80s look, sketchy, selective colors and so on). You can also instantly share your masterpiece with your network.
Games and other stuff
For those of you who are on XBox, there is a tile dedicated for you guys. For people like me who left that part of the world a long time ago, I will stick to something more serious like text translation. If you have ever been to a non-English speaking country and been to a hotel for a bite to eat, only to wonder which way is up in the menu (Yes, people who have been to a non-Shanghai city in China know what I am talking about), here is something that can cheer you up. Hold your mobile phone over the menu and the phone will translate it to English for you (Of course, you need a working 3G/WiFi connection for that). Then you just merely point your human finger at the menu item that you are interested in ordering.
Maps and Guided Navigation
Why 2 different apps for doing the same thing? Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps both seems to be same for me, but a closer look at the apps show the difference between the way both work. Nokia Drive is the navigation app, giving voice guided directions to your destination. Nokia Maps on the other hand is used to look for Points of Interest around you and explore the world. Both of them work very well, the maps are quite crisp and load almost instantly. Nokia has always been very good with routing and navigating from the E-series days. The same trend continues on. The AGPS works very well even indoors and inside a car in all sorts of nooks and corners.
Drumrolls.. Here comes my verdict. If you are like most users who love all the features in your phone and show it off to your buddies, but only use 5% of the features, this phone may still cut it for you. If you are one of those rare people, who buy a phone to make your life easier, you may feel that you will wait for the next-gen of this phone to catch up with you. I would rather have a larger RAM for quicker loading of apps. If you are willing to wait for 2-3 seconds (which is not a whole lot, if you think about it :-)), this is a fantastic phone!