A bit late to the party, but we did finally manage to get our hands on the Nokia Lumia 710, courtesy of the folks at Nokia; and now having spent some time with the device, here’s a quick roundup of some of its key features:
- 3.7″ 16M-color ‘ClearBlack’ LCD capacitive touchscreen with WVGA resolution
- Scratch resistant Gorilla glass display cover
- 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, 720p video recording
- Windows Phone 7.5 OS (Mango)
- 1.4GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset, 512MB of RAM
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- GPS receiver with A-GPS support and free lifetime voice-guided navigation
- Digital compass
- 8GB on-board storage
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
- Built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack; FM Radio with RDS
- microUSB port
- Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP and EDR
Straight off the bat, this is by no means Nokia’s flagship device – this is the other Lumia. The one that’s designed to be an inexpensive, mid-range, yet reliable smartphone; but hey, that’s the point.. sometimes people don’t want something that fancy or pricey and that’s precisely what the Espoo-based manufacturer is targeting with this offering.
Build & Design quality
With Nokia, what you see is usually what you get and what you see here is a delectable looking device with oddly-tapered rectangular edges and that unfailing Windows interface that we’ve come to err.. love? Weighing in at just under 130 grams, the 710 manages to hold its ground in terms of design – from the ‘feely’ rocker buttons on the front to the refreshing colours of the soft-coating plastic that cover the entirety of its back, Nokia still manages to look different in a world where generic designs are becoming more and more common (yes, you know who you are).
What you’re also bound to see (and very clearly I might add) is Lumia’s 3.7-inch 800×400 LCD screen which boasts Nokia’s ‘ClearBlack’ display. With a pixel density of 252ppi, the display is as good as it gets on a Windows Phone handset. The brightness does take a bit of bumping up when viewing in direct sunlight but contrast and viewing angles are better than most typical LCD units we’ve come across.
As previously mentioned, it’s also quite refreshing to see a phone that does not include capacitive buttons at the bottom of the screen. This can be quite annoying when playing a game you accidentally touch a capacitive navigation button and exit out of the game. The Lumia 710 includes a clear plastic rocker button at the bottom with icons for back, “Windows”, and search. The buttons have a good tactile feel to them and much less prone to accidental activation. As with every Windows Phone, there’s a two stage shutter key on the right side.
Processor & Memory
Still, let not its endearing looks fool you – for below its exterior, the Lumia pack’eth substantial muscle in the form of its single-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 processor with 512MB of RAM, which is more than adequate to present us with a likable performance. As expected, it moves, reacts, and executes just like any other Windows Phone before it, which gives the platform a very uniform approach. One sore point we’d like to bring up here is its limited on-board memory (boo!). With no way of expanding its 8 GB of internal storage capacity, you’ll need to contemplate what things stay and go on the handset.
The camera on the 710 seems to’ve been much talked about (atleast from some of the initial launch reviews) but for me, it was quite an enjoyable affair. Agreed, it doesn’t come with any software-related camera customizations similar to what Samsung and HTC have done to their most recent devices; neither will you find any panoramic or burst shot or high dynamic range modes. But, having said all that, the macro mode on this 5MP snapper was a revelation to say the least. It holds up well in low lighting conditions and pictures appeared crisp (more or less). Flick through some of these unedited samples and decide for yourself. Furthermore, as a video camera, the Lumia 710 is capable of recording upto 720p HD video with continuous autofocus with little loss in frame rate.
Software & Interface
Say what you like about the Windows OS, but I’ve actually found myself becoming quite a fan of this simplistic interface. One might say it is starting to become quite boring by now, but on the contrary I am quite fascinated by its straightforward approach, dynamic live tiles and Metro-like UI. Software customizations from Nokia include the exclusive ESPN app, Nokia Drive, contacts transfer, “We care”, and app highlights. The App Highlights program has some listings of different apps that Nokia recommends along with a “Surprise Me” button where you shake the phone to highlight something randomly. There’s also a “Nokia Collections” section of the Windows Phone Marketplace where you’ll find all the special Nokia-made apps.
Having said all of that, there are however times when personalization leaves a lot to be desired – which is reserved to things like rearranging the home tiles, changing the accent and/or background colour. Another gripe, which isn’t a minor one though, is notifications (or lack thereof?). You need to have a live tile on your home screen and you need to get there to see if there’re any waiting notifications; only the stock, built in apps like Email, Phone and Messaging can display notifications on the lockscreen (That’s a Windows Phone thing in general though).
A nice Windows Phone feature is the ability to turn on a “Battery Saver Mode” which disables background tasks and push email (you could set it up to be enabled whenever the battery level is low, or until the next time you charge your phone). A word of warning though; you won’t get push notifications from other services like Whatsapp or Kik Messenger if you turn this on. You’ll have to manually go in to the app to check if you have any waiting messages. Another minor issue is with the Live Tiles themselves, at least with some apps (Taking twitter apps as an example); sometimes they show info on the tile, sometimes they don’t.
Battery life as such is great in Standby (another heads up – if you rely on WiFi alone as a connection means, do note that WiFi disconnects after you turn off the screen and that you can’t change that). In use though, it’s like most other smartphones. Of course, as with most devices, I assume it’s the screen that will draw the most power when it’s powered on and there’s nothing that can be done about it. With heavy use, it needed to be charged halfway through the day, but with light usage, it easily made it through the day (and then some).
The Final word..
As the second lovechild of the Nokia-Microsoft affair, the Lumia 710 had its work cut out for it – to entice first time smartphone buyers while keeping its nearest competitors (Samsung & HTC) in sights. As always, there will be a few that whinge on about how it could’ve had the polycarbonate unibody or a better camera from it’s nearest cousin, and in some respects this might be true with the lack of expandable memory, a front-facing camera, wi-fi tethering (which is supposedly coming in a future software update), yada yada yada.. but let’s face it, this was never going to be that device and the sooner you come to terms with this fact (not to mention that inexpensive price tag) and look beyond the same, what you get is a a device that packs a lot of great features into a sturdy, attractive, fast, and yet functional smartphone.
Heck, I would buy this thing simply for the price and feature-rich people-centric UI. So the Lumia gets a resounding 7/10 from us, in celebration of the amazing everyday (cheesy, no?).