Well, Nokia have certainly turned a corner in 2011/2012. They've been right down to the bottom, but with Windows Phone smartphones they seem to be heading back up again. The first Windows phone from Nokia - the Lumia 800 - was a good phone, but rather pricey, but the new Lumia 710 offers nearly everything that the 800 does, but at a significantly lower price point.
The 710 is approximately the same size as the Lumia 800, but with rounded corners, and is significantly lighter. The touch sensitive buttons below the screen are replaced with a single physical button, split into three. The 710 doesn't have the same high-end feel as the 800, but it does have the advantage of changeable covers, and is available in Black, Blue or White. You can change the home screen colours to match.
Surprisingly, even though it costs noticeably less than the 800, the 710 has nearly the same features. As a result it compares extremely well with other phones in this price category. Take the screen for instance. Not only is it physically big at 3.7 inches, but it's impressively sharp too. Nokia's ClearBlack LCD technology gives good contrast and colour definition, and with 480 x 800 pixels, the display is pin-sharp. Heavy duty Gorilla Glass provides plenty of protection too. If you hold the Lumia 710 next to the Lumia 800, you'll notice that the AMOLED screen of the 800 is superior, but equally if you hold the Lumia 710 next to the iPhone 4S, you'll notice that the iPhone screen is smaller. Bottom line - for the money, it's a great screen.
The 710 is turbo charged inside, with a very fast 1.4GHz processor and 512MB of RAM for crunching through demanding apps. A dedicated GPU is used to accelerate graphics. There's 8GB of built-in memory available, but no microSD card slot, which is the same as other Windows phones.
If, like most people, you've not used Windows Phone before, you'll find it a fun and easy operating system to use. Version 7.5 (Mango) is quite refined and runs extremely smoothly on the Lumia, thanks to that super-fast processor. The Mango user interface is very graphical, being based on a tile design. Tiles can be simple buttons that link to another screen, or they can be active elements with a life of their own, busily displaying the time, missed calls, messages waiting to be read, and so on. Touch a tile and a cool graphical transition takes you to the relevant screen showing more information. It's fun, it's fast and we like it. It's definitely a refreshing change from the lumbering Symbian-powered Nokias of old.
Mango works very well with messaging of all kinds, including text, MMS, chat and email. It's up for social networking too, with careful integration of facebook, twitter and linkedin into the communications heart of the phone. Apps aren't as extensive as Android and iPhone apps, but there are plenty of useful apps built in, including MS Office readers, Nokia Maps, Bing Maps, and a growing collection of third-party apps available for download.
Like other Mango phones, the media experience is good. Audio quality is excellent, and the Zune software lets you manage your music on your PC and phone. Alternatively, Nokia Music gives you access to your music organised by Artist, Album, Genre, Playlist, etc. And also to Mix Radio, which streams music to your phone over Wi-Fi. Mix Radio lets you choose a genre, then you can listen to playlists streamed to your phone over the internet. There's a normal FM stereo radio as well. The 3.5mm headphone jack lets you plug in any standard headphones.
There's a good quality camera, but this is perhaps the one area where pennies have been saved compared with the camera on the Lumia 800. Still, with a 5 megapixel sensor and a large f2.4 aperture, the camera can take high quality pictures in good light. An LED flash is available for night time, but here the picture quality starts to deteriorate. It does snap pictures very quickly, mind you. Video quality is very good, with HD resolution recording.
The web browser is Internet Explorer 9. It runs very well, making use of the excellent hardware on the Lumia, and it supports modern standards like HTML5 and CSS3. It doesn't support Flash, but neither do Apple phones, and poor old Flash is destined for phasing out in the future.
Connectivity is excellent too, with all bases covered: Wi-Fi, 3G HSDPA, Bluetooth and USB. Assisted GPS is built into the phone, with a digital compass included, using Nokia Maps for navigation.
There's a slightly smaller battery in the 710 compared with the 800. We'd have liked a larger one to be honest, but the battery will see you through the day. As with so many modern smartphones, you may find that your phone is plugged into the charger every night.
We're mightily impressed with the Lumia 710. Nokia have managed to retain nearly the same spec as the more expensive 800, but have reduced the price noticeably. At this price point, competitors include the HTC Radar, Samsung Galaxy Ace and HTC Wildfire S. We think that the Nokia can easily hold its own against these phones. In fact, it's a better phone than the Android phones at this price. Spend more on the Lumia 800 and you'll benefit from a better camera, more memory, an AMOLED display and a more premium feel to the handset.
Features of the Nokia Lumia 710 include:
- Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system
- 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, f2.4 aperture, 4x digital zoom
- Video camera: HD quality 720p resolution, 30 frames/second, 3x digital zoom
- Display: ClearBlack capacitive touchscreen, 480 x 800 pixels (3.7 inches), Corning Gorilla Glass
- Media player
- Stereo FM radio
- aGPS with Bing Maps, Nokia Maps and digital compass
- MP3, AAC & WMA ringtones
- Integrated hands-free speaker
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, chat, email (support for attachments)
- Java games with hardware graphics acceleration
- Flight mode
- Memory: 8GB plus 512MB RAM
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, micro USB 2.0, 3.5 mm stereo headphone plug
- Data: WAP, EGPRS class B, WCDMA/HSPA (14.4 Mbps download, 5.76 Mbps upload)
- Internet: Bing, Internet Explorer 9 web browser with HTML5 support, facebook, twitter, linkedin
- Processor: 1400 MHz Qualcomm MSM8255
- Triband GSM plus 3G WCDMA 900/1900/2100
- Size: 119 x 62 x 12.5 mm
- Weight: 126g
- 1300mAh battery
- Talktime: 6.9 - 7.6 hours
- Battery standby: 400 hours