With the launch of the Lumia 710 for T-Mobile, Nokia is attempting to do something pretty ambitious: make Windows Phone the smartphone of choice for the masses. And the company has put together a pretty compelling package for $49. Wrapped inside a solid design is a fast 1.4-GHz Qualcomm processor running Microsoft's inviting and user-friendly OS. Nokia is sweetening the deal by adding some unique goodies, such as Nokia Drive for free turn-by-turn navigation and an ESPN app with exclusive content. Does the Lumia 710 have what it takes to woo first-time smartphone shoppers?
The Lumia 710 is a well built and attractive handset for the price. We like the way corners taper in at steep angles, as well as the soft-touch polycarbonate back, which provided a sure grip. A 3.7-inch display wrapped in a glossy black bezel occupies the front of the headset, nestled between chrome Nokia and T-Mobile insignias at the top and bottom. The Lumia 710 is also available in white, which looks hipper and resists fingerprint smudges better.
At 4.4 ounces and .49 inches thick, the Lumia 710 is light and pocket friendly but it has a chunkier profile than other entry-level Windows Phones. By comparison, the HTC Radar 4G for T-Mobile is thinner but heavier (.42 inches, 4.8 ounces) and the Samsung Focus Flash for AT&T weighs a mere 4.1 ounces and is .43 inches thick.
Instead of using capacitive buttons, the Nokia opted for a plastic unibar underneath the screen, which serves as the Back, Home, and Search button. While the buttons are fairly large, we found them to be somewhat slightly stiff, causing us to press harder than we prefer. We also wish the power button up top wasn't so flush with the rest of the phone, which made it a bit difficult to press.
A narrow volume rocker and dedicated camera button sit on the right of the headset, while a microUSB port and headphone jack sit next to the power button up top. A LED flash and a chrome-ensconced 5-megapixel camera sit above the embedded chrome Nokia logo on the back of the Lumia 710.
Display and Audio
The Lumia 710's ClearBlack screen made for a satisfying viewing experience. Text on the phone's 3.7-inch, 800 x was sharp and clear when viewing menus and websites. In terms of brightness, the Lumia 710's 465-lux display outshone the HTC Radar 4G's 3.8-inch, 450-lux display. As we watched an HD trailer for The Hobbit, the 710's display delivered sharper contrast and deeper blacks. It also had wide viewing angles, maintaining its color integrity at almost every angle. The
While the 710 delivered rich audio, it was far from loud. Cranked to maximum, we could barely distinguish the soft strum of the guitar from the congas on Robin Thicke's sensuous "Love After War." The headset's slim speaker got a small boost when we placed it on a desk, but overall, the HTC Radar delivered a louder, more balanced audio experience.
The standard Windows Phone keyboard was comfortable to use in portrait mode on the Lumia 710. As with all Windows Phones, we could type quickly and accurately. However, we wish that the layout took advantage of the full width of the display in portrait mode. Haptic feedback and trace functionality are also absent, which some might miss.
Software and Interface
Similar to most Windows Phones, the Lumia 710 runs Windows 7.5 (Mango). We continue to be fans of the intuitive Live Tile interface, which replaces static icons found on other smartphones with large and colorful tiles that deliver dynamic updates. Our favorite aspect of Live Tiles is the customization. We quickly and easily added, deleted, and rearranged tiles, creating our ideal setup. You can pin anything from contacts and websites to Foursquare deals and your airline e-ticket to the Start screen.
The People Hub in Windows Phone is one top reasons to choose this OS over others. It combines all of your contacts, (Facebook, Twitter, LInkedIn) into clean, easy to read lists, making it easy to keep track of friends, family, and co-workers. You can easily see the latest social updates from your contacts by scrolling to the right, and you can set it so that you see everything in one stream or just see updates form one service. The Groups feature made navigating our many contacts even easier by letting us put our family, friends, and colleagues into their own specific groups that we could quickly access.
There can be a fair amount of scrolling on the apps page, depending on how many apps you've downloaded. However, you can pin any and all apps to the start screen.
Mango also makes it easier to multitask; by pressing and holding the Back button, you can see all of your open apps. Local Scout is yet another standout feature, helping you discover things to see and do near your current location. For more info, check out our full review of Windows Phone 7.5.
Although the Lumia 710 offers the usual suite of pre-installed Microsoft apps we've come to expect (Mobile Office, Internet Explorer Mobile, and Zune Music and Videos), Nokia and T-Mobile bundle some useful and fun apps. The ESPN app, a Lumia 710-exclusive, delivered top news and results on Football (Soccer), Cricket, Formula 1, US Sports, and Rugby. There are also videos for each sport, providing interviews and insights from sports commentators. There's also a link for ESPN Mobile and the ESPN ScoreCenter app. While it was interesting to learn about international sports, we would have preferred a more localized experience. Unfortunately, you can't customize the experience yet, either. We also noticed that refreshing for scores took between 2-3 seconds, so it might not be the best option for fans looking for instant updates.
The most compelling bundled app is Nokia Drive, which offers free turn-by-turn navigation. This feature tends to cost $9.99 per month on competing Windows Phones. While not as colorful as Google Maps Navigation on Android, we did enjoy the prominent landmarks as well as the accuracy and clarity of the spoken directions. Nokia Drive comes with more than 50 downloadable voices covering a wide swath of languages including Spanish, French, and Tagalog. While navigating from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Nokia Drive plotted the most direct course, but only took 1-2 seconds to set re-route us when we diverted from the chosen route.
Another Nokia-branded app is Nokia App Highlights, which shows the most popular apps broken down into a number of categories including health, games, music, and productivity.
We liked the level of information and detail in The Weather Channel app. Not only could we access today's weather complete with wind, humidity, and UV Index there was also the five-day forecast and a radar map. There are also video forecasts covering local, regional, and national weather. Other third-party apps include Slacker Radio, Netflix, and TeleNav GPS Nav (which makes no sense to us given that Nokia Drive is included).
Carrier-branded software includes T-Mobile My Account, fwhich gives users their latest usage and billing information. There's also a 30-day free trial of T-Mobile TV.
Navigating between apps and menus on the Lumia 710 was fairly zippy, thanks to a 1.4Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 CPU. Zooming in and out of webpages and images was fast and seamless, as was scrolling. While apps opened quickly, however, those that involved downloading data from the web could be slow to fully load (mostly because this phone rides on T-Mobile's slowest 4G network). Still, we were able to listen to Slacker Radio and navigate between apps and webpages seamlessly.
During the CPU portion of the Benchmark Free test, the Lumia 710 scored 6.3. That was enough to beat the HTC Radar 4G and its 1-GHz Snapdragon MSM8255 processor, which scored 4.7. The Lumia 710 tied the Lumia 800 and the Samsung Focus Flash, which also have 1.4GHz Qualcomm processors. On WP Bench, which measures CPU, memory, and storage, the 710 delivered a score of 88.3, which beat the Radar 4G's 79.6, but fell short of the Focus Flash's 98.7.
Connected to T-Mobile's 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ network, you'll get faster than 3G speeds on the Lumia 710, but nothing that will compare with Verizon and AT&T's 4G LTE networks. The Lumia 710 loaded the mobile versions of ESPN.com and CNN.com in 4.8 and 3.6 seconds respectively, compared to the Radar 4G's time of 6 and 7 seconds. Both the Lumia 800 and the Focus Flash took 6 seconds to load the mobile sites. On the desktop version of Laptopmag.com, the Lumia 710 took 22 seconds to load.
Camera and Camcorder
The Lumia 710's rear-facing 5-megapixel camera took between 2-3 seconds to launch after we pressed the dedicated camera button. From there, it snapped off shots fairly quickly, taking about a second between each shot. There were a few instances where the camera had difficulty focusing, though, which made the process take longer.
While our stills were very sharp and had a nice amount of detail, the color looked rather drab compared to the Radar 4G's 5-MP camera. On our notebook, the 710's images became fairly grainy after zooming in 30 percent while the Radar 4G's photos held out until 45 percent.
When we captured video of New York City traffic, the Lumia 710 continued to deliver on the sharpness and detail while the Radar 4G provided bolder colors. The 710's video playback was smooth without a hint of stutter. We did notice the camera took a few seconds to readjust after we panned up to the sky and down to the street, but this a common occurrence in most smartphone cameras.
Unfortunately, the Lumia 710 lacks a front-facing camera, so video chats are out of the question.
Music and Games
As with other Windows phones, Microsoft includes the Zune Marketplace for multimedia lovers to download music and videos. With a $9.99 monthly subscription, users can download an unlimited amount of content, and sync them with a computer wirelessly or by plugging the phone into a notebook.
Hands-down, the Games hub was our favorite feature. Connected to our Xbox Live gamertag, we were able to download games such as Doodle God and Breeze. It was a blast adding to our Xbox gamerscore, as well as notching a few more Achievements on our belt. We were also able to check out our fellow gamers' activities and send messages.
Call Quality and Battery Life
We had mixed results making calls on the 710. When we called a landline, the caller said we sounded far away and asked whether we were using a speakerphone. When we actually switched to speakerphone, it was choppy on both ends of the line. Calling other cell phones yielded better results, witht he 710 delivering clear, loud audio on both ends. Although our caller reported clear audio on speakerphone, we heard hollow, muted sound on our end.
After using the Lumia 710 over the course of an eight-hour work day (social networking, email, and making calls), we were pleased that the 1300mAh battery had approximately 30 percent juice remaining. However, using more demanding apps such as Slacker Radio or an Xbox Live game quickly drained the battery.
T-Mobile offers a number of tiers of service regarding data plans. Starting at $59.99 a month, the Classic 500 Minute Bundle offers 500 minutes, unlimited text, and 200MB of data. A 2GB data plan costs $69.99, while a 5GB and 10GB plan cost $79.99 and $109.99 respectively.
The $49.99 Nokia Lumia 710 is one of the best value-priced smartphones out there. It offers an engaging user interface, snappy performance, and a clear and bright display. The biggest problem for Nokia is that there are plenty of other aggressively priced Windows Phones available.
Right now the HTC Radar 4G is free on T-Mobile, which offers better sound and a slightly better camera. However, we prefer the Lumia 710 because Nokia includes free GPS navigation, which will save you more money over the long haul. We also prefer the soft-touch back on the Nokia. AT&T customers can also pick up the Samsung Focus Flash for just 99 cents, which boasts a Super AMOLED screen in a lighter design than the Lumia. Overall, though, the Nokia Lumia 710 is a great choice for consumers looking to make the leap from feature phones to smartphones.