Solid build quality; Fast performance; Nokia Music and Nokia Drive add value; Fun photo apps; Wireless charging sleeves available
Bland design; Low-resolution display; Relatively short battery life; Mediocre camera
The Lumia 810 is a well-built and speedy Windows Phone 8 device with handy Nokia-exclusive features, but its bulky design and low-res display are turnoffs.
The Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia 810 gives T-Mobile subscribers looking for an Android alternative plenty to get pumped about. Priced at $149 with a classic plan (after $50 mail-in rebate), this midrange device packs a 4.3-inch AMOLED display to make Microsoft's unique Live Tile interface pop, along with a zippy Snapdragon S4 processor and an 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera. Plus, Nokia bundles a lot of its own software to sweeten the deal -- and to fend off HTC's 8X -- including Nokia Drive for navigation and plenty of fun photo apps. Is the Lumia 810 the Windows Phone to get on T-Mobile?
On the plus side, the soft-touch finish gives this solidly constructed Windows Phone a nice grip. All of the buttons along the right side provided satisfying feedback, including the volume controls, power button and camera button.
Up top you'll find a headphone jack, and there's a microUSB port on the bottom for charging and syncing. A microSD Card slot sits underneath the battery cover.HTC Windows Phone 8X. HTC's device, which also sports a 4.3-inch display, measures a taller 5.2 inches but cuts a slimmer 0.4-inch profile while weighing just 4.6 ounces. The 8X also boasts a bolder California blue hue.
On the plus side, the Lumia's screen offered better contrast and deeper black levels than the 8X when viewing the "Skyfall" trailer on both phones. We also saw less washout when viewing the video from wider angles. We'd rather watch a movie on this phone than the 8X.
On our light meter, the Lumia 810 registered 398 lux, which is brighter than the HTC 8X (300 lux) and the category average (299 lux).
The bottom-mounted speakers on the Lumia 810 produced a decent amount of volume when we streamed Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." Even at the max setting the audio didn't sound tinny. The song also had a little more low-end thump than the 8X. While almost as loud, the 8X sounded more like a cheap radio compared to the cleaner sound coming out of the Lumia 810 when we blasted Fun's "We Are Young."
Software and Interface
[More: Windows Phone 8 Mobile OS Review]
Live Tiles aren't just shortcuts to apps, either. You can pin anything to your Start Screen, from your favorite sports teams (via the ESPN app) and People (you can see their latest social updates flash) to your favorite Slacker radio stations. Having all of this at your fingertips goes a long way toward making using Windows Phone more satisfying than the iPhone's static home screen.
SkyDrive also plays a pivotal role in Windows Phone 8, keeping your photos, documents and more in sync with the cloud. If you own a Windows 8 device, you'll really appreciate the way this service keeps everything up to date.
Windows Phone 8 is far from perfect. Some critical info remains hidden from view unless you call it up with a tap, such as your signal strength and battery life. In addition, it's not easy to close apps, and too many options (Airplane mode, brightness) are buried in the Settings menu. Overall, though, Windows Phone 8 is inviting and refreshing.
No one is doing more to add value to Windows Phone than Nokia. Like the Lumia 920, the Lumia 810 comes with a ton of useful and fun Nokia-branded apps and services.
App Store and Third-Party Apps
Microsoft says it now has 46 out of the top 50 apps on other platforms available through the Windows Phone marketplace, and that it stocks more than 120,000 apps overall. Android (675,500) and iOS (700,000) are still way ahead, but at least Windows Phone is making progress.
On WPBench, which measures CPU, data and GPU performance, the Lumia 810 scored 236, practically identical to the 235 score the HTC 8X notched (it has the same processor).
We also ran the AnTuTu Benchmark app, which measures CPU, graphics, I/O, and read-and-write performance. The Lumia 810 averaged 11,074 on three runs, compared to 11,609 for the 8X.
During our testing we did notice a couple of bugs. On one occasion the Windows Marketplace just stopped working, forcing us to reset the app. The phone also couldn't connect to the Nokia Music service at one point. Overall, though, the Lumia 810 performed well.
The Lumia 810 comes with 8GB of storage (which is kind of small for the price) but you can expand that to up to 64GB via a microSD card.
4G and Web Browsing
Surprisingly, on several occasions the Lumia 810 displayed that it was only getting 2G speeds, which is pretty alarming for a smartphone in 2012. The good news is that it usually didn't take that long for the Nokia to latch onto T-Mobile's 4G network again.
Camera and Camcorder
The 1080p camcorder inside the Lumia 810 performed better, capturing detailed footage of New York City. We could easily make out the license plate of a passing tour bus, and the phone did a fairly good job handling transitions between the ground and bright blue skyline.
So how about the front camera? Using Skype we had slightly better results over Wi-Fi than 4G, but the 1.2-MP camera didn't impress our other caller. He said our face looked pretty grainy, although our voice came through clearly. We did like that we could switch to text chat view while on a call.
Call Quality and Battery Life
The 1800 mAh battery inside the Lumia 810 didn't give us as much endurance as we'd like during day-to-day use. For example, after unplugging the phone right before 6 a.m. and then using the device periodically to listen to Nokia Music, check email and shoot some photos and videos, the battery was down to 62 percent by 10 a.m.. We'll update this review once we've run our formal battery test, but we expect below-average results.
Fortunately, Nokia is trying to make it easy to juice this device by allowing T-Mobile to offer exchangeable shells for wireless charging using the Qi standard. You'll need to purchase a wireless charging pad separately, however, when AT&T throws one in for free with the Lumia 920. It costs about $50.
While it costs more, we prefer the $199 HTC Windows Phone 8X for T-Mobile. Although it lacks free turn-by-turn navigation and other Nokia niceties, you get a much sleeker design and sharper camera. The 8X is the Windows Phone we'd rather carry on this carrier. Those not sold on Windows Phone are better off picking up the Android-powered HTC One S for free.
If you're not wedded to T-Mobile, you can get the similar Nokia Lumia 820 on AT&T for just $49, although it has a smaller battery. A better bet is AT&T's $99 Lumia 920, with its higher quality PureView camera and built-in wireless charging. Overall, the Lumia 810 is a good Windows Phone 8 device, but there are better values.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Windows Phone 8|
|Networks||GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900); WCDMA (850, 1700, 1900, 2100)|
|CPU||1.5-GHz Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSDHC|
|Display (main)||4.3 inches/800 x 480 AMOLED|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.2MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||10.2 hours/360 hours|
|Size||5 x 2.7 x 0.44 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|