The Nokia Lumia 710 is Nokia's second Windows Phone to come to the UK and one that could be the best-selling Windows Phone device yet. Nokia's kept the price low and is hoping that the Lumia 710 is going to clear up big time.
In a departure from the regulation blacks and greys of the Windows Phone world, Nokia is releasing the Lumia 710 in a range of colours, the idea being that you can chop and change the battery covers, giving you a degree of customisation.
While the low price and colour editions suggest that the Nokia Lumia 710 is aimed at a younger audience, the specifications are respectable. You get a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera that records HD video (at 720p) an 8GB storage, a 1.4GHz CPU processor and Windows Phone 7.5 aka Mango.
The Nokia Lumia 710 looks all set for success. But what else has it got besides what's essentially par for the course spec for Windows Phone phones and an attractive price? Let's have a look...
Nokia Lumia 710: Design and build
The Nokia Lumia 710 is pure Nokia. The first impression that we got when we took it out of the box was one of solidity and reliability. It's got that same, reassuringly solid feel in the hand that your old 3310 from back in the day did.
Our review model came in all black and the cover has a smooth, matt feel to it. It's a lot nicer than the shiny plastic feel of the version we played with at Nokia World last year.
The curved back of the Lumia 710 is a nice in the palm and the curve, which tapers up to a thin, flat edge, tricks you into thinking the phone is thinner than it is. It's a solid, comfortable fit in the hand.
Like the Nokia Lumia 800, the 3.7-inch screen features a Corning Gorilla Glass cover that's pleasant to the touch.
The screen here though is flat and doesn’t boast the convex stylings of the Lumia 800, nor does it feel as premium. The interchangeable battery covers give you a degree of customisation that hearkens back to the Nokia ‘XpressOn’ covers of yesteryear, which will be a plus for some.
Inside the Nokia Lumia 710 you get a 1.4GHz CPU and 512MB to help process and manage tasks. This is the same as what you get with the Lumia 800, so the overall performances of the two phones are pretty evenly matched.
There’s 8GB of internal storage on paper (of which 6.28GB is free to use) compared to the Lumia 800’s 16GB which is the only major difference.
Connections-wise there’s a micro USB port on the top, next to a 3.5mm headphone jack. Windows Phone’s strict minimum spec requires that manufacturers don’t put in microSD slots, so we weren’t surprise when we didn’t find one here.
Nokia Lumia 710: Nokia apps and user interface
The interface of the Nokia Lumia 710 is virtually identical to all other Windows Phones. The main home screen consists of a vertically scrolling ribbon of tiles which you can tap on to launch various apps, games, features (like the camera) and menus (like settings).
Tapping the central Windows key at the bottom of the phone will take you back to this home screen at any time, much like the familiar Start button on Windows PCs and laptops.
On the top right of the home screen there's an arrow icon that opens up a sub-menu of other icons. Any of these can be pinned to the home screen, allowing you to create shortcuts to the apps you'll want to use the most. Holding down on an icon shortcut for a couple of seconds
will reveal a 'pin to start' option.
By the same token, you can remove any icons from the home screen by holding down on them for a couple of seconds and tapping the icon which appears. This is the Metro user interface and it's featured on every Windows Phone phone out there.
Like the Nokia Lumia 800, the Lumia 710 comes with a handful of Nokia-specific features and services pre-loaded. These are (for now) unique to the Lumia range and help differentiate Nokia's Windows Phones from the rest.
First up is Nokia Drive, a voice-assisted, turn-by-turn sat nav service. There's a pretty comprehensive range of languages available, from Afrikaans to Vietnamese. There's even US and UK English, which we were ruddy well delighted to see old bean.
It only took a couple of seconds for the GPS to get a lock and within a minute we'd plotted out a journey from home to the office.
You can easily switch between day and night modes and there's also the option to download additional continental maps for free. Being pretty big files you can only download them over a Wi-Fi connection. But for a free sat-nav service it works fantastically well.
In terms of polish and presentation it beats Google's Navigation for Android that's (still) a beta version and comes included with Google Maps.
Speaking of maps, Nokia Maps is (as you might have guessed) Nokia's navigation service for when you're wanting to get about on foot or just generally get your bearings.
Bing Maps (which comes included on all Windows Phones) is very good but we think that Nokia Maps is as good, if not better.
We love that with Nokia Maps you've the option to pick from a standard view, satellite view and a third layer which overlays public transport/tube/metro lines on top. If you're living in London,
Newcastle, or anywhere with a metro/light rail system then you'll probably find this super-useful.
We love being able to search for tube locations on our Android phones with (again) Google Maps ahead of a potentially messy night out. So it's good to see a similar feature appearing on the Lumia 710.
This compliments the Local Scout feature that is part of Windows Phone 7.5/Mango. This is a service that lets you know what's nearby you in terms of shops, restaurants, cinemas and the like. In most cases there's the option to call a venue directly and book a table/tickets or check for opening hours/directions. Local Scout is a feature that's
on all Mango phones, but we thought it worth mentioning alongside Nokia Maps all the same.
Finally there's Nokia Music. This essentially acts as your main music/MP3 player but comes with a couple of links to Mix Radio (a Last.fm-style streaming service) and an MP3 store.
Mix Radio allows you to enter up to three selections (called 'mixes') and then it'll create a playlist based on these choices. As well as picking songs from the artists you specify, it'll throw in tracks from similar and related artists. Like we said, a lot like Last.fm.
Though this is free, you can only skip six songs an hour, 'due to some tricky radio licencing rules' according to the pop up. Better choose your mixes wisely...
Tracks that tickle your fancy from the Mix Radio playlists can be downloaded from the Nokia MP3 Store as well with a couple of taps of a button. Prices in the MP3 Store average at £0.79 for a single track and £7.99 per album. Not the best prices perhaps, but if you want to buy a song there and then and you've got the option to do just that.
Nokia Lumia 710: Music
This leads us nicely on to the music playing features of the Nokia Lumia 710. As with the Lumia 800, you get not one but two MP3 stores, the standard Zune store that comes with all Windows Phones and Nokia’s own one.
Prices for tracks and albums are about the same in both phones from both stores but you’ll need to register twice to use each of them. It’s a little inconvenient but it’s not the end of the world.
In order to get your own tunes onto the Lumia 710, you’ll need to use the Zune desktop software, plug your phone in and drag and drop. That 6GB-odd of storage will fill up pretty quickly if you’ve got a lot of music, but thankfully you can also stream songs from SkyDrive folders as well - another bonus feature of Windows Phone 7.5. It’s not totally streamlined - you’ll need to go into your SkyDrive folder to do it - and we’d have preferred a way to play/stream all of our music, wherever we’d saved it, from one player.
Still, a decent range of files are supported - MP3, AAC, AAC+, WAV and WMA - and sound quality through the headphone slot is nicely balanced. The external speaker doesn’t handle low frequencies very well with the volume all the way up, so its perhaps not great for playing music to a room full of friends.
Last but not least, mention must be made of the Bing Music search tool. This is a Shazam-style track identification tool that’s accessed by tapping the magnifying glass/search button and then the musical note icon. You then simply hold your Lumia 710 up to or near to a speaker and let it do it’s thing. If Bing Music successfully identifies a track, you’ll normally be presented with a link to the Zune Marketplace where you can buy the song or in some cases a whole album.
Nokia Lumia 710: Camera
The Nokia Lumia 710's camera is solid. With a 5-megapixel sensor and single LED flash it's not the most powerful phone camera on the market, but you can get some good results with it nonetheless.
There's two focus modes (normal and macro) for your everyday shots and close-ups. Stills are lush and detailed and colours are reproduced nicely on the 3.7-inch ClearBlack screen – unsurprisingly, the levels of contrast are deep and rich. Not AMOLED-rich, but surprisingly good for an LCD TFT.
Minimum focus range is 10mm for the macro to work properly, but that’s still good enough for most detail shots. We've seen phones able to take more defined close-ups but the Nokia Lumia 710's efforts aren't at all bad – check the still of the berries.
The LED flash provides a decent amount of illumination for indoor shots, so this ought to suffice for pictures of nights out and parties. Exposure can be adjusted plus or minus four intergers both ways (from 0.5 up to 2.0) and there's fun effects like sepia and solarize.
As well as an external camera key, you can also tap the screen to take pictures, the area where you tap being the area of the shot where the camera will focus. So while this is good for pictures of flowers, faces or anything where there's a central point of focus in the composition, you can use the shutter key if you want to let the autofocus do its thing.
Using the touch to focus it takes a few seconds for the Lumia 710 to assess the focus area, adjust and take the shot. Shots taken with the camera key is a little faster, but obviously lacks the preciseness that the tap-to-take method gives you.
When you're looking at your pictures in the gallery there's an auto-fix option that'll automatically adjust brightness levels for you. Sometimes a pic that you thought was too gloomy and not detailed enough can be rescued using auto-fix. Of course if you wanted, you could export the pictures yourself and fine tune on Photoshop. But it's nice to have an option of a quick fix built in too.
As well as snapping stills, the camera can record 720p HD video or lower-resolution VGA video. There's a plethora of scene modes, the option to turn the flash on or off when recording and you can adjust for exposure, contrast and white balance as you can with stills.
Video shot at the highest setting comes out looking great on the Lumia 710's screen. The speaker isn't great at cancelling wind noise and owing to it's positioning on the back, you'll need to be wary of fingers covering the mic as well (check this). VGA video doesn't fare so well, looking grainy and not that great at all.
Nokia Lumia 710: Browser
Internet Explorer 9 on the Nokia Lumia 710 is a smooth and slick affair, as it is on all Windows Phone 7.5/Mango phones.
The navigation bar is clever; you can enter either full URLs or simply enter search terms in, hit enter and the browser will either load the page or conduct a Bing search. Useful for times when you can’t remember an exact web address or if you want to simply search the web.
As well as this you’ve got the ability to quickly switch between full web and mobile-optimised versions of sites, add favourites, pin URL shortcuts to the homescreen and browse with multiple tabs/windows open (up to a total of six).
It’s not without its limitations and frustrations however. While the browser supports HTML5, meaning we could get some videos on Vimeo to play, there’s no native Flash support, so no BBC iPlayer fun through the browser.
Images on certain websites (like this one) also tend to look a little pixellated and blocky when compared to browsers on similarly-specced Android phones. Other than these two things it’s hard to find fault with the browser.
Nokia Lumia 710: Performance
As we said above, the processor and RAM that you get in the Nokia Lumia 710 are the same as that which you get in the Lumia 800. So it’s not surprising to learn that general performance of the two phones is pretty similar.
Tapping and zipping through menus is effortlessly slick and everything looks just peachy on that 3.7-inch ClearBlack screen.
Battery life of the Nokia Lumia 710 is good, not great but good. Maximum talk time according to the official specs is 7 hours and 10 minutes, which we’d say is just about right.
When you’ve been checking Nokia Maps, playing music and intensively Facebooking (uploading pics, group messaging contacts etc) this shrinks to about 4-5 hours. Though not likely to give you any grief if you forget to charge before you go to bed, we still wouldn’t leave the house without a charger or at the very least a USB cable. But then again that’s just about normal for any phone these days.
We found the call quality a little muffled in places. In the home, your office or a quiet area this ought to be ok - less so out on a busy street or during rush hour.
The Nokia Lumia 710 is great phone that offers fantastic value for everyday users and those who want to get to grips with the Windows Phone OS.
It’s not as nicely designed or flashy as the Nokia Lumia 800 but it’s not supposed to be. It’s the more workmanlike, gets-the-job done version of it’s flashier, more enticing sibling.
That said general performance of the Lumia 710 is on par with that of the Nokia Lumia 800. You’re only really missing out on a nicer design, bigger screen and a more powerful camera.
Nokia’s own apps and features work like a charm and add real value to the phone, especially Nokia Drive - voice-assisted sat-nav that’s built-in for free.
We’re expecting network pricing to be around the £15-£20 on contracts, which would make the Nokia Lumia 710 a bargain.