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Nokia Lumia 710 Review
The little brother of the more famous and popular Lumia 800 that we reviewed earlier, finally came to our labs, looking coy and modest, knowing how the elder sibling broke our hearts, with the crazy pricing and drawbacks that it had. But, this one? Well, it wants to step out of the shadows of the 800 and wants to be noticed, mainly because it’s almost a full ten grand cheaper than the 800. Does the Lumia 710 rekindle our relationship with Nokia’s Windows Phones? Read on to find out.
Design and Build Quality
The Lumia 710 we got for review came dressed up in a demure black outfit, but if you’re the more flashy type, there are a range of back covers that you can choose from at the time of buying the device. The back is covered in a matte finish whilst the front is all glass and is more prone to fingerprints. At a thickness of 12.5 mm, it’s not the thinnest phone in the market currently but it’s got a contoured and curved back which gives it an overall ‘slim’ feeling.
The 710 - from all sides
The front consists of the 3.7-inch ClearBlack capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and Corning Gorilla Glass protection. The speaker is located at the back alongwith a five megapixel shooter, an LED flash and the first of the two noise cancellation microphones. We couldn’t really locate the second one, but we’re assuming it’s underneath the chassis or is clubbed next to one of the holes for the speakers. The 710 comes with an ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and magnetometer sensor (for GPS assistance).
The top of the device
The top of the phone consists of the microUSB slot, the power button and the headphone jack, while the microSIM slot is located beneath the 1300mAh battery. The volume rocker and camera shutter buttons are located on the right. Did we miss something? Yes, with 8GB of internal memory, Nokia has offered to do away with a microSD card slot, so that may be a downer for some.
The standard three physical buttons
We don’t want Kevlar or polycarbonate, if you’re charging us a bomb for that. Give us a sturdy design and we’ll be more than happy. And guess what, the Lumia 710 listened to us! The Lumia 710 feels extremely solid in the hand and comes as a welcome relief from all that Android ‘plasticy-ness’ we have been subjected to in the recent past. At a weight of 125.5 grams, the 710 has the right balance of being light as well as sturdy. In terms of design and build, the Lumia 710 nails it, and is easily one of the best out there in the same price bracket
A combination of a 1.4 GHz single core Scorpion processor, a Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset and Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, seems to work fantastically well for the Lumia 710. It’s fast, zippy and shows no signs of lagging down and if you’re new to the Windows Phone world, we’ll describe it in one word for you, its eye candy. In terms of looks alone, Android’s grid UI or even Apple’s UI stick out like a sore thumb in front of the brilliant, almost magical, use of colours in the phone’s user interface.
But is it as functional? Firstly, we’re labelling multitasking as having a pseudo-function on the phone, because for example, if you get a notification from a Whatsapp contact on your homescreen, and you click on it, the app will have to load up every single time as you can’t enable background tasks for all third party applications. However, that’s more of a developer issue and it’s just a matter of time before that gets rectified. Also, a long press of the back button will show you your most recent apps and you can quickly jump between them; so multitasking is there, but it does need some minor tweaking to prevent third party apps from re-loading each time you access them.
The next feature, and something we liked, was that any app you start or any menu you go to, opens up in a layer above the previous one. What this means is that when you press the back button you go back on the layers that were opened before it, similar to the back button (and not the up button) you see on Windows’ desktop OS.
It's got the looks
Secondly, quick toggle of connectivity options isn’t still present. They can be placed as tiles on your screen, but you’ll have to enter the settings via that tile to turn it off. You can’t toggle it from the tile on the home screen. A minor niggle, but something they need to improve on, nonetheless.
The application dock or list that comes up when you swipe right from the home screen tends to overflow into a long stack if you’ve got a whole load of apps and games installed onto your phone. However, they’re neatly segregated based on their names, and if you have a long list, you can simply press on any alphabet to bring up the alphabet list to navigate to your app, so at most you’ll need two or three taps to get to your application, which means it’s as quick as what you see on the other operating systems.
Tiles and hubs is all that you'll need
There’s a lot of customization you can do as to how your phone looks and feels. You can set which tiles deserve your attention the most, set your theme for the day, pin important people to the home screen, and if you customize your 710 well, all you’ll need to see to get your work done is the tiles on the homescreen.
The WP7.5 UI might take some time to get used to, if you’re a new user, but it’s a minor thing because the colourful, brilliantly designed Mango user interface will ensure you’re never ‘bored’ of your Nokia phone.
The media interface follows the same panorama-ish interface as the rest of the phone and looks pretty neat. It’s got the basic functions you’d see in a smartphone plus a few added features. All your media content is neatly laced in the music+videos tile. The main screen allows you to choose what media you want to play. A swipe shows the recently played stuff. Another swipe shows you the recent content you have added to your phone. Music applications are also embedded out there so it’s all neatly put in one place. And all of this is in the form of tiles, so it has this visually appealing feel to it, that we doubt we will ever get tired of seeing. FM radio works quite well; we didn’t have problems catching and locking in to stations while using it during our train journeys.
Media player interface
The bundled in-ear headphones are one of the best ones we’ve got from a phone manufacturer in recent times, and guess what, you aren’t paying a premium for that (Beats, anyone?). The speaker is located at the back, so the sound is a little muted when placed with the screen upfront, but it’s quite loud and clear otherwise. If you have your headphones plugged in, simply pressing the volume button brings down a mini widget to play your current track. However, the default music player doesn’t come with any audio enhancements, so what you hear is what you get!
Good pair of in-ear headphones
The only downer is the fact that you’ll have to use Zune to get all your media content onto your device. The phone supports a few formats like WMA9, WMA10 and MP4 and video content automatically gets converted into the default playable format by Zune. That said, it’s not difficult to use and syncing can be done via your personal wireless network as well. If iTunes didn’t bother you, Zune won’t either.
The 710 has all the basic connectivity options pretty well covered. There’s 3G HSDPA at 14.4 Mbps and HSUPA at 5.76 Mbps (which means it’s definitely future proofed for all of us with terribly low speeds!!), Wi-Fi, GPS with A-GPS support and Bluetooth. Hotspot creation, though is available for WP7.5 phones, was surprisingly not found on our 710 device. Call quality is loud and audible and in our test the phone didn’t lose signal in closed spaces like elevators.
Browsing via the inbuilt Internet Explorer is quick, but there’s no support for flash, which might be a problem for some people. Anyway, flash for mobile phones is slowly phasing out, so the feature that’s gaining more importance now is the presence of HTML5, which the 710’s default browser has.
The major thing that sets the Lumia 710 apart from other Windows Phones is the present of Nokia Drive and Maps. In Nokia Drive, locking into your GPS signal is quick and once you set your destination, the phone displays the best route, the time and the distance akin to Google. The view is possible in both 2D and 3D modes. Nokia maps allows you to search for landmarks and places, along with viewing your current location. When we used the two services, they worked pretty well and were at par with Google’s map services.
Office and email integration - brilliant
Social networking and email integration deserves special mention. Twitter and Facebook are all integrated at the OS level, so you don’t need to launch any third party applications. In the ME tab itself, you’ll get to see all your notifications, status updates from your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN accounts. The default email client is pretty nifty as well and the panorama view allows easy access to your unread and important mails.
Apps that come with the 710
It’s a Microsoft phone, so another plus is the brilliant compatibility and editing options it has with Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Panning through a large document is surprisingly easy because all starting paragraphs can be accessed via the outline button. Editing, formatting is a breeze on the 710 and if you’re working a lot with Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, you’re gonna love this phone. The only problem we faced was that editing wasn’t possible with DOC files (from Word 97-2003).
The pre-installed applications
Besides Nokia Drive and Maps that we spoke about earlier, Nokia has also bundled in an app called App Highlights that allows users to view the featured and essential apps to download from the marketplace. TuneIn Radio allows wireless music streaming while the tools app allows access to basic functions like stopwatch and calculator. Another application called Times Poynt has been included that, based on your current location, shows you nearby landmarks like restaurants and theatres. As can be seen from the image, it located a lot of theatres accurately in our neighbourhood. The Contacts transfer provides a method for transferring contacts from an old phone to your Nokia phone via Bluetooth.
Xbox Live on your phone
Xbox Live allows you to view your current collection of games, your avatar and game related news in its dedicated hub. Games that are downloaded are again neatly threaded into that tile so they don’t clog up your application list.
The Lumia 710 is strapped with a 5 megapixel autofocus shooter with an LED flash. We put it through the same controlled environment setup we compared our high end smartphones in, which you can view here. The Lumia 710 captures detail pretty well, but when you start the camera, it takes a while for the colours to stabilize. Also, there’s a slight hint of noise in indoor photographs. Outdoor snaps and macros are handled pretty well. Plus, the camera, like the applications is quick and can be accessed via the shutter button even when the phone is locked. However, if you’re one of those that uses video calling extensively, you’ll be disappointed to know that the 710 lacks a front camera.
Indoor images are decent
Video recording is present at 720p resolution and like seen on most phones, you can’t zoom in during recording. Like the Xperia Active we reviewed earlier, this one has some colour banding as well during both indoor and outdoor videos but it’s been a problem with most smartphone cameras we’ve used. Overall, the Lumia 710 is a decent shooter which won’t disappoint you with your casual shots.
5mp camera at the back
The 710 is equipped with a 1300 mAh battery and we put it through its paces in our standard loop test. The phone survived for two hours and ten minutes of calling, two hours video, two hours of music and two hours of streaming. A total of eight hours and ten minutes. In our video playback test, the 710 lasted for six hours before running out of juice. On average usage, the 710 will last you about a day, which, though not overly impressive, is definitely acceptable.
A worthy buy
The Nokia Lumia 710 is priced at Rs. 18,500 (MOP). At this price, it directly compares to the SE Neo V Android phone we reviewed earlier. The only problem some people might have with this phone is that there is no expandable memory (if you’re not satisfied with 8 gigs of memory) or front camera. Besides that, the build, interface, camera and battery life is quite brilliant. For us, the real thing actually holding the phone back is the limited collection of apps in the market (which, to be fair to Microsoft, is getting better over time). If that isn’t a problem for you, then look no further than the Lumia 710. With Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and this new beauty, Nokia is finally back in business.