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Review: Nokia’s Low-End Hail-Mary Pass, The Lumia 710



  • 3.7 inch display (480×800)
  • 8 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  • MSRP: $50 with two-year contract


  • Small and light
  • Windows Phone 7 Mango
  • Bright, crisp screen


  • Weak plastic case
  • Odd, huge main button
  • Some odd port placements


Windows Phones, like Android phones, are hard to review. The operating system is obviously the same across the board and so the real question is “How does the hardware stand up to competitors?” The most important thing to consider here then is whether this phone stands a chance against similarly-priced Android feature phones and whether or not Nokia’s big gamble on WinPho has paid off? I’m leaning towards “Yes.”

First, I won’t address Windows Phone Mango (WinPho 7.5) in this review. We’ve written plenty about it in the past and we did a full review of the platform here as well as a discussion of the Mango update. There is plenty to love about Windows Phone, but we’re really talking about Nokia’s hardware.

Nokia did very little to change the stock Windows Phone experience. They added Nokia Drive app and a special “We Care” button that basically says they collect information about your phone and your use of services to improve Nokia products, a nod to a post-Carrier IQ world where we assume our phones are spying on us. Other than that, you are looking at a fairly standard Windows Phone 7 installation.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about…

The Phone
The phone itself is solid and slim, with a bit of a bulge on its rounded back. The 5 megapixel camera, while usable, is no great shakes but call quality and battery life were good. I got about 30 hours of standby with only a little use (with push enabled) and in my stress test (constant website updates over wireless) I saw 90 minutes. This evens out to about a day of strong use but you will need to recharge this thing every evening.

The phone is quite comfortable to use and the excellent Mango updates add a few interesting features to Windows 7.5. Nokia’s tweaks include a new color scheme (aptly named “Nokia Blue”) and the Nokia Drive application. T-Mobile has stuck their T-Mobile TV service on the Lumia and, for some reason, another navigation app in the form of TeleNav. You also have Xbox connectivity through the Xbox live apps.

The Good
I’ve been playing with a great number of phones this month, culminating in the truly excellent Samsung Galaxy Nexus. We have, however, avoided looking into lower-end Android phones because the experience has been poor. Burned too many times by phones like the Motorola CLIQ, the shambling, me-too models weren’t for us.

This phone changes that attitude. Many believe Windows Phone is too little, too late. Heck, I most of us thought the same thing. But it’s not. Carrier availability, aside, if I were to lay out three lower-end phones in front of a consumer – even a savvy consumer like you! – and you had to choose among, say, the iPhone 3GS (at 99 cents or whatever the price is on AT&T as there is no T-Mo iPhone analog), the LG DoublePlay at $49, and the Lumia 710, the Lumia and the iPhone would be the ones to pick. If you’re a T-Mobile customer on a budget? It’s a no brainer. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m bullish on Windows Phone.

The Bad
All is not roses and petunias, however. This thing costs $50 after two-year contract and you can tell. The front glass panel, while delightfully dark with a small bezel, features the goofiest-looking buttons I’ve seen this side of an N95. Nokia’s design language likes to place multiple features on a single, long button, so this button handles the “back” function, the “home” button, and search on one long piece of plastic that looks like a puffy sticker. It works, but it ain’t pretty.

The phone has no front-facing camera, which suggests that video chat won’t be available for the 710 any time soon. Mango brings support for mobile hotspot/internet sharing functionality, but it seems to be strangely absent on the 710. The plastic casing is also fairly chintzy, implying less “luxury” and more “phone you get for a penny at the T-Mobile store.” This is by design (and I mean that in a good way.) The Lumia 710, in short, is Nokia’s first commodity Windows Phone. While many oohed and ahhed over the Lumia 800, there will be none of that here. This is a good, solid phone for good solid folk. It is the good brown gravy in Nokia’s kitchen arsenal while the 800 is the bechamel.

Do these factors matter? Sure, but considering some of the unmitigated garbage that populates the lower price sections of most carriers, I’m happy to overlook some minor cosmetic affronts for the value for money offered here.

This phone reminds me of Windows Mobile devices like the Wing and the Blackjack. Those phones – aimed at, I’m not making this up, “scheduling moms” (or something to that effect – were designed to wrest the final Motorola RAZRs from consumers around the world and replace them with smartphones. Then iPhone came along and did just that, leaving Microsoft with unsold hardware and an OS that was by all rights garbage.

Microsoft regrouped – and took its own sweet time doing it – and figured things out. Thus the 710 was born.

The Bottom Line
Be aware that this is not an encomium of the Lumia 710 in particular but a sort of “Wow, they really did it” for Microsoft and Nokia. The 710 is obviously competing against the Radar 4G on T-Mobile and Windows Phone is still missing a few features like unified inbox and a video chat service, but you’re dealing with a few trade-offs. Microsoft is acting like Apple with WinPho, meting out improvements over time rather than fragmenting the OS over multiple devices.

If Microsoft knows anything it’s how to make code work on disparate and underpowered systems. If Nokia knows anything it’s how to make cheap phones for the millions. Together, these guys are creating a sort of low-end vortex that could pull the base out of the phone sales pyramid. See, the manufacture of the low end supports the mid-range which supports the high end. Until now, Android owned both the low-end while sharing the mid- and high-range with Apple. When Nokia floods the low-end with capable, usable, and fun devices, someone will have to worry.

Is this the Windows Phone to buy? If you’re in the market now (and you’re on T-Mobile), go for it. As Ross Miller notes CES is next week but I have my doubts that anything announced there would steer you one way or the other. Otherwise, keep an eye on Windows Phone. It’s only going to get better (or at least more popular) and when it does, expect a sea change in the way we think about feature phones.

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Review: Nokia’s Low-End Hail-Mary Pass, The Lumia 710

Nokia Debuts Their First Windows Phones: The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710


It’s nice and early in London, and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has finally put to rest months of speculation by unveiling Nokia’s first batch of Windows Phones at the Nokia World conference. It’s been a long time coming — news of a Nokia/Microsoft partnership first broke back in February — but Nokia has at long last debuted the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710.

Lumia 800

It’s been hinted at for months now, but the handset formerly known as the Searay has finally been revealed as the Lumia 800. Stephen Elop has called it the “first real Windows Phone” — quite a lofty claim, but does the hardware live up to it?

The 800 sports a curved 3.7-inch WVGA ClearBlack AMOLED display, a single-core 1.4GHz processor, and 512MB of RAM. Mobile photographers will find much to like about the 8-megapixel camera with a f/2.2 Carl Zeiss lens, and the 16GB of onboard storage should hold quite a few cat pictures. The specs won’t exactly set anyone’s world on fire, but the design might: like the N9 before it, the Lumia 800 features a stunning unibody design that’s shaped out of a slab of durable polycarbonate material.

The style-conscious among you will also be glad to know that the Lumia 800 comes in three colors: black, cyan, and magenta. Surprisingly, the Lumia 800 is already on its way to France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in time for a November launch. Customers in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan will be able to nab one by the end of the year, but domestic Windows Phones fans will have to wait until early 2012.

Lumia 710

The 710 (formerly known as the Sabre) is the chunkier of the two, but that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch when it comes to hardware. It repackages the same 1.4GHz processor as seen in the Lumia 800, and pairs it with a 3.7-inch WVGA screen, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. It’s meant to be Nokia and Microsoft’s effort to capture a more budget-conscious audience, and it’s heartening to see Nokia give it the same performance potential as their more premium offering.

Though the 710 only sports 8GB of internal storage, it beats out its brother by including a microSD card slot that can accept up to 16GB of additional flash storage. It also bears the distinction of being one of the few Windows Phone with physical navigation keys, which is sure to please fans of tactile feedback.

Expect to see it hit shelves in both stealth black and crisp white, with multiple colored backplates to please the chromatically indecisive. It looks like the Lumia 710 will be headed first to Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan, alongside its more expensive brother.

Nokia-Exclusive Apps

Oh, you thought Nokia was only bringing new hardware to the table? Perish the thought! Nokia has loaded both Lumia devices with a few new apps in an attempt to make their mark on Microsoft’s mobile OS.

  • Nokia Drive: Lumia users are privy to Nokia’s free turn-by-turn navigation service. It’s a definite plus for people who can’t read a map to their lives (like me), and makes quite a dynamic alternative to, say, Bing Maps.
  • Nokia Music: A free streaming music app that allows users to listen to hundred of different music channels via a feature called Mix Radio. Nokia says it delivers “locally-relevant” music too, which highlights local artists or songs in a particular native tongue. A forthcoming update will allow users to create their own mixes on the fly without having to deal with accounts or logins.

If Nokia’s naming scheme is any indication, then the 710 and the 800 are just the tip of the iceberg. Interestingly, rumors of a high-end 900 series device made the rounds yesterday, but never materialzed on stage. Taking a no-holds-barred approach to their first Windows Phones would’ve gone a long way in helping Nokia cast off their stodgy reputation. Still, the Lumia series is a promising start for the Finnish phone giant, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing these devices in the proverbial flesh.


Nokia Debuts Their First Windows Phones: The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710

T-Mobile Poster Reveals Nokia Drive For WP7, Confirms Sabre?


Oops. A new promotional poster made an appearance in a store at T-Mobile’s German headquarters, where it confirmed the existence of a Nokia Windows Phone with a 3.7-inch display and Nokia’s Drive navigation service.

The poster was up only briefly, but a quick-thinking tipster snapped a few shots and fired them off to WinRumors. After running it through a quick and dirty Google translation, the poster’s copy mentions that Nokia Drive for WP7 includes a 3D navigation display like its MeeGo cousin, and support for voice control.

Thrilling, no? Of course, that’s not all the poster had in store for us. Further down in the description, it makes mention of a device packing a 3.7-inch curved AMOLED display.

Nokia’s fabled Searay handset reportedly bears quite a resemblance to the company’s N9, but whether or not it shares the device’s 3.9-inch display is still in the air. If it does though, then these marketing materials may refer to another Nokia device that was accidentally outed earlier this week.

If the terms and conditions of a Microsoft Canada contest are to be believed, then Nokia has at least one more Windows Phone in the pipeline. Rumors of a handset called the Sabre can be laid to rest, as the contest’s fine print seems to back up the device’s existence. Details are pretty much non-existent at this stage, but WPCentral ruminated that the Sabre would have a 3.7-inch display when they first caught wind of it last month.

The matching screen sizes could be a complete coincidence, but it’s also possible that Nokia’s Sabre is farther along then we thought. The fact that Microsoft has since pulled the offending wording from the contest rules only makes the Sabre look more official. With Nokia’s Windows Phones poised to launch before the year is out, they’ll hopefully come forward with details sooner rather than later.

T-Mobile Poster Reveals Nokia Drive For WP7, Confirms Sabre?