Nokia has is no slouch when it comes to mobile devices. They are well known for building solid mobile devices with great optics and an amazing ability for customers to personalize their devices. The Lumia 710 is one of the first 2 Windows Phone devices released by the Nokia since they announced the new direction early last year. Can this new perform on the same level as older Nokia hardware? And will it be enough to drive customers to get customers on board and believing in Nokia once again? I’ve been lucky enough to have a Lumia 710 for the last month or so, and I’ve been putting it to the test.
Let’s start things off with some spec’s so everyone can get a good understanding of what is inside this piece of hardware. It’s powered by a single core Qualcomm processor running at 1.4 GHz, 8GB of mass storage memory, and a 1,300 mAh battery. Of course there is the standards that you expect to find on any device – WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, Micro USB, and a 3.5mm audio connector. When it comes to data network speeds, you’re looking at HSUPA (max upload speed) of 5.76 Mbps, and HSDPA (max download speed) of 14.4 Mbps. And we can’t forget the screen is a 3.7 inch ClearBlack display, a 5MP auto focus camera, a weight of 126 grams, and measuring in at 62.4 x 119.0 x 12.5 mm (width x height x depth).
Beyond the spec sheet, the Lumia has a really nice feel to it. The back of the device has a soft rubber coating so it doesn’t slide around on you. The sides are gently rounded allowing the device to rest comfortably in your hand or in your pocket. The soft rubber coating on the back helps to cut down on the fingerprints and prevent it from easily slipping out of your hand. Unfortunately, the front is the exact opposite with fingerprints shinning for all to see. As a result, I’m always wiping the screen of the device to keep it nice and clean.
One of the first things I noticed is the physical button at the bottom of the screen. Many devices have all switched to these capacitive buttons (just like the screen, you don’t actually have to push it in), but the Lumia 710 has one large button that controls the Back, Home, and Search functionality on the device. The benefit is simple, it works with gloves on! That means you can still work the device on a cold morning – especially if you use the speech engine to launch your apps or do your texts. All you need to start the speech engine is a long press on the home button. That’s impossible without this physical button. There’s also the tactile feedback of pushing a real button and of course, the ease in finding it since it’s raised and you don’t have to look at where you’re trying to place your finger.
Nokia has done a nice job of keeping the lines clean and making sure everything you need is in an easy to reach location. Volume up and down is nicely positioned on the right side close to the top of the phone. As you would expect, the camera button is also on that side and close to the bottom of the phone. Both buttons are easily reachable. The power button it at the top on the right side, and again, is easy to reach. Nokia even added a lanyard loop on the bottom right – if you like that type of thing, it’s nicely positioned so you can see the device correctly when you look at it hanging from the lanyard. The only thing I don’t like when it comes to it’s position on the device, is the charge port. It’s on the top-left side of the device. This isn’t uncommon, in fact a number of manufacturers did this with their first generation Windows Phone. As a result, when I put the phone in it’s charge bay beside my bed, it’s upside down. It’s not a huge problem, and clearly it’s not inconveniencing me during my busy use time of the device, but it does cause problems with docks, and cradles that you may want to use the phone with.
Lumia 710 photos by Kendra
Of course, the screen is something you spend a great deal of time looking at. So how does Nokia’s ClearBlack display technology stand up against screens from other device manufacturers? You’ll be happy to know that the ClearBlack technology really does make a difference. The blacks on the Lumia 710 are good and black and it even helps to reduce glare when outdoors.
I’ve grabbed 4 different Windows Phone devices, from 3 different manufacturers. All of the devices have the brightness set to medium, screen timeout is set to 5 minutes, and they are all loading the same image from the same web source. As expected, Samsung’s AMOLED/Super AMOLED based screens are over-saturated. Especially the older Focus, where the reds look almost orange. The HTC Titan and the Nokia Lumia 710 are very close in terms of blackness and color matching. While these devices are aimed at different audiences, I think they are pretty even when it comes to the screen.
Nokia brings more than just solid hardware to the Windows Phone table. They have also included their own applications on the device. One of these is Nokia Drive, which offers turn by turn directions on your device. The cool thing about Nokia Drive is that you can download maps for any given state or province directly to your phone. So you don’t have to worry about trying to navigate while being out of cellular data coverage. I downloaded maps for 5 or 6 locations and they ranged in size from 60MB to just over 100MB for New York state. It’s great you can do this, but unfortunately it won’t download in the background, and you can’t flag multiple locations and then kick off the download. So it’s a little time consuming, but it is a one-time deal. Once you have them downloaded and installed, you won’t have to do that again.
Overall I think that Drive is well designed and easy to use, although lacking a little with the Metro interface. I found it a little awkward to pull up the settings and switch from Imperial to Metric. There’s two separate settings windows depending on what screen you’re on in the app. If you tap on the sprocket while viewing the map, you get map options. In this screen, there is no control for Metric vs. Imperial. You have to tap on the bulleted list icon when you’re in navigation mode to get the navigation settings. The problem is, it’s not really intuitive to learn how to switch between these modes.
While Drive comes pre-loaded on the device, there are a number of other Nokia apps in the Nokia Collection section in the Marketplace. Apps like Nokia Maps, Transit, Contacts Transfer, Network Setup, Creative Studio, and many more. All the apps in the Nokia Collection are at least 4 star apps, and many are more. Clearly, Nokia is putting their energy into some top notch software additions.
The Lumia 710 can be picked up for free on a 2 year contract from T-Mobile in the US, or for $30 on a 3 year contract from Rogers in Canada. Without a contract, you’re looking at $349.99 from T-Mobile and $229.99 from Rogers. Keep in mind that these two devices, while appear the same, are different when it comes to cellular networks. Make sure you pick up the right phone for your cellular network provider.
The Nokia Lumia 710 is packed full of goodness, from the small form factor, to the easy to manage price tag. I don’t think you could go wrong with a Lumia 710.