Nokia Lumia 710 Review

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The Nokia Lumia 710 is by all means not a flagship device. For all intents and purposes this is designed to be an inexpensive low-end smartphone. You won’t find anything particularly fancy in this device, but that’s the point. Many people don’t want anything terribly expensive and fancy. Many people just want something functional and reliable and that’s what Nokia’s going for with this device… albeit while giving consumers a cheap way to get in on the gorgeous and very highly rated new Windows Phone operating system. Is the Nokia Lumia 710 worth the very low price of admission or should you save up for something better? Read on for all the details and decide for yourself.

BOX CONTENTS

This is our unboxing video of the Nokia Lumia 710. Inside the box, we’ve got only a MicroUSB cable, and charging adapter… It doesn’t even come with headphones but the 3.5mm headset jack should work with whatever you want to plug into it.

HARDWARE

The Nokia Lumia 710 is running a 1.4Ghz Snapdragon MSM8255T processor with 512 Mb RAM and 7.5 Gb of storage. The 3.7″ IPS TFT screen has a 480×800 pixel resolution and 4 point multi-touch. You’ve also got the usual WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, Assisted GPS, 5Mp camera with LED flash, digital compass, 1300 mAh battery, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, and a Micro-USB 2.0 port. The device dimensions are 62.5 x 119 x 12.48 millimeters, and it weighs 125.5 grams.

For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

The phone’s ergonomics feel very comfortable. The angled edges on the sides actually fit where your fingers rest very nicely and the curved backing fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. As for build quality, with Nokia phones, you can often expect them to take a beating. The Lumia 710 is no exception. It feels like it could easily take a number of drops without snapping or cracking. It doesn’t feel fragile at all.

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It’s refreshing to see a phone that does not include capacitive buttons at the bottom of the screen. The Lumia 710 includes a clear plastic rocker button at the bottom with icons for back, “Windows”, and search. The buttons have a good tactile feel to them, but it may feel strange if you’re used to capacitive buttons down here. They are a little more difficult to activate since you do really have to press them instead of just lightly touching the capacitive style buttons on other phones. The advantage to this style of hardware keys is that they’re much less prone to accidental activation. Many have complained on other phones that when playing a game you might accidentally touch a capacitive navigation button and exit out of the game which can be quite annoying. With these buttons, you won’t have that problem.

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It’s pretty good to see a Nokia logo on something running such a smooth, easy, and stable smartphone operating system. You’ll also see the handset speaker slot and an ambient light/proximity sensor at the top here. Unfortunately there is no front-facing camera.

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On the left side of the device we have nothing but a tiny slit that you can use to pry the battery cover off the back.

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On the right side of the device we have the camera button and volume rocker buttons. The camera button is very flush with the edge of the device and it’s pretty difficult to find just by touch. You may have to look at the phone to find it which is unfortunate since one of the coolest features in Windows Phone 7 is the ability to launch the camera just by holding the camera button down (without having to unlock or even look at the device). The volume buttons on the other hand, do have a little bump on each end which does make it easy to feel for without looking.

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On the top we have a power button and 3.5mm headset jack as well as the Micro USB port. The power button flush with the body, but it’s got a sigificant feel to it so that it’s easy to find. The Micro USB port is found on the top in this device since it makes it easy to sit the phone in a cup-holder while it’s charging.

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On the bottom we have nothing but a rounded plastic area and a lanyard hold for attaching a wrist strap or other dangly accessories.

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On the back you’ll see another Nokia logo, a 5 megapixel camera and an LED flash.

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On the lower part of the battery cover is a series of holes and a small slot on the lower right. This is where the speaker is and you can easily muffle the sound if you accidentally cover this area with your hand while holding the phone. You’ll also see even more Nokia branding, but nothing that says “Lumia.”

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One of the cool things about the Lumia 710 is that eventually different colored back battery cover plates will be available so that you can give the phone a more personal look. Underneath the battery cover, of course there’s the 1300 mAh battery, and the Micro SIM slot. I have to say the Micro SIM slot is kind of annoying. It’s worse than the Lumia 800’s implementation since it slides under a thick piece of plastic and is very difficult to both remove and insert a Micro SIM card with your fingers.

SOFTWARE

The Lumia 710 has some customizations from both Nokia and T-Mobile. From T-Mobile, you get Netflix, Slacker Radio, My Account, Telenav GPS, Weather Channel and T-Mobile TV. If you want, you can easily tap and hold on the application icon in the programs listing and choose “Uninstall”. Nokia includes the exclusive ESPN app, Nokia Drive, contacts transfer, “We care”, and app highlights. The App Highlights program has some listings of different apps that Nokia recommends. It also has a “Surprise Me” button where you shake the phone to highlight something randomly. There’s also a “Nokia Collections” section of the Windows Phone Marketplace where you’ll find all the special Nokia-made apps.

The included Nokia Drive GPS navigation software is a great addition, however you’ll have to be careful how much map data you install. I chose the entire 1.8 Gb map of the USA, and the phone gave me a warning about storage space getting low before the map had finished downloading. Out of the box you really only get 3.83 Gb of storage space left for you apps, music, and videos so that might be a bit difficult for some to manage.

For more about the operating system in general, check out our full Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 Reviews.

CAMERA

Unfortunately there aren’t really any software-related camera customizations similar to what Samsung and HTC have done to their most recent devices. You won’t find any panoramic or burst shot or high dynamic range modes, but there is one thing you should pay attention to. The focus mode is set to Macro by default, but if you set it to “Normal” you’ll get faster autofocus for your average everyday photos. However, you also need to note that the hardware camera button’s “half-press to focus” is practically non-existent. You’ll probably just press it all the way and take a picture that’s out of focus. The best way to avoid this is to use the “touch to capture” feature where you touch the part of the screen you want to focus on and the camera automatically focuses on that point and takes a picture without you having to do anything else.

In the above right image, the photo was taken in almost complete darkness with the flash turned on. You’ll notice there’s a lot of light fall-off on the edges which makes for a vignette effect, but you’ll also notice the center focus point is quite sharp and the whites are not blown out. All of which are good things.

Above are two test shots in decently lit areas. The exposures and color reproduction turned out to be quite accurate though you’ll still notice a bit of excessive noise if you look closely.

Above is a series of 100% crop selections from a variety of smartphone cameras. The 100% crops will give you a pixel for pixel comparison. You’ll notice differences in color balance, sharpening levels, as well as lens viewing angles. The Lumia 710 seems to be the worst outdoor photo inn this comparison due to its blurry and muddy photo though the color reproduction is still pretty good.

In low light, the Lumia 710 actually does much better. In the above 100% crops we tested the camera quality with flash in a completely dark room. You can see the Galaxy Nexus and Radar 4G rendered very blurry images. The Radar 4G’s blurriness I blame on its lack of autofocus illuminator. The Galaxy Nexus does turn on its flash for focusing in the dark, but still doesn’t do too well. The Lumia 710 uses its autofocus illuminator flash quite effectively to get a sharp photo and decent exposure. Of course, the Nokia N8 is still the best at flash photos with its Xenon flash and dedicated focus illuminator.


Above is a 720p video recording sample from the Nokia Lumia 710. The Lumia 710 is not capable of recording 1080p video, the autofocus/exposure changes seem a bit slow and the video looks kind of muddy.

BATTERY LIFE

The Lumia 710’s 1300 mAh battery should be plenty to get you through all day and night. Maybe a day and a half with lighter usage. It doesn’t give as much battery life as the more-expensive HTC Radar 4G also available on T-Mobile, but it does allow you to remove the battery and swap it out for a fresh one.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

The Nokia Lumia 710 is be available from T-Mobile USA retail stores as well as the T-Mobile website for $49 with a new 2 year contract, however you can probably find it at Walmart or Costco for free (with a new contract).

PROS

+ Very Inexpensive

+ Great build quality

+ Comes in black or white with more color choices on the way

+ Very fast, smooth, stable operating system

+ Plastic hardware buttons instead of touch-sensitive capacitive ones

+ T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ support

+ Camera flash gives balanced lighting and illuminates for focusing

CONS

– Only 7.5Gb of storage and no way to upgrade

– No front-facing camera

– No Wi-Fi internet sharing (though that might come in an update)

– Micro SIM card slot is difficult to access

– 5 Megapixel camera could be better

– Camera hardware button often takes a picture before focusing

CONCLUSION

Nokia’s first Windows Phone for the United States was really designed to be a budget smartphone. Many may be disappointed that it doesn’t bring anything ground-breaking like the 12 megapixel camera from the Nokia N8 or even the polycarbonate body of the N9. Still you’re looking at a device that packs a lot of great features into a sturdy, attractive, fast, and stable smartphone. If you’re in the market for a Lumia 710, hopefully you don’t care about a front-facing camera, Wi-Fi tethering, or a huge screen. Really you should buy this device for the inexpensive price tag, feature-rich people-centric operating system, and maybe even the interchangeable colors that you’ll be able to get soon.

I give the Nokia Lumia 710 a 4/5.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein

Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!