The Nokia Lumia 710 is the first North American release in Nokia’s new Windows Phone lineup. It was made available a few weeks ago on the T-Mobile network with the low price of $49.99 with a 2-year contract and mail-in rebates. That price (soon to be free) places this device in the low-end of the smartphone market, as Nokia hopes to grab first-time smartphone users and people looking for a smartphone at a decent price.
In this Nokia Lumia 710 review I’ll go over the the hardware, touch on the software, camera, and give my thoughts on this device from the standpoint of a longtime Nokia fan. I may come off as a bit harsh at times, but right now I feel Nokia has a lot to prove to US consumers. I expect, especially their lower tier phones, to be of top notch quality and physically better than their rivals. The point of a entrance device like this one is to show the consumer what you’re made of and hope that they become longtime customers.
Does Nokia meet my expectations with the Lumia 710? Let’s start with the hardware.
Nokia Lumia 710 Hardware
Buttons, Sides, and Back With a soft-rubber material on the back of the Lumia 710, it feels great in hand and is easy to grip. The back cover is one piece from top to bottom and when you remove it, which isn’t easy to do, you have access to the battery and sim card slot. At the top of the phone you have the power/lock button, the audio jack, and the USB port for charging and sync. The left side and bottom of the Lumia 710 do not have any buttons or slots.
The back, home, and search buttons are raised buttons that are not the worst, but not the easiest to use. Holding the phone in one and and holding down the back button to reveal open apps can be a bit difficult. I prefer capacitive buttons. Also, these buttons only stay lit for a few seconds during use. This can be a bit annoying. They should be dimly lit the entire time the screen is in use, apart from long videos. In a dark room it’s a pain to press the right button.
On the right side of the phone you have the volume rocker at the top and a dedicated camera button on the bottom. Both buttons are almost flush with the phone making them a pain in the butt to press. Neither have great feedback when pressed so sometimes it’s hard to tell if you pressed the buttons hard enough. This is especially annoying in the camera app when trying to use the two-step autofocus.
As you can see in the images above, the back cover also acts as the volume and camera buttons. If these get worn out those buttons will become useless. Luckily the back cover is easy to change, which is also where multiple colors come into play.
The Nokia Lumia 710 has a 3.7-inch LCD screen with WVGA 800×480 pixel resolution. I don’t care much for the screen, especially because I’ve been using an AMOLED screen for quite awhile and an LCD is a step backwards, in my opinion. The blacks don’t seem as dark and other colors aren’t as natural. Despite those comparisons with an AMOLED screen (which might not be fair since this is a low budget device), the brightness and sharpness of the Lumia 710 really impresses me.
I don’t see any pixels, and the phone at the highest brightness setting is too high for me. I ended up keeping it on the automatic brightness setting which also helps conserve battery. Speaking of battery…
This isn’t a bright spot for this device. The Nokia Lumia 710 battery life was very poor. All I ask is that my battery gets me through a full day of work. Often times that didn’t happen, and I was forced to re-charge by 3pm. I know the use of 4G has a lot to do with it – but I’m not one of those who like to toggle my connections. I use the phone the way it is advertised and I expect it to last for a day. It’s not the Windows Phone operating system or 4G that is the problem here, it’s the battery size.
With a 1300mAh battery, you can’t expect to get much out of it. This is one of the reasons why I can’t recommend this phone to a power user. At the same time, my critique of the battery is an issue I have with almost all phones nowadays. Manufacturers need to up the ante or find other solutions.
Let’s start with the loudspeaker. I’ll admit it has good volume and the clarity is sufficient enough for calls and listening to talk radio. But trying to play music through it won’t bring you much satisfaction. It’s loud enough, but you won’t enjoy the sound quality too much. It’s just a single speaker after all. Sound on the Lumia 710 through the earpiece is not the greatest either. Nokia has always been known for having great call quality, but this time around they went cheap. I’m not saying it’s bad or unbearable, just not what I’d expect from a Nokia – no matter the price. It’s small things like this that consumers remember when shopping for their next phone, and I really feel Nokia dropped the ball here. Music playback is another weak point. The volume is noticeably lower than it should be, and I don’t hear the quality and power that I think should be standard in any smartphone.
In my opinion this is another weak spot for the Lumia 710. For a company that’s known to make great cameras, I’m pretty let down here.
I understand this is not a camera-focused device like the N8 or N82, but the photo samples, especially indoors, are unacceptable. I’ve seen much better shots taken for most Nokia Eseries devices, including the 5-megapixel Nokia E72. Shots from the iPhone 4 look great when placed beside photos from the Nokia Lumia 710. I’ve included a few photos samples below, and have a separate article about the Lumia 710 camera coming up soon.
Nokia Lumia 710 Software
Here is a positive area for the Lumia 710. This is Nokia’s first device in the US running Windows Phone, and also my first time using this operating system. I gave it a good spin, using it as my main phone for the past 4 weeks. Overall I’m surprisingly happy with Windows Phone. It has a few problems, if you want to call them that, but for the most part it is ideal for the first time smartphone user or the customer who just wants a phone that works.
I’m going to save the details of my Windows Phone impressions for another article, but here I can give you a few thoughts…
As a phone
All the basic components of a smartphone work great in the Windows Phone OS. Phone dialer, messaging, email, calendar, keyboard, all have a modern look and feel to them. The UI doesn’t slow down even after going through many applications and tasks. Words, subject lines, titles, etc. are big and easy to read. This makes the Lumia 710 easy to glance at when pulling it out of your pocket or the desk drawer. Unlike other operating systems, the fonts are big enough so that you don’t have to bring the phone closer to your face. A quick look with your arm fully extended is enough to see all the info you need to decide if you want to ‘read more’.
Facebook integration is the best you’ll find on any phone. It pulls in your Facebook contacts and optionally links them to your phonebook contacts, makes them one. You can see status updates and photos just like they are built-into your phone. Of course if you’d rather not have this close integration you can turn it off completely and just rely on the standalone Facebook application, which also works nicely.
Email works great on the Lumia 710. It connected to my Gmail account and Google Apps account with no issues. Sync works perfectly and the user interface is fast and fluid. Marking multiple items is a breeze and again, the large subject lines means less squinting. I’ll talk more about email on Windows Phone in another write-up, but please trust me when I say this: Windows Phone will give you the best email experience of any mobile OS. That’s right – better than Android and better than iPhone.
Apps, Apps, and more Apps
I have plenty of apps installed on my Lumia 710. Foursquare, weather, Kindle, Amazon shopping, Dropbox, Twitter, ESPN, Evernote, SimpleNotes, Fandango, Flashlight, Flickr, Google Search, Word Feud, iHeartRadio, Lyrics, Netflix, Google Reader, NHL Pro ’12, Maps, Seesmic, Spotify, WordPress, Youtube, and plenty more that I neglected to mention. As you can see all the major apps are there. You can check the Windows Phone Marketplace for yourself to see everything available.
While I may have been a bit harsh on the review the Nokia Lumia 710 hardware, just remember it’s free with a 2-year contract. First time smartphone users or those looking for a phone that ‘just works’ will probably find this an exceptional phone. If you’re a longtime Nokia fan looking to get a deal on a quality Nokia product, don’t expect to get the same hardware experience that you’re used to. This is probably the most cheaply built Nokia smartphone that I’ve ever held. I’ve mentioned this on my Twitter account (@mikemacias) and I got some heat for the comments. Things like, “It feels the cheapest because it is the lowest-priced Nokia smartphone ever”. Well – I’m still a bitter US phone consumer that isn’t happy with the prices in the mobile industry. A 2-year contract for this phone is nothing to scoff at. That contract is expensive in itself, and if you ever decide to upgrade early you’ll pay full price for the next phone. To me, this free phone isn’t worth burning a 2-year contract. But that’s just me, and I’m not the average American consumer. If you just want a free phone and don’t mind the contract, then you will probably end up being happy with the Nokia Lumia 710. In the end it’s all up to the individual needs of the buyer.
Please leave your questions and comments below. Thanks for reading!