Nokia Lumia 710 – style and substance

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The former industry leader’s new Windows Phone device offers good looks, Nokia Music and Windows 7 in a compact, customisable cases. If you want the newest OS on the block for less, this is the handset for you

Nokia has been in free fall for years, rapidly losing smartphone market share. Sure, it’s still the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer, but that just means it has had further to fall.

Early last year, in an attempt to stem the flow, the company announced its partnership with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone devices.

This arrangement bore fruit in October with the announcement of the scorching Lumia 800, and this, its smaller sibling, the Nokia Lumia 710.

It’s still packing many of the same innards, however – the same Qualcomm 1.4GHz processor, for instance, as well as a similar sized 3.7-inch display – but this is much more affordable than the Lumia 800.

Plastic not so fantastic 

The Lumia 800 was the perfect phone to relaunch Nokia, courtesy of its unique use of machined materials, including a unibody plastic case.

While Nokia should be commended for showing that aluminium isn’t the only way to make a gorgeous phone, the Lumia 710 isn’t the best example of this.

Instead of the amazing curves of the 800, here you get something more typically ‘Nokian’ in design. It’s wide, thick (12.5mm) and cheap-feeling by comparison.

The Lumia 710 comes with a separate replaceable back cover – cyan blue in the case of our review unit – to spice things up, and there’s no denying it does, but the three front-facing Windows Phone buttons, back, home and search, spoil the experience.

They’re an ever-present reminder that you’ve bought the cheap model, not the affordable one, as is the typically noisy, if snappy, five-megapixel camera.

The display has also taken a bit of a hit too. Nokia has dropped the more expensive AMOLED panel of the 800 in favour of an LCD panel, albeit of the same size and sharp resolution.

Truth be told, though, this isn’t too much of a big deal. While we’re sorry to see the true blacks of the 800 go, this is as good as LCDs get.

Nokia says it’s using the same ‘ClearBlack’ technology in both, and while we can’t say for sure that that’s what gives it such contrast and wide vertical viewing angles, it’s certainly better than anything on similarly priced rivals, such as the HTC Radar.

Mid-range Mango

The beauty of Microsoft’s smartphone software is that you’re almost guaranteed to get the same on whatever Windows Phone you buy.

As a result, the experience, with an easy-to-use grid of live tiles that act as shortcut icons, as well as showing information, is much the same as ever. You can expect an easy UI and a great keyboard.

There is still the distinct lack of apps compared to iOS and Android, but if you’re not after the latest and greatest, we think you’ll be pretty pleased with the number of services already available, from Kindle to Spotify.

Full article in Mobile News issue 512 (April 23, 2012).

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