Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nokia Lumia 710



The Lumia 710 follows Nokia’s first attempt at a Windows Phone 7 smartphone, the mid-range Lumia 800. We had mixed feelings about that phone, but the Lumia 710 is much more temptingly priced at around £300 without a contract. It may lack the gorgeous solid-plastic body of its bigger sibling, but we think it’s still a solid and stylish smartphone. In a throwback to earlier Nokia phones, the 710 has swappable plastic shells so you can change the phone’s colour.

By cutting a couple of corners to keep the price down, though, Nokia has (perhaps inadvertently) given the Lumia 710 a couple of key advantages over the Lumia 800. First is the case. By opting for a more traditional design with a snap-on back cover, Nokia has been able to equip the Lumia 710 with a removable battery. The Lumia 800’s battery was inaccessibly sealed inside its case – although, to be fair, many other smartphones have sealed batteries, too.

Second is the screen. The display used on the Lumia 710 lacks the Lumia 810’s striking convex shape, but it is just as bright and exactly the same size. More to the point, it’s also considerably clearer, since the standard LCD technology used here isn’t subject to the same fuzzy-looking text problem that the Lumia 810’s supposedly more sophisticated Amoled screen technology can suffer from.

Despite being £130 cheaper than the Lumia 800, the rest of the Lumia 710’s specification really isn’t that much lower. Storage capacity has been halved to 8GB and, since Windows Phone 7 doesn’t support memory card slots, that may be too little for anyone who likes to listen to a lot of music or watch lots of videos on the go. Nokia has trimmed the mobile network support too. The Lumia 710 is a tri-band smartphone rather than quad-band, which means it can’t be used in as many countries, but that’s something only the most globe-trotting users will have a problem with.

Otherwise, the Lumia 710 has the same fast processor as the Lumia 800, the same 512MB of memory and the same 480x800 pixel resolution screen as well as an identical array of sensors such as orientation sensors. Nokia has downgraded the autofocus digital camera from eight megapixels to five megapixels, though, and dropped the fancy Carl Zeiss lens that the Lumia 800 uses. That said, even though the Lumia 710’s photos are obviously lower resolution, their quality didn’t noticeably lower quality to our eyes, though perhaps that is only because we weren’t that impressed with the ones snapped by the Lumia 800.

We have no complaints with call quality and even battery life is respectable, with the Lumia 710 lasting for 33.5 hours in our MP3-playback test with the screen off and all wireless connections disabled.

Like the more-expensive Lumia 800, the Lumia 710 comes with Nokia’s free Drive app. This provides turn-by-turn driving directions and maps designed specifically for use by motorists. The phone also includes the free Nokia Music app, which lets you stream new music similar to the tracks you have already copied to the phone. It’s more like listening to a radio station than a true pick-what-you-want service such as Spotify, but it’s a handy extra to have.

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