Nokia Lumia 710 Review

The Lumia 710 is the cheaper, slightly fatter brother of the excellent Nokia Lumia 800. It's a capable enough smartphone, but can it entice budget buyers?

Why It Matters

Nokia made shockwaves when it announced it was shifting its smartphone strategy over from Symbian and Meego to Windows Phone 7. To date, though, we've only seen two Windows Phone 7 models in the Australian market; the very sexy and highly desireable Nokia Lumia 800 and the entry level Lumia 710.

Entry level smartphones often get a rough ride based on the very fact that they're entry level, and I think that ignores the fact that the feature phone is all but dead; nearly everyone buying a mobile these days will end up with a smartphone of some stripe. The flip side of that is that the market for entry level units is massively saturated, but not with Windows Phone models. The budget space remains the province of Android handsets; can a semi-budget Windows Phone really compete?

What I Liked

The Lumia 800 and 710 share software, which means you get access to Nokia's range of exclusive applications, including Nokia Drive, Maps and Music. It's not just software that the 710 shares with its more expensive sibling; the internal components are largely identical as well. The same Qualcomm 1.4Ghz processor runs both units, and the result is a smartphone with decent smarts. Windows Phone 7 generally does quite well with lower system specifications than competing platforms, and this means that despite being a technical step or two behind the competition, you'd be hard pressed to notice it in day to day use. Apps animate smoothly, close quickly and the general Windows Phone 7 experience remains a pleasant one.

The Lumia 710's 3.7 inch display isn't an AMOLED as you get on the 800; instead you'll have to make do with an LCD panel. Again, though, the 710 does somewhat punch above its weight , as the screen is clear and bright in both indoor and outdoor situations. Likewise, the 710's 5 megapixel camera isn't a stunning achievement, which initially feels a little weird for a Nokia handset. Once I got over that curiosity, I was able to take some passable shots with the 710. Nothing superb, but once again, this isn't positioned as a premium smartphone.

What I Didn't Like

The Lumia 800 was a real head turner of a phone — presuming, that is, you weren't one of the very few buyers of the Nokia N9. The Lumia 710, simply put, isn't, and the black model supplied to Giz exemplifies the problem. It's rather as though somebody in Nokia's design team, having knocked it out of the park with the Lumia 800, turned to the work experience boy and said "Very well. Now we shall churn out the cheaper one.". The Lumia 710's design is generally ordinary, and in a smartphone world where showing off is sometimes the point, that may not be enough. The other colours of the Lumia 710 are a little more attractive than the black model, but it's still a fairly chunky phone that doesn't really play to Nokia's usual design strengths.

In the 710's case, you're still left with a phone that looks much like the existing Windows Phone 7 pantheon, and many of those phones are getting on for eighteen months old right now. Outside the Nokia exclusive apps, you'd genuinely have a hard time picking those early handsets apart from the 710, and that's not a good thing.

The comparison with early Windows Phone 7 handsets doesn't stop there, either. To keep costs low, the 710 only has 8GB of storage on board, and in line with Microsoft's general rules on such things, there's no expandable storage capability. 8GB in today's media-obsessed world isn't a whole lot to play with at all, and it'll never get any better. If you're a music lover, like carrying around a lot of your photos or are simply app-addicted, you'll fill the 710 all too quickly.

While it's a criticism that can also be levelled at the Lumia 800, now that Skype's available for Windows Phone 7, the lack of a front facing camera is a real pain. Something tells me that the close collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft, and given who the current owners of Skype are that this may well be fixed in Nokia's second generation of Windows Phone 7 handsets — but that does nothing to help the Lumia 710.

Should You Buy One?

Ah, now, here's the crux of the problem. The Nokia Lumia 710, is, without doubt, a good budget smartphone, and a good way to show off what Windows Phone 7 can do. The $369 outright price point doesn't seem too onerous for what you get, but it's a tough one to justify with just a little bit of research.

First and foremost; if you just want a cheap smartphone, there's no end of really inexpensive Android handsets out there for outright purchase and then prepaid access or contract buying across all carriers. I'll take the view from now on that you know about those, but you're interested in Windows Phone 7 exclusively.

The issue here is that outside of the smallest contract tiers, the difference between the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 over the life of a contract really isn't that great, but the physical and especially storage differences are massive. A tip of the hat to Sheeds over at WPDownUnder here, as he did the analysis of the 710 on Optus some time back, and I largely agree with his conclusions; on a $59 cap or more, there's no point getting the 710 at all, as the price difference vanishes. Even on a $49 cap the difference over the life of the contract is only $98; it'd be well worth paying that for the double storage on the Lumia 800 alone. The lower tier caps weigh better in the Lumia 710's favour, but again there's a lot of competition in those lower tiers from other handset operating systems. Ask me if I'd rather a Galaxy S II than a Lumia 710, and the answer would be rather sharp.

That leaves outright purchase, and here again I've got to shift back out to the larger market. $369 isn't a bad price for a phone with the Lumia 710's capabilities, but it's certainly shifting towards the middle tier rather than entry level pricing, and at that kind of price there seems to be more of an acceptance of long term contracts than plunking money down outright. That doesn't always make financial sense — even some high-end smartphones can be better value on a prepaid cap if your usage is moderate — but appeals to people's hip pocket nerves.

So the Lumia 710 is a capable enough smartphone, but one that is indeed outclassed by the Lumia 800. You'd expect that, but when the pricing gap is so small, it makes the 710 a hard phone to generally recommend, even to the budget tiers that Nokia's clearly pitching it towards.

Specifications

OS: Windows Phone 7.5 Screen: 3.7 Inch (480x800) LCD Processor / RAM: 1.4GHz Qualcomm / 512MB Storage: 8GB internal Camera: 5MP rear Weight: 125.5g Battery: 1300mAh Price: $369 outright or on contract


Comments

    i just spent the last month playing with the LG optimus 7 (E900). i bought it off catch of the day for 160 odd dolla - a trial phone of sorts to test out the wp7 environment and a potential development phone.

    heres my review.

    i came from a galaxy s i9000. initial thoughts of the i9000 were positive, then i fell into this slow clunky android experience. i refreshed and jazzed it up with miui - i9000 and android became awesome.

    now, the e900 is a clunky piece of kit, doesnnt have the nice curves and flash displays as a samsung or lumia... but it works as advertised, mango experience, and it feels snappy and great (even tho its a snapdragon 1ghz cpu). things i like.... the UI is fluid and speedy, it doesnt feel slow nor does it feel sluggish while transitioning between apps and games. it was a good experience in general. then i started hunting for apps.... nothing grabbed my attention (but really, did it need to?).

    i couldnt find a decent app (free) for dropbox, i found at the time the skydrive experience awkward, i found the lack of customisation frustrating until i started "jail breaking"... but that was annoying and convoluted and still restrictive. everyone seems to like live tiles, but i cant grasp their benefit for anything other than simple counters and weather updates. they arent useful, they dont provide enough information. i found my TPG(optus) reception often flaky compared to my i9000, occasionally internet on my phone would jsut crawl until i restarted my phone (even on wireless). oh, and what really grinds my gears about htis phone.... its targeted mostly as a business phone - sure, why not, outlook, office integrations - hurray.... but when u get an email with mpg, avi, html attachments... forget about it. infact, forget about trying anything that isnt a microsoft format or a pdf. and i really really missed being able to render flash on a website - not everyone has jumped ship to html5 yet, and when i get a tweet to a non youtube embedded video i cringe and move back to my pc later.... its kinda annoying

    basically my wp7 experience was fine, its a capable phone for anyone jumping into the smartphone scene, but i cant see ANY benefit over iphone or android.

    the only thing i loved... zune wireless sync. wp7 has zune, iphone has itunes, android has nothing official, and all audio media files are treated as music... so you need something like winamp to get a similar experience (and free)

    now im back to android and i dont feel any better off or any worse off... they all work, each has its frustration, but somehow i feel like i could be dragged back to wp7 simply for the zune syncing... android can be alot of excess work for all those additional customisation abilities.

      That's an interesting perspective because my brother did EXACTLY the same thing - Galaxy S to Optimus 7 via Catch of the Day - and he is a total convert. It surprised me because I got the impression he didn't like my WP7 phone when we were using it for navigation in the US last year. He lives in Gosford and travels around NSW with his job and I'm sure he said he finds the reception better on the Optimus than it was on his Galaxy (also on Optus), although he might have been comparing his own Optus phone with the Telstra one he has for work (we were at least 6 beers into the conversation by this time).

      I'm surprised at your attitude to Live Tiles. Compared to the sterile grid of icons you get on a computer or other phone platforms, I find them refreshing. Just seeing the last album cover I was listening to in the "Hey DJ" live tile or the band photo in the Zune tile is cool, as is the random image in the Pictures tile or the word of the day image in Translator. I also prefer finding apps not on the Start Screen from an alphabetical list, rather than from 4 or 5 identical pages of icon grids.

        wp7 is by no means a bad experience, nor would I not recommend the platform.

        the live tiles adds a nice visual element to the home screen, but I stand by my argument that it really adds nothing more to the "icon"other than counters and very trimmed information, you almost always find yourself entering the app to find out what the change is... it doesn't really serve its purpose as a "quick" glance feature, there isn't enough room for meaningful information... but maybe that's the point.

        very decent platform.... but I'd recommend waiting out wp8 since the rumors of upgradability potential have started to float

        "I’m surprised at your attitude to Live Tiles. Compared to the sterile grid of icons you get on a computer or other phone platforms, I find them refreshing."

        Ever heard of Widgets Motormouth? They're basically the same thing, except even more customisable in terms of sizing, do basically the same thing but without a catchy name. There's nothing you're describing that can't also be performed on an Android phone (with perhaps less style).

    The price difference on plans is nowhere near as close as you are suggesting. On Virgin you can get a 710 for free on a $29 plan, as opposed to a $49 plan for the 800. Over a 24 month contract that's a $480 difference, not a sum to be sneezed at. And surely cheaper phones are aimed squarely at users with more modest needs?
    My mate got a 710 a month or so ago and I think it is a really impressive phone. Apart from design and the screen, it is every bit as good as my 800 and it certainly looks as good as any other budget priced smartphone out there. And storage is no great issue for anyone I know. Even my 800 is only about one-third full and I never had any issues with the 8Gb of my last phone. My mate was interested in a Galaxy SII until he saw how huge it was, so its not just about specs. I'd have a 710 in a heartbeat if something happened to my 800.

      Really size doesn't matter? You obviously don't listen to much music.

      I was pretty disappointed that not a single WP OEM offered 32gb+, as it stands now I've probably filled my 3 week old Lumia 800 4/5 full of music and apps. I'd consider Zune pass to need less music onboard if it wasn't for the fact that Australians don't get smart DJ, and I don't see the point of unlimited online music without an intelligent music matching service.

      Also I hope nobody brings up the 25gb skydrive rubbish argument after this. 1) it's 7gb now for new users. 2) it's only really any good for pictures and documents, not music which easily takes up most of my smartphone space.

        I listen to a lot of music, probably a dozen albums a day on average, but not on my phone. I have 94 singles, EPs and albums from 79 artists on there, which is a great selection that only takes up around 5Gb (all either 256kb/s or 320kb/s). EPs are good for the phone as I can usually get through a whole one on a bus journey or a walk up to the shops and back. The albums on there are all newly acquired things. If I want to take my whole collection - 687 releases, 281 artists and 7260 songs - then I can take my Zune HD, which is about one-quarter the size of my phone. That's the thing, until I can put my entire collection, currently around 58Gb, on a phone then 8Gb is just as useful as 48Gb. And the phone will never replace my ZuneHD, because that's how I listen to music at home (in the dock, with a remote control)
        Don't care about Skydrive or Dropbox, I even closed my box.net account. I don't use either with my phone and can't see why I would. Same with Zune Pass - the chance of it playing anything I don't already own that I want to listen to is zero. I also believe it takes up a lot of space, as it does store stuff locally so you can listen off-line. I imagine you'd need a fairly massive data plan to accommodate it, too.

          So you're still in the world of 2008 putting multiple devices in your pocket? Here in 2012, that's exactly what people are trying to avoid by owning a smartphone.

    Good thing I have found about Windows Phones are it never seems to be slow. I have had 2 windows phones, the HTC HD7 and the HTC Trophy (work phones) .
    Current job has given me an iPhone 4S so im carrying around that and a Galaxy S II. I havent had one personally, but IMO the current Lumia range are good all-round phones but lack the wow factor. What Nokia need to do is release a Windows version of the Pureview and have 32 or 64Gb internal memory. I would buy that in a heartbeat.

      Nokia's working on a PureView WP7 (maybe WP8) handset - and with the no-doubt massive sensoor and FHD recording they'd be absolutely mad to give it any less than 32GB of memory. Even if MS allowed expandable storage.

      My sister has adjusted very well to my old Trophy - such a neat and chipper lil' phone. One thing I think is awesome is that she only has a Windows Live account for e-mail. All her contacts/calendar is done via a Google account and you'd never know - her People hub and Calendar look and work the same as on my Lumia ^_^

    The 710 is an odd one - in Australia it doesn't really have a place other than to be "yet another" WP7 handset. The 800 and 900 are really the standout for what "Lumia" should mean; the upcoming 610 with Tango is a true entry-level WP7 handset (and if I may say so, cute as a button). The 710 is like the HTC Radar (1.4GHz CPU aside) - it feels like an old handset even though it's brand new.

    I personally sold my iphone 4s 64gb about a month ago, used the cash to buy a ps vit a and a lumia 710 outright, and I am still happy with the decision I made, 8gb's is fine for my music needs as I 1. Don't use public transport, no real need to listen to a lot of music on the go 2. I can easily fit 1000 songs on my phone as it is!@

    The phone is smooth and responsive unlike many budget android phones, in the last 2 years I've had a desire HD (ran like shit until rooted) iphone 3gs and an iphone 4s, and I this phone is as much a pleasure to use as any of the previous. The fact that WP7 phones have a minimum requirement for the OS makes using any of them a very smooth experience. I would recommend this to anyone that wants a phone that is bang for buck/ people that might not want to fork out that little bit extra because they need the money for something else!

      Yep too true. Even the budget phones that came out at WP7 launch like the HTC trophy run Mango nice and smoothly. Hows the PS Vita? Is it a good buy?

    This is not a budget phone. "$369 outright"? The Galaxy Nexus was sold on COTD recently for around $450 and the SII still goes for less than that. This phone is a hair away from some of Android's best devices and offers far less.

    Nokia needs to get its pricing in order if they want to be competitive.

    So it's a "Mom and Pop" phone.. fair enough. We need those phones to get the "Mom's and Pop's" in to the technology.. not that my mum and ad are completely useless with tech.. well.. ok.. my Dad is.. but there you go.

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