Nokia Lumia 710 Review – Stuck in the Shadow of the Lumia 800?
The Nokia Lumia 710 is the lower-end model in Nokia’s Lumia range (not counting the Lumia 610 which isn’t available just yet) and Nokia are hoping will appeal to first time smartphone buyers or consumers less worried about specs or big brand names.
Nokia need Windows Phone to survive and it could be said that Microsoft need Nokia for Windows Phone to be successful.
We love Windows Phone, despite its shortcomings and we loved the Nokia Lumia 800, so how does a weaker and cheaper Lumia fare in the big bad mobile world?
It’s inevitable that we’re going to compare the Lumia 710 to the Lumia 800, as although they’re in a different price range they are in the same family of devices. The Lumia 710 definitely does feel cheaper than the 800, it’s noticeably lighter and has a more plastic feel to it, but when the cheap, plastic feel of the Samsung Galaxy range is factored in, the 710 can be excused.
The screen is a 3.7” TFT LCD screen with Gorilla Glass protection, a stark contrast to the ClearBlack AMOLED screen found in the 800.
Whether or not you consider LCD better or worse than AMOLED is a matter of personal choice, AMOLED screens produce much more vivid colours and extremely deep blacks, the Lumia 800 in particular sometimes makes it hard to tell where the screen actually ends, however they have trouble displaying whites properly, often resulting in a whites with a green or blue tint.
LCD screens can display whites much more efficiently, but the colours can appear washed out or dull, although they arguably produce sharper graphics.
The 710s’ screen quality is really nice, as expected, we would love a higher resolution but as mentioned in our HTC Titan review, Microsoft restrict every Windows Phone device to the same resolution, until the Apollo update later this year.
We did notice a strange flicker on the 710 when scrolling or typing and usually only with a white background, we’re not sure if this issue is wide spread but there seem to be some folk on Nokias’ Support Forums complaining of the same issue and it has been noticed in other reviews.
Build quality overall is quite good for a lower-end device, but as previously mentioned does feel quite cheaper than an iPhone 4s or the Lumia 800.
This is partially due to to the back cover being changeable to different colours, almost as if Nokia can’t let go of the past.
It’s a nice touch all the same, and should satisfy folks who want something other than dreary black found in almost every device we use on a daily basis.
Below the screen on the bottom of the phone are the mandatory back, start and search (Bing only, naturally) but unlike the Lumia 800, or indeed most Windows Phone devices, they’re physical keys rather than touch capacitive buttons.
This took some getting used to on our part, the keys are a bit too hard to push with one hand and have you straining to hit them properly, imagine the iPhones’ home button if it were almost completely glued down – not pleasant to use.
However they do protrude from the face of the phone which makes them easier to find and press, and one small upside to them being so hard to push is no more accidental Bing searches while in the middle of an app or a game.
Also strangely absent is the ability to wake the phone up by using the physical start button, iPhone users will find this especially frustrating.
The voice mic is below these buttons.
On the right side is the camera shutter key, which when held down can wake the phone up from lock and go straight to camera – really handy when you need to snap something ASAP.
Higher again is the volume rocker which has two small, separate ‘nubs’ that make them extremely easy to find and press when the phone is in your pocket or simply without even looking.
Down the bottom we have a small loop for attaching phone charms or wrist holders or the like.
Nokia kept the left side clear, the same as all other phones in the Lumia family.
Up top is a micro USB slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and the power/lock button. The latter is where we find a fault in the 710s’ hardware.
The lock/power button is almost perfectly flush with the phone and thus makes it incredibly hard to find at the best of times, making a simple task such as unlocking the phone more of a chore.
This would be but a minor gripe if the physical start button could wake the phone up but as previously mentioned it doesn’t, the power button up top is the only way – annoyingly.
The phones’ rear houses a 5mp shooter with an LED flash up top and the speaker down the bottom.
Overall the design of the Lumia 710 is nice, easy to hold and although it’s clear that Nokia has put far more TLC into designing the Lumia 800 and 900, the only faults we have with it are minor.
There’s not much to say about the inner workings of the Lumia 710 that haven’t already been said in our previous Windows Phone reviews, especially the Lumia 800. Both phones have the exact same amount of RAM (512MB), the same Snapdragon CPU – 1.4 GHz Scorpion processor although the 710 only has 8GB of internal storage while the 800 has 16GB.
The entire Windows Phone experience is the same as what you’ll find on other devices rocking Microsofts’ mobile offering, although included here (as with other Lumia devices) are Nokia Music, Nokia Transport, Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and App Highlights to name but a few Nokia exclusive apps.
We love the entire feel of Windows Phone in general the animations and design are stunning, our gripes with it remain relatively unchanged from previous reviews - the multitasking again isn’t the most comprehensive solution to multitasking.
That’s not saying it’s bad but it could definitely be better, another thing we have hope for in the Apollo update.
Internet sharing is said to be on its’ way to all Lumia devices in a coming update too, so you’ll be able to use the Lumia 710 as a personal hotspot before long.
A 5 megapixel shooter on the 710 is partnered with a single LED flash but sadly there’s no sign of the infamous Carl Zeiss Tessar optics that Nokia love to talk about so much.
The camera here is nothing to write home about, the lack of Carl Zeiss innards and the fact that it’s a now-industry standard 5MP instead of 8MP, gives the Lumia 710 an average image quality.
While it’s not an amazing camera by any means, the pictures it produces can be quite impressive. They don’t seem to suffer the same slightly washed out look that some shots from the Lumia 800 can be.
The Lumia 710 also shoots 720p HD video which as you can see from our sample video, is more than adequate for a lower end device.
Software and Apps
Windows Phone hasn’t changed from our review of the Lumia 800, apart from some small Nokia-only updates, what you get in the 800 will be the same here, and indeed the majority of the software will be the same as all other Windows Phones, sans the Nokia exclusive apps.
We had nothing to say on Nokia Music in the past, but since then it has become available here in Ireland and the short answer is – it’s really good.
There are set playlists inside the App called ‘Mixes’ that are updated and changed by Nokia on a regular basis and the app allows you to skip 6 songs an hour due to radio licensing laws, but we’ve found that this just makes us discover amazing bands/artists that we would have otherwise missed.
Nokia Music alone is enough to warrant getting a Nokia Windows Phone over other Windows Phone offerings.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has recently reached over 80,000 apps – up 20,000 from just back in February. It’s officially the fastest growing smartphone app store in history.
This means that while some big apps such as Draw Something or Instagram are still missing from Windows Phone, essential apps like Netflix, Sky News and even Dominos Pizza are here.
We were a little disappointed with the battery life to be quite honest, the HTC Radar would be the equivalent mid-range Windows Phone device and we were really pleasantly surprised with how long that could last without a charge.
The Lumia 710 averages a day, give or take.
As we always like to do, we’ll stress that you most likely will have to charge all smartphones on an almost daily basis anyway.
Call Quality and Antenna Performance
We have no complaints with call quality or performance here, calls on speakerphone could get a bit harsh-sounding but otherwise it’s spot on, we had no dropped calls or major loss of signal.
We don’t have much in the way of issues with the Lumia 710, other than what we’ve already mentioned, such as the bare-bones 8GB of storage and annoying physical front buttons.
Nokia may have put far more love and attention into the Lumia 800, but the 710 is still a fine piece of hardware containing an extremely fresh and fluid OS inside.
If you can look past the cheap, plastic feel and lack of front facing camera, the Lumia 710 is a really good choice for those who want a cheaper alternative to an iPhone or Android device.
Nokia Music is a great bonus, which helps put the 710 on a higher platform than the HTC Radar or any other similarly specced devices.
Did we mention that you can change the back cover to 5 different colours?
That nostalgia counts for a lot.