Nokia’s smartphone travails are well documented, but with estimates that the Lumia 800 has sold over one million units since its November launch, things seem to be looking up. The Finnish manufacturer is now looking to consolidate that success with the Lumia 710. As with the Lumia 800 (and all Nokia smartphones from here on in) the 710 runs on Windows Phone 7.5; the difference is in the design and the specification. This is a phone for budget-conscious users, and therefore lacks some of the design flair of the 800.
It isn’t made from a solid block of plastic; instead, the build is more traditional, with a removable rear panel hiding a 1300mAh battery and micro- SIM compartment. The screen is flat, without the sumptuous curved edges of the Lumia 800, and in profile it looks a little dumpy. In a world of size zero smartphones, a thickness of 13mm makes it look well behind the curve.
Having said all that, the Lumia 710 is certainly no ugly duckling. As with the Lumia 800, it’s available in a number of eye-catching colour combinations (ours came with black and electric blue rear covers), and details such as the inset Nokia logo and a band of precisely positioned speaker perforations on the back mean it looks far from cheap and nasty.
And although the display isn’t an AMOLED like the Lumia 800’s, it is the same size and resolution – 3.7in and 480 x 800 – and the brightness and contrast is extremely impressive. Measured with our colorimeter, the Lumia 710’s maximum brightness registered 501cd/m2, which is right up there with the very best (the Lumia 800 gets only 296cd/m2), and gave a contrast ratio of 982:1. Sit it next to its sibling, and the colours look distinctly less vibrant and saturated, but that’s the full extent of the difference. It’s perfectly fine in every other respect.
In fact, the only real gripe we have with the new Nokia, aside from its slightly low 8GB storage, is the plastic button bar running below the screen, which gives access to the back, Windows and search functions. It feels stiff, requires a rather hard jab before it registers a press, and the seams around its edges were already collecting unsightly bits of fluff after a couple of days. We prefer the touch buttons of the Lumia 800.
PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE
As a phone, though, the 710 functions flawlessly. Calls come through loud and clear, it has a good loud ring and the speaker has plenty of volume, so it performs well in hands-free mode. Responsiveness, as we’ve come to expect from Windows Phone devices, is also without compromise. The Lumia sports the same 1.4GHz single-core Qualcomm Scorpion processor as found in the Lumia 800, backed up with 512MB RAM, and this is all it needs to provide a super-fluid all-round experience.
The Lumia 710 comes in a range of colour options.
In our HTML page load test, where 28 pages are loaded in sequence and timed, it was also some way off the pace, completing the test in 16.7 seconds. The quickest handsets break the tape in ten seconds and under.
And yet, in real-world use, complicated web apps such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs feel more usable than they do on Android and iOS devices, and the dreaded typing lag that so often afflicts Android devices when entering text in online fields is mercifully missing. It goes to show that benchmarks don’t always tell the whole story.
In our battery tests the Lumia 710 performed adequately too, retaining between 50% and 60% of its charge after our 24-hour tests. Note that this is with emails set to be delivered “As they arrive”, from a single Gmail account, with an hour of audio playback, 50MB of downloads and a half-hour phone call carried out during the test period. With the PC & Tech Authority Exchange account, plus Twitter and Facebook added to the mix, we only just about managed to eke a full day’s use out of the Lumia 710.
The Lumia 710's photo-taking abilities are left wanting.
The 710’s camera is a bigger disappointment. Not only is the resolution lower than its sibling’s at 5-megapixels, but it’s also very unreliable. That’s principally due to poor autofocus performance, which we found to be very hit and miss. Quality is reasonable in good light (when you can get it to lock on to your subject), but in low light the results are dreadful, marred by banding and tons of chroma noise.
The Lumia 710 is Nokia’s mass-market gambit, and arguably its success is more important to the company as a whole than the sexier Lumia 800. And it isn’t a bad smartphone. As with all Windows Phone smartphones, it feels smooth under the finger, and we do like the design, despite the dumpy profile.
As a bonus, the Lumia 710 comes with the same Nokia Music streaming service as the Lumia 800, and Nokia’s free worldwide turn by turn navigation app, with maps that can be downloaded to local storage. And price-wise it’s tempting, too. It is very much a budget smartphone in specs and build, but the performance makes for an awful lot of phone for very little cash. The poor camera and questionable battery life under load, however, do undermine its appeal.