The Nokia Lumia 710 was the first Windows Phone I ever actually had a chance to spend any significant amount of time with, so I was pretty excited when the package arrived on my doorstep. This phone was Nokia’s first Windows Phone in the US, that alone was exciting.
In the box was the familiar Lumia 710 we’ve seen for the past few months. My unit was all black, sadly I wasn’t given an option to test the white version of the phone. With the 710 going for $50 at most on T-Mobile, I was afraid it would feel cheap and plasticky in my hand. I was happy to find out it didn’t. Of course there’s plastic, but the soft touch on the back made the phone very comfortable to hold. It doesn’t feel as nice or high-end as the Lumia 900, but it’s not supposed to.
Even as a mid-range device the Lumia 710 runs Windows Phone very smoothly. Apps could at times took a few seconds to load, but it was never too long a wait. You’ll get a few Nokia-exclusive apps on the phone, some of which are great, but the most exciting ones like Nokia Read and Nokia Transport aren’t available just yet.
Instead you’ll need to deal with only having Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive which didn’t seem all that great to me. Neither app had current information on local businesses in my area, and they really made me wish the phone had Google Maps available instead.
In my testing I was able to find a few apps for the platform that I found useful. Specifically there was Carbon for Twitter, 4th & Mayor for Foursquare, Baconit for Reddit, and DC Comics for comics. Each performed well, but all but 4th and Mayor just made me wish my iOS standbys were available. This seemed to be the running theme for Windows Phone apps for me. There were some great ones that did some common tasks I usually use my iPhone for, but very few that felt as good as or better than iOS apps.
The one aspect I did find more enjoyable than my iPhone was taking photos. Having immediate access to the camera via a physical button is a great feature to have. The photos I took with the phone came out good as well. They weren’t as good as photos I could take with the iPhone 4, but they really shouldn’t be on a mid-range device. Still, I was happy to share the photos I took on the phone on Facebook, which was built into the camera app. You’ll see some of my photos in the gallery below to judge for yourself.
Aside from the lack of apps to replace iOS apps the biggest downside to the Lumia 710 for me was the battery life. I used it for a few weekend excursions where I would only check the phone occasionally when I received an email, to check-in on Foursquare, or to read Twitter. It still died in about 10 hours during my use. Now I can be a heavy smartphone user, so you might get more battery life, but if you take your phone out every time you have a few minutes during the day it might die by the time you get home at the end of the day.
The screen was also a small problem for me. A 480×800 display now just seems so dated, though there was nothing Nokia could do about that. Nokia could have put a better surface on the display, though. I found that my fingers would leave more streaks than usual on the Lumia 710 which was very frustrating. The display looked pretty good despite the resolution, but the streaks across it were hard to looks past at times.
Overall, I did enjoy my time with the Nokia Lumia 710. If you’re looking for a mid-range Windows Phone, there really shouldn’t be another option. Just be warned that you’re walking into a weak ecosystem. If you’re a heavy smartphone user you might want to pass on this phone, while new users likely won’t have a problem with it.
I wouldn’t abandon the iPhone for the Lumia 710, but it did make me more excited for the Lumia 900. If there were more outstanding apps on Windows Phone I’d switch the that just based on the 710. I just don’t see that happening before the 900 is released, whenever that ends up being.