JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The Nokia Lumia 710 is the Finnish company's second Windows Phone, giving users a more affordable choice than the Lumia 800.
It's not only a minor change in terms of specifications, but there is an obvious design alteration on the Lumia 710 that not all customers may like, but it is subjective.
On a more concrete level, the few differences can be summarized in the smaller storage size of 8GB instead of 16GB, a camera with 5 megapixel in resolution instead of 8 megapixel, and a battery with less capacity at 1300mAh as opposed to 1450mAh.
Customers looking for a mid-range smartphone that brings them features that they will use on a daily basis and perfectly counter Android smartphones will see the Lumia 710 as a perfect phone, as its 3.7" ClearBlack touchscreen display, 1.4GHz Scorpio processor, 512MB in RAM, 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, HD video recording, GPS, and Windows Phone 7.5 Mango itself fulfil the average smartphone user's expectations.
Those who look for something more than average will be disappointed in the small display, in comparison to high-end devices' monster screens, and the lack of a dual-core processor and only 512MB in RAM for intensive multi-tasking, even though the CPU and RAM proved more than enough with the Windows Phone installation.
Moving to actual user experience, it must be noted that the front and back of the Nokia Lumia 710 have different feels to them, with the back having a rubber-like friendly texture, and the front the usual glossy and sleek design.
Nokia's ClearBlack 3.7" touchscreen display provided good visibility indoors and outdoors, but is easily beaten by Samsung's Super AMOLED displays. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, which, according to our latest story, is quite tough, preventing even hammers and nails from damaging a Lumia 900.
Below the screen one will find real tacticle buttons, whereas the Lumia 800 comes with touch buttons. It is a subjective choice for the user, but I am personally used to the touch buttons myself.
The camera is exceptionally fast in capturing pictures, and with its autofocus and LED flash it should suffice for most users. However, at a closer inspection, the quality is certainly below par, even for a 5 megapixel sensor, as visible in the pictures below - the sample image of the flower presents no special distinction whatsoever from other pictures, even though it was captured in macro mode (click images for full size):
One of the best aspects of the phone is the software, that can be considered to be competitive to even superior to its competitors. One of the apps that shines among the crowd is Nokia Maps for GPS navigation, as usual, one of the best navigation tools available at the moment, being extremely easy to use and coming with every single extra for free - weather reports, speed cameras, maps for practically the entire world, and free updates for these.
A disadvantage was noted at the time of transferring the captured images to my computer - there is no mass storage mode for the memory where this media was saved on. This makes it complicated to transfer files from and to non-Windows computers, such as mine (Ubuntu installation). Not even Bluetooth was available to transfer images and videos, hence I had to resort to email.
Microsoft adds its own value here by providing users with a gigantic 25GB space for cloud storage through SkyDrive, going beyond Dropbox and Google Drive - the latter will probably offer such a deal on Android devices once it gains popularity.
Coming from a Nokia background, I was unable to transfer contacts from my Nokia N900 to the Lumia 710, and I read about other users not being able to do the same from Symbian devices. This is not a good strategy to keep customers for Nokia.
There are no other criticisms that I can give to Windows Phone - the social networking integration is great all the way up to email, and the user interface makes it easy to navigate through these several apps.
The Nokia Lumia 710, if priced competitively, is a great alternative to Android smartphones and to the iPhone 4S itself, and while it doesn't have as many apps as the former or a voice assistant like the latter, it brings a fluid software experience, great GPS navigation, all fitted into a solidly-built handset.