Review: Nokia Lumia 810 for T-Mobile USA
The Lumia 810 has the same XBox Hub and storefront that all Windows Phones do. The XBox Hub covers all the possible entertainment features, including gaming, music, and video. It's a good tool for managing and consuming content, though you'll need to use desktop software to sync your music to the device.
More importantly, the Lumia 810 includes Nokia Music, which is only being offered to Nokia's Windows Phones. Nokia Music is separate from Microsoft's XBox. It has its own store through which tracks and albums can be purchased, and offers streamed radio stations, personalized recommendations, and the ability to browse through local concerts.
The only other options on board include T-Mobile TV, which is a for-pay service that's streamed over the network, and Slacker Radio. If you're a YouTube fan, you'll have to download one of several YouTube apps from the Windows Phone Store yourself.
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All these services worked well. Music sounded good and videos looked good.
The camera application launches quickly with a long press of the dedicated button and is a snap to use for taking pictures. The menus and controls are all self-explanatory and don't take more than 60 seconds to sort out.
As with all WP8 handsets, the 810 supports “Lenses”. Lenses for the camera are third-party plug-in apps that perform specific actions with the camera. Nokia offers several of its own lenses, which are not available to other WP8 devices. The 810 has the Panorama, Smart Shot, and Cinemagraph lenses preinstalled, but more are available in the Windows Phone Store.
Cinemagraph is the most interesting of the lenses. It lets you create animated GIFs on your phone. It records about 3 seconds' worth of footage and then lets you select sections of the footage to animate and share via link. It's pretty cool.
The 810 doesn't have a PureView camera, but it does capture 8-megapixel photos that are, for the most, part pretty good. I noticed the 810 had trouble with white balance when taking pictures inside. Using the flash didn't seem to fix the problem (see the sit-and-spin below). White balance wasn't a problem when shooting outdoors. All the images I took, whether inside or out, were perfectly in focus and showed accurate exposure.
The 1080p HD video that I captured with the 810 was impressive. It was razor sharp, motion was smooth, and exposure was spot-on. I noticed some jankiness with the white balance (see video below), but otherwise the video is more than worthy of your YouTube audience.
The Microsoft-made Pictures Hub is a fine service for managing your photos. Not only can you manage your own, but you can browse through the photos of your Facebook friends, too. It makes sharing images a snap, and includes support for Microsoft's SkyDrive in addition to other third-party apps.
As far as editing foes, the native People Hub tools are limited to crop, rotate, and enhance by applying some exposure and other fixes. The 810 also includes Nokia's Creative Studio. The Creative Studio app is sort of like Instagram in that it lets users apply various filters and effects to change the tone/appearance of their photos.
The Windows Phone Store has more than enough apps to make sure the Lumia 810 can keep you connected and entertained. There are some T-Mobile apps on board, and some, such as the T-Mobile Account Manage, are actually useful. Either way, all the T-Mobile apps can be deleted if you want to get rid of them.
The 810 didn't give me any trouble when I paired it with my car's hands-free system or stereo Bluetooth speakers. Sound quality of calls through my car was quite good, and music wasn't bad through the stereo speakers, either. The 810 can also be paired to other phones, computers, and so on.
The 810's browser, Internet Explorer 10, is noticeably faster, is better at rendering web pages, and is quick to load web sites. It is chock full of new features (see Phone Scoop's full review of Windows Phone 8), but the one you'll appreciate most is better support for web standards, such as HTML5. For Windows Phones, IE10 is superior to IE9, though it falls a bit short of the features offered by the native Android and iOS browsers.
As with most smartphones, the 810 has a nice digital clock on the lock screen, It also displays the day of the week and the date. I wish the clock were bigger and customizable, but it is not. It’s easy to see outdoors, though.
Nokia Maps (which is now being rebranded as “Here”) has proven to be a powerful navigation tool on Windows Phone handsets. It offers a wealth of features that go head-to-head with the best that Google Maps offers on Android handsets. It helps users manage locations, share points of interest, and route directions. It's all free.
The Lumia 810 also has Nokia's full suite of location-enabled apps on board, including Nokia Drive, Nokia Transit, and others. These are individual apps that perform specific functions. Nokia Drive plots point-to-point driving directions, while Nokia Transit helps manage mass transit route planning. They are each powerful and work as advertised.
The GPS radio of the 810 itself performs flawlessly. It pinpointed me quickly and accurately no matter where I was.
Nokia City Lens
Nokia City Lens is an augmented reality application for finding stuff that's nearby. When you open it, City Lens turns on the camera. You pan the camera around and the app shows you what's nearby. It is easy to pick one of the shops or restaurants in pulls up to see more information and/or details about it. It's pretty cool.