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Review: Nokia Lumia 710 for T-Mobile USA

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Jan 5, 2012, 12:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman
updated Jan 5, 2012, 12:32 AM

Nokia looks to reenter the US smartphone market with the Lumia 710. This Windows Phone 7 device hits T-Mobile USA's network January 11. Here is Phone Scoop's full review of this critical phone for Nokia.

Form

Is It Your Type? 

Nokia's return to the U.S. smartphone market takes shape in the Lumia 710, one of the Finnish phone-maker's first Windows Phone 7 devices for T-Mobile USA. With its $50 price tag, the Lumia 710 makes an easy choice for first-time smartphone buyers. Phone Scoop tells you if the easy choice is a smart choice in this full review.

Body 

The Lumia 710 is unlike most Nokia phones you've ever seen. The company has revised its design language to match its new smartphone operating system of choice -- Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. Microsoft's platform requires that Nokia include certain design elements in the 710 that it may or may not have otherwise chosen.

From a distance, it could be mistaken for any low-end or mid-range Android smartphone. It's a black, slab-style device with few distinguishing markings aside from the WP7 control buttons on the front. (The 710 will also be available in white.) The 710 is the lesser of the new WP7 smartphones from Nokia, and you can tell by the materials and size. While the length and width are fairly compact, the 710 is a wee bit thicker than I'd like it to be. It's not egregiously thick by any stretch, but it's no RAZR, either.

 

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It’s fairly light and feels comfortable in the hand. The back surface is covered in soft-touch paint, which is nice when pressed against your skin. The sides and back form a bit of a C shape, and the curve lets the 710 sit deep in your palm. The materials are good, but not great. There aren't any metals or high-quality glass; instead, plastic. The 710 is well put-together, though, and you can tell that Nokia took care in its manufacture. Its size will allow you to fit it into a pocket easily, but the rubbery soft-touch surfaces will make it difficult to retrieve from tight jeans.

The front of the 710 is a solid surface, broken up only by WP7 controls at the bottom. The three standard Windows Phone buttons are combined into a strip that's about two inches long. The Back function is to the far left, the Home key in the middle, and the Search/Bing key is on the far right. The problem with this control strip is that the travel and feedback is terrible. The button is complete mush no matter where you press it.

There are no controls on the left side or bottom of the 710. The volume toggle is on the right side of the 710, as is the dedicated camera button (which is required by Microsoft). The volume toggle is a thin, sharp strip that is wholly unsatisfying to use. The travel and feedback are awful and it doesn't feel good under your thumb at all. The camera button is just as bad. It's almost impossible to tell you're pressing it. In fact, the only clue that you've pressed the camera button is that it suddenly shoots a picture. Two truly terrible buttons, Nokia? What gives?

The power button, microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack are all on the top edge of the 710. The power button is small and too flush with the surface, making it hard to find and use. It’s somewhat better than the volume toggle and camera button, but not much. You have to press it well into the phone.

The battery cover encompasses the entire back surface of the 710 as well as a portion of the side edges. It comes off with no problem. The 710 - like nearly all Windows Phones - does not support memory cards, but you can access the SIM slot once you remove the battery. It is worth noting that the Lumia 710 uses a microSIM card, not a standard-size SIM, so it will be more difficult to swap in and out with other devices.

The Three S's 

Screen

The Lumia 710's display measures 3.7 inches and includes the standard 480 x 800 pixels of all Windows Phones. It uses Nokia's ClearBlack technology and looks really, really good. I’m particularly impressed by the high contrast ratio, which lets blacks look really black and whites look really white. Colors also appear bright and warm. As for resolution, the pixel count and screen size make for a really sharp display that is free of individually-visible pixels.

Signal

The Lumia 710 uses T-Mobile USA's 2G EDGE and 3G/4G HSPA+ (at 14.4 Mbps) networks. During my signal tests, the 710 routinely held onto three or four bars of coverage no matter where I took it. It passed the NJ vault test (my local supermarket), though it did lose coverage in my basement, which happens with T-Mobile phones from time to time. The Lumia 710 was able to make calls as long as the signal indicator showed at least one bar, but if it dropped to zero bars (but still showed a network connection) it couldn't make calls. The 710 didn't drop any calls during my review period. Data speeds were mostly good, though not as fast as T-Mobile's HSPA+ 21 and HSPA+ 42 devices.

Sound

Nokia' reputation as a maker of fine phones remains intact. The Nokia Lumia 710 is an outstanding voice phone. I haven't heard calls this clear in ages. There was absolutely zero background noise, and voices sounded bright and clean through the earpiece. My only complaint is that the earpiece isn't quite as loud as it should be. It's good, but just short of great with respect to volume. The speakerphone is loud enough, but loses some of the clarity. It's also prone to a bit of distortion if you turn it all the way up. Even with the distortion, however, the Lumia 710's speakerphone sounds very good. The ringtones and alerts were loud enough to rouse me from my deepest slumber when I forgot to silence the 710 at night. They'll be loud enough to wake you from the dead, too. The vibrate alert is acceptable.

Battery

The Lumia 710's battery performed as well as any other smartphone battery, if not somewhat better than much of the competition. With email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all tugging at the internet, and the Wi-Fi and GPS radios active, the 710 blasted through 36 hours of battery life easily, and often held onto a charge for 48 hours. You can probably get away with charging it every other night, but you ought to keep an eye on the battery meter the second day.

Basics

Menus 

The Lumia 710 runs Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango.” The user interface and menu systems have not been altered at all by Nokia, though Nokia and T-Mobile have added a few of their own services (more on those later).

The unlock screen includes notifications placed at the bottom that let you see in an instant what new missed calls, emails, and messages you may have received. They are easy to jump into once you unlock the phone.

The home screen is made up of dynamic, updating Live Tiles with content that changes throughout the day. These tiles -- some active, some static -- are applications, folders, tools, that are pinned to the main home screen, where they can be seen and interacted with.

The interface of Windows Phone, which Microsoft calls Metro, requires you to swipe your finger to the left to discover more content/info in most apps/menus you happen to be using. For example, swipe to the left from the home screen, and you go into the main menu. The main menu is where all the applications, settings, and other tools are stored. The main menu is a simple alphabetical list of all the services, applications, and settings tools. It cannot be rearranged or modified.

Most individual apps can be adjusted in their own they, though it isn't entirely obvious. In most apps, you may notice three little dots in the bottom right-hand corner. Press them to pull up that particular app's settings tools to make adjustments. Mango includes fast app switching, which some might call multitasking. Press and hold the back button, and you'll see a collection of all the recent applications you've used laid out in a row like playing cards on the screen. Simply pick the app you want to return to, and you'll jump directly there. It mimics webOS to a small extent.

The 710 has a 1.4GHz processor and had absolutely no performance problems. It was fast across the board. All applications, screen transitions, and so on were quick and smooth.

 

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Calls/Contacts 

Calls

The fastest way to reach the phone application is from the main home screen. Press the Phone tile, and the call history is the first thing you'll see. There are icons at the bottom that open the dialer, the People Hub or voicemail. You can also make calls from select apps, such as email or SMS by pressing phone numbers.

After a call has connected, a small pull-down menu lets you do most of the expected things, such as add a call, put a call on hold or mute, or activate the speakerphone.

 

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Contacts

The People Hub is Microsoft's version of a contact application, and it is an essential part of the WP7 Mango experience. With Mango, Microsoft has fully integrated the People Hub with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The main view in the People Hub is a huge list of all your contacts. Your most recent Facebook status appears at the top next to your avatar. There are two little buttons positioned at the bottom of the screen that allow you to search through your contacts or add a new one. Want to see what your contacts have been up to? Swipe the entire page to the left, and you see the "What's New" column. This is a list of the most recent status updates from your contacts. It updates regularly, so you can always get a quick idea of what your friends and family are doing.

Each contact page holds plenty of information, including email addresses, numbers, street addresses, birthdays, web sites, and so on.

 

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Messaging 

The Lumia 710 doesn't differ much from other Mango smartphones. It has the same set of communications tools and they behave in the same way.

The email app supports Microsoft Exchange as well as POP and IMAP email accounts. You can tweak how often emails arrive, as well as send, save, archive, forward, flag, and search through emails with ease. Gmail works really well in Mango, and thanks to the Exchange support built into Gmail, you can add Google Calendar and Google Contacts as easily to the Lumia 710 as you can Gmail itself.

The SMS/MMS application - which is one of the core tiles on the device - offers threaded conversations. Text appears in colored bubbles in a way that will be familiar and intuitive to most people. Images and video content appear in-line with the conversation.

Instant messaging services are limited to Windows Live and Facebook. If you want to use IM services from Yahoo or Google, you'll have to seek out third-party apps from the Marketplace.

The People Hub itself serves as your nerve center for social networking. It provides a rich, well-rounded social networking experience that includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. i really like the way user status updates populate the People Hub automatically.

In addition to the People Hub, there are excellent Twitter and Facebook apps built for Mango available in the Marketplace.

 

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Extras

Media 

Music

The Zune application is the default music and video content player. As noted in our previous Windows Phone reviews, the Zune app is interactive and graphically rich. The player interface itself is easy to navigate and use, and the on-screen controls make interacting with your tunes and videos easy. One of my favorite features of the Zune app is its connection to the Zune Marketplace. You can choose to have it pull down info about your artists, and provides suggestions on other music services you might use. It’s cool stuff for the music fan.

Slacker Radio is also preinstalled for those who prefer to stream their mobile music. If you're interested in music services beyond Zune and Slacker, you can find plenty in the Marketplace.

 

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Video

Pretty much everything I said about the music experience applies to the video experience, as well, since they are part of the same Hub.

The 710 also ships with Netflix for renting/watching movies and the T-Mobile TV application. The T-Mobile TV app costs $9.99 after a free 30-day trial, and offers TV shows and other content. In stark contrast to the app's behavior on Android devices, T-Mobile TV absolutely flies on the 710 and works perfectly. The user interface has been overhauled a bit and it is easier to sort through and find content. TV content starts streaming fairly quickly, though the resolution is lower than what I'd like it to be.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Camera 

Camera

Press and hold the dedicated camera button at any time and the camera application springs to life. The user interface of the camera has not been altered by Nokia. Most of the screen serves as the viewfinder for composing images. On the right side of the screen, there's a black control strip that provides access to the video camera, zoom function, and the full camera settings.

The camera settings tool lets you adjust a pretty good selection of controls, such as ISO, scenes, white balance, brightness, metering mode, and flicker reduction. The 710 can capture 5-megapixel images with a 4:3 aspect ratio or 4-megapixel images with a 16:9 aspect ratio. You can't dial the resolution any lower. The scene modes adjust for settings such as candlelight, macro, landscape, night, snow, and sunsets. You can also apply some effects (B&W, sepia, etc.) before you take the image.

On the left side of the viewfinder, you'll see the edge of the last image you just captured. This is part of the Metro user interface concept. Basically, it serves as quick access to your photo gallery.

The Lumia 710 shoots images incredibly fast. Press the camera button and it focuses in a snap and fires of the shutter. The problem -- as mentioned earlier -- is that the camera button stinks. There's absolutely no definition between the two stages of the two-stage camera button so it's hard to tell when you've focused the shot before the 710 shoots. It’s really annoying.

 

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Photo Hub

The Pictures Hub is an essential element to Windows Phone 7. Microsoft prioritizes the idea of sharing images as a part of who we are with our friends, family, and contacts. The Picture Hub is where the Lumia 710 deposits the photos you capture with the phone, but it also syncs to your Facebook account. It gives you access to your Facebook photo albums as well as the albums of your Facebook friends. The Hub uses the Metro approach, requiring you to swipe to the left to access different portions of the app. The layout and design are great; I really like using the Photo Hub. The Hub makes sharing to other services, such as SkyDrive and Flickr, a cinch.

The one great failing of the Picture Hub is its inability to let users adjust or edit their photos. All it offers is an "auto-correct" tool that alters brightness, contrast, and exposure automatically. Sometimes it helps, but often it does not. The Lumia 710 doesn't include the fine Photo Studio application that's available on other Mango smartphones. There are a number of options in the Marketplace, but the best ones cost several dollars to purchase.

 

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Photos/Video 

Photos

The Lumia 710 takes good pictures for a 5-megapixel shooter. I found focus to be consistently spot-on (despite the odd camera button behavior) and the 710 did a great job correctly exposing even tricky scenes. It has a flash to help in low-light environments. Using the flash will illuminate the subject nicely, but the background tends to be underexposed and devoid of detail. There's perhaps a bit more grain in images than I'd like to see, but the consistently good white balance, exposure, and focus make up for that a bit. You'll happily want to share the images you take with the 710.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Video

The video camera, which behaves exactly as the camera application and includes many of the same settings and controls, shoots video at either 720p or VGA resolutions. The 720p video is captured in a 16:9 aspect ration, while the VGA video is captured in 4:3 resolution. Both looked good, and I was especially pleased with the 720p results. Most videos looked great on my 55-inch HDTV. Sharing them via YouTube or to your SkyDrive account is a breeze.

Browse/Customize 

Browser

The Lumia 710 ships with the same version of Internet Explorer 9 that comes on other Mango phones. It is a capable browser and paired with T-Mobile's HSPA+ network was plenty fast. It renders both full HTML and mobile-optimized sites in a blink, and web pages look really good on the 710's display. Performance lagged only when in the worst network conditions.

 

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Customize

If there's one thing you really can't do with Windows Phone devices, it's customize the heck out of them. Aside from arranging the home screen Live Tiles to your liking and altering the colors to the theme, there's not much you can do to significantly alter the look and feel of Windows Phone, and that's how Microsoft wants it. You can alter some of the basics, though, such as the lock screen wallpaper, ringtones and alerts, etc.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Extras 

App Highlights

There's a Nokia-made application called App Highlights on the 710. This app is tied to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile and offers a rotating array of Nokia-recommended applications for download. It's OK.

Bluetooth

The Lumia 710 supports the usual set of Bluetooth profiles. I had no trouble at all pairing with headphones or my car. Calls sounded really good through both mono headsets and my car's hands-free system. The stereo Bluetooth profile also worked well, and I was able to push pictures to my PC with no problem.

Clock

The 710's lockscreen clock is the same as other Mango phones. It is a bit too small, if you ask me, and isn't as noticeable as the date is (which I usually don't care that much about). I wish there were a way to control the clock on the lock screen. There isn't. It suffices, but just.

ESPN

One of the essential services Nokia is bringing to Windows Phone 7 is the ESPN Hub. The ESPN Hub is made specifically for sports nuts and provides access to top sports news, scores, and video highlights. There's one major problem. The app is not U.S.-centric. That means sports such as soccer and cricket are given more prominence that NHL hockey or NFL football. There is a section at the bottom of the app reserved for U.S. sports, but it is merely a link to the mobile version of the ESPN web site. That's pretty weak, Nokia. I understand that catering to every market around the world isn't going to happen, but major markets should see this app tweaked a little bit.

 

ESPN

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Nokia Drive

Another essential service being offered to Lumia 710 owners is the Nokia Drive application. Nokia Drive is a new piece of navigation software developed for Mango. This app is LEAGUES better than the old Bing Maps. Maps are offered in 2D or 3D. It's also more enjoyable than Google Maps, though Google is just as good at getting you from Point A to Point B. The 3D maps view lets you adjust the angle of view and is a really neat way to view the surrounding landscape and get a perspective on how the map relates to the real world. For point-to-point navigation, you can choose from a range of different voice styles (female voice w/UK accent is the default). Maps can be set to day or night mode, landmarks such as gas stations are visible, and Nokia Drive offers full 3D landscapes (i.e., buildings and such) in select cities.

 

Nokia Drive

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Wrap-Up 

The Lumia 710 is a solid smartphone from Nokia and a good addition to the ranks of Windows Phone devices. My only really quibbles with the 710 are the crummy buttons. Otherwise the hardware performs as it’s supposed to. Phone calls, in particular, were excellent on the 710 and it was a strong performer on T-Mobile's network in the NYC area. Battery life scored well and the 710 exhibited zippy performance all around.

The Mango software from Microsoft is a solid operating system and offers a cleaner-looking alternative to the likes of Android. The additions from Nokia -- notably ESPN and Nokia Drive -- represent a good start for Nokia's potential in the Windows Phone space, but Nokia will have to do more with the ESPN Hub to impress me.

Add to these pros a solid-performing camera and video camera, immersive entertainment options, a good browser, and powerful communications tool, and you have the most-usable smartphone I've ever seen from Nokia.

At $50, it's a bargain and probably outperforms Android phones at that price point. Will T-Mobile customers see the light and choose the Lumia? They should.

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Comments

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Subject Author Date
changed mind I reccomend over the Radar! landmarkcm Jan 11, 2012, 11:53 PM
So sad to Nokia to see Nokia go with WP7 BigRed75 Jan 6, 2012, 3:01 AM
NO SD card slot deltasigmatheta Jan 6, 2012, 12:07 PM
Going with the Radar landmarkcm Jan 5, 2012, 5:32 AM
Meh. KOL4420 Jan 5, 2012, 9:44 AM
  • Re: Meh. by muchdrama   Jan 5, 2012, 2:23 PM
    • Re: Meh. by landmarkcm   Jan 5, 2012, 4:52 PM
Wow, how um... unique and um innovative MadFatMan Jan 5, 2012, 12:57 AM
3G modes tnt4tony Jan 5, 2012, 11:35 AM
Nice reivew, Eric-- muchdrama Jan 5, 2012, 2:20 PM
NOT A HUGE WINDOWS FAN BUT... Daniel4Sprint Jan 5, 2012, 1:27 PM
 
 
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