Review by Dan Seifert on Thursday January 05, 2012.
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The Lumia 800 is one of the most attractive and striking smartphones to come to the market in recent years (and top-notch build quality to go along with that). Unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 710 does not share this trait, as it features a much more pedestrian design and significantly cheaper-feeling materials. While the Lumia 800 (and its N9 forebear) showed that a phone made of polycarbonate can be beautiful and luxurious, the Lumia 710's plastic construction just feels cheap.
Like the Lumia 800, the Lumia 710 has a 3.7-inch, WVGA (480 x 800 pixel) display with Nokia's ClearBlack branding. Unlike the
Instead of using capacitive keys for the standard back, Start, and search keys for Windows Phone 7.5, the Lumia 710 opts for a single, plastic bar that encompasses all three buttons into one unit. This proved to be an annoyance for me, as the large button was not as easy to activate as a capacitive button and required more attention and force than should be required. The areas of the bar for each action are back-lit, but the light does not stay on for as long as I would like.
The Lumia 710's button problems don't end with the front of the phone, as the volume rocker and camera key on the right-hand edge are very mushy and do not provide very much feedback to the user. The camera key, in particular, is quite hard to use, as it is very difficult to determine when you have pushed it down completely. The top of the phone is home to both the micro-USB charging/syncing port and the 3.5mm headphone jack. It is also where the power/sleep/unlock key is located. Thankfully the power button doesn't suffer from the same issues that plague the hardware buttons elsewhere on the device.
The back of the Lumia 710 is coated with a soft-touch rubber that provides a good grip when holding the phone. Unfortunately, it also attracts finger prints and pocket lint far more than other materials, forcing a particular person, like myself, to constantly wipe it down. The rear cover on the Lumia 710 is removable, and users can swap out the battery if they desire. Nokia is also offering replacement covers in a variety of colors, so owners can personalize the 710's look. The back is home to a 5 megapixel camera and LED flash, as well as a surprisingly loud and clear external speaker. T-Mobile is offering the phone in a white color scheme, but my review unit was a staid, black on black.
Like most Windows Phone 7.5 devices, the Lumia 710 does not support microSD cards, so you are stuck with the on-board storage the comes with the phone for picture, image, video, and app storage. And in the case of the Lumia 710, that storage is rather limited. While the spec sheet says that it comes with 8GB of internal storage, the amount actually available to the user out of the box is closer to 6GB, which is not very much for the avid shutter bug or music aficionado. Owners might want to take advantage of the various streaming music services available to the Windows Phone 7.5 platform and get in the habit of moving their media off the phone fairly regularly if they opt for the Lumia 710.
The Lumia 710 won't win any awards for being the thinnest smartphone on the market at 12.7mm (0.5in), but its curved edges do help hide its girth. It is also quite light at 125g (4.4oz), likely thanks to the liberal use of plastic in its construction. At 119mm (4.68in) tall and 62mm (2.45in) wide, the 710 is just a tad taller and wider than an iPhone 4S.
The Nokia Lumia 710 is powered by the same 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor and 512MB of application RAM as the Lumia 800, as well as the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash and HTC's Titan. As with the other devices, this processor and RAM combination allows for a swift user experience, and there is very little lag throughout the system (this of course, is also a testament to the smooth operation of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 operating system). The Windows Phone interface gets out of your way easily, and apps are quick to open more often than not. Scrolling through lists is fast in all of the native apps on the phone, but as we have seen with all Windows Phone from the outset, third-party apps still struggle with smooth scrolling.
While Windows Phone 7.5 presents an enjoyable experience for the most part, there are areas that still cause consternation for me. With the 7.5 Mango update, Microsoft changed the behavior of the search key so that it opens up a Bing search no matter which app you happen to be in. It does not default to a search function within the app itself, but instead kicks the user out and opens up a web search. I find that the older functionality of the button (defaulting to an in-app search, say searching within email, for example) was much more intuitive and efficient. The live tile system is useful and innovative, but if an app is not one that you want pinned to the homescreen at all times, the only way to access it is by scrolling through all of the apps that are installed on the phone. Windows Phone 7.5 does offer a search function in the app list, but the ability to group apps together in relevant folders would be greatly appreciated.
The People hub that groups all of your contacts and integrates with social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Windows Live is slick and informative, but it could be even better if it incorporated audible/vibration alerts for various notifications and the private messaging services of each social network. Until those features are added, users still have to rely on third-party apps for a full social networking experience.
Overall, the Nokia Lumia 710 offers a pleasant experience, though the hardware issues with the buttons and some of the limitations of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system hold it back from being stellar.
The Nokia Lumia 710 supports T-Mobile's "4G"
While the Lumia 710 won't impress anyone with its network speeds, call quality was quite remarkable, as the earpiece was very loud and clear and callers were able to easily understand me. The speakerphone was loud and clear as well, with little to no distortion at all.
The Lumia 710 takes advantage of the Messaging hub in Windows Phone 7.5 to offer threaded SMS and MMS conversations and Facebook Chat and Windows Live Messenger support. Conversations from the social networks are integrated with standard SMS and MMS messages in a fluid and easy interface.
The email app on the Lumia 710 is the same powerful client as on other Windows Phone devices, and it supports POP3 and IMAP accounts as well as having what is arguably the best Exchange support of any platform. As a heavy Gmail user, I do wish that it supported Google's unique email service better, but for standard email accounts it is excellent.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.