The Nokia Lumia 710 is only the second Windows 7 Phone launched by the Finnish company for the UK (with the Nokia Lumia 900 currently US only) and is markedly more affordable than the well-received Nokia Lumia 800: it’s available for free on contracts as low as £15.
It may not be designed to compete with the likes of the Apple iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy S2, but is it a cheap and cheerful smartphone or an underpowered bargain basement blower?
Nokia Lumia 710: Build
The Nokia Lumia 800 has some of the best build quality we’ve ever seen in a smartphone, but sadly the Nokia Lumia 710 doesn’t quite match up to its pricier big brother.
While the Gorilla Glass-covered front feels reassuringly solid, the removeable back cover (you can swap these rear plates to customise the colour of the phone) doesn’t exude quite the same level of sturdiness. Still, by cheaper smartphone standards it’s more than acceptable.
The phone is nicely lightweight and reasonably slim, with a standard array of controls on the exterior. You’ll find back, home and search buttons under the screen, a power button up top and a volume control on the right side. Just below that there’s a dedicated shutter button for the camera, which is a nice touch: holding it down brings the phone out of sleep mode and readies the camera.
Nokia Lumia 710: Features
The 5MP camera is simple but effective, delivering sharp, clean shots in good light as well as decent 720p HD video. Elsewhere you’ll find the usual smartphone stuff – Wi-Fi, GPS, compass etc. – and with Windows Phone 7 you have handy apps like Nokia Maps, Xbox Live and People, which combines your social networking, contacts and messages into a single stream.
When compared to Android and iOS, Windows Phone 7 is a little lacking in the app store department due to its newcomer status, but that’s rapidly changing: there are expected to be 100,000 apps in the Marketplace by the time Windows 8 Phone arrives in the not-too-distant future.
There’s 8GB of storage, and no way to expand it – so music and video hoarders should bare that in mind before shelling out the readies.
Nokia Lumia 710: Screen
The Lumia 710 features a Gorilla Glass-fronted 3.7-inch screen with a resolution of 800 x 480, just like the Lumia 800. Except it isn’t: the Lumia 800 has an AMOLED screen bursting with colour and contrast, while the Lumia 710’s is mere LCD. While the quality isn’t as retina-pleasingly punchy, it’s still more than acceptable: whites are bright and blacks are inky.
The 3.7-inch screen size is a little bigger than that of the Apple iPhone 4S, although if display dimensions are a key selling point for you there are plenty of affordable Android handsets with even larger screens such as the HTC Sensation XE.
Nokia Lumia 710: Performance
This is the area where the Nokia Lumia 710 really shows its worth, especially in comparison to its moderately-priced Android rivals, like the HTC Wildfire S. With the same power inside as the Lumia 800 (1.4GHz processor and 512MB), the 710 never feels sluggish to use: you can flick to different apps from the homescreen with nary a stutter.
Nokia Lumia 710: Battery
The battery life isn’t exceptional but neither is it particularly stingy. Yes, you’ll have to charge the phone at the end of most days to avoid running out of juice (especially if you spend a lot of time messing around with it) but that’s just the way it is with powerful smartphones.
Nokia Lumia 710: Verdict
Don’t view the Nokia Lumia 710 as the poor man’s Lumia 800. This is a cracking budget smartphone in its own right: it feels more reliable and much faster than the average budget Android phone, and the tile-based Windows Phone 7 user interface is a joy to poke around.
Yes, the lack of available apps compared with rival operating systems could prove a deal breaker for the software-obsessed, but on the hardware and features front Nokia has done a fantastic job here. One of the finest affordable smartphones we’ve seen in recent times.
Speedy, lightweight and dependably robust, the Nokia Lumia 710 is a classy entry point into Windows Phone 7, and a top budget phone.