Product review: Nokia Lumia 710 smartphone

6 May 2012

Nokia is well entrenched in its Windows Phone strategy and judging how well its new smartphones are being received in the US in particular, it is certainly rediscovering its mojo.

In the US and UK, devices like the Lumia 800 and 900 are being well received – in fact acclaimed – as quality high-end smartphones.

While the 710 is aimed at more entry-level smartphone users you can tell that quite a lot of effort has gone into its design.

The first thing that’s apparent from a design perspective is the nice rounded shape – no harsh edges or angles. The next thing that’s apparent is the feel of the device. I love the velvety feel to whatever material is used for the body of the phone. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The 710 is available in a number of colours including black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow.

However, in terms of aesthetics I think the rubber bumper on which the ‘back’, ‘Windows’ and ‘search’ buttons sit feels a little old-fashioned and out of place on a 2012 smartphone.

You can only hope that the hard work Nokia is putting into its new generation of devices will pay off. This is because when you look at one of these phones and study the specs you’ll realise how much technology Nokia is pushing into these elegant devices.

The 3.7-inch display on the 710 features a capacitive touch screen and boasts 16m colours. The device is capable of 8GB of storage and has 512MB of RAM. Being a Windows Phone device it has a single core 1.4GHz Scorpion processor and a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset.

Powered by Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and adhering strictly to Microsoft’s specifications (yes Redmond, it has a camera button on the lower right side!), I was impressed by the speed of the device and the elegance of the software.

I have to admit Windows Phone is growing on me. I’ve been steeped in iOS and Android for at least three years now and at first Windows Phone felt one-dimensional and an adroit attempt to steer clear of any similarities with the iOS.

But as the various boxes on the Windows Phone display begin to fill with information and quite soon, I hope, work in tandem with the boxes of light I’ll soon see on Windows 8 tablets and ultrabooks, the circle will be complete.

Battery life is an estimated 400 hours of standby and up to 7 hours 40 minutes talk-time on 3G networks. Music can play steadily for an estimated 38 hours, according to the specs I’m looking at.

Time to break the mould, Nokia

In all it’s a very brave and solid attempt by Nokia who I think are eager to please in order to win back loyal followers.

What I would like to see is Nokia break out beyond the safe options, however, and stamp its identity on the shape and form of future devices. I say this because I think the 710 is crammed with good technology (it even has an FM stereo) and is affordable because Nokia is taking no chances. It’s a safe bet.

It’s a good-looking device that does everything you could expect a smartphone to do in 2012 – GPS, apps, 5MP camera, music, video, games, you name it.

However, I’d like to see Nokia return to the market with edgy form factors and ground-breaking industrial design (I still remember carrying the Nokia 9000 Communicator). Or does any one remember the Matrix phone – the Nokia 7110 – where you’d flick a button and the keyboard shot out. Ah, the memories.

I say this because I think all smartphones are beginning to look alike. They have a screen of between 3.4-inches to 5-inches, invariably come in black and it’s hard to tell one from the other. So as Nokia rediscovers its mojo, I’d like to see it rediscover its design edge too.

The Nokia 710 is available on Meteor from €289.99 Pay As You Go and from free on Bill Pay, and is available on O2 from €269.99 Pay As You Go and from free on Bill Pay.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years