Remember Nokia? A popular feature phone maker in the United States for quite some time, Nokia hasn't had any presence in the American smartphone market, though it did find some success overseas. But now, the company has partnered with Microsoft, restoring the presence of Nokia in the United States in the form of smartphones running the Windows Phone 7 operating system.
The Nokia Lumia 710, available on T-Mobile, is both the company's first American smartphone running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) and the first 4G device running Microsoft's mobile operating system.
It's a no-frills device, to be sure; perhaps that's part of the reason it has already received a price cut, knocking it down to a mere $40 with a mail-in rebate and new two-year contract with T-Mobile. But just because it doesn't break the bank doesn't mean it's of poor quality or an incapable device. For $40, you can do a lot worse.
Build & Design
The Lumia 710 is a bit on the chunky side, measuring 0.49 inches in thickness and weighing 4.4 ounces, so it's definitely not the sleekest phone you'll ever handle. But it still feels comfortable to hold in the hand thanks to its rounded edges, and it isn't one of those smartphones that's so gigantic that it's bordering on being a mini-tablet; at 2.46 inches wide and 4.69 inches high, it's relatively compact.
It also has a rubberized back, which I love. It makes the phone easier to grip and is a huge part of why the Lumia 710 is so comfortable to hold, even if it does tend to pick up a fair amount of dust and grime (or, in the even that I set it down on my desk, crumbs). The back panel can be easily pried off thanks to a small divot on the right side, which reveals the battery and SIM card slot. Also located on the back is the respectably powerful speaker towards the bottom, and the 5-megapixel camera up top.
On paper, the screen on this Nokia smartphone isn't anything out of the ordinary: 3.7 inches with a 480 x 800 (WVGA) resolution. But regardless, I found myself impressed by the quality of the display, as images looked sharp and colors in particular looked quite vibrant.
Part of the clarity and glossiness comes from the fact that the display is behind Corning Gorilla Glass, which is an excellent touch and an upgrade from what I'm used to seeing (since my WP7 device unfortunately does not have it). Obviously, it's not like the display holds a candle to something like a Super AMOLED screen, but it still has a nice, polished look to it and provides enough clarity to be easy on the eyes.
Other Buttons and Controls
In one of the few deviations from the norm for a WP7 device -- these are few and far between, given Microsoft's hardware restrictions -- the Lumia 710 has physical buttons below the screen for back, home, and search. I absolutely love this design choice, as the three buttons are typically capacitive on WP7 phones, and are therefore usually easy to press by accident. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been typing a message or playing games on my Windows Phone and have accidentally grazed the search "button", which instantaneously boots me out of the game and takes me to the Bing search engine page. It can be very frustrating, and using physical buttons instead of capacitive ones is an excellent way to ameliorate the problem.
Other buttons include the power/standby switch on the top edge of the device and a volume rocker and dedicated camera button on the right side. As much as I complain about Microsoft's stringent WP7 requirements, I'm grateful that it mandates that all handsets have a dedicated camera button. Aside from the convenience factor (I especially enjoy the fact that even in standby, you can hold it down for two seconds and it will automatically start up the camera app), it feels a lot more natural when snapping photos than having to press an on-screen shutter button.
The only ports on the Lumia 710 are a micro-USB port on the top edge (used for charging) and a 3.5mm headphone jack located right next to it.
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