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Nokia Lumia 710 - Budget, but not too budget

  • From $0 on Optus $29 cap
  • Windows Phone Mango interface
  • Integrated Office and Nokia Drive GPS
Written by Adam Wajnberg
06/03/2012

Smartphone buyers have it pretty good right now. Apple’s iPhone and its associated operating system have set a very high standard. To compete, HTC and Samsung (and to a smaller extent, LG) have adopted Google’s Android operating system, and over the last few years, have been pumping out dozens of high-powered wunderphones that are desperately trying to compete with Apple’s behemoth. Samsung has emerged as the contender (for now), while Nokia, still the world’s overall largest maker of mobiles, has languished in the smartphone stakes with their last-gen operating system(s).

       Nokia Lumia 710

Microsoft had similarly fallen behind on the new playing field, and rebooted their woeful Windows Mobile with the very impressive Windows Phone. But as Microsoft saw Google struggling a little under the weight of so much fragmentation (Google has to try and write a software that works seamlessly with several phones with different sizes, capabilities and screen dimensions), they decided to pull back and take a slower approach.

Microsoft has set strict standards for what’s needed from a handset carrying its software. This will mean we may never see a massive onslaught of high powered Windows Phones (though we’ll definitely see more options than is set by Apple’s glacial pace). The high benchmarks have ensured that even Nokia’s budget Windows Phone offering, the Lumia 710, is still a solid buy, and possibly the real iPhone killer that Apple haters have been waiting for.

The higher-end Lumia 800 packs more internal storage than the 710, and a solid polycarbonate design that rivals the iPhone for simplicity and good looks. The 710 rocks only 8GB of storage (with no expandable slot) and a plastic body, but the ‘budgetness’ of the phone ends there. Both handsets sport the same 1.4GHz processor, ensuring the same smooth, snappy performance. Both come with Nokia’s in-house Drive GPS service, which is the first phone based GPS we’ve seen that can actually replace your TomTom.

One area where the 710 unfortunately copies Apple is in screen size and some video crippling. While Samsung and HTC are offering monster 5 inch screens (which, honestly, are really fun), the iPhone is stuck at 3.5 inches and the Lumia at 3.7. The iPhone compensates with its Retina display, but the Lumia 710 has an LCD screen that pinches things a little. You’ll only notice it when reading non-optimized webpages for a while, but it’s there. Videos play well, and Windows phone handles the poplar WMV and AVI formats (which the iPhone does not), but many other formats have to be converted with desktop Zune software. Microsoft are doing this for the same reason Apple restricted movies to MP4- to optimize the experience rather than taking the buggy, anything-goes approach favoured by Android. It’s not a dealbreaker…but still.

Windows Phone “Mango” is sweeter than an Ice Cream Sandwich. Actually, Windows Phone properly challenges Apple’s iOS for usability and general niceness. The whole thing has a ‘just works’ feel to it that Android does not, and while the 50,000 apps pales in comparison to Apple’s 500,000+ and Android’s 400,000, the apps that are available are quite excellent. But even so, the complete integration of Office as a default will be enough for most, and makes even this lowliest of Windows Phones look like more of a business tool to many people who still see the iPhone as toy-first, business-later. The full office suite actually helps WP eat BlackBerry’s lunch, and it runs quite flawlessly on the 710 (well, at least Word and Excel do, and that’s what’s really gonna matter).

Pro

Fast and solid for such a relatively cheap phone
Windows Phone Mango is fantastic
Built in Nokia Drive GPS works without a data connection

Con

Screen resolution isn’t great
Only 8GB storage (non-expandable)
No front-facing camera

Overall – IT departments all over the world are having trouble deciding on a unified phone for mobile workers. The BlackBerry operating system is becoming dated, and the iPhone is hard to keep secure. The Lumia 710, and future mid-range Nokia Windows phones, might be the answer. With its built in Office functions and wide range of enterprise software, the Lumia might be as popular in flight lounges and boardrooms as in the backpacks of thrifty students. But for those who really want to get the best from Nokia and Microsoft, the also-available Lumia 800 and upcoming 900 models will be a better bet.

The Lumia 710 is available for $0 on the Optus $29 Cap (Call 1300 148 570). TransACT will let you have the phone for $10 on their $19 Cap Plus, but the Endless 49 will get you a free 710, free standard calls and free sms, all for $49. Call TransACT on 1300 305 545.

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