Nokia is an expert in minimizing manufacturing costs without making it obvious, and some of that expertise is visible here -- alongside a cunning lack of spec talk in the PR and marketing. The plastic cover is thin and flexible, but fits neatly and solidly. Overall, there's some good manufacturing here, but it doesn't soar above its budget origins. The biggest let-down is the use of stiff hardware buttons beneath the display: Back, Home and Search (which brings up Bing). It's a bit annoying to switch from touching a sensitive capacitive touchscreen to a tough hardware button, so it would have been nice if these were touch sensitive too.
The screen is plain LCD and isn't nearly as stunning as the AMOLED on the 800, but it's standard fare and gets the job done. The rep in the video told us it had ClearBlack technology too, but he might have confused it with the 800 -- there was no sign of that deep blackness on this device.
3.7 inches with 480 x 800 WVGA resolution is just about sufficient to do justice to those bold live tiles of the OS, and these tiles seemed to flow and open up smoothly on the 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor. Of course, a number of tiles are specific to Nokia and will -- if all goes to plan -- help to differentiate this device from other Mango handsets, at least at the software level. These include Mix Radio for streaming and downloading music and Drive for voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. We must say, we were expecting something more in the way of tailored Nokia-exclusive software -- maybe a different look or layout to the tiles, or the adoption of some of the swiping moves we saw on the N9, but there's none of that -- if you're familiar with standard Windows Phone Mango or have read our review, then you've got the measure of the 710's software experience.
The 710 benefits massively from the presence of the Windows Phone keyboard, which -- as we've repeated many times -- is one of the best typing experiences you'll get on a mobile device. It's amazing on a big-screen device like HTC's 4.7-inch Titan, but it's still great at this smaller scale, and you'll bashing out texts and emails with ease.
Onboard storage is only 8GB and there's no MicroSD slot for further expansion. Nokia is hoping to compensate for this with access to 25GB of cloud storage with SkyDrive, and of course there's always the Mix Radio platform for music -- but this assumes users can afford tons of data usage fees when they're away from their WiFi network, and it isn't a viable alternative to good onboard storage at this stage in the game. If you use your phone for music, you may have to switch out albums regularly rather than carrying your whole collection around with you.
The camera is 5MP, with a single LED flash. The rep we spoke to didn't know the maximum aperture, but we suspect this will be a significantly less powerful unit then the 800's -- but stay tuned as we'll get sample pics imminently. There's no front-facer for your Skype action, despite the OS supporting this, which is a big omission.
There's some confusion at this point about the availability of this device. Officially, the news is that it's coming to the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain in November, with other markets later -- and we think that's accurate. However, the rep in the video says the 710 won't reach the UK until Q1 of next year. We're working to clear this up asap -- but for now you're probably safer ignoring that part of the video.
Myriam Joire contributed to this report.