When Nokia trotted out the Lumia 800 a few short months ago, it shone brightly amidst the clutter of high-end, samey handsets and hinted at an exciting future of mobile design. True, that phone's casing is simply a rehashing of the D.O.A. though much loved N9
, but a similar recycling would've been much welcomed here. Instead, the 710 is, at best, inoffensive and a copycat of the Nokia 603
; it disappears into the hand and garners no affection for its oddly-tapered rectangular shape. Weighing in at 4.6 ounces (129 grams) and measuring 4.7 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches (119 x 62.4 x 12.5mm), it's considerably lighter than its carrier rival, HTC's Radar 4G
, although both go nearly toe to toe in dimensions. The 710 may simply appear
to be the thicker of the two, owing to its smoothly curved back.
Speaking of that posterior, a coating of soft touch, black plastic spreads across the entirety of the 710, extending to its similarly colored edges. Indeed, it feels excellent in the hand and those tapered corners make for a comfortable resting spot for thumbs when held in portrait and pointer fingers when in landscape. It's not a shabby build by any means, but you'll definitely encounter a fair share of squeaks and creaks when gripping the handset. The phone's five megapixel camera with f
/2.2 lens and LED flash sit right above Nokia's logo up top, while a speaker grill stretches across the bottom. Look to the left side of the device and you'll see a recessed notch for removing the casing (which you'll be able to swap out for more colorful backplates via T-Mo), underneath which lies a 1,300mAh battery and microSIM card slot -- that's all. There's no microSD slot for expandable storage, so you'll have to make due with 8GB.
Both the volume rocker and dedicated camera button reside on the right of the 710, but they're nearly indistinguishable from the phone's seams, despite a bit of raised texturing on the former. More often than not, we found ourselves continually checking to see if we were pressing in the right location to control sound or activate the camera. The same can't be said of the power button, situated up top to the right of the micro-USB port and headphone ports, which sticks out just enough to signal its placement without interrupting the device's profile. On the front face, the diminutive earpiece is centered atop Nokia's logo, leaving the unbroken, soft click WP navigation button to border the screen's bottom.
Forget AMOLED: that stunning display tech is reserved mostly for the mobile world's big guns (see: the Lumia 800). The 710 isn't privy to that oversaturated treatment, but its 3.7-inch 800 x 480 ClearBlack LCD does a surprisingly good job, especially when pitted against the Radar 4G's (comparatively) dull Super LCD screen. Viewing angles hold up just as well as they do on the 800, though you'll notice the 710 falls prey to significant washout, rendering our chosen purple theme slightly pink-ish when tilted. We didn't encounter any significant difficulty reading the screen outdoors, but in direct sunlight, expect to bump brightness up to high.
Performance and battery life
1,300mAh isn't the amount of juice we'd necessarily recommend for a daily driver, but somehow the Lumia 710 makes it last just long enough. Riding along T-Mobile's HSPA+ 14.4Mbps network, the phone doesn't fall prey to the excessive drain we've seen on the carrier's faster HSPA+ 21 and 42 devices, like the Amaze 4G
. Even under moderate to heavy usage, we managed to eke out nearly a full day's worth of productivity on a single charge -- about 17 hours. That's with Twitter set to sync at 15 minute intervals, one push email account, brightness at 50 percent, GPS and WiFi enabled, some light browsing and streaming video consumption -- not bad for a $50 handset. The 710, however, didn't fare so well in our formal battery rundown test, giving up its Li-ion ghost after two hours and 35 minutes.
They may all be separated by different device manufacturers, but there's a similar thread linking all of the above Windows Phones we pitted against the Lumia 710: a Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset complemented by 512MB RAM. Save for the Titan
which clocks in at 1.5GHz, the rest of this Mango bunch make do with a slightly slower 1.4GHz Snapdragon CPU. Of course, the beefier Titan reigned supreme in all categories, but the 710 did manage to more or less keep pace with its prettier Lumia sibling in both WP Bench and battery drain, as well as besting it and Samsung's Focus Flash
in SunSpider at 6,826ms.
Considering the Lumia 710 is being marketed as a starter smartphone, you can bet its intended demographic will be making heavy use of its voice capabilities. We placed several phone calls around the New York City area and while T-Mobile's service isn't the most robust, callers continually came through loud and clear. The speaker was also exceptionally powerful, although voices were subject to a bit of distortion when volume was pumped to maximum.
2011 was undoubtedly the year of 4G what with its bevy of LTE
and HSPA+ 21 / 42
devices flooding the market and clamoring for your disposable income. This Lumia is not that
4G fast, but it doesn't need to be as its target demo isn't likely to consume mass amounts of data -- just yet (baby steps, baby steps). Running on T-Mobile's 14.4Mbps network, the 710 consistently delivered downlink performance ranging from 5Mbps to 2.5Mbps and uplink from 1.05Mbps to 0.96Mbps -- that's if
you happen to be in a strong HSPA+ coverage area. In our time testing the handset in New York City, we never saw network speeds drop below or even rise above those aforementioned maxes, but should you live on the periphery of Magenta's footprint, anticipate slower results.
To get a sense of just how serviceable the Lumia 710's multimedia capabilities are, we streamed video from both the included T-Mobile TV and Netflix apps. Though it did require a bit of buffering before our selected content would begin playing back, when it did picture quality was noticeably smooth and only intermittently resorted to pixelation if signal strength dipped. While we wouldn't necessarily spend an hour squinting at the Lumia 710's 3.7-inch screen, it could definitely serve as a momentary distraction while whittling away time on a bus or in a waiting room. Oh, and if you're eager to share your mobile connection with a nearby laptop or tablet, you'll have to look elsewhere. Unlike other WP 7.5 phones, the 710 does not come with Internet Sharing enabled.