29/04/2012 15:25 | By Duncan Jefferies, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Nokia Lumia 710 review

Nokia's Lumia 710 is a fun, easy-to-use phone that's ideal if you're on a budget.

Nokia Lumia 710 (© Nokia)

What is it?
The second Windows Phone 7.5 handset from Nokia, pitched at a slightly lower price than the Lumia 800.

What's great
The screen is sharp and bright; the processor is pretty nippy; the Windows Phone 7.5 OS is intuitive and fast.

What's not
The Windows Phone Marketplace is still a bit short on apps; the camera isn't going to win any awards; the design doesn't feel as polished as the Lumia 800's.

The bottom line
The Lumia 710 is a fun, easy-to-use phone that's ideal if you're on a budget.

Remember Xpress-on covers? The design team at Nokia HQ clearly does, as the Nokia 710 takes its design cues from the era of brightly coloured changeable face plates. It follows the launch of the Lumia 800, a fine handset that helped rekindle interest in Nokia and the Windows Phone operating system. But a price tag of around £250, as opposed to around £400 for the Lumia 800, pits the new phone against the likes of the HTC Radar rather than premium handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Design-wise it's a different beast to the Lumia 800. The colourful and easily removed back cover (available in yellow, cyan, magenta, black or white) doesn't gel particularly well with the more sober front; it feels a little as though two phones have been welded together to form the 710. The clicky plastic strip at the bottom of the screen, which contains the back, home and search keys, also feels too pronounced and rather cheap, though it works just fine.

In terms of software, however, the 710 is every inch the equal of the Lumia 800. The Windows Mango 7.5 operating system is identical, and just as pleasurable to use on the clear, bright screen. The tiles design makes it easy to flit between frequently used apps, and the slick animations and live information on each tile make for a visually satisfying user experience. If you've not owned a smartphone before, or simply want a radical alternative to the Android and iOS experience, we'd urge you to give Windows Phone 7.5 a try. But do bear in mind it's not the most customisable interface in the world (you're limited to changing the tile colours and a black or white background). The focus here is squarely on ease of use.

One feature we're particularly fond of is search. Hit the magnifying glass button and you'll be whisked onto the Bing homescreen and given the option to search by sound (eg, to identify a music track), voice command or by the phone's camera (similar to Goggle Googles). There's a neat translation feature included, which converts a section of text snapped with the camera into French, Italian, German, etc. The results were a little hit and miss but it's an interesting addition to the Windows Phone arsenal. A bit of refinement and it could prove very handy on holiday.

Multi-tasking and web browsing are handled with aplomb - just hold down the back button to switch between open apps. Internet Explorer 9 never leaves you staring at a white screen for long. Flash is not supported, however, so you're getting a slightly limited version of the web as you do on the iPhone. Apps-wise, the selection on offer is also noticeably sparser than you'd find in the Android Marketplace or Apple store; there's no BBC iPlayer, for example. Nevertheless, the built-in apps are exceedingly well designed: email, for example, is simple to set up and satisfying to use, thanks in no small part to the small-keyed yet scarily accurate virtual keyboard.

Social networking is deftly handled by the People hub - a quick swipe across the screen reveals the status updates, call info, texts, tweets and more from your contacts. Suddenly, your contacts and social life seem manageable again. The ability to pin your favourite people to the start screen, and thereby see live updates on their dedicated tile, is a nice touch too. As for multimedia, you're not short of options, with Music + Videos and Nokia Music both offering a slick experience. The latter also houses MixRadio, a streaming service that, although a little limited playlist wise, is completely free. As with Bing Maps and Nokia Maps, the multimedia apps suffer from a degree of overlap, which may prove confusing for first-time smartphone users, surely one of the main groups the Lumia 710 is aimed at.

Looking at the camera, the Lumia is packing a five-megapixel snapper. Image quality is distinctly average, particularly in low-light conditions, although a dedicated camera button, which on the Lumia 710 sits just under your right index finger, is always welcome in our book. Call quality is perfectly fine, but as with almost all smartphones the battery will conk out after a day of average use (although a handy battery-saving mode can be set to kick in automatically when you're running low on juice).

Is the Lumia 710 worth buying then? Well, we'd recommend stretching your budget to the more refined Lumia 800 if you can. But if you're looking for a first smartphone, or simply want a handset that's fun rather than sleek, the Lumia 710 is a great choice.

3.5 stars

Essential info:
Camera: 5 MP, autofocus, LED flash
Video: Yes, 720p@30fps
Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches
Dimensions: 119 x 62.4 x 12.5mm
Weight: 125.5g
Internal Memory: 8GB storage
Card Slot: no
Colour: black, with yellow, cyan, magenta, black or white snap-on covers
Touchscreen: yes, multi-touch
Audio playback: 3.5mm earphone jack & speaker
Operating system: Windows Phone 7.5 (mango)
Processor: 1.4GHz Scorpion
Battery Life: up to 7h 40min (3G)

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