The Nokia Lumia 710 is the first of the series to reach the states, which is a shame because the 800 series phones are quite powerful. And although the 710 is a snappy little guy, it suffers from a few tiny hurdles that will ultimately see this phone fall into the land of obsurity, where only fans need apply. Who are those fans? The scant few members of the Windows Mobile Chorus who are desperately clinging to the idea that the mobile platform from Microsoft stands a chance.

I should preface all of this by saying that I have yet to meet a mobile that has me accepting the idea that the Windows mobile platform is a worthy contender in the market. And although the Windows mobile OS is one of the more spritly interfaces (making lesser-powered phones run like champs), the UI is horrible. Unless you like to do a lot of scrolling, don’t really care about configuring your interface, don’t mind that your mail and social network clients look NOTHING like what you are accostomed to (and aren’t even remotely efficient), the Windows mobile UI is one of the single worst interfaces ever designed. Now, with that preface out of the way, let’s take a look at a well designed piece of hardware.

The design

I realize that I’ve already doomed this little guy, simply due to the interface. But even a poorly designed UI cannot completely detract from a well designed piece of hardware. The trend is for going big these days. With the Verizon-branded Motorola line of Android phones getting increasingly larger, there’s something to be said of the smaller form factors. To this day, one of my single favorite handsets is the Incredible II. The size, weight, and feel is perfect. The Nokia Lumia 710 is the first phone I’ve tested that comes close to that — close, being the operative word. Whereas the Incredible II looks and feels like a classy, sleek, expensive device, the Lumia screams (at best) middle-of-the-road. At first blush, it seems a notch above its actually price point, but once you hold it and use it, you realize that it’s an entry-level phone.

The real indicator of quality for this handset is the button bar. Instead of three individual buttons for Back, Home, and Search, a single bar has been put in place. This bar will be cumbersome for anyone with beefier fingers. Not only does the phone feel cheap, but this bar is also somewhat recessed and awkward to press.

The specs

  • Display: 3.7″ LCD
  • Storage: 8 GB internal (out of the box is more like 6 MB)
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • CPU: Qualcomm Single core 1400 MHz
  • Battery: Maximum 3G talk time is 7 hours; maximum GSM standby time is 400 hours

As you can see, the specs are all fairly low-end. And, like most other Windows 7.5 phones, there’s no microSD card support. The only thing saving this phone from the trash heap is the one redeeming quality of the Windows Mobile platform — it’s speed. I can say, with assurance, the same hardware using the Android OS would bog down as soon as you attempted to use a single app. This is not so on the Lumia 710 with Windows. Once you get beyond the horrible UI design, the response of the OS, on underpowered hardware, is quite impressive. After a solid week of use, I found no lag whatsoever. The phone was as snappy as it was straight out of the box, even with numerous push-type accounts enabled.

But even with the snappy feel to the OS, the hardware and the clunky interface simply wasn’t enough to make me want this phone. And as for anyone in IT? No way. Why? Two reasons: First and foremost, no one in IT is going to want such an underpowered, kludgy smartphone. Second: It’s already a challenge for many companies to support both IOS and Android. Adding Windows into the mix complicates this beyond what few benefits the platform has to offer (and they are few).

In the end, the Nokia Lumia 710 is little more than a toy for anyone who is used to the power and flexibility of modern Android and IOS devices. Although the size and the feel of the handset (minus the button bar) is quite nice, the weaknesses of the phone far outweigh the strengths.