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Nokia Lumia 710 - An Initial Impressions Review

The Nokia Lumia 710 is basically an entry level version of the Finnish Windows Phone 7 launching pad device - the Lumia 800, which incorporated the radical new user interface from Microsoft. This UI was designed to make Windows Phone 7 accessible to the masses, where the 710 is intent on providing users with a new fluid interface, only at a more reasonable price than its bigger brother. As Symbian was swept under the carpet by Nokia, the Windows 7.5 Mango OS has certainly got a lot of people talking. It is undoubtedly a refreshing take on the user interface design, which is supposed to provide a simpler and leaner experience, than we've seen in the past. The influence of integration has really changed the way devices are packaged. As if it wasn't enough to compete with Android, iOS and to a lesser extent, the Blackberry OS; Microsoft needed a revolutionary interface for Nokia, to distance themselves from the Symbian era.

When consumers decided they wanted to play online games, record TV shows, and share pictures on Facebook from a phone, the competition was raised. This was in every department, from manufacturers, to app developers and the network providers. Even devices running the same software with similar hardware could be optimised, slightly differently, and therefore performing better in certain areas. The choice of service provider can obviously affect your data coverage and therefore ability to use a smartphone. With many of these devices, both phones and tablets, are now typically offer a two-year contract, it's more important than ever to invest in a long-lasting, meaningful relationship.

The Lumia 710's appearance is thoroughly underwhelming, when you consider the fresh ‘chiselled' look of the Nokia MeeGo X7 and its brother - the Lumia 800. The 710 looks like it was unearthed in an archaeological dig and carved out overnight, in a dimly lit shed. We respect the physical buttons, but they made the phone look a bit ‘early learning centre'. For a device that is supposed to symbolise a new beginning in Nokia's long-term ambitions, these first impressions aren't that good.

The display is technically competent for a phone within this category, but there is no sparkle or vivacity of the screen's brightness. Just angling the screen slightly, or viewing in sunlight, can easily have the screen quality diminish, with a weak output. The side buttons seem to be designed with a view to be hard to find, and deliberately tricky to use. Another instant problem is the lack of responsiveness, when you scroll or access menu items. Much unlike the Samsung Galaxy series, there seems to be no vibration to indicate a selection. Even the later Symbian devices from Nokia had this feature and it is sorely missed. It's just not what you would expect from such a giant synergy, considering the depth of experience and resources of the two companies.

‘Settings' is an area of any phone or tablet where clarity and definition are desperately needed. The mobile's options here seem quite random, with no sub-headings or structure to follow. Trying to find settings for USB connection left us floundering in between screen brightness and IM settings, with no results. Unfortunately, this is a common theme throughout the phone. The Lumia 710 is not aided whatsoever by a ‘laggy' processor. We sincerely hope for Nokia's sake that fresh updates will jog the phone's memory, into to cohesion, but we highly doubt it.

It's also very difficult to compete with the app markets of Apple and Android. The emergence of phone applications has started to drive first time smartphone buyers, with the sheer volume of free services and games. This is an area where Android has clearly excelled. However, the Windows Phone Market Place has been growing rapidly since the forceful arrival of Nokia, with developers showing a growing interest in the platform that now hit 60K. ‘App Highlights' showcase ‘Lumia-friendly' apps for you on the handset, and it's certainly worth taking advantage of the ‘Nokia Drive' Sat Nav app, as it works offline too. Microsoft and Nokia are clearly poised to deliver more Lumia and Windows 8 products, where they will hope the ‘Metro' system becomes as infectious as Android.

At least the Lumia 710 deals with problems in a straightforward fashion. Especially for a first time smartphone purchase, as the menus, scrolling and animations look fantastic. If you are coming from Android or IOS we don't think Windows Phone 7 will leave a lasting impression. If the Lumia 710 had any other design other than a monolith slab, people might sit up and take notice. On the other hand, it's exactly how you would expect Nokia to move forward from the ‘N86' in terms of looks. For a firm on the slippery slopes, can you really blame them for playing safe with the aesthetics? In any case, the Lumia 710 doesn't seem anything like the saviour it was meant to be.