Nokia is looking to make a comeback in the smartphone market by pinning its hopes on Windows devices. Initially revealed at the Mobile World Congress this year, the Lumia 610 hit Indian shores in July. The Nokia Lumia 610 is the most affordable Windows device from the Finnish handset maker. But the question is can this inexpensive Windows Phone device offer the same fluid experience as the others in its family? We take a look.
The device sports decent looks that you wouldn't be embarrassed carrying around. We reviewed a magenta-coloured 610, packed in a big blue box with minimalist contents. The more traditional users can opt for White or Black. Cyan is another available colour. Box contents include a charger to be used with the provided Micro-USB cable, a pair of headphones and printed manuals.
On first impressions, the Lumia 610 looks and feels just like the 710 with similar dimensions and weighing about 133 grams.
The device has tinted chrome edges gives a metallic illusion but is plasticky. It does have a sturdy build and fits comfortably in the hands. The design is such that the front and back sort of lock into each other, hinting at a chin below the screen.
The power button is located on the right along with the volume rocker and a dedicated shutter button. Most of us are more used to the power/wake button positioned on the top. It does get a bit uncomfortable when it is placed on the side.
Moving on, the top houses the headphones jack and the Micro-USB port. The back features a 5MP camera with LED Flash situated on the top while the loudspeaker grill is at the bottom. The left side of the device and the base are clean with no buttons or ports.
The back panel's matte-finish is easily prone to attract greasy stains and the screen is a fingerprint magnet too. The panel slides off easily to reveal the battery, under which is the micro-SIM card slot.
The front sports the trio of capacitive Windows Phone keys for Back, Home and Search that are spaced out well for single hand use and to avoid accidental button presses.
Overall, the phone has a solid build and offers a trouble-free one hand user experience
The Lumia 610 is powered by an 800MHz processor hosting 256MB RAM. It comes with 8GB internal storage with no option for external expansion. The best you can do is make use of the 7GB free storage offered by SkyDrive.
The Lumia 800 has a ClearBlack AMOLED panel, while the 710 sports a ClearBlack TFT. But the cheaper Lumia 610 has neither.
The device has a 3.7-inch LCD screen with a WVGA resolution translating into a pixel density of 252ppi (480x800 pixels). Text is clearly visible and the graphics look decent and smooth too.
But the phone has major issues under the sun, with the screen looking pretty dull. At maximum brightness levels, colours seem washed out, though readability improves, but not much. Since the screen is highly reflective, you'll find yourself using your palm to cover the screen.
The Lumia 610 is equipped with a 5MP camera with LED flash. The dedicated camera button is placed on the right. A gentle half-press will bring out auto-focus while long pressing the button will activate the camera even when the phone is locked. You can manually focus by just tapping an area on the screen.
Colours of images appear washed out and those taken under low light are noisy. Though videos are smooth with the auto-focus working well here, they only produce VGA quality. The 710, on the other hand, is capable of sharp 1280x720 videos.
Using zoom on the device decreases the detailing in the images. Shots appear really blurry. It's advisable not to use the zoom. There's an 'auto-fix' feature that comes quite handy to brighten shots taken in the dark or under low light.
Basic camera settings are accessible once the app is launched including Scene mode, White Balance, Flash, ISO settings and more. There is no front camera on the device.
The Lumia 610 runs on Windows Phone 7.5. Initially called Refresh, Windows Phone 7.5 got updated to Tango at this year's Mobile World Congress. The idea of the update was to power Windows Phone devices with lower hardware specs.
Waking up the phone reveals the lock screen, which is entirely covered with the wallpaper of your choice, also displaying the date and the time. In case you've set reminders or calendar events, those appear too along with email notifications and missed calls. The signal strength and the battery indicator are displayed on top.
Swiping up brings the rather crowded home screen with various applications in gigantic tiles laid out vertically. The device features the live-tile Metro user interface with two customizable home screens. You can change the order of the tiles as per your liking. A swipe to the left launches a second screen with the phone's stock applications. Any of these can be pinned to the start screen by long pressing a particular app and choosing the 'pin to start' option.
The settings screen and search page are clones in terms of the design. There's a search bar at the bottom of the screen, making it easier to browse new pages. A list of options, including tabs, recent pages and favourites are accessible by tapping a button on the bottom-right. This screen also enables you to add a page to your favourites, pin it to your home screen or share it on social networks. Bookmarks are shown as a text list, while tabs are displayed as an image of each open page.
The Marketplace tile shows available updates while the Photos tile displays a slideshow of your pictures. You can view all installed apps under Applications, which are alphabetically sorted. A search button integrated within allows you to find apps more easily.
Switching between apps is easy. Just hold down the Back key and scroll horizontally to jump into any one of them. However, the list keeps refreshing as the older apps disappear and are replaced by the more recently used apps. Killing these apps is not possible.
The Messaging application on the Lumia 610 has some interesting options to give you a satisfying experience. Social network integration allows for easy swapping between messages, Facebook chat or any other chat clients on your phone. All these messages appear as one single thread.
Windows Phone 7.5 also has a voice assistant that can be used for dictation; get replies to be read out to you or to begin searches.
Apps such as Office and SkyDrive together are a powerhouse of productivity. Office helps you to create, view and edit documents stored on your device as well as those in the cloud. With SkyDrive, documents between your phone and PC sync automatically.
Viewing and editing documents in Office is absolutely free and integrated into the OS. Word and Excel docs come with viewing and editing support but PowerPoint files are for viewing only. SharePoint collaboration for Word and Excel files allows you to attach those files to emails, though you need to do that from the Office hub and not the e-mail editor.
Microsoft's note-taking application OneNote, is very easy to use and lets you add photos and voice memos which can then be sent via email. You can also sync OneNotes with your SkyDrive or Windows Live account to access them from anywhere.
Other pre-installed apps include Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive and both functioned pretty well. While the former is an alternative to Bing Maps (also available on the phone), Nokia Drive makes navigation as simple as it can get. The voice-guided app lets you zoom in and out depending on your preference to see more details of the road ahead.
Whenever you approach a turn, it is indicated at the top of the screen in big, easy to read white lettering with a viewable icon noting the turn. The bottom of the screen shows the time remaining and current speed, which appears to the left side of the screen in portrait mode. Nokia Drive also lets you view downloaded maps in offline mode.
It is worth pointing out that the Nokia Lumia 610, like other phones running Windows Phone 7.5, will not get the Windows Phone 8 upgrade, so they stand to miss out on a lot of great features. Instead, they will get the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade, so if you care about being on the latest version of the OS (as you should), you're not going to get that here.
Performance/ Battery life
For being dubbed as the cheapest Windows Phone device, the Lumia 610 delivers a decent performance. It is slow at times, but nevertheless runs smoothly.
Call quality on the phone is good with clear reception with even just one or two bars of signal strength. Connectivity wise, the phone performs well over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks.
The QWERTY keyboard is quite responsive but accidental button presses can't be avoided since it feels squeezed in both portrait and landscape modes. The 1300mAh battery on the device squeezes enough juice to last for almost 2 days.
Storage comes across as a notable flaw in the device. With just 8GB of on-board storage and no support for external expansion, intensive apps with specific memory needs like Angry Birds and Skype won't install. Microsoft is looking to address the issue and states that most apps should deliver a satisfying experience on 256MB RAM devices.
A feature highly missed is the ability to take screenshots. But Microsoft has promised that this feature will be included in its latest Windows 8 version.
The Lumia 610 comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. The biggest attraction for the device has to be its price. For an entry level Windows phone, the device can be a hit for prospective buyers. Apart from offering a great battery life, the device gives you almost a holistic Windows Phone experience packed in a sturdy build.
That said, the phone pinches you when it comes to storage and compatibility issues while finding apps that don't run. So app hungry users will be disappointed. The camera is a let down too and serves handy only for emergency purposes. A slight sluggishness is felt when launching apps. Though the handset makes its share of sacrifices, it does deliver a worthwhile user experience.
As we pointed out earlier, there is no upgrade path to Windows Phone 8 for current Windows Phone devices like the Lumia 610, so you may want to wait until Windows Phone 8 devices hit the market (we strongly recommend that).
Nokia Lumia 610 in pictures
Price: Rs. 12,999