Monday, May 28, 2012

Nokia Lumia 610: Hands-on

We've been sent the Nokia Lumia 610 - here are our first impressions of the most budget Windows Phone yet

Nokia Lumia 610

Published on May 25, 2012
We first saw the Nokia Lumia 610 at Mobile World Congress 2012 and it made a decent first impression. But now we have the device for as long as we want, we decided to give it a more in-depth preview before the full review.
What's special about the Lumia 610 is that it's the most budget device available with the Windows Phone operating system. We've been told it will be available on contracts around £15-a-month, and although there is no official SIM-free pricing, Nokia representatives assured us it would cost around £160-£180.
This makes it about £100 less than the Lumia 710, making it a viable alternative to budget Android devices, the likes of which are proving very popular in emerging markets. That said it is still quite pricy at nearly £200 – sub-£100 is 'budget' in our opinion.
As you would expect, Windows Phone 7.5 provides the operating system, which means you get the same integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as you get on the pricier Lumia 710, 800 and 900 models.


The Lumia 610 has a 3.7-inch LCD display, which is nice and bright but lacks the same clarity you see on the Lumia 800 and 900. The Mango colour option we usually use looks decidedly pale in comparison, so we quickly went back to the Nokia blue. Still, compared with a number of budget Android devices, it's a great display, if a little prone to reflections.
Windows Phone runs like a dream on just about anything, and once again it feels like Microsoft is indirectly poking fun at the core rush seen on Android. Although it only has 256MB of RAM and a 600MHz processor, the Lumia 610 still glides along relatively well and loading isn't that much slower than it is on its more expensive siblings – about a second or two difference – depending on the task. A few tasks did cause a few pauses and the punchiness isn't quite there but it's hardly a slow coach.
While that's great news, because a big positive of Windows Phone is just how smooth it operates, the low memory amount means not all apps work.
At this time, we know Skype is a potential issue but we've yet to ascertain how many others will not be downloadable. Hopefully it's a minor issue but we shall see.
Nokia Lumia 610


Build quality is typically strong, and actually a little better than the Lumia 710, but it's difficult to say why. The white background and chrome edges doesn't exactly shout 'premium' but the devices feels very solid and not as cheap as we thought it would. Apart from being a bit slippery, it's very comfortable to hold and far more stylish than most Android alternatives around the same price.
We like the home screen button in the middle of the device on the right, and we are happy a dedicated camera button has been lost in a bid to keep costs down.
As a Nokia device you can expect a number of manufacturer exclusives. One of which is Nokia Drive, a free SatNav app that will get you home with voice-guided, turn-by-turn instructions. When we reviewed it we gave it a big thumbs up, so definitely a nice extra.
You also get Nokia Music and Nokia Transport, the latter of which allows you to plan your route home using public transport, and you can try out beta versions of new apps such as the augmented reality-based City Lens.
The Weather Channel also comes pre-installed for all your worldwide weather needs.
Photos and video are taken care of by a 5-megapixel camera. Our quick test shots in the office revealed the detail is a tad grainy and images can look a little dull around the edges, but a quick press of auto-fix rectifies the latter issue.
Video is also a bit grainy but the colours are quite good and it was only a slowness when adapting to low or bright conditions that really lets it down.
A few Windows Phone Tango features round off the functionality. It's possible to attach multiple images to messages, something you can't do on the Lumia 800 or Lumia 710 at the moment.


Once again, the little Lumia has impressed us. It's not going to win any performance awards but there's enough oomph to ensure Windows Phone is a joy to use.
If Nokia can really keep the price down on this device, it's looking like a great choice if your budget is limited or you want to ease yourself gently into smartphones.
Expect our full review early next week.

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