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Nokia Lumia 710

Nokia's switch to Windows Phone has been less than trouble free, despite having a excellent first product in the Lumia 800 its ability to make progress has been hampered by a lack of products in the middle and low end od the smartphone market. Now it has two offerings that should see it start to recover some of the sales its has been losing as Symbian winds down: the 710 and 610.

Whilst the 610 hasn't arrived on UK retailers shelves yet, the 710 is available and at a pretty good price point. £100 puts it right into competition with the low end Android handsets that have helped Google to a better than 50% share of the UK smartphone market.

So what compromises have been necessary to hit the £100 mark? Firstly the 800's slick polycarbonate unibody has been replaced with a more traditional two piece shell. This makes for a bigger device, but compensates with swappable rear covers and a replaceable battery. The camera on the 710 is a acceptable 5mp unit rather than the class leading 8mp one on the 800 and the latter's OLED display has been replaced by an LCD equivalent, a pretty good one at that with deep blacks and nicely saturated colours.

Finally the capacitive buttons have been replaced with physical ones - depending on your preferences this can be a plus or a minus.

Internally the 710 features a marginally smaller battery, but otherwise packs all the same technology in as the 800, including its speedy 1.4GHz CPU and 512MB RAM. In practice this means that the 710 is every bit as slick and fluid in operation as its high end sibling. Which is a bonus, because it gets the same software value add pack, including Nokia Drive for full navigation, Nokia Maps, Music and a host of utilities to smooth the transition from your old phone.

As a phone the 710 offers great voice quality, an excellent speakerphone and signal quality out of the top drawer. Swapping the SIM from my iPhone 4S I was able to establish that the 710 was able to retain a 3G signal where the iPhone fell back to 2G and maintain a good signal where the iPhone lost it completely. It also outperformed the Galaxy Nexus in signal performance - an exceptional performance when you consider that these handsets cost four and five tiames what the 710 currently retails for.

Compared to Android handsets in the same price range the 710 is distinguished by having a better, brighter screen; a decent camera and providing the full WP7 experience as opposed to the limited performance that characterises the low end Android market.

The only drawback I could find with the 710 was the length of time it could run on a single charge. With normal use it will get you though a day, however get engrossed in an Xbox Live game or a lengthy browsing session and the battery will be drained in four or five hours. That's about comparable with its Android competition but may come as a shock to someone getting their first smartphone and coming from the multi-day battery life of simple feature phones.

All in all I think Nokia has a hit on its hands here - a £300 smartphone experience at less than half the price. If buyers are prepared to be open minded about WP7 I suspect many will choose the 710 over its more compromised rivals.

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