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Lumia 710: Nokia Is Back At It

Nokia Lumia 710 Review: Windows Phone 7 On A Budget

T-Mobile scored the rights to this phone in the U.S., and you have to pay $350 to buy it without a contract. If you're willing to enter a two-year relationship with the carrier, you can get the Lumia 710 for as little as $50, qualifying it as a fairly entry-level smartphone. So, although we've been comparing the Lumia to Apple's iPhone 4S, that's only because the iPhone will serve as a reference in our lab for smartphone testing moving forward. Nokia's offering actually has a big advantage when it comes to the price comparison.

If you buy the Lumia under contract, you end up with a data plan to pay for. If you'd rather not have that bill, and are find using its features in range of Wi-Fi, bear in mind a couple of restrictions. First, the ESPN and Netflix apps work very well. However, the streaming T-Mobile TV service is problematic. Moreover, Nokia Drive requires a some sort of connection for looking up addresses. Though it runs autonomously after that step, you'd need to be in range of Wi-Fi at the start of your trip for GPS navigation.

Needless to say, signing the contract and getting the Lumia 710 for $50 seems far more likely for most folks.

The Lumia's biggest challenge is neither related to T-Mobile nor Nokia. Rather, it's the Windows Phone 7 operating environment. While we're intimately familiar with iOS and Android (not to mention the fact that Ice Cream Sandwich looks spectacular), WP7 isn't yet a mobile staple. As we progress through 2012, approaching the launch of Windows 8, it's quite likely that we'll all become much more comfortable with Metro, making WP7-based devices more natural extensions of our PCs and consoles. 

Until then, we're mostly missing the rich selection of apps enjoyed by Apple and, to a lesser extent, Google's ecosystem. Like, where are all the games? We asked the Tom's Hardware audience for some of their favorites on Facebook and received a pretty tepid response. As with any other emerging environment, developer momentum is slow until a larger enough market exists. And that market doesn't really take off until attractive hardware and software elements come together, including available apps. 

We think that this phone's attractive price tag will help compel mainstream buyers into Windows Phone 7, despite the fact that it's bolstered by fewer apps. The Lumia 710 is budget-friendly, but it doesn't sacrifice build quality in any way. When you hold the phone, nothing feels loose or imprecise. We like that. Better still, the 710's screen has a gorgeous color palette, and we see that its blue hues are particularly striking. Watching video on it is truly a pleasure.

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