Nokia Lumia 610 review

Reviews Ben Griffin 11:33, 30 May 2012

We review the Nokia Lumia 610, the cheapest Windows Phone yet and one of first to feature Windows Phone Tango

Rating: 
3.5
Pros: 
Ergonomic design, Internet tethering, Relatively fast user-interface
Cons: 
Some tasks really slow it down, Low memory means some apps won't work, Not quite budget-friendly enough
Verdict: 
The Nokia Lumia 610 is an excellent way to get into Windows Phone for under £200, but don't expect quite the same performance as the pricier Lumia 800s or the same inspiring build quality

Nokia and Microsoft have realised Windows Phone needs to cater for the entire smartphone and mobile market. This is why we have seen a number of Series 40 devices in the form of the Asha range, and a slow release of Windows Phones with decreasing prices.

Still, the Lumia range was lacking a truly budget device and that's the gap the Lumia 610 is attempting to fill with its lower spec internals and a less impressive but ultimately well-thought case design.

Aesthetics

Unlike the very attractive, elegantly designed Lumia 800 and its unibody polycarbonate shell, which was borrowed from the Meego-powered N9 if you were wondering, the Lumia 610 is made up of three parts. They are all plastic, so that same sturdiness isn't present and a smattering of chrome for the sides and edging looks a little dated in comparison.

But the white back plate, which elegantly houses the 5-megapixel camera and a silver Nokia badge, looks great. The speaker holes at the bottom, smooth edging and the comfortable feel you get from holding it all contribute to a feeling beyond its price.

On the front a 3.7-inch display sits above the usual Windows Phone three button layout found on all devices. Starting from the left, you have back, home and search, and all of these buttons work perfectly. We've yet to use a Windows Phone that isn't very responsive, whether it's the buttons or the display, and it's the same story here.

All in all, the Lumia 610 doesn't come anywhere near the Lumia 800 and 900, but it somehow ends up giving the impression of quality better than the more expensive Lumia 710. Compared with Android devices around the same price, though, the Lumia 610 performs favourably. It's a good looking phone and certainly not flimsy. It gets brownie points for being pocketable.

Nokia Lumia 610

Hardware

A big part of Nokia's budget strategy involved getting Microsoft to relax its stance on the minimum hardware requirements needed to use the Windows Phone operating system.

With the Tango update, exactly that has happened, which is how the Nokia Lumia 610 manages to get away with 256MB of RAM and a 800MHz processor. As you would expect from knowing the specs are much lower than the rest of the Lumia range, and because it's half the price of the Lumia 800, the performance isn't going to be as good.

But in practice it's not actually quite that clear-cut. Some tasks, like loading the People Hub, opening settings or starting up the Internet Explorer browser take second or so, which is about twice the time on the Lumia 800. That may sound slow, but it actually still feels fast. It's only when you swipe between screens you notice a slight jitter.

Using apps and games is where the Lumia 610 starts to fall down a little. Nokia Drive takes nine seconds compared with the Lumia 800's five seconds. It sounds like a long time and it can be if you are, say, wanting Nokia Maps to load up while running late. But we never felt the wait is too long, it's just much less punchy than we have become used to.

Compared with the Orange San Francisco II or the Huawei Blaze Android handsets, performance is very similar, often edging towards Windows Phone because of the straightforward, more intuitive user-interface.

Perhaps the biggest issue we noticed is the introduction of fragmentation. The most widely reported is Angry Birds, which at this time won't run on the Lumia 610. Not at all, in fact - you get a warning on the Windows Marketplace that says you can't install it.

Looking through the Xbox Live games, PES 2012, Sid Meier's Pirates and a few others also won't run. Luckily, more will run than not so Microsoft's claim of five per cent of apps affected seems about right, and that's not bad when there are over 80,000 apps to choose from. We are not happy fragmentation has been introduced, even when we know Rovio is busy working on an update to rectify the situation, especially when some 3D-intensive games like Need for Speed still work okay.

Hopefully it's a case of developers working on a little optimisation as we always loved the unified nature of Windows Phone. It's one of the areas it beats Android convincingly.

Specifications

Typical Price £189.99
UK Launch June, 2012
Network Most networks
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Phone Style Candy bar
Thickness 62mm
Length 119mm
Width 62.2mm
Weight 132g
Built-in Memory 8GB, 256MB of RAM
Additional Memory N/A, no expandable memory card slot
High-speed Data HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Internet sharing (tethering)
Screen Size 3.7-inches, 480x800 pixels (252ppi)
Screen Colours 56k
Camera 5-megapixel
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 2592x1944 pixels
Zoom Yes
Flash Yes
Video Resolution VGA@30fps
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
Song Storage 8GB
Radio Stereo FM with RDS
Speaker Yes
Video Calling No
Internet Yes
Browser HTML5

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