Nokia Lumia 810 Review

small-frontOK, so MWC is going, on, Nokia have announced new phones and I haven’t finished the review of the phone that I have been using these past few months. The Lumia 810, which is available on T-Mobile’s network in the USA

Around a two months ago, I received a nice new Nokia Lumia 810, the Nokia Windows Phone 8 device that is available now on T-Mobile. I’ve been looking forward trying windows phone 8, and while the 810 doesn’t have the hype of the bigger, curvier, 920, nor the thin frame of the HTC 8x, it does have a few tricks of its own. For many, the key thing will be that it takes micro SD cards, and that ability to boost your devices to an effective memory of 72GB outweighs the voice of those that say its resolution makes it mid-range, even if it really isn’t.

Specs

  • 1.5Ghz Snapdragon Processor
  • 1Gb Ram
  • 4.3” AMOLED Screen at 800 x 480 pixels
  • Super Sensitive souch, clear Black and Gorilla Glass screen technologies
  • 8MP Autofocus camera with Carl Zeiss Lens and dual flash
  • 2Mp front facing camera
  • 8GB memory with support for Sd cards up to 64GB
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4?
  • 1800mHa battery
  • Wireless charging with the right back cover

Compared to Lumia 920

  • 920 Has 1080 x 720 IPS LCD screen
  • 920 has PureView camera with Image stabilization
  • 920 has 32 Mb built in but No Micro SD support
  • 920 has Wireless charging built in
  • 920 is larger and heavier

Comaperd to 820

  • 810 Has Gorilla Glass screen
  • 810 has higher resolution front camera
  • 810 has bigger battery
  • 820 is heavier

So you can see in terms of specs, the difference to the flagship 920 is not that great and amounts to screen resolution and that PureView camera, and the 810 is a better phone than the 820 by virtue of a bigger battery, stronger screen and higher resolution ffc. However, specs only tell half the story.

Initial thoughts

When I opened the box, the phone to me was big, slightly ugly and not helped by the depth. It also has a definite edge which you will notice if your coming from a device with softer sides.

On the other hand, it’s easy to see why the stark black body will appeal to many, and it feels very solidly built. You feel this could be dropped and come out ok.

The sides are flat with a almost sharp corner at the front and a curved one towards the back.  The back cover is made of a sfter, grippy matt plastic that is easy to hold.  The left is blank, the righ has the volume, power and camera keys, the bottom has the speakers and Micro USB ports and the top has a 3.5mm jack plug.

SavedPicture-201322605155.jpg SavedPicture-201322605145.jpg

SavedPicture-201322605128.jpg

Sadly, the sales package is as stark as the phone which ships with a charger, a quick start guide and little else. Ah well.

SavedPicture-201322605140.jpgInserting the micro SD card felt odd, and I wasn’t certain it was in properly, but once the sim and battery were in, and it was turned on, it told me a memory card was present and would be used to store media. It’s notable (at least for me) how much space back there the battery takes up.

And wow, the screen looks good. Colors pop and with the AMOLED technology, the blacks are just that.  Others who have seen my phone have also commented on the vividness of the colors. And then they comment on how responsive it is.  This is helped by the Super-Sensitive touch technology, which is a big helpt o me living, as I do in Minnesota.  Obviously, there are smart phone gloves these days, but with theis phone, you don’t need to buy those, and the screen should be usabvle with pretty much any globve.  Unfortunatley, this didn’t include the first pair of gloves I tried, hieavily grippy synthetic gloves I had been using when driving, but it did work with the other gloves I have tied so far.  It’s not perfect when it comes to this aspect, but t is good enough to be usable and I do seriously appreciate it.  Having to take gloves off to use your phone on a cold day is frustrating and this means you shouldn’t have to.

Windows Phone 8

Does what is being displayed by the screen work as well as the screen itself? For the most part, yes, and Windows Phone 8 is a welcome improvement to Windows Phone 7.5.  However, many improvements are subtle in nature, for example, being a OS feature that developers can use in their apps. If you don’t have any apps that take advantage of the feature, you may never use it.  One such feature is  for apps to control the lock screen background – a feature that I know is used by GasBuddy, WeatherFlow, Groupon, and more, in addition to Bing. Bing certainly has provided some excellent backgrounds.

wp_ss_20121224_0001 wp_ss_20130226_0002So coming into Windows 8 you are first presented with this new lock screen.  You can now have 5 different apps pass notificatioin to the lock screen and these show along the bottom of the screen.  However, there isn’t a notification center still, so to follow up on those notifications, you will have to launch the app it’s related to.

The main home screen’s main improvement over Windows Phone 7 is the 3 tile sizes and the removal of the black bar at the right edge.  It also seems like improvements have been made to the way live tiles update allowing the possibility of an app like Battery Widget to have a tile that is pretty accurate at reporting remaining battery life. Over-all I am happy to say that live tiles seem to be more alive and more accurate in Windows Phone 8.

While there have been improvements to the main screen, the app menu is unchanged.

Phone and Communications

In some ways what you have in this regard is very similar to Windows phone 7, which is to say it’s quite good.  The People hub is an excellent organizer, the facebook, twitter and LinkedIn integration is helpful and it’s great to pin individual contacts to your home screen and get notifications, not just for calls and texts, but for email and other status updates by that person too.

In Windows phone 8, this has been expanded on a bit with 2 new features.  ONe is the introduction of “Rooms”, which are simple groupings of contacts that allow public messaging to all the contacts in the room at once. This is great if you have a set of people you need to keep up-to date about something.. It has an annoyance too – 2 people in your room get into a conversation and you will still get the new message beep for every message they send to each other, even if you don’t particularly care about the conversation at that time.  Overall though, a useful feature.

The second new feature is VOIP service integration.  This integration is pretty loose though, but does now mean the Skype app functions properly and can use all the contacts in the people hub.

As for the traditional phone call, I have to admit, I have been disappointed in with reception in the Lumia 810 and it seems worse than the 710 I had before it.  A shame as it supports T-Mobile’s 42Mb HSPA+ network, which in Minneapolis is strong, and it ruins the mood when driving around listening to slacker the track suddenly cuts off due to poor reception. Call quality seems decent though and I can hear callers clearly.  This is true where through a normal voice call or via Skype.

Music and Media

There is a graphic equalizer function aswell as settunngs for Dolvy audio.  These settings only take effect using headphones/other wired output device, but the do genuinely make a difference. The phone’s Loudspeaker is decently loud and souds pretty good for a phone. The soeaker grills are at the bottom rather than the back of the phone meaning when it’s lying on a surface, the sound won’t get muffled, which seems to be a good design decision.

One disappointment of Windows Phone 8 is it still doesn’t support TV-out, leading to embarrassing moment where my dad was showing pictures from his Galaxy SII on his TV via MHL/HDMI and asked if I wanted to connect up my phone, at which point I had to admit my phone can’t do that.  And with PlayTo/DNLA not yet available for Windows Phone 8, even though it was for Windows Phone 7, right now the best way to share your media is via skydrive, or via USB.

SavedPicture-201322605119.jpgCamera

Speaking of pictures, how is the camera I hear you ask?  Pretty good, though a bit iffy indoors I have to say.  You can certainly take some half decent shots though, but on the phone screen, pictures look off with contrast way too high. When viewed on a different screen, you get a better sense of what the image really is like, but even then I find that the balance isn’t right with darker areas and shadows coming out way darker in pictures than they were in reality.

That said, you can take some nice pictures and the lenses are useful too. In particular, the Panorama lens option is very easy to use, though if you don’t follow the directions carefully, and follow the line on screen, it’s often easier to just start over.  However, despite this, it’s 100 times easier here than it is on my Canon point and shoot digital camera.

Here are a few camera samples:

Office and Productivity

It’s amazing how one of the smallest changes affects things but with the removal of OneNote from Office within Windows Phone 8, so it’s now a separate app, I’m using it a lot. It’s great how with SkyDrive it all seems to work together so I can update the same note book, spreadsheet or word document on the phone or on my PC and it’s all synced the whole time. Doing some operations in Excel such as copying formula’s seem to be a bit awkward though, but overall, it’s a hand productivity tool

Other New Windows Phone 8 features:

  • Wallet – links payment cards with your Microsoft account, as well as (in some markets I think) allowing you to do mobile payments. It’s passcode protected, as it should be.
  • Kids Corner – Allows you to set a small subsection of apps that can be accessed from the lock screen without entering you phone lock code (if you use one) or properly unlocking the phone.  YOU swipe the lock screen to the side rather than up to get to kids corner and you are able to designate which apps can live there.
  • HERE Maps & Drive – ok, so they are not new, but now part of the HERE platform, Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive are pretty much the same as on Windows Phone 7, and provides good offline mapping, navigation and directions.  Now available for all Windows Phone’s

Other software:

Nokia and T-Mobile have added software to the Nokia Lunmia 810 and most of it is quite welcome.  From Nokia you get Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, Nokia City Lens, Nokia Music, and Nokia Transit, as well as a range of lenses, as mentioned in the camera section. T-Mobile adds in MyAccount which provides a useful live tile showing current amounts of minuts, texts and data used, 411 & More (which is frankly, useless), CallerTunes (so people on hold or waiting for you to pick up can hear music), Slacker Radio and T-Mobile TV. You also get free Zynga Games “Words With Friends” and Draw Something”.

Sadly Nokia Drive is in beta, and doesn’t currently have traffic info or the MyCommute feature, you have to use Nokia Maps (or your own, favorite mapping/traffic app) to get traffic info.

One nice thing in windows phone is that any of these apps can be uninstalled if you don’t want them.

Conclusions

I am enjoying using My Nokia Lumia 810 and I’m sure many others will do too.  However, there are still some rough edges and incomplete features to the platform, and still things that Symbian users can say “yeah, but it doesn’t do X ” about, such as Tv-Out. It also has a poor sales package.  That said, it’s a good effort and the larger battery, good performance and call quality, great screen and decent camera all point to a higher end device, even if it’s not a Lumia 920.   If you are interested in Windows Phone and on T-Mobile, I gladly recommend the Lumia 810 and even suggest it might be preferred by some to the HTC 8X, with expandable memory being the key differentiator here as the 8X only has 16GB (surely, if you don’t provide any support for memory expansion, surely todays minimum is 32? It wouldn’t have killed HTC to do that would it?). If you are happy to shell out a few extra dollars, there are now Wireless Charging shells available in black and cyan, though the hard part is tracking down a store that has them in stock.

This has been a largely enjoyable first couple of months with the Lumia 810, and while the 521 will take the cheap spot for Windows Phones on T-Mobile before too long, and the HTC Windows Phone 8X is thinner and has a higher resolution screen, I can recommend this device. It’s a goo device, if a little unspectacular, and perhaps underwhelming, at times, but it does get a thumbs up from me.

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About bluechrism

I am a software developer with most professional experience in the Windows .Net realm and I'm currently a WPF developer with Starkey Labs. However, I have wanted for some time to start the mobile developer journey properly and being an N900 owner, this was to be in the realm of QT. Job hunting, moving to Minnesota and changing jobs put my plans on hold 6-12 months but things are starting to settle now, just as I'm getting sorted to start some things, Microsoft and Nokia merge. This blog is about my novice mobile development experiences and hopefully will end up complete with links to download some apps on various platforms, but obviously by the name, Sybian, Maemo/Meego and Windows Mobile. In other stuff, I am English, I support Everton FC, I have visited Glastonbury music festival 5 times and recommend it to anyone. I am married and my wife and i have a dog called Friday.
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