T-Mobile’s Nokia Lumia 810 emerges from its black and magenta box looking like a handheld version of the Monolith in the legendary movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The light gray markings on the flat black case aren’t obvious at first, although you do see the gleam of the screen. The buttons that control the device are obvious to the touch, although not so obvious that you don’t sometimes find yourself trying to use the phone upside down.
No matter how you look at the Lumia 810, all you see is sleek. There’s none of the stainless steel and chrome of Samsung and Apple phones. But turn it on and the screen comes to life, first with an opening screen that you slide away with the flick of a finger and then the now-familiar tiled interface of Windows Phone 8 materializes. Now you see why the buttons on the phone seem almost secondary – they are.
Everything on Windows Phone 8 performs at the touch of a finger. The tiled screen scrolls easily from top to bottom. A sideways flick brings the full list of apps and controls to the screen. Another finger-swipe is all that’s required to move through the list. When that list grows long enough, it’s divided by index letters that scroll with the list of apps and then stay at the top of the screen so you know where you are.
Once you get used to the tiles, they are as intuitive as the icons on Android and iOS devices, and more useful. There’s less wasted space on the screen and in many cases the tiles include live content. For example, when I downloaded the WeatherBug app, the tile on the start page gives me the current conditions for my location. With the iOS version of the app, I get a WeatherBug icon. Seeing the current conditions at a glance is more useful.
Likewise, many of the tiles present changing live information. You’ll see updates from your social networking accounts. Your photos will appear in their own tile, and change from one to another. You’ll see stock quotes and market prices and headlines. Some of these things are available in other devices, but they usually show up as notifications on the screen rather than a presence that’s always updated.
The Windows Phone 8 tiles offer another level of flexibility over the icons on other phones. You can change their size and shape, and you can choose whether they appear on the start screen. Of course you can change the position of the icons on nearly any phone. But on WP8, you can make the icon large, small, square or rectangular. You can choose whether it displays live content. You can change the color, which is a good thing if like me you’re not a fan of T-Mobile’s default Magenta color scheme.
But of course there’s more to the Lumia 810 than just Windows 8. This phone is slightly larger and heavier than the iPhone 5, and is almost exactly the same as the Lumia 900 that preceded it.