Nokia Lumia 710 Delivers Solid Introduction to Windows Phone 7.5

 
 
By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-01-05
 
 
 

Nokia Lumia 710 Delivers Solid Introduction to Windows Phone 7.5


The Windows Phone 7.5 Mango edition is a far cry from the other smartphone operating systems you've seen people use. It doesn't have a grid of icons, it doesn't have a multi-touch screen and it doesn't give you that Apple iPhone experience that everyone seems to expect. Whether this is good or bad is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

I embarked on a tour of Windows Phone 7 after a column I wrote at the end of December 2011 in which I suggested that the many critics of this platform should at least try it out. So I went to a T-Mobile store and tried an HTC Radar for a few minutes, and found it interesting enough to take a closer look at Windows Phone 7. As a result of the column, T-Mobile sent me a Nokia Lumia 710 to try out. As my colleague Nick Kolakowski points out in his news story, the Nokia Lumia is the latest thing in WP7 smartphones.

But there's more to it than just being a nice smartphone as Nick says. This is the first in what is supposed to be a long line of products that Nokia plans to sell globally. This means that what matters most isn't whether the WP7 Nokia Lumia will convince iPhone users to switch, but whether it will be attractive to those millions of Nokia users who currently aren't using a smartphone or are using an obsolete Symbian smartphone.

So with all of that in mind, I charged up the Lumia 710 and got busy getting to know WP7 and the Lumia. So far, it's been an interesting ride and there are some things I haven't figured out. There are also some things about the Microsoft way of doing things that I'm not thrilled about, but not everything will affect all users. Also, some of the things I haven't figured out yet will probably be solved when I talk with eWEEK's network administrator to find out why I can't seem to connect with Exchange.

But, first, the beginning. When you set up a Windows Phone 7, you will need Windows Live ID, and if you're already using one of the various Windows Live services, such as Windows Live Messenger, then you already have one. It helps if you have a Hotmail account, which I don't, but unlike Google's practice of requiring a Gmail account, you're not required to have Hotmail to use the phone or access email.

The rest of the Lumia's start-up process was pretty straightforward. The phone will want to use your location, but it asks permission for that. You'll need to give it the necessary email information so you can send and receive email. You should note that the process of entering a nonstandard SMTP port is not intuitive, but you can find the information on the Website. Basically, when you enter the SMTP server name, you must append a colon and the port number.

There Is a Lack of Third-Party Email, Social-Networking Apps


 

Actually using WP7 is a lot different from the experience of using an iOS device. As I'm sure you know by now, the home screen is populated by tiles, which you can access by scrolling with your finger. For the most part, those tiles are something like the folders you see on an iOS device, except that they contain functions rather than just applications. You touch the "People" tile, which will display a changing selection of nine sub-tiles. This gives you access to applications such as Facebook and other social-networking services as well as your contact list.

There's a tile labeled "Me," which contains your profile, Twitter notifications and things you posted on Facebook. There are also tiles dedicated to specific functions, such as Gmail or your Internet email program and to applications, such as Nokia's navigation software. Physically, the Lumia feels much like an iPhone 3GS, but of course, the interface is very different. The biggest difference is that the Lumia is coated on the back and sides with a thin rubber-like coating that gives users a firm grip.

There are things I don't like. You cannot synchronize a WP7 phone with Outlook on your computer, at least not directly. You must either create a conduit to Hotmail and synchronize your copy of Outlook with Hotmail and then synchronize your phone with Hotmail. Otherwise, you must export your Outlook contacts, calendar, etc., to a comma-separated file, and import that to the phone. This is a one-time thing. You can also do a Bluetooth transfer of this data from your old smartphone.

Similarly, you must connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Windows Live to use those services on your Windows Phone 7. You can't get standalone applications for these as you can on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. While this is supposed to provide you with a central source for this information, I don't like having to have Microsoft in the middle for everything.

On the other hand, perhaps we'll eventually get standalone applications from third parties. The WP7 market has expanded tremendously in recent weeks and many of the applications are free. Unfortunately, about half of those free ones aren't in English, but I suppose this speaks to the global audience for this smartphone.

The Windows Phone 7 experience has been neither better nor worse than working with Android or iOS, but rather has been very different. On the other hand, fat-fingered typist that I am, I still prefer email on my BlackBerry. But I can say that the Nokia Lumia 710 is a worthy occupant of the midmarket. Its $49 price is a real attraction, and it's worth a look if you're not solidly committed to Android or iOS. There'll be more on WP7 to come. Stay tuned. 

 


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