Now Windows Phone has been around for about 2 years now but in that time it hasnít done very well. One of reasons why it hasnít been successful is because Microsoftís hardware specifications donít allow for entry level phones.
Recently, Microsoft made some changes to Windows Phone code named Tango and relaxed their specifications. Now we have the Nokia 610.
The first thing that struck me about the 610 is that itís kind of thick and heavy. In my hand itís a pretty solid phone.
Nokia has taken a page from HTC (the Amaze 4G) where the entire back along with a small part of the front is removable. Unlike the Amaze there are no antennas built-into the back. The entire piece has a high quality rubberized finish.
The display measures 3.7Ē with a resolution of 800x480 - just like the Lumia 710 and 800.
If youíve used the 800 or 900 youíll notice that there is noticeable gap between the digitizer (the layer on-top of the display) and the screen. It kind of makes you feel like youíre looking through a window when you look at the display. The black levels are not as deep and, the viewing angle is worse (due to the gap). The effect is greatly exaggerated if the screen is dirty. Still, the 610ís display looks very sharp, itís noticeably better than the 800ís pentile display in this regard.
I mentioned that Microsoft relaxed Windows Phoneís minimum specifications. The 610 is my first Windows Phone that has a 800Mhz processor and 256MB of RAM. All the other Windows Phones that I have tried had a 1Ghz or faster processor. In fact, the Lumia 710/800/900 all have 1.4Ghz processors. At the same time every other Windows Phone I have tried has 512MB RAM.
Itís also worth pointing out that the Lumia 710/800/900 all have Adreno 205 GPU which while they were never state-of-the-art are much faster than the Adreno 200 in the 610.
So does the slower processor make a difference? Letís see.
The first thing I noticed is that the menus are all still very smooth. Smooth menus are great but as it turns out, the lower amount of RAM means certain programs will not run on the 610. 2 of my favorite games on Windows Phone, Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies will not work on the 610 due to lack of RAM. Looking around the marketplace I also noticed NFS: Hot Pursuit, Assassinís Creed, The Sims 3 wonít install. Still, other games like Fruit Ninja, Mirrors Edge, Droplitz, Final Fantasy, geoDefense all run fine.
Speaking of apps that donít install; it seems the 610 also lacks a compass. So, while there arenít many programs which wonít install because of the lack of compass, you do get warnings that youíre missing it programs like Caddie +.
While the menus are buttery smooth the browser jumps a lot more than on Windows Phones (to be expected) and programs like the camera take longer to launch.
While the 610 is not as fast as it bigger brothers I wouldnít go as far as to say that itís a slow phone. I guess menu animations really play a big part in how fast a phone feels.
For some reason I wasnít able to get the 610 to sync with my PC even though itís able to sync with other Windows Phone devices (and no, I didnít hit the 5 device limit).
Weíll explore the performance more later.
Volume, power, camera buttons.
MicroUSB, headphone jacks.
The camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels with autofocus and a LED flash.
While the camera can take usable pictures outdoors when thereís plenty of light most of the times the colour balance is off. Indoors the camera isnít terribly useful.
Video is captured with a maximum resolution of 640x480.
There is around 6.2GB of usable storage.
As Iíve mentioned in previous reviews all Windows Phones come with the same basic software. Microsoft does not allow OEMs to customize Windows Phone. So the only way OEMs can differentiate their phones (besides the design) is to install their own programs.
In the case of Nokia that would be Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive (voice guided navigation) along with some other Nokia only extras which you can download from the Marketplace.
Extras include PGA Tour, Play To (DLNA program), The Caddie +, Create Studio (basic image editor), Kaliki (text to voice program) along with a few others.
While Nokia Drive provides free voice guided navigation it lacks the downloadable maps you get with the Lumia 710/800/900.
The rest of Windows Phone is more-or-less the same as what youíd get on other Windows Phones. If youíre not familiar with Windows Phone check out my reviews of the HTC Titan II, Nokia Lumia 900, 800 and 710.
One problem I noticed with the 610 that I also noticed on the 900 is that the 610 would sometimes get warm even though it was sitting in my pocket idling. The battery would drain faster when this happened.
Nokia Lumia 800: 6708.8
Nokia Lumia 610: 11381.8
SunSpider is a browser benchmark. While Windows Phones always do poorly in SunSpider it's still useful for comparing different Windows Phones against each other. In this case you can see what a difference the 610's slower, less efficient processor makes.
Unfortunately AnTuTu wouldnít run. It would close about 80% of the way in. As such, Iíve decided to run MultiBench 2 but that wouldnít run successfully either. Anyways, based on the SunSpider score the 610 is substantially slower than itís faster siblings.
To test the battery I charged the battery, turned on airplane mode and played a video until the phone turned off.
Nokia Lumia 610: 299
Nokia Lumia 900: 307
Battery life is similar to the Lumia 900.
As a Phone:
Both incoming and outgoing sound quality are good. The earpieceís maximum volume is not very good. RF performance is average.
As of the writing of this article the 610 is available for $229.99 from TELUS which is a lousy deal when you consider the Lumia 710 is available for just slightly more. I suspect a drop is just around the corner.
Itís an intriguing deal if it does drop to $149. Underneath the screen cover is a decent display. While not a speed demon it generally runs smoothly. So while I understand the inclusion of the slower processor. What i donít understand is the inclusion of only 256MB RAM (or is it the exclusion of the extra 256MB?).
Nokia talks about how important software ecosystems are. Well, by releasing a phone with only 256MB of RAM theyíve effectively fractured the Windows Phone ecosystem. On a more specific note, how can Nokia release a phone that doesnít even run Angry Birds?
I gave it a lot of thought and it seems the 610ís specs slot it between entry level phones like the Optimus L5 and midrange-entry level phones like the Optimus L7.
It has a higher resolution screen than the L5 but it lacks the L7ís 1Ghz processor. Of course both LG phones have 512MB RAM which is double what you get with the 610.
In the case of the L5 the 610ís display will make a huge difference. The jump from 480x320 to 800x480 is huge. On the other hand, the 610ís 256MB of RAM means you canít run certain programs like Angry Birds. The non-expandable storage is also a bother.
While the 610 is a solid phone Nokiaís going to have to try a little harder. 256MB RAM isnít going to cut it unless the 610 is a $99, no contract phone.
- the 710 is much better and only slightly more
- doesnít run all Windows Phone apps
- non expandable storage
- Sometimes buggy