• Ready to Tango: Our Nokia 610 review


    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.

    Software:


    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.

    Performance:


    SunSpider:


    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.

    MultiBench 2:


    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.

    Battery Life:


    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.

    Conclusion:


    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.

    Pros:


    • solid
    • smooth


    Cons:

    • the 710 is much better and only slightly more
    • doesnít run all Windows Phone apps
    • camera
    • non expandable storage
    • Sometimes buggy
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Ready to Tango: Our Nokia 610 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      That much of RAM is quite bad. That's even worse than the HTC ChaCha, who's minuscule amount of RAM essentially killed it. This seems a clichť, but a phone simply MUST be able to play Angry Birds to appeal to the general public these days
    1. BetterOfDead's Avatar
      BetterOfDead -
      Quote Originally Posted by sabesh View Post
      That much of RAM is quite bad. That's even worse than the HTC ChaCha, who's minuscule amount of RAM essentially killed it. This seems a clichť, but a phone simply MUST be able to play Angry Birds to appeal to the general public these days
      Lol, that's today's standard.

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
    1. Furry Atom's Avatar
      Furry Atom -
      Still, the 610’s display looks very sharp, it’s noticeably better than the 800’s pentile display in this regard.

      Pentile only loses resolution along the diagonal, text is not less sharp. The opposite of sharpness would be blurriness or fuzziness. At a closer than intended viewing distance pentile text can be called grainier, but that's not the same as being less sharp. This type of inaccuracy about the technology that every internet review presents really needs to stop.

      Quote Originally Posted by sabesh View Post
      That much of RAM is quite bad. That's even worse than the HTC ChaCha, who's minuscule amount of RAM essentially killed it. This seems a clichť, but a phone simply MUST be able to play Angry Birds to appeal to the general public these days
      Android is terrible at taking advantage of hardware and that really applies to RAM management. Windows Phone functions fine with 256MB of RAM.
    1. BetterOfDead's Avatar
      BetterOfDead -
      Why can't Google just go back to the previous os versions and fix the memory / ram problem?
      Why is it taking so long to fix this?

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
    1. rambo47's Avatar
      rambo47 -
      Nokia always (until very recently) chose to under-equip their phones. Skimpy amounts of RAM hampered performance all the way back to the N-series phones on Symbian. I'm glad to see that with the Lumia 900 Nokia has broken this tradition. Unfortunately for 610 they went back to their old tricks. 512 MB of RAM should be the *bare minimum* these days, especially if you want to keep apps open and running in the background.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Furry Atom View Post

      Pentile only loses resolution along the diagonal, text is not less sharp. The opposite of sharpness would be blurriness or fuzziness. At a closer than intended viewing distance pentile text can be called grainier, but that's not the same as being less sharp. This type of inaccuracy about the technology that every internet review presents really needs to stop.


      Android is terrible at taking advantage of hardware and that really applies to RAM management. Windows Phone functions fine with 256MB of RAM.
      I disagree, the edges of text looks fuzzy/messy to me. It's not that noticeable when I hold it at a 'normal' distance (around 15" away)



      But some of Windows Phone's skinny text (like the text used to show the time) exaggerates this effect.

      As for RAM management I agree that Windows Phone runs fine with 256MB, however if it doesn't leave enough extra RAM to run Angry Birds then clearly they need more.

      While I do suspect that Angry Birds CAN run fine on 256MB of RAM I don't think Rovio is very motivated to optimize it to make it so. After all, the Windows Phone version of Angry Birds is missing some of the chapters found in the iOS and Android versions.

      Ditto for Plants vs Zombies. Popcap can probably optimize it but they haven't even optimized it to support multitasking yet.
    1. BetterOfDead's Avatar
      BetterOfDead -
      What does adding an extra level have to do with ram? Doesn't that just take up extra space instead?
      And who cares about angry birds, I have not seen it being played by anyone in months.

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by BetterOfDead View Post
      What does adding an extra level have to do with ram? Doesn't that just take up extra space instead?
      And who cares about angry birds, I have not seen it being played by anyone in months.

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
      My point is that Windows Phone isn't a high enough priority for some developers to optimize their apps to work a 256MB RAM limit. Angry Birds is just an example. It's not the only one.
    1. BetterOfDead's Avatar
      BetterOfDead -
      If windows was a more open platform, would developer want to develop apps for the OS more willingly?

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Please define more open.

      Quote Originally Posted by BetterOfDead View Post
      If windows was a more open platform, would developer want to develop apps for the OS more willingly?

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
      If you're talking about completely relaxing the hardware specifications like on Android I think it would make Windows Phone much less attractive to develop for because that would make it harder to program for. On the other hand, if having zillions of different Windows Phone configurations attracts more customers that could make it more attractive to develop for.

      If you're talking about allowing people to side-load programs on their Windows Phone it would make Windows phone far less attractive because of piracy.
    1. ivaz's Avatar
      ivaz -
      the amount of effort it takes developers to recompile for 256Mb targets is so minimal that by not doing so it is pretty much down to just being a bad/irresponsible developer. You literally just open up the project in the Tango SDK, select the compile target and go. Same thing for Mango apps to get multitasking. Rovio has been an *** to Microsoft and Windows Phone from the get go so it is out of spite more than they don't think it is worth their time.
    1. Furry Atom's Avatar
      Furry Atom -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      I disagree, the edges of text looks fuzzy/messy to me. It's not that noticeable when I hold it at a 'normal' distance (around 15" away)



      But some of Windows Phone's skinny text (like the text used to show the time) exaggerates this effect.
      You can disagree, but that won't change the facts about what the real issue is. The linear red/blue sub-pixel resolution of PenTile is compromised by a factor of sqrt(2), because red pixels are diagonally separated. So yes you lose resolution along the diagonal with fully saturated red, but the human vision system similarly loses resolution along the diagonal to compensate. Now what you're seeing in that picture is two fonts which are perfectly rendered by both rendering methods, one style simply has a pattern visibility people are not used to. This is nothing new.

      Adaption can play a role in display technology. CRTs had very evident horizontal raster lines which people stopped seeing over the years. In the 90s when CRTs were first being replaced with LCDs it was apparent to so many people that the LCDs were arranged with vertical color stripes which were far more distinct than the horizontal raster lines of CRTs. Many complained that these lines were bothersome. In time, however, the worst of critics adapted to these stripe artifacts for LCDs and no longer saw them. What happened to the lines that were so bothersome only a short time before?

      The fact is that the human vision system and the human brain is capable of developing filters for those portions of an image which are always there, and learns to look strictly at only the data that is being updated. Such an adaption filter can be very helpful to remove these sources of annoyance.

      For PenTile there is a pattern visibility that is different than the patterns seen in RGB stripe displays, this does not mean text is rendered inperfectly. That which can initially be bothersome doesn’t change with the image data, so here again the eyes and brain are capable of developing filters that remove the pattern visibility of PenTile and allow the user to see only the image information that is changing.
    1. migo's Avatar
      migo -
      Quote Originally Posted by BetterOfDead View Post
      If windows was a more open platform, would developer want to develop apps for the OS more willingly?

      Sent from my GT-S5570 using Tapatalk 2
      No, they're already more willing to develop for WP than any other platform. For the length of time the WP Marketplace has been around, it has the most apps. When you consider that WP has trials built into full versions instead of a separate lite version to download, the gap is even larger.

      It's just an issue of time.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Do any of you find there are any apps missing from Windows Phone?

      What's your wish list?
    1. Furry Atom's Avatar
      Furry Atom -
      I'm not a big app person so when I had my Samsung Focus I didn't really have any apps that I missed. Just wish there were more games, though I'm sure a lot of that is due to the older snapdragon chipsets being quite old.

      I did miss Google's suite of apps. There's no native Google maps and the youtube "app" is just a wrapper for m.youtube.com. Other than those the only thing I wanted was Steam Mobile, everything else was fine.