Nokia has been on a roll lately with its handset offerings, bringing several devices to the Windows Phone 8 playing field that offer vastly different specs according to what consumers need. The T-Mobile Lumia 810 is a mid-range device designed to appeal to the same audience as the previous Lumia 710, so if you’re considering upgrading your handset from that device, this is the review for you.
The Lumia 810 is an unassuming phone, but upon first touch of the device you’ll definitely be wowed. The back is covered with a soft touch material that feels really great in the hands and seems as though it will offer you some slip protection from dropping the phone while trying to shove it back into your pocket or pulling it out. Another great feature that I enjoyed was how the back gripped any surface I set it down on, so it wasn’t constantly moving around with just a quick finger swipe.
The basic phone is available in black with rounded corners that fit well into your hand. However, if you decide you want to spice the phone up a bit, there are additional covers available that have the added benefit of adding wireless charging to the phone. These covers are available in cyan and black and if they’re made from the same soft touch material as the phone itself, then they’re definitely worth having.
The 4.3″ Clear Black display really pops, especially when compared against older technology. I found the display to be very easy to use indoors and outdoors, I never had to do the one hand cupped over the screen in order to see it during bright sunlight which is something Nokia seems to have perfected in their screens. The weight of the device is slightly less than a larger phone like the Lumia 900 which is great for those who might want a smaller phone than what HTC or Nokia’s other Lumia offerings bring to the table.
Battery life for the phone was decent, as it contains an 1800mAh Lithium ion battery. I was able to get about two days of fairly regular usage out of the handset before I needed to charge it. This includes the occasional 20 minute call, a few texts a day, checking Twitter and Facebook, and playing a quick game of Words with Friends. Your mileage may vary, however.
As for the internal specs, the only real dent against the phone comes in the form of the storage capacity. It only offers 8GB of internal memory which is knocked down to about 5.4GB after everything is said and done on a clean install. This leaves little room to take advantage of Nokia Drive’s offline maps feature, so this is something to consider if you’re a heavy user of Nokia Drive. The phone is expandable with a 32GB microSD card slot, however it seems the only items that can be moved to this include pictures, music, and video.
The camera was fair to middling in performance, as you can see by the below pictures. Outside pictures were clear and sharp, while it did struggle with some inside shots and up close objects. The interesting thing to note is that while taking up close shots, the view finder for the camera would display a perfectly clear image during the second or so before the snap, but the final product seems kind of hazy. See my picture of the Nuka Cola coaster to see the outcome of that. The picture of the zebra plaque is an attempt at a low-light example. In full light, the zebra is completely white, but in that particular image, it came out rather yellowish.
As expected, Windows Phone 8 outperforms Windows Phone 7 in all regards. The small tiles make a great way to get all of your important notifications very quickly and I used them liberally to make sure I had all of my important applications available on the phone. Even apps that have not been updated for Windows Phone 8 snap well to the smaller size, which is great.
Fast resume really makes the difference on speed with Windows Phone 8, since after playing around with the Lumia 810, I now feel like I’m waiting forever when I pick up my Windows Phone 7 device. You can see the speed differences between the two in this video, which serves to highlight just how well Windows Phone 8 performs over its previous iteration. The changes to the lockscreen that allow you to select which app notifications show up there are nice as well and I expect many apps will take advantage of this in the future, though it’s disappointing that you only have five slots available to assign to notifications in this area. I feel as though 10 may have been an ideal number for notifications and to avoid appearing spammy on the lockscreen.
Overall, despite its fairly adequate camera and small storage space, the T-Mobile Lumia 810 definitely has its place in the Windows Phone 8 lineup. It has the best design I’ve seen of any mid-range phone and it offers the Windows Phone 8 experience that doesn’t feel “dumbed down” like many mid-range Android devices may feel. The phone is available to T-Mobile subscribers for $199.99, but a $50 mail-in rebate brings this price down to $149.99 with a two year contract. This price is rather high for the phone considering a direct competitor is the Lumia 822 on other networks. Still, if you’re committed to T-Mobile and Nokia, the Lumia 810 is every bit the successor to the Lumia 710 that it should be.