The tech specs of this Windows Phone 7.8 handset are fairly modest compared with Windows Phone 8 smartphones—including the entry-level Lumia 620—with a 800 MHz single-core processor, 256 MB of RAM and a non-expandable 4 GB internal memory. Then again, this handset is also likely to sell for peanuts.
So is the Lumia 510 a bargain buy for users looking for a cheap handset with a decent OS? Is it a good option for users who only want to browse the web from time to time, listen to some music and take the odd photo? Find out in our review.
DESIGN & HANDLING
With its rounded edges and slightly convex rear, the Lumia 510 sits nicely in the palm of your hand. Although this mobile is a little on the dense side (still, it's lighter than the 160 g Lumia 820!) and it's nowhere near as slims as the latest super-skinny handsets, the Lumia 510 is still a pretty nice phone to handle.
While this mobile's design isn't likely to stop traffic, the finish is actually pretty good for an entry-level handset.
As a smartphone that's no doubt aimed at younger users, the Nokia Lumia 510 is available in a selection of bright colours.
Unfortunately, though, you can't use this phone's touchscreen while wearing gloves. The glove-friendly screen is a feature we particularly like in Nokia's Lumia 920 and 820 models—especially after this winter's snow-fest! However, this appears to be reserved for high-end Lumias only.
The 4" screen is pretty good on the whole, even if the resolution of 800 x 480 pixels falls below that of most 4" smartphone screens these days. Still, display quality is fine, and visible pixels don't invade the onscreen image too much.
The Nokia Lumia 510 screen managed to score a respectable four out of five in out lab tests. Colour fidelity could be better (Delta E = 5.7 when it should be under 3) but stays relatively even over the spectrum. Plus, the 365 cd/m² maximum brightness is good enough to read a web page, text message or e-mail in strong daylight. Contrast levels are good too, at 1027:1.
Compared with Nokia's other Windows Phone handsets, the Lumia 510 screen actually comes off a little better than that of the mid-range Lumia 820 (colours aren't as accurate and the maximum brightness isn't as high). What's more, the screen gives slightly more accurate results than the display in Samsung's low-cost Galaxy S3 Mini.
Note that the Lumia 510 doesn't come with ClearBlack display technology for deeper blacks and improved viewing angles, as seen in higher-end Lumia handsets.
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
The Lumia 510 is one of the first handsets to ship with version 7.8 of the Windows Phone 7 OS. In other words, it runs on an updated version of Windows Phone 7 rather than the very latest Microsoft Windows Phone 8 OS launched back in November 2012. And that's a shame, as it means users won't have access to new features available for Windows Phone 8 models (such as apps developed specifically for WP8).
It's also a shame that Nokia isn't using the latest, most advanced version of the Windows Phone OS in all its 2013 smartphones, irrespective of whether they're high-end or entry-level models.
Still, Windows Phone 7.8 is interesting and innovative platform. In fact, for many users, running 7.8 rather than 8 won't be much of a problem. Note that with Windows Phone 7.8 you can now re-size the homescreen tiles to organise your favourite functions and services more effectively.
The user interface is easy on the eyes and practical to use. Plus, one of the key advantages of picking a Nokia Windows Phone is all the great extra services that the manufacturer provides, including Nokia Transport, Nokia Drive and Nokia Music.
Another good thing about Windows Phone is that the OS runs well on devices with relatively low-grade tech specs (with just 512 MB of RAM, for example). And that's certainly the case here—the Lumia 510 has an old-generation single-core processor, and yet the OS runs just fine. Browsing through menus is smooth and the phone is nearly always responsive.
"Nearly" is the key word here, though, as while applications start up quickly, you will need to be patient when downloading apps from the Store. Web browsing shows up a few of the phone's limitations too, as heavyweight pages take a little longer than usual to load. You do get the odd slow-down when scrolling on pages too. It's nothing too off-putting, but this mobile generally isn't as responsive as other Windows Phone handsets. In our benchmark tests, the Lumia 510 scored just one out of five.
The Lumia 510 has a 5-Megapixel camera with no flash. Seeing as many smartphone flashes just end up overexposing photos, the fact that there's no flash here really isn't such a big deal. However, you will need to make sure you're shooting in good light (natural or artificial) to take a decent-quality photos with lower levels noise. In general, the Lumia 510 always takes photos with some noise in them, so the trick is keeping it to a minimum. Noise is particularly visible in dark parts of pictures. It's not a huge grainy snowstorm that ruins the picture entirely, but it's still present.
Plus, dark areas of detail soon block together, sharpness levels inevitably dropping. This is partly due to the high contrast, which has the advantage of giving plenty of depth to details in the image, but which also makes for saturated colours that are bright, a bit gaudy and not faithful to reality. All in all, the mid-range Lumia 820 takes better photos than the 510. Note that an instant photo editing app is on hand in this phone.
The headphones out in the Lumia 510 is disappointing in quality, particularly in the bass department. And that's a shame, since the dynamic range and output power are both good, and there's no distortion.
The speakers are OK, with a decent output power for this kind of device. They do, however saturate a bit at high volumes.
Barely 3 GB of the phone's internal memory is available for user storage. There's no microSD card slot for boosting memory but you do get 7 GB of free online storage in Microsoft's SkyDrive.
The Lumia 510 runs on a relatively small 1,300 mAh battery. Still, this phone will easily last a day of pretty heavy use over 3G and Wi-Fi (SMS, calls, music, web browsing).