Hardware & Design
Visually, the difference between the two phones is obvious. The Lumia 710 has an entirely different look from the Lumia 800. Less straight-edged, more rounded and curved, the new Nokia is slightly thicker and has a glossy white plastic body. It also comes with several different coloured backs so you can change your phone to match how you feel that day. ("Do I feel more blue today, or yellow?") While the 710 definitely appears lower-range than the 800, you can still tell at first sight that it's a Nokia. With this series, Nokia has restored its reputation in the field of alternative design. The materials are of good quality and the finishing is impeccable.
The shape makes the handset fit nicely in your hands, and the weight has been commendably well controlled. The 800 x 480 pixel 3.7-inch screen has good (but not amazing) colour accuracy and it's bright enough to be easily legible outdoors.
Interface & Navigation
Fed on a strict diet of Windows Phone Mango, the Lumia 710 has the same interface as the Lumia 800. Intuitive, simple to understand and capable of both multi-tasking (up to 6 tasks at a time) and dynamically aggregating social networks, Microsoft's bold platform brings a welcome breath of fresh air to the Land of the OS, so monopolised by iOS and Android. Navigation in Mango is different than in other operating systems—you can navigate both horizontally and vertically—and it's at least as practical, if not more so in some respects! Of course, hardcore smartphone fiddlers and infinite personalisation junkies may get frustrated: you can't just do anything you want in this system, which Microsoft has purposely locked down for coherence's sake.
In addition to the Microsoft apps and the ones available in Marketplace, Nokia has included three of its own: Nokia Maps (which is basically like Google Maps, and available for all Windows Phone owners), Nokia Drive (a voice-guidance GPS system that has the merit of working offline) and Nokia Music (Mix Radio for music streaming).
Thanks to a strict set of specs, Windows Phone handsets such as the Lumia 710 are flawlessly responsive, which is not the case with all Android smartphones... Even though the 710 is lower in range than the 800, it has the exact same insides (processor and RAM). That makes navigation nice and smooth, rarely ever getting stuck.
The keyboard may be on the small side when in portrait mode, but, relatively speaking, it's precise enough to avoid typos. The predictive text function definitely comes in handy and is surprisngly effective.
As with Apple and iTunes, Windows Phones require you to use Microsoft Zune (or Windows Phone Connector for Mac) to manage your multimedia. At first this can seem fastidious, but hey, you get used to it. Think of it as the price you have to pay for a simple and stable OS.
With its 5-megapixel camera, the Nokia Lumia 710 isn't bad at all for taking photos. The pictures are detailed—more so than with the Blade S and, in some cases, the Wave 3—and the colours are neutral for a smartphone. However, the overall rendering isn't as impressive as with the iPhone 4, which also has a 5-megapixel sensor, but costs more. We should point out that there is very little image noise with the Lumia 710. Also, the photo interface is clear and contains a lot of options for a smartphone digital camera (colour balance, ISO, filters, etc.). In short, the Nokia Lumia 710 manages surprisingly well with photo and video, for a smartphone that costs only £240 sans contract.
The handset's overall speed makes web browsing fast and fun. Pages load quickly, and resizing (which fares better now, after the recent Internet Explorer update) makes online content easy to read off-the-bat.
The Nokia Lumia 710 has a good battery life—just above average—and lasts over 24 hours with nearly continuous use.