Nokia was kind enough to lend us review units of their latest and cheapest Lumias yet – 510 and 610. Lumia 610 was launched way back in July in India and was mostly received to negative responses from Windows Phone fans calling it the beginning of fragmentation in the ecosystem. However, with less than 5% apps being affected – I strongly disagree. Lumia 510 on the other hand, was launched last month as Nokia’s Diwali gift to India. I am going to do a quick impressions on Lumia 510 and what it means to consumers in India and why you should/shouldn’t buy it.
Hardware \ Design
Here’s a question for you: Why Lumia 510? Why couldn’t Nokia just reduce the price of 610? It does make sense until you start using 510. Lumia 510′s back is surprisingly a soft touch cover panel coupled with subtle curves which make it a joy to hold. Lumia 610′s back is a wholesome plastick-y experience, so 510 definitely feels better in hand – sturdy and safe. There’s one downfall to this back cover though, it’s a dust magnet. However, the sturdy and well built hardware should make up for those tiny little dust particles sticking on the back of your phone. Lumia 510 weighs in at 129g v/s 132g on Lumia 610 however when you hold both the devices – you’ll feel that there is a lot more bulk attached to the 610.
When it comes to design – let’s put it simple terms – it’s uninspiring. Let’s just say it’s a mixture of Lumia 710 and Lumia 610, unfortunately the design borrows more elements from Lumia 710. I personally love the design on 610 but as mentioned above when you hold it – physically it feels a bit cheap. So again, Nokia had to make a compromise which some may or may not like.
Lumia 510, exactly like the 610, has all the physical buttons (lock screen, camera and volume rocker) on the right side which is incredibly frustrating for me. Probably because I am used to HTC Mozart’s button placement – Lock screen button on top, volume rocker on top left and camera on bottom right. Sometimes when you are listening to music, you need to mess with the volume rocker without actually watching the placement of the button and I have ended up pressing lockscreen button most of the time. This isn’t much of a problem to be honest and if it is – I am sure with a little more time, people can get used to it. You have a usb charging point right at the bottom and headset port at the polar opposite.
Let’s talk about my favorite part now – The screen. We are living in the world of smartphones where there’s a PPI war raging on..at the time of review – HTC just blew everyone away 5-inch 1080p 440ppi phone which is just an incredible achievement. However these are high end phones and it will take a considerable time for manufacturers to come out with non WVGA displays on lower end models (unless Apple comes out with an iPhone Mini!). Right, so Lumia 510 display is what makes it stand out. Lumia 510 comes with a 4 inch TFT 480 x 800 pixels (~233 ppi) display. Keep this in perspective, it has a larger display than Lumia 610, 710 and 800 and all these phones have WVGA resolution at 3.7inches. However the other models have higher PPIs but if you aren’t really used to retinas and One Xs (which you probably aren’t if you are looking to buy a lumia 510) – it won’t really be any issue at all. In fact, 4 inch v//s 3.7 inch difference is significant. After using 510, I personally am never going to a display < 4 inches. Windows Phone should be experienced at such displays – however at higher PPIs, no excuse on that which is why you should look at HTC 8X and Lumia 920, meanwhile display nerds can feel free to skip WVGA displays on 820 and 8S (which is really a shame considering their pricing and competition).
Anyways, back to the screen. 4 inch display is a joy to use and Nokia undercutting 610′s price to bring out a larger display is an incredibly bold move (which resulted in some compromises that we’ll discuss later). The color reproduction is solid however the display is not to be compared with high end Windows Phone counterparts sporting SAMOLEDs and SLCDv2. It’s not a vibrant display and lacks the viewing angles that I’d personally like. The outdoor visibility is fairly average. I prefer the 610 display if you look closely however I enjoyed 510 display more. Here’s another incentive to pick 510 display over 610: Windows Phone 7.8. Customizable tiles that would cover up your entire screen – the bigger the better, folks!
I am going to quickly go through some of the features on 510:
- Camera: 510 sports 5 MP autofocus camera with no LED flash. The 5MP camera is highly unimpressive. I am no camera expert so I cannot really expand upon this, but as a consumer who can differentiate between a good and bad photograph, I’ll strictly put 510′s image taking ability at “below average” – keeping in mind the price point on this. There’s also no front facing camera which is also a huge downside to this device.
As mentioned above, 510 undercuts 610′s pricing and had to compromise on some of 610′s feature. Well they didn’t compromise on the camera itself but on the lack of LED flash which is a bit hard to comprehend when all your competitors have it, something as simple as LED flash is missing. I can tell you my photo taking experience on Diwali (festival of lights) wasn’t pretty. Video recording is capped to VGA resolution (at 30fps) so it’s again..average.
- Speakers: One word: Loud. The speaker grill is at the back and is a significant improvement to the disaster that the Lumia 800 loudspeakers are. I wrote this impression while listening to Nokia Music on 510′s loudspeaker and it’s an incredibly positive experience at this price range. I can’t stress enough how amazing Nokia Music is for the Indian market.
Battery life: 510 has a 1300mAh battery. Nokia impressed me quite a bit here. The battery lasts more than a day of moderate use (over wifi). Unfortunately, haven’t been able to test this device on 3G. The back panel is removable – nothing new but many new phones tend to have a sealed back.
- Storage: Alright, this is the only point where it becomes hard to justify the purchase of this device unless you are already on the cloud bandwagon and are connected to the internet at all times. Lumia 510 has just 4GB memory onboard with less than 2.9 GB memory available and most importantly, it doesn’t have Micro SD support so you have less than 2.9 GB to utilize. This can be a deal breaker for quite a few,. Personally, it hasn’t been much of a problem for me – all my files are on skydrive (free 7GB storage for all 510 customers) and I am spending a lot of time listening to Nokia Music radio (free for one year). But yes, using Nokia drive offline maps coupled with applications and local music, videos – this is definitely not a device for offline media junky. This can be a deal breaker for quite a few.
Powering the 510 is a familiar looking Cortex A5 MSM7227A Snapdragon processor clocked at 800 MHz and of course the measly 256 MB RAM. There’s a lot of buzz around how this 256MB RAM is causing WP OS to move towards an era of fragmentation and how it’s not the right way to experience Windows Phone. This is the first time I have spent significant amount of time with a 800 MHz processor WP device coupled with 256 MB RAM and I can frankly say that if you have used a Windows Phone device before – you will never touch this device again. If you haven’t – we’ll it’s a smooth sail.
What this 256 MB of RAM does is that it excludes nearly < 5% of the applications from your reach. However this minority includes some massively used applications like Skype, Tango, Angry Birds, etc and even excludes Nokia’s own application City Lens so this is a bit of a bummer.
However, let me write about the much exaggerated lag story on Lumia 510. Lag is there, no doubt, but it’s not really noticeable most of the times. Yes, the OS struggles to keep up sometimes – you miss a transition or two or you get a 2-3 second delay but it’s not signifcant enough to make a difference in buyer’s opinion. You have to keep two things in mind:
1) The competition is cheap android phones and Android tends to lag on dual core OS as well.
2) If you are using a Windows Phone already, you are not going to buy a cheap Lumia device. You notice the lag because you can relate to your existing device – for a new customer, this lag will be relative to either Android or Symbian which I can assure you would beat WP on 510 in terms of lag and performance issues at this price point.
I have been using extensively 510 for couple of hours now (at the time of writing) with Nokia Music running in background with Mehdoh realtime streaming and I am constantly switching between Baconit and Metrotube and there’s no sign of lag anywhere. Sometimes it does lag inside the third party apps and yes it’s not as buttery smooth as you’d expect from Windows Phone but it’s barely enough to deter users.
Nokia Windows Phone ecosystem
If you are buying a WP7 device, no two thoughts about it – get a Nokia Lumia. Nokia, since their announcement of WP device, has been working really hard and has produced an array of exclusive Nokia Lumia applications offering unparalleled experience on Lumia devices. Other OEMs don’t even come close to the offerings from Nokia on Windows Phone. There are a few applications I’d like to point out that you should weigh in when you put 510 in your buying list:
- Nokia Drive: This is undoubtedly the best turn by turn voice navigation tool and every lumia owner gets this application for free. You can use it both online and offline. My city map was just worth 100MB of data so don’t worry about the space on your device – there’s plenty left. My dad has a lumia as well and he absolutely loves Nokia Drive.
- Nokia Maps: Well, since the Bing Maps weren’t upto the task so again, Nokia saved the day with Nokia Maps. There are alternatives in the marketplace (such as gMaps which offer Google Maps based solution).
- Nokia Music: This is on top of the list of why you should buy a Lumia. Nokia Music is just absolutely incredible. You can stream songs from their radio, download songs and best part is that it’s absolutely free (free download for first three months). Since there’s no spotify, pandora or even xbox music streaming – Nokia Music stands out as the best streaming solution at this point of time in India.
- More incredibly useful applications like App highlights which give you list of relevant and popular applications, Counters – to check your data usage, Contact Transfer and Share – for contact management and lot more. There’s no doubt that Nokia has the best OEM marketplace and they do really offer substantial applications that contribute to your platform experience.
Summing it up: 510 is priced at Rs 9,999 and I will recommend it if you can survive the 4GB memory on board – if not I’d suggest you take 610 route. With Windows Phone 7.8 coming with bluetooth file sharing, I think 510 will definitely be a Value for money device which is exactly what the consumer at this price range requires.
Challenge for Nokia is to beat Samsung at micro level – starting right from local retailers who prefer to sell cheap Android phones over any other OS – it’s a big long struggle for Nokia. This is the device that we have been waiting for since WP7′s inception, the sub 10k WP device and I can say it doesn’t disappoint at all and with time – the price will go down making way for WP8 to seep through the price barriers and this becomes an even better phone as it goes down the price rank. With right marketing push and most importantly, with help of local retailers – 510 could be a bestseller for Nokia that this company’s been waiting for a long time.