Nokia Lumia 610 review: Basement window
The Nokia Lumia 610 has quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support and 3G with HSPA (7.2Mbps downlink and 5.76Mbps uplink). The supported 3G bands vary by region.
The local connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi b/g/n and stereo Bluetooth 2.1. Bluetooth is currently limited in what it can do - there's no file transfer support, for one.
Computer sync is done with the desktop Zune application. It's the only way to transfer files directly between your computer and your Windows Phone - there's no Mass storage mode.
You can sync files with Zune over the USB cable and Wi-Fi. There's a Mac version of it available too - the Windows Phone 7 Connector.
Additional SD storage isn't available on Windows Phone so the Lumia 610 doesn't offer such an option. Plus, it only packs 8GB of built-in storage, of which you get around 5.6 GB, amounting to a limited storage for many.
You do get SkyDrive for free though. It's a Microsoft service that gives you 7GB of cloud storage. You can share your photos on SkyDrive but can't have them automatically uploaded as soon as they're taken. That's another feature scrapped as background processes were disabled due to limited RAM.
The Lumia 610 can act as Wi-Fi hotspot and share its data connection with other devices. All you need is an active microSIM card with a data plan and you're all set.
Internet Explorer Mobile is fast, Flash-less
Internet Explorer Mobile is the only way to go with Windows Phone. Its interface is really simple. The address bar at the bottom is always visible, but the status bar is hidden, so you don't actually lose any screen real estate. Next to the address bar is the refresh button. You can, of course, bring up the extended menu, which offers a great deal of options.
The address bar also serves as a search bar, which is a handy shortcut for looking things up if you're not sure which site exactly will do the job.
The extended menu offers tabs, recent, favorites, add to favorites, share page, pin to start and settings. The settings menu offers the usual options like location, allow cookies, delete browsing history but it also has a very neat option to choose a global preference for mobile or desktop site versions.
The browser makes the controls in web pages look just like their equivalents in native apps. So, a web app can look just like a native app with practically no extra effort from the designer.
The six tab ceiling in from the original release of the OS hasn't been lifted - it's not too bad, but competing OSes don't have such limitations. We were also hoping to see text reflow, but no luck on that either.
Marketplace keeps growing
The Windows Phone Marketplace is playing catch up with the Apple App store and the Android Market. Currently the apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace are a little short of 90 thousand. Due to the lower amount of RAM, the Nokia Lumia 610 has less than that to choose from - 95% of apps should be OK according to Microsoft. Skype, Angry Birds and video-call service Tango aren't supported (yet) on the Lumia 610. Rovio are supposedly working on a compatible version of Angry Birds, and maybe it's more likely than not for Microsoft's very own Skype to eventually follow suit.
The Marketplace is organized into three main sections - applications, games and music. Another one called Updates shows up when one of your installed apps has received an update - there's an Update all button, which will save you the hassle of updating each app individually.
Anyway, each app will be listed with a short description, a rating and user reviews, and a few screenshots. If the app can use something that can potentially breach your privacy (e.g. location information) the Marketplace will let you know.
It's not as comprehensive as the Android Market (which lists just about everything the app can use) but on the upside it only warns you about the important things.
Big downloads (anything over 40MB) need a Wi-Fi connection to work. Alternatively, you can download those jumbo apps using the desktop Zune software.
The Application section starts with a featured app, then it's on to the categories (including all and free), followed by the top apps, a list of new ones and a longer list of featured apps.
The Music section is actually the Zune Marketplace. Its structure is similar to the Application section. First, a featured artist of the week, three more featured artists, then a list of new releases, top albums and genres.
Genres themselves are separated into sections too - new releases and top artists/albums/songs/playlists. For each song, you get a 30 second preview (same as iTunes). If you have a Zune pass, you can stream the entire song, just like you would on a Zune player (it costs 10 US dollars a month).
App Highlights is preloaded by Nokia. It offers an assortment of apps into several categories to give you a start. The first category is actually called Starter kit - a list of what are considered vital apps (e.g. YouTube, Netflix, etc.), then there's Addictive (games go there), Health+ and Foodies have apps to help you stay fit or indulge yourself respectively.
The app is accelerometer-enabled and can reshuffle the lists of applications every time you shake the phone, which is a fun way to find new apps. Also, the tile for the app would occasionally change to promote some of the apps it recommends.
The Games section is divided into Xbox Live, New, Featured and Genres. A great thing about games in the Windows Phone Marketplace is the try option, which is available to many games and apps. It lets you try before you buy.
The new and featured sections act as a what's new/hot reference.
The Marketplace on Windows Phone can be accessed via your WP device, the Zune software on your PC and the windowsphone.com website.
Search is available for the Marketplace but right now it pulls together search results from all sections - games and apps alike. Microsoft have fixed the issue where songs would get mixed up in the search too, which was annoying.