Nokia Lumia 710 review: Smack in the middle
Stock Windows Phone Mango interface
Nokia left the Windows Phone interface untouched in the Lumia 800 and the same holds for the Lumia 710 and even the upcoming 900. This wins them points for consistency (Android topped with a custom launcher by each can cause some confusion), but goes nowhere in terms of setting the product apart from its competitors.
In the Windows phone ecosystem, the difference comes with the preloaded software, which is one of the highlights of the Nokia Lumia 710 as we'll see later on (you guessed it, it's mainly the SatNav app, Nokia Drive).
Before we begin, here's a video demo of the Nokia Lumia 710 in action.
A push on the unlock button reveals the lock screen, which displays the current time and date and shows calendar events, emails and missed calls.
Swiping the lockscreen up unlocks the device and reveals the live-tile Metro user interface. It's a very fluid vertical grid of Live tiles that can be reordered the way you like. Practically any app can be placed in the grid by holding your finger over it and selecting the Pin to start option.
It's a clean and simple interface. The Live tile of each app shows info relevant to the app's function - stuff such as the current date, pending calendar events, missed calls, unread emails and more (third party apps do it too). It's nice to have all that info always available at-a-glance. You can look at them as homescreen widgets of sorts, but that's a bit oversimplifying.
In Windows Phone Mango the Live tiles are quicker and offer more info. For example, the Pictures tile shows an animated slideshow of your images. The Group tile lists friend updates.
By the way, a thing we really like about Windows Phone is that you can wake the phone and jump straight into the camera by pressing and holding the camera key.
You can access all installed apps by going into the application list. Apps are alphabetically sorted there and you have a virtual Search button to make finding apps easier for those with many apps installed.
The Lumia 710 comes with 7.5 Mango and its crowing feature is multitasking. It's not true multitasking; things are being done the iOS way. Apps not in the foreground are suspended, but the OS has ways to take over and carry out the task for them.
To switch between apps you press and hold the Back key (that's right, the Back key, not the Windows key). The app switcher itself looks similar to that of Symbian or WebOS: thumbnail snapshots of the apps, ordered chronologically left to right.
You can scroll the list horizontally to select an app and a tap will bring you back to exactly how you left it. Usually, the last 5-6 apps are here. You can't "kill" any of those apps, this is more of a history of the recently used apps.
Eventually, as you open more apps, the old ones start to drop out of the list. Once an app is gone, you have to launch it again the old-fashioned way, which means you'll need to start over.
Finally, apps with active background tasks (e.g. streaming online radio) will keep on working.
Multitasking can be disabled in the settings to save on battery life. There you'll also find a list of all installed apps that support multitasking.
Opening the settings menu reveals two sets of options - system and applications. System covers all the settings you can think of like sounds, color theme, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Accounts, etc. The Applications settings let you configure individual each app you have installed on the device - the People hub, Phone, Maps and more.
Windows Phone 7.5 can be controlled through voice only - you can dictate a text, have the phone read out the reply, you can initiate searches and so on. Other OSes are doing it too (*cough*Android*cough*) but voice commands are a big part of iOS (and a loudly touted one at that), so WP7.5 can brag about it too.