Nokia Lumia 610 £189.95

17th Aug 2012 | 13:57

Nokia Lumia 610

The cheapest Windows Phone available, but does it sacrifice too much?

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

For under £130, it's a decent phone - but we can't recommend it over the cheaper-and-better Lumia 710.

Like:

Low price; Strong battery life; Solid build; Great social networking;

Dislike:

Only 8GB of storage; Only 256MB of RAM; Some apps incompatible; Poor video camera;

Introduction

Updated: We've taken another look at the Lumia 610, with a new price drop making it much cheaper - but does it make it better than the still-cheaper Nokia Lumia 710?

The Nokia Lumia 610 has placed itself squarely at the low end of the smartphone market, with just 256MB of RAM and a single-core 800MHz processor.

Alongside the new stripped down Windows Phone Tango operating system and a new, more wallet-friendly UK price tag of only around £125 on Pay as you go, or free on contracts starting from just £13 per month.

This oddly puts it at a higher price than the better-specified Nokia Lumia 710 - we're not sure what's going on here, especially in the UK market.

Although the Nokia Lumia 610 is broadly competing with every other low spec and low price handset, its real competition will come from other Windows Phone Tango handsets, such as the ZTE Tania. It remains to be seen how they'll fare, since the Nokia Lumia 610 has beaten them to market, so as a pioneer of the new budget-conscious operating system, how does the Nokia Lumia 610 stack up?

Nokia LUmia 610 review

Based on physical impressions, it isn't likely to stand out in a crowd, with a plastic body and a dinky 3.7-inch 800 x 480 TFT screen. The sides have a metallic gleam to them but it's never likely to be mistaken for real metal, and the illusion is lost altogether once you actually hold the phone, which feels plastic through and through.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

It's not flimsy, though, with a reassuringly sturdy back cover and a generally solid feel. At 131.5g, it weighs about what you'd expect for a phone of its size, which is to say that it's light, but given its relatively small dimensions of 119 x 62 x 12mm, the weight feels about right.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

This all serves to give the Nokia Lumia 610 a feeling of surprisingly high quality for such a cheap phone. Especially when compared, for example, to the substantially more expensive Samsung Galaxy S2, which has none of the density or solidity to it that the Nokia Lumia 610 has.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Sticking to the trademark bright and bold colours of the Lumia range, the Nokia Lumia 610 comes in magenta or cyan, or if you're feeling more conventional, black or white.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

The phone features several hardware buttons, all of which are positioned on the right-hand side. There's a volume rocker near the top, the power button in the middle and a dedicated camera button at the bottom.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

The layout isn't totally ideal, since - depending on how you're holding the phone - the camera button can be awkward to reach without using two hands. And having the power button so close to the volume rocker means it's easy to press the wrong button.

We can't help but feel that having the power button opposite the volume rocker and moving the camera button slightly further up the body of the phone would have worked better, as it requires some thumb movement to turn the phone on when held naturally in the hand.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

In addition, the Nokia Lumia 610 has soft key buttons just below the screen for home, back and search. These are intuitive and feature pictures of each function, making their use obvious even to someone who's never used the phone before.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

The ports, meanwhile, all sit along the top of the phone, with a 3.5mm headphone socket in the centre, and a micro USB connector on the right. There's also a wrist strap hole on the top-left, while the microphone sits alone at the bottom of the phone.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

There's no microSD card slot, which is especially disappointing given the paltry 8GB of internal storage. The battery cover requires a slide down from the main chassis to remove - something that can be hard for those used to popping a backplate off.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Thankfully, for most users it's a problem they'll only have to face once, since as soon as the SIM card is in there's little reason to remove the cover again. Although it's good to know that if you ever want to replace the battery, the option is there, even if it is a little fiddly to get at.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

The Nokia Lumia 610 sports a respectable 5MP camera, the lens of which lies flush with the back cover of the phone. This is always cause for concern, because scratches and smudges can play havoc with photos, although in our time with the phone, while it's certainly seen its share of smudges, the lens has thankfully remained scratch-free.

Nokia LUmia 610 review

Ultimately, while it's not going to win any design awards, the Nokia Lumia 610 is a reasonably attractive and well built handset.

Interface

The Nokia Lumia 610 runs Windows Phone 7.5 Tango, a stripped down version of Mango designed for low-end phones with only 256MB of RAM. Though a number of concessions have been made, they have had minimal impact on the interface, which remains much the same as Mango.

When you turn the phone on or wake it up you are greeted with a lock screen showing you the time and date in big writing, along with your next reminder or calendar event shown smaller below that, and an unread email and SMS count at the very bottom.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

It also displays how much battery you have left and the signal strength at the top. All of this is written in white and it's a very clean look, with the bulk of the screen taken up by a wallpaper of your choice.

Swiping upwards clears the lock screen and brings you to the phone's home screen. This uses the same attractive tile-based design of other Windows Phone handsets, and scrolling down takes you through all of your home screen shortcuts.

The colour of the tiles can be changed, with a selection of 11 colours to choose from, and the background can be made black or white, but that's all you get. There are no custom wallpapers and no widgets to be found here.

A swipe to the left will bring up a list of every application installed on the Nokia Lumia 610, along with a link to the settings menu. Any of these applications can be pinned to the home screen by long-pressing them and dragging them into position, while web pages and contacts can also be pinned to the home screen.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Though games will automatically be put in a separate folder, there is no option to make your own folders, meaning that if you're planning on installing a lot of things the two main screens could easily become clogged with applications.

Pressing the back button will always take you one screen back (or one page back when using the web browser), while a long-press of the button will bring up images of recently viewed pages or applications and enable you to select from them.

The home button brings you to the home screen, and a long press on that enables you to give voice commands.

This actually worked surprisingly well, with most commands carried out correctly, including simple texts and web searches. However, inevitably it did sometimes struggle, and it's not going to challenge Siri. We're also still not convinced that voice commands are generally any quicker or easier than just doing things the old fashioned way.

Nokia Lumia 610 reviewScrolling around is fast, and there's not even a hint of slowdown when moving between menus, but opening downloaded applications and even built-in apps such as the picture gallery is a little slower, leaving you with a white screen for a few seconds while they load.

It's not a big deal, but it's a constant reminder that you're using a low-end phone. Equally, some of the built-in applications weren't performing optimally, with the People and Games applications in particular often jerking from screen to screen rather than moving smoothly.

The whole interface is reasonably intuitive. If you've used a recent version of Windows Phone before then it will all be much the same, but even if you're new to the operating system it's easy to find your way around, since there are basically only two main screens and everything is clearly labelled.

The only caveat to that is that the settings screen is hidden away on the applications list by default, and because this is a screen you'll likely be using a lot, it would be better suited to a place on the home screen, but it's easy enough to pin it there yourself.

The TFT screen provides reasonable image quality and is fine indoors, but in direct sunlight it can be almost impossible to make out. The viewing angles aren't great either, when not in direct sunlight you can see the display from every applicable angle but it does become slightly less clear whenever it's not viewed straight on.

Contacts and calling

One thing the Nokia Lumia 610 does a great job of is integrating and combining contacts. The people hub combines contacts from every account you've added - be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or just your phone book.

It then gives you the latest updates from all of these places in one area and enables you to create specific groups to put contacts in. The Nokia Lumia 610 prompts you to add social network accounts when you first set it up, but you can also add or remove them at any point from the settings menu.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

When viewing a contact, it will pull information in from all of these sources to give you their photos, email address, phone number, latest status updates and more, and it's easy to email, call or text people from the same screen.

It also attempts to combine multiple entries for the same person into one contact, although in our experience it had mixed success with this, and there will inevitably be a certain amount of manual combining necessary.

Adding a new contact to the Nokia Lumia 610 is also done from the People hub, and is a simple matter of tapping the '+' button and entering their details.

It's an attractive layout and a decent stab at integrating social networks, but if you've got a lot of linked accounts and a lot of contacts then the main feed that combines all of these can become quite cluttered and hard to sift through. Of course if you prefer you can always disable all these extras and use separate applications for Facebook and the like.

Calling is primarily handled by the People hub, where your contacts live, although there is also a separate dialler with a list of your call history, enabling you to call people from there, as well as access to your voicemail and a dial pad to type phone numbers in manually. Nokia Lumia 610 review

Sadly the dial pad doesn't support smart dialling either when typing someone's name or number. It's quite jarring in this day and age to find that it doesn't link a phone number to a contact until you enter and dial the complete number.

Call quality on the Nokia Lumia 610 seemed good though, with clear reception even when the phone was only reporting one bar of signal.

The options during a call are about what you'd expect, with a speaker phone option that also produced fairly good sound quality, a mute button and the ability to leave the call screen and navigate your phone without ending the call.

When doing this a persistent bar at the top will remind you that you're still on a call, and a quick swipe of that will bring you back to the call screen, should you need to access any of the options available there.

Messaging

As seems standard these days, messages on the Nokia Lumia 610 are viewed as an ongoing conversation with each contact, and are displayed as speech bubbles.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

From the messaging application you can also swipe left to see if anyone is on Facebook chat or Windows Live Messenger and talk to them there instead. As with most of the built-in apps on the Nokia Lumia 610, the appearance is quite plain, with a simple white background and black text when viewing the list of message threads. While unexciting, it's also pleasant enough to look at.

From the main screen that lists message threads you can either click an existing thread to send a message to that person, or start a conversation with a new person by tapping the '+' button at the bottom of the screen.

The keyboard is responsive and quite accurate, making typing a message easy. On the few occasions when we did hit the wrong letter, the Nokia Lumia 610 would usually correct it to the right word. Word suggestions appear at the top of the keypad, and at the touch of a button you can switch between typing a message and speaking it.

The keypad performs similarly well in landscape mode, although in both portrait and landscape it is a little bit cramped, so those with bigger hands may struggle. Because it's so cramped you also can't easily see any previous messages when the keypad is up, since the keypad plus the box where you're typing your message take up almost the entire screen.

This means that if, for example, you want to reference something from a previous message but can't remember the exact wording, you have to scroll back up to it and then back down to the text entry box.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

This isn't made any easier by the fact that though you can copy and paste whole messages, you can't select a smaller sample of text - so again if you want to refer to something in a previous message, you have to copy the whole thing.

On a more positive note, the Nokia Lumia 610 extends its social network integration to messaging too, enabling you to easily switch between text message, Facebook chat or any other service you've got activated at the touch of a button, and messages from all of them are shown in a single stream.

The keyboard and layout remains the same whichever channel you message someone through, but there's a reminder at the top of the screen of where your message will end up, and if you exit the application it always defaults back to text messages when you go back in.

You can also press a button on the main messaging screen to change your chat status on enabled services to 'away', 'busy' and so on.

Slightly disappointingly you can't make calls, send or receive emails or make Facebook wall posts from the Messaging hub, so these instead have to be done from the People hub.

Internet

The Nokia Lumia 610 can access the internet via HSDPA or Wi-Fi. Using HSDPA sites can take quite a while to fully load, taking 30 seconds or more in some cases.

The browser loads them a bit at a time so you can start browsing before a page has completely loaded, but annoyingly it will jump you back to the top of the page periodically until it has fully loaded.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Over Wi-Fi, load times are thankfully a lot quicker, with a page rarely taking more than a few seconds to display.

With only a 3.7-inch screen, the Nokia Lumia 610 struggles to display full web pages without a bit of zooming and scrolling. Technically it will display a full page on a single screen - and indeed this is how many pages are displayed when they load, but the text is much too small to read comfortably.

The usual gestures control zooming, with a pinch or double-tap getting the job done. You don't have to zoom in too far to get things to a comfortable size, but there's no text reflow, which means having to scroll around a lot to actually read a page if it's not optimised for mobile phones. But at least scrolling is smooth and precise on the handset.

The Nokia Lumia 610 comes with Internet Explorer 9, and although there are a handful of other browsers on the Windows Phone Marketplace, the other big names are all absent. So it's likely you'll stick with this one, but thankfully it's not too bad.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

The settings screen and search page share the same design as the rest of the phone, so at least it's consistent. There's a persistent search bar at the bottom of the screen, making it easy to browse to a new page at any point, although on the other hand it does take up valuable screen real estate.

You can also tap a button on the bottom-right to bring up a list of options, including tabs, recent pages and favourites. This screen also enables you to add a page to your favourites, pin it to your home screen or share it on social networks. Bookmarks are shown as a text list, while tabs are displayed as an image of each open page.

There's also a bare bones settings screen that enables you to switch your site preference between desktop and mobile, enable or disable cookies and delete your history.

Oddly, when using the search function for pages or images, the address bar moves to the top of the screen and access to tabs, settings and favourites is removed until you click through to a web page. It's a strange design decision and means that you can't get back to any other open tabs without arbitrarily clicking through to a page on the search results.

As is standard with Windows Phones, the Nokia Lumia 610 doesn't support Flash. On a more positive note, a dedicated search soft key will open Bing, meaning that you're never more than a single tap from surfing the net.

Camera and video

The Nokia Lumia 610 has a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash. There's no front-facing camera, so this is all you get. You can tap an area of the screen to autofocus on specific things or you can just use the dedicated camera button to take shots.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

This button is a great addition for budding photographers, enabling photos to be taken more quickly and easily than on phones where you have to tap a specific part of the screen. The camera button can also be held down for a few seconds to launch the camera even when the phone is locked, making it quick and easy to take photos at any time, although this option can be disabled if you'd prefer.

The only downside we saw to this camera button was that it's a little stiff, which can lead to some camerashake when trying to press it, but a firm grip on the phone will generally prevent this.

There's a handful of scene modes on offer - the Nokia Lumia 610 defaults to Auto, but it can be changed to others, such as Macro, Landscape and Night. If you fancy tinkering for yourself you can also manually set up the camera by adjusting ISO, white balance, exposure value and other settings to create the perfect shot.

Plus there are a few silly effects such as Sepia and Negative. All of these options, along with the controls for turning flash on or off, are found in the camera settings menu, which can be reached at the press of a button from the camera app.

It's reasonably quick and easy to get into and change things, though we do wish there was a way to make it faster still so that you don't miss key photo opportunities while you're trying to alter the settings.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Close ups taken in macro mode managed an impressive amount of detail and a fairly crisp image.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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However, when taking extreme close ups the camera struggled to focus.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Busy landscapes lacked detail even when using landscape mode.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Nokia Lumia 610 review

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With the camera set to Auto mode, general scenery shots came out quite well.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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In Sport mode, fast moving traffic came out slightly blurred, but it could be a lot worse.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Portraits consistently failed to accurately handle skin tones, turning faces a reddish colour.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Brightly lit rooms appear slightly washed out.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Dark indoor scenes really struggled without flash.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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But even with flash, the resulting images lacked detail and displayed noise.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Candlelight mode suffered from a lot of noise.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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The Nokia Lumia 610 struggled even more at night, producing noisy images with unnaturally blue skies.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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The ever popular Sepia mode makes an expected appearance.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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There's also a software zoom on the camera, but of course using it causes the pictures to lose detail. The shots we took with this were really disappointing, usually coming out as a blurred mess.

There aren't really any built-in editing options, but there is an auto-fix, which brightens dark photos up considerably.

Video

Though the Nokia Lumia 610 does have a video camera, it fails to particularly impress. For a start, it only shoots in VGA, so while the resolution just about suffices for YouTube and Facebook, it's not going to amaze anyone. It does manage 30fps though, which is at least competitive.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Getting into video mode takes one more button press than getting into the camera, as you have to launch the camera and then switch to video. It always defaults back to the stills camera when you exit the app and go back in, which makes sense, because the camera will probably get more use from most people.

You start and stop recording with the hardware camera button - tapping on the screen doesn't seem to do anything in video mode.

The settings that you can play with are much the same as those for the stills camera, with the same selection of scene modes and effects. And while it taunts you with a 'resolution' option, this is unchangeable, staying fixed at VGA.

Media

While the Nokia Lumia 610 is far from a media powerhouse it could also do a lot worse. The speakers on the handset are surprisingly loud, producing an acceptable sound level for both music and video, though it's not brilliant quality and at full volume we noticed some things sounded distorted.

Of course it also has a 3.5mm headphone port and comes bundled with a set of earphones. These earphones are also required to access the built-in FM radio, which auto tunes stations and enables you to bookmark your favourites, although there's no option to record from the radio.

Nokia Lumia 610 review

The radio, along with most of the other media options on the Nokia Lumia 610, is tucked away in its own Music And Video hub, which lives on the home screen. This hub enables you to browse through and listen to any music, videos or podcasts saved to the phone. Music can be purchased from the marketplace, or you can connect the Nokia Lumia 610 to your computer and transfer music, video and image files from there.

As well as the Music And Video hub, there's a separate Nokia Music hub. This has musical mixes such as 'ones to watch' and 'summer hits', which can be streamed over 3G or Wi-Fi, and if you like a song you can tap a button to download it - for a small charge, of course.

You can also create your own offline mixes or enable the software to make personalised mixes based on music that you've downloaded or told it you like. The player itself is straightforward, with options to pause and skip track, as well as a progress bar that you can tap or slide to skip forwards or backwards in a song.

Watching video on the phone isn't too bad. The 3.7-inch screen is a little cramped, so you wouldn't want to use it for a movie marathon, but its size does mean that it's light enough to hold for extended periods without feeling like you're getting a work out, and for YouTube and the like it works well enough. Speaking of YouTube, there's no built-in integration for it or any other media streaming service, other than Nokia's own Nokia Music. Nokia Lumia 610 review

There is a YouTube app available from the Windows Phone Marketplace, however. The built-in video player controls are similar to the music player, with options to pause, skip to the previous or next video or jump ahead or back within the current one. There's also a button that stretches windowed videos to full screen.

Most of the common audio and video formats work on the phone, including MP3, WAV, MP4 and WMA. One notable omission is MKV, which sadly isn't supported. As is standard with Windows Phone handsets, DLNA support is also absent.

Photos, meanwhile, have their own Pictures hub, which enables you to view and create galleries, make a list of favourite photos and see a list of newly uploaded photos from your various social feeds.

The real problem with media use on the Nokia Lumia 610 is just how little storage it has. At only 8GB (much of which will likely get used up by apps before long), there's not a whole lot of space for music and videos. Ultimately you'll have to either settle for a small selection of favourites or regularly hook it up to a computer and change what's on there, with neither option being ideal.

Despite the dedicated Music And Video hub, this really marks the Nokia Lumia 610 out as a phone where media wasn't a huge priority. It's one of the concessions made to achieve the appealingly low price tag it carries.

Battery life and connectivity

Battery life on the Nokia Lumia 610 is quite impressive. It's only packing a 1300 mAh battery, which might not sound like much, but certainly held up well in our tests.

Nokia Lumia 610

With light use - around 45 minutes of web browsing, 30 minutes of music, 30 minutes of calls, downloading a few applications and taking some photos - it lasted a whole day and night and was still just about hanging in there when we plugged the charger in the next morning.

Nokia Lumia 610 reviewThis was with 3G enabled at all times and emails regularly being pushed to the phone.

With fairly continuous mixed use the battery didn't fare quite so well, running down in around eight hours. But this was with a hefty amount of gaming, web browsing and videos. This roughly matches the time quoted by Nokia of seven hours of video use on a single charge, while the 3G talk time of up to 9.5 hours also sounds reasonable.

Its strong battery life is probably in part due to how low end it is, with a fairly small screen and slow processor, which shouldn't need much juice to power. All in all though, its battery performance easily matches slightly higher end phones, such as the ZTE Tania.

If you want to get even more life out of the battery there's also a battery saver option buried in the settings menu. This can be turned on as and when you want it, or set to enable automatically when the battery gets low. It simply switches off some inessential services - for example, emails won't automatically be pushed to the phone and applications won't run in the background.

The battery can be removed too, which is always a blessing, since it makes it easily replaceable should it ever wear out.

On the connectivity front, the Nokia Lumia 610 offers Wi-Fi support for b, g and n, as well as HSDPA at up to 7.2Mbps for downloads and 5.76Mbps for uploads. Bluetooth and GPS are also supported, and they're all easy to enable and disable through the settings menu. Nokia Lumia 610 review

Assuming you've got location services enabled, GPS will automatically switch on when you start an application that requires it and turn off again when you quit.

It's also possible to enable internet sharing, which turns the Nokia Lumia 610 into a Wi-Fi hub for up to five devices, although having five devices connected will quickly eat up all but the biggest data allowances.

HSDPA demonstrated a mixed performance - its download speeds seemed decent and video streaming performed well but uploading of images took an unreasonably long time. Wi-Fi is definitely advisable for even small uploads.

Of course you can also connect the Nokia Lumia 610 to a computer to move files to and from it, but you have to use the Zune software to do so. This is straightforward enough, enabling you to easily copy and move music, video and pictures to and from the phone.

However, we did run into some problems getting the phone to actually communicate with Zune. Our Windows 7 PC had no problems, but on a laptop running Vista the Zune software wouldn't connect to the phone at all.

Maps and apps

The Nokia Lumia 610 comes with quite a few pre-installed apps. There are many of the ones you'd expect to come with a smartphone, such as a calendar, a weather forecast app, an alarm clock and a calculator.

The calendar is quite versatile, enabling you to view it by day or month, or as a scrollable agenda or to-do list. It also imports birthdays and events from Facebook and other social networks. It enables you to set reminders and displays upcoming calendar entries on your lock screen.

Nokia Lumia 610 reviewThe alarm clock, on the other hand, is rather more limited. It enables you to set alarms as one offs or recurring events, but there's no option to set a timer or use it as a stop watch.

The Nokia Lumia 610 also includes Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive, the former being a fairly standard piece of mapping software, which generally worked well and locked onto our location in a matter of seconds. There was one occasion, though, when it insisted our location was half a mile away from where we actually were.

Nokia Drive, meanwhile, is a sat nav app. It's not as feature-rich as most of the premium, stand-alone sat nav systems you can buy, but it does have maps for most of the world, all of which can be downloaded to the smartphone for offline access.

However, the limited storage available on the Nokia Lumia 610 again proves limiting here, since you won't be able to store too many maps at once.

The phone also comes with the full mobile version of Microsoft Office, enabling you to create, view and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents.

Documents hosted on SkyDrive are automatically shared to the phone. Once finished with a document, you can then save it to the device or upload it to Hotmail or SkyDrive. We found the office suite quite useful for viewing documents and making light edits.

For more major editing it would help to have a larger screen or a physical keyboard, but as a mobile utility it works well.

Additional apps can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Marketplace, and sadly this is one area where Windows Phone in general struggles to compete. Although Windows Phone Marketplace is becoming larger all the time, it's still tiny compared to Apple's App Store, and very small even compared to Android's Google Play. Nokia Lumia 610 review

Apps are also a problem for the Nokia Lumia 610 specifically, because thanks to its tiny 256MB of RAM, many things won't run. The official figure for incompatible apps lies at only a few percent, but that includes many of the more premium applications such as graphically intensive games.

Even certain things that you'd expect to run don't currently, because they haven't been optimised for it - Angry Birds being a popular example. In the case of Angry Birds, a fix is said to be in the works, but Skype is another notable casualty, and there's no word on that being made available.

The app market itself is the standard Windows Phone Marketplace, and is reasonably well laid out, with various categories and sub categories to sift through, and user reviews of apps to aid purchasing decisions.

If we have any complaints it's that the heading and app names take up far too much space, meaning that when viewing lists of apps it can only fit a handful on the Nokia Lumia 610's small screen at a time, leading to an awful lot of scrolling.

Once downloaded, apps appear in your applications list (or Games hub in the case of games), and can optionally be pinned to the home screen.

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Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Nokia Lumia 610 review

Nokia Lumia 610 review

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Nokia Lumia 610 review

Nokia Lumia 610 review

Verdict

With a price tag of just £125 on PAYG, the Nokia Lumia 610 is an attractive prospect for anyone on a budget looking for a smartphone.

For general day-to-day use it works just fine, and while it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of, say, its big brother the Nokia Lumia 900, it also retails for a fraction of the price. While the specs list won't set the world on fire, for the money you're getting a whole lot of phone.

We liked

The price is of course the big selling point here, bringing the barrier for entry to the Windows Phone eco system lower than ever. The battery impressed us quite a bit too, easily lasting 24 hours with light-to-middling use. It's also a performance that tops many of the battery-hungry top-end phones.

We've always been fans of the way Windows Phone handles social network integration, and the Nokia Lumia 610 is no exception, combining all of your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates into a single feed.

The build quality, while miles away from the premium highs of the iPhone 4S, is also surprisingly solid. It feels nice in the hand, it's robust and, though made of plastic, it looks quite nice too.

We disliked

One of the concessions made to achieve the low price was to only have 256MB of RAM and this really hurts the handset, because some big ticket apps such as Skype won't work as a result. The Nokia Lumia 610 can also be a bit sluggish at launching apps.

Limiting the handset to 8GB of storage with no room for expansion also hurts it. There are a lot of media options onboard, but with so little space power users might struggle to even fit all of the apps they want on it, let alone music and video as well. This also limits the usefulness of Nokia Drive, because downloading maps will quickly eat up your space.

The screen is a reasonable size for the price, but viewing angles could be better and it's almost impossible to see in bright sunlight. And while it's nice that they included a video camera on such a low-end phone, the footage it shoots isn't going to impress anyone.

Final verdict

The Nokia Lumia 610 is a great addition to the Lumia stable (and to Windows Phone in general), thanks to its incredibly low price tag. While the launch of Windows Phone Tango means that we can expect more budget handsets in the future, for now this is about as cheap as it gets.

But it's not just cheap; it's also quite good value for money. You get almost the complete Windows Phone experience, along with a solid camera, decent build quality and strong battery life.

That said, it's not without its problems, and though at first glance it may seem very impressive, you'll quickly realise why it was so inexpensive once you're struggling for storage space and finding that apps won't run.

For under £130, you'll struggle to find a better proposition (if you've discounted the Nokia Lumia 710 for some reason), and though it makes a lot of sacrifices, as a low-end smartphone it comes recommended. However, until it's cheaper than the 710, we can't recommend it as it's just a poorer phone for more money.

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