When Nokia launched their Windows Phone 7 lineup, they had the high-end Lumia 900, mid-range Lumia 800, and the lower mid-range Lumia 710 all available. Eventually they managed to bring WP to a lower price point with the Lumia 610, but it was still priced just too hard much for it to be considered easy on the pocket. Then, a week ago Nokia launched the even more budget-friendly Lumia 510, which launched at a price of below Rs 9999 here in India, making it the most affordable of the Lumia line up so far.
But at what cost have they managed to bring down the… uhh… cost so low? Read on for our review to find out.
The Retail Box:
The Lumia 510 contains pretty much what you’d expect in an ‘affordable’ phone’s package.
There’s the Nokia Lumia 510, Nokia AC-10 MicroUSB Charger, Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD, Nokia Headset WH-208 and the usual Quick Guide, User Guide and Product information leaflet. Box contents might differ according to region though.
You can check out more details on the retail package, over at our Nokia Lumia 510 Unboxing post.
When I first got my hands on the Lumia 510, the soft-touch texture on the back panel immediately caught my attention.
It’s hard to explain but it feels great in the hand, and the gentle curve of the back fits very well, making the 510 very comfortable to hold and use. No complaints about the build quality either, since it feels very solid and well put together. However it’s worth noting that the back cover, even with it’s soft touch finish, attracts dust, and finger smudges incredibly easily, as you might notice in some pictures here.
The Lumia 510 looks different enough from the Lumia 610 and Lumia 710 that you’d notice it. Unfortunately we got the boring black hue, which doesnt really look like much in comparison to the flamboyant Red, Blue, White or Yellow colored Lumia 510 versions. It’s sort of a cross between the shape of the Lumia 710, and the keys and some elements of the Lumia 610. More traditional a design than with the Lumia 800 or Lumia 900.
Measuring 120.7 x 64.9 x 11.5 mm and weighing in at about 129 grams, the Lumia 510 might not be as pretty as Nokia’s flagship Windows Phones, but it’s certainly not an ugly phone. It’s slightly larger than the Lumia 800, but it has a 4 inch 480 x 800 pixels resolution (233 ppi pixel density) TFT screen which is slightly larger compared to the 3.7 inch screen on the 800 and 710. Gives it a slight advantage I guess?
Small texts are legible enough, and graphics look smooth on the display. Color reproduction is also good on most occasions, but since it’s just handle 65,526 colors only, it can look a bit dithered when it comes to gradients. There’s no point comparing it to the AMOLED on the Lumia 800, or the Super LCD2 Display of the HTC One X, against which it looks much less vibrant and flat.
On a sunny day, you’ll also find yourself covering the screen in order to see anything, plus the screen catches fingerprints just as easy as the back panel does.
Above the display, you have the lone centrally located earpiece. No front facing camera unfortunately, or an ambient light sensor, but you do have a hidden proximity sensor to shut off the screen when you’re on a call.
Below the screen, you have the same standard windows phone touch keys for back, the home key and the search key. They work as well as you’d expect them to, and are well spaced out so that you dont accidentally hit a wrong key.
On the right side you have the usual volume keys, a 2-stage dedicated camera key, and the power/screenlock key. They work well enough, and even have a good amount of feedback when pressed.
At the top, you have a lone 3.5mm audio jack.
No ports or keys on the left side, keeping it minimal.
And at the bottom, you have the microUSB charging port.
At the back, you have a 5 Megapixel Auto-focus camera (with no LED flash), and the loudspeaker grill towards the bottom. You can remove the back panel on the Lumia 510, which has the 1300 mAh battery and microSIM card slot underneath. No microSD card slot unfortunately, as WP7 doesnt support it.
It might not be the sexiest phone you’ve ever seen, but build quality is top notch, and thanks to the curves all around, it’s very comfortable to hold and use in everyday life. What’s not to like?
And that brings us to….
The Nokia Lumia 510 boasts a modest Qualcomm MSM7227A Snapdragon 800 MHz Cortex-A5 processor, and just 256 MB of RAM, along with 4GB of internal memory.
Normally performance on a Windows Phone is smooth as silk, but unfortunately just like the Lumia 610, everyday things like switching between apps, takes some time on the Lumia 510. Navigating through the interface is also a little choppy every so often, but most unfortunate of all, is that a lot of apps and games like Angry Birds, Skype or Tango are not currently able to run on the Lumia 510 because of it’s hardware limitations.
You can still enjoy most games like Fruit Ninja, Chickens cant fly, etc. But admittedly, the hardware combination of just 256 MB of RAM and an 800 Mhz processor in this day and age, is pretty weak no matter how you look at it. Plus the 4GB of internal memory is also quite a bit limiting.
In terms of connectivity, you have Bluetooth 2.1 (though you cant send files on WP7), GPS, HSDPA at 7.2 Mbps, HSUPA at 5.76 Mbps, and Wifi. No NFC ofcourse. There’s a microUSB port that’s only used for battery charging and to transfer data to a Computer, for which you will need to install Zune on a Windows PC, or the Windows Phone app if it’s a Mac. USB mass storage is not supported by Windows Phone 7 currently.
The Windows Phone 7.5 OS is more or less exactly the same as it was when the Lumia 800 was shipped last year. You have a homescreen populated with live tiles, and a swipe will take you to an alphabetical list of installed applications.
It’s a very minimal but intuitive UI, that we quite liked. It’s a bit lacking in terms of functionality and apps though but you can check out, our Windows Phone 7.5 Review for a better idea about all that.
Moving on, the onscreen keyboard on Windows Phone is pretty much one of the best out there, right alongside iOS if not better. Typing is a breeze, and you even have the clever auto-correct to help you quickly type out long sentences, quickly.
You’ll notice in our unboxing post that Skydrive is prominently featured on the retail box, and you have the same 7GB of space onboard, but there’s no automatic skydrive uploads. Also no Bing Local Search for some odd reason.
You have a whole bunch of Nokia apps pre-installed, such as Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia Music (with 3 months of Music Unlimited service which we’ll explain later), CNN, Weather Channel, Sports Tracker and TuneIn Radio.
There’s also a neat little App Highlights app that helps you find fun apps or games to try out. There arnt too many apps available on Windows Phone just yet, so Nokia has tried to fill that gap with their own apps.
There’s still about 120,000 apps at the time of this post, that you can check out and browse through in the Windows Phone Store though. Installing is a one click procedure, and most apps and games even have a trial version that you can check out.
Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps are worth talking about, providing free voice turn-by-turn navigation and detailed maps for over 100 countries along with local languages, which means anyone with a Lumia phone is probably never lost, heh.
There’s also Nokia Music which we mentioned earlier, which works kinda like an on-line radio for you to stream music from. You get 3 months of free Nokia Music Store unlimited downloads with the Lumia 510 though, after which I assume you’ll need to start buying songs. The songs you have already downloaded, are yours to keep though. This is a region-dependant service so it might not work outside of India or some countries.
There’s also Xbox games for mobile, and Microsoft Office if you need to edit or create documents on the go.
Speaking of which, coming to Media, the Music player on Windows Phone looks pretty, and gets the job done. Again, you’ll have to use Zune on a Windows PC, or the Windows Phone App on a Mac to transfer music or video, which is a bit of a pain. The app itself is straight forward to use though, with album art, lockscreen controls and everything you’d expect from it. Except for an equalizer.
The video player can only play MP4, H.264/H.263 or WMV file formats, but it can handle files up to 720p-ish resolution before frames start dropping. They look nice enough on the screen, I guess.
Images are sorted into camera roll, and albums, and you can even have it pull in images from your Facebook albums as well.
Moving on, there’s also Internet Explorer for all your browsing needs. It had a hard time rendering heavy web sites, but scrolling, panning or zooming around sites is smooth enough. Redrawing the contents takes longer than usual though. There’s no flash support, but you should be able to play embedded YouTube videos just fine, even fullscreen thanks to all that HTML5.
It’s not as enjoyable an experience as other, better equipped Windows Phones, but it does the job.
That line can be applied to most 3rd party apps too though, like WhatsApp on the Lumia 610, which took a fair bit to start up. Even the Facebook and Twitter apps take considerably longer to start up on the Lumia 510, vs the Lumia 800 or Lumia 710. Probably still faster than an Android phone at this price range though.
For a better, more detailed idea of WP7.5, you’ll want to check out our Windows Phone 7.5 Review.
The Nokia Lumia 510 has a 5 Megapixel Auto-Focus camera, which takes pretty average quality pictures in the best conditions. Outdoor shots are pretty decent, but there is a lack of fine details.
Sometimes the camera has a hard time setting exposure and white balance properly, which results in overexposed frames and colors that look quite cold.
Indoors, pictures have a lot of noise, and since there’s no LED flash, I’d highly advice sticking to well lit conditions for your picture taking needs, heh.
At the end of the day, the pictures are decent enough to upload to Facebook, or make tiny prints I guess. Here’s a couple camera samples from the Nokia Lumia 510 to give you a better idea:
Coming to video, you can only record at a maximum VGA resolution, which is admittedly, kinda unimpressive. Here’s a camera video sample from the Nokia Lumia 510 to give you a better idea:
The Call Quality:-
The call quality on the Lumia 510 was decent enough. It’s a Nokia after all, but it’d be a lie if I didnt say that there are devices with better earpieces out there.
Voices come in clear, but I wish they were a bit louder. There’s no secondary microphone to cancel out background noises unfortunately.
The Loudspeaker on the Lumia 510 is pretty loud though, which helps in calls. About the same as the Lumia 610 speaker.
The Battery Life:-
The phone’s 1300mAh battery is rated at 7 hours of talktime and three weeks of standby time.
It does the job pretty well, and can easily last you an entire day and a half, of moderate usage. I’d still recommend charging it every night though.
The Video Overview:-
Here’s a quick video overview of the Nokia Lumia 510, just to give you a better idea of it.
The Nokia Lumia 510 is a big ol’ mix of pros and cons. On one hand, it’s really cheap, has great build quality, and is a pretty decent entry-level smartphone offering. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about getting this, you’re going to have to accept the limitations of the hardware, which means some apps on the Windows Phone store are not going to install, and you’re going to have the occasional frame rate drop or lag every once in a while. What’s really funny though, is that if you get an Android phone for the same budget, you’ll have similar annoyances, albeit maybe a couple more apps to choose from.
Which kinda, sorta makes the Nokia Lumia 510 worth checking out if you’re on a tight budget. Just dont get the boring black verson of all the colors available, because it looks quite ordinary in comparison.
Personally, I’d highly recommend just saving up and getting the Lumia 710 instead, which costs a little more but doesnt have any of the software issues or hardware limitations that the Lumia 510 and Lumia 610 suffer from. Or if you have the time, just wait it out and hope that there’s a budget Windows Phone 8 device coming from the Finnish manufacturer, if you really want to give the OS a go.
Otherwise, you’ll find that many of last year’s Android mid-range smartphones are currently retailing at a similar price, such as the Sony Xperia Neo V, the Xperia Ray or the new HTC Desire C. Some of them might cost more though, and the UI probably wont look as nice, but ultimately they have more functionality at that level. They all have their own pros and cons really.
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– Solid Build Quality
– Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and whatever else Nokia brings
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– Screen’s a bit dull
– No front facing camera
– Very average camera
– Dated hardware means some apps wont run
– Some lag and Frame rate drops (though much less than a similarly priced Android)
– No LED Flash
– No MicroSD Card slot
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If you’re on a tight budget and want a decent smartphone, well here ya go. Just note that it has both hardware and software limitations along with it’s affordable price tag.