Not everyone uses a Nokia phone, not even in the days when Symbian was still the largest slice of the smartphone pie-chart. When I met my wife, Holly, in 2009 she was using a corporate BlackBerry, as this seemed to be the phone of choice that employers gave their employees when email integration and accessibility was of paramount importance. She found the device pleasant enough to use, albeit having to take the battery out quite often to release it from its many freeze-ups! She was very adept at navigating the email UI, the browser and the camera. I don’t think she appreciated her boss calling her on it at 3am though. I had a Nokia 6750 “Mural” flip-phone at the time, so her QWERTY-centric and popular business phone seemed leagues ahead of my ‘dumbphone’.
But she left that job eventually for bigger and better things, and the BlackBerry had to go into that metal drawer where all old BlackBerries seem to end up. Faced with having to get her own phone for what had been quite a long time (her previous phone before the BB was the first T-Mobile Sidekick) she now had me on her arm… I knew it was finally time for her to enjoy the fruits of the Finnish phone maker.
Playing it safe and keeping Holly inside her familiar QWERTY world, I bought her the Nokia E73, the T-Mobile variant of the E72. At first she liked it, (the S60 interface was simple enough and did all that was required at the time, nothing too taxing) and but unfortunately the phone would hang and crash quite a lot, and she was back to the old routine of removing the battery to rest the thing. Even just this one device made her consider a different brand next time. Looking back it’s amusing for me to think that what I consider to be quirks of a complicated software system you learn to live with, other “non-geeks” almost immediately give up on the device and label it rubbish without giving it much of a chance. Oh well, it was S60 after all, battered in T-Mobile guff and unnecessary apps, so I blame it on the carrier branding.
But I was confident that the next phone was going to woo her like no other could. You see, Holly is a photographer, so what better phone to buy her in early 2011 than the outstanding Nokia N8 with its superb 12MP camera unit. True, she did love its camera and its ability to take some amazing photos. But this was running Symbian^3, yes, you know the one. The first iteration of the new OS, and this crashed and hung just as spitefully as the E73 did! To make matters worse, she had to try her best with the onscreen QWERTY and as we all know, the keyboard back then was landscape only and a dog’s dinner to use.
Needless to say, after just a short 3 months, it was out, and she was back on the E73. But summer came and it was time to change it up. Which brand had she been talked into getting next? Yes, that’s right, another Nokia! Haha, but this time I knew Holly would love it, because we were going back to her physical QWERTY roots, and this time the S^3 software was upgraded right out of the box to Symbian Anna. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s the brilliant QWERTY workhorse that is, the Nokia E6.
This was a success! Symbian was behaving itself fantastically now in its Anna form, and the E6, despite having just an EDoF camera unit, managed to take some lovely photos. Or rather, she did, because I think having some level of expertise in photography helps with even a mediocre camera unit.
As 2011 drew to a close, Nokia made their launch announcements for the brand new Lumia line, starting with the N9-look-a-like Lumia 800, and the lower specced 710, which in the States was going straight to T-Mobile under exclusivity. (Interestingly, in the US, this was the only network that carried a Lumia phone at this time; the 800 was only available via Microsoft, and even then it was very expensive sim-free. $800 if I remember rightly!)
As we had just signed fairly new T-Mobile sim-free contracts, it made perfect sense to buy her the new Lumia 710, because she had found Windows Phone to be rather quick and easy after playing with devices at a Windows Phone event in NYC that we attended. I too was very curious to see up-close what Nokia’s new OS of choice was like, and to see for myself if I could ever possibly move away from MeeGo and Symbian.
How did Holly get on with the Lumia 710? Well put it this way, I bought her the device when it hit the stores in January 2012 and we are now fast approaching the end of the summer in 2013 and it is still her phone. She loves it. Windows Phone 7.5 (T-Mobile here won’t allow updating to 7.8, not sure why) is very accessible for non-geeks, and it is both smooth and reliable. Her phone has hardly ever needed rebooting (when it has I immediately blame one of the countless 3rd-party apps she has installed), and the phone is a beauty and a joy to use. But apart from the Windows Phone interface, the one thing she has managed to do with a non-Carl Zeiss 5MP camera unit is produce some of the most stunning and beautiful shots I’ve ever seen from a phone, especially one that is supposedly “low-end”. As a trained photographer she knows what she is doing of course as she has a natural eye for a good picture. She does enjoy taking photos with her 710, and one aspect of the camera interface that struck me as quite cool is the ‘enhance’ button (which looks like a magic wand). It seems to mimic the amazing low-light abilities of the more recent Lumias (920, 925, etc) and so when she snaps a scene in relatively low-light, one quick button tap and it becomes totally lit up and clear. Even I have to do some post-editing on my Nokia 808 for low-light shots sometimes!
In addition to the ease of use and the decent capabilities of the 710’s camera, there’s quite the range of popular photo editing apps in the Windows Phone Store that she likes to use. In fact, she will nearly always use the rather brilliant Fhotoroom for nearly all of her uploaded pics to Facebook. The app provides some quite excellent filter and framing options that don’t ruin the photo (like some others I could mention).
So that’s enough of me waffling on. I’ve pasted a whole slew of her Lumia 710 photos below for you to look at and admire. Sure, there’s no 41MP OIS backside illumination going on with this phone. But take a look. Nokia might be shouting from the hills right now about their flagship Lumia 1020, the 808 PureView’s successor. But sometimes it’s worth looking down the spectrum at the other offerings, because top notch Nokia quality shines, even at the low price points. And it reminds us geeks that non-geeks sometimes do a better job with these devices than us! 🙂
Feel free to click on each photo for their full resolution: