It’s no secret that Nokia have struggled to make a great impression on the smartphone market.
While the company’s flagship Lumia 800 smartphone was widely praised - and the soon to be released Lumia 900 has also won its fans, Nokia’s budget smartphone, the Lumia 710, failed to capture the imagination of young and low-end consumers.
So will the Lumia 610 - expected to cost around £160 and be available for free on monthly tariffs starting at £15 - turn this around for the Finnish phone giants?
The first thing you’ll notice when picking up the 610 is how magnificent (and not at all 'budget') the screen looks. The phone’s 3.7” display might not look that impressive on paper, but feels much bigger than it really is.
It’s not just the screen that’ll please your eye either. The 610’s curves are as appealing as those on the unspeakably gorgeous HTC One S. The sleek design and variety of colours should make the phone pretty attractive to younger users - even if it lacks the design 'punch' of the 800 and 900.
Next there’s how the phone handles. All the physical buttons are found down the right hand side of the phone, which makes a welcome change from virtually every other touchscreen’s insistence of putting the unlock button on top.
This means that all buttons can be used with your thumb knuckle, without having to alter how you are holding the phone. As well as being comfortable, this leaves you with fewer opportunities to drop the thing - and having to live with broken-screen inadequacy until your next upgrade.
The Lumia 610 runs Windows 7. If you haven’t used Micrsoft’s OS before this shouldn’t be a turn off, as many find it easier to get to grips with than most versions of Android. Being on Windows 7 means that you also have access to the Windows Phone Market, which currently hosts over 80,000 apps and the Xbox Live collection of games.
Preloaded onto the Lumia 610 are a generous selection of Nokia and Microsoft apps including some pretty sophisticated stuff like Nokia Drive, Nokia’s satellite navigation system.
Unfortunately not all the apps available will actually download to the 610 - though we'll get to that later...
Finally there’s the camera, which performs as well as a 5MP camera should. The button to activate the camera and take pictures is found in the bottom right hand corner of the device - no screen tapping, awkward sliding or stupid holding of phone required, it’s just like using a real digital camera.
This phone does have some drawbacks. The virtual keyboard is unnecessarily small and fiddly to use, non-native apps seem to run rather slow (Spotify nearly crashed the whole phone) and the emphasis on Windows Live as your primary social platform, although totally understandable, is a little frustrating if you’ve not used MSN since the late nineties like most sensible people.
In addition, several apps will refuse to run on the phone at all. These are not just high-end apps either - Angry Birds is too high tech for the phone (Angry Birds!), as is Skype.
If you do go ahead and buy this phone, you have to be absolutely certain that you are not and never will be the sort of person who wants to use a phone for anything more than calls, texts, photos and a bit of basic internet. In which case, why are you buying a smartphone anyway?
If the Lumia 610 does launch at the expected price of £15 then it runs in direct competition with a few budget Android phones - and a quick browse of the Carphone Warehouse website shows you could get an iPhone 3GS for £20, and even the Lumia 800 for £15.50.
So again - you'll have to decide if the slightly lower price is worth the lower functionality.
For a certain customer, though, the Nokia Lumia 610 is a bit of a triumph. It stands above most other phones in its price range and if marketed correctly could turn quite a lot of low-end phone users onto Windows phones.
The Nokia Lumia 610 is out in early June. For more information visit the Nokia website.
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