More and more you feel it's time to join the modern age and succumb to the lure of a smart phone, but you find both iPhone and the recent rash of Android super phones too daunting.
Have I got a smart phone for you.
I got a chance to lay my fleshy digits on the Nokia Lumia 710 smart phone, which T-Mobile will start selling January 11 for just $49.99 and a two-year contract. I saw it at a hip introductory event last night at a performance space in New York's terminally hip Soho neighborhood (here's a photo of a girl dancing in an inflatable snow globe for no discernable reason; there also were dancing Yeti's and hanging pizza slices – I kid you not – but I do digress).
And I discovered the Lumia 710 might be the smart phone for those of you who are scared of smart phones.
Mango is tasty
Forget the hardware for a minute. The Lumia 710 runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system, which is more function-centric than the often confusing app-based iPhone and Android.
Mango uses large, easier-to-read tiles, to identify functions, with apps listed in an easier-to-locate alphabetical list on a second screen. Most of the page header fonts are large and in a clean sans serif type face.
Hardware-wise, Nokia previewed two Lumia's six-weeks ago ("Nokia Bows Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' Smart Phones," which includes a YouTube video demo of the OS), and most of the 710's specs (and the unfortunate Spanish slang translation of its name), and its specs are the same as I then reported – with one big difference:
T-Mobile's Lumia 710 will run on the carrier's "4G" HSPA Plus network.
And on that network, Lumia is super-fast, at least for pulling in mobile optimized sites (and Mango lets you designate if you desire to see the full desktop version of the Web site or the mobile version, where the latter is available). Slimmed-down mobile-optimized sites practically POPPED nearly instantaneously onto Lumia's screen.
Full versions of Web sites, however, took a little longer to load, with type too tiny to read even if you had fighter pilot vision and a magnifying glass.
Hold the phone
Physically, Lumia is light and palm-sized, which is a good thing, with a rubberized rear for a surer grip. Front and center is a bright, colorful 3.7-inch screen, which is not necessarily a good thing. Although a smidge larger than iPhone's screen, Lumia's on-screen touch function buttons are a bit small for unsure fingers. For older users, a larger screen would have been better.
Don't expect much fashion from the phone, at least initially. Instead of the cyan and magenta versions originally unveiled, T-Mobile's Lumias will be available in two color schemes – all black, or black with a white frame. I was told additional colors would be available sometime later.
Lumia 710's 5 MP camera seems to perform well as well. It can be activated at any time, even when the phone is locked, by holding down the side camera shutter button, similar to how iPhone's camera is activated even from the lock screen.
A half push of the shallow shutter button focused the shot, a full press snapped the photo. On Lumia's screen, photos I took in the dim party ambience, aided by the LED flash, were detailed and maintained both a sharp focus and their bright color.
Since Lumia is aimed at presumably older first-time smart phone buyers, its not as fully packed as iPhone or other newer Android phones.
For instance, there's no front camera – I guess Nokia doesn't think older users will video chat.
Lumia has 8 GB of memory built in (enough to hold around 1,500 songs), but there's no micro SD card to add more digital. Again, Nokia figures first-time users are unlikely to own a lot of digital media – music, photos – to transfer onto the phone.
Nokia does include the handy Drive, a voice-prompted, turn-by-turn navigation app – free, no charge, no subscription.
Nokia told me talk time was an impressive seven hours and standby time of 16.5 days, both rated with the phone operating in 4G.
Hopefully I'll be able to get a review sample to let you know whether Lumia fulfills its promise as the best smart phone for first-time smart phone buyers.