Nokia Lumia 610 review:

Nokia Lumia 610

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Typical Price: £160.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars 9 user reviews

The Good Smooth performance; low price; attractive design; good battery life.

The Bad Not compatible with all apps and games; no microSD card slot.

The Bottom Line The cheapest route to Windows Phone to date, the Nokia Lumia 610's low cost comes courtesy of a few cut corners, but the user experience is still impressive and the phone is definitely one of the more attractive budget smart phone options out there.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

Windows Phone may not have unseated Google's Android or bloodied the nose of Apple's iOS since it burst onto the mobile scene in 2010, but Nokia's latest release could mark a significant change in its currently dire fortunes. The Lumia 610 is the first Windows Phone for the cheaper end of the market -- a sector which has been ably exploited by legions of low-cost Android devices.

With weaker technical credentials but also a more reasonable price tag, the Lumia 610 aims to expand Windows Phone's reach to younger mobile buyers. Monthly contract prices start from around £15, while SIM-free handsets can be picked up for roughly £180.

Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 610?

If you've watched the development of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform with interest but haven't been brave -- or perhaps rich -- enough to take the plunge, then the Lumia 610 is going to be right up your street.

Nokia Lumia 610 horizontal
It may not have the sharpest screen out there, but the phone compares favourably with Android handsets around the same price.

The cheapest Windows Phone device yet seen, the Lumia 610 doesn't offer the latest quad-core tech or a pin-sharp display, but instead provides a smooth and satisfying experience for a fraction of what its larger rivals cost. It also compares very favourably with the vast majority of similarly priced Android devices, boasting a superior user experience and better build quality.

Design and display

In keeping with its cheap and cheerful aspirations, the Lumia 610 showcases a modest handset design. The screen is surrounded by a plastic bezel, which is clad in a faux metallic coating. On the back, you'll find a soft-touch plastic battery panel that wraps around the lower section of the phone, forming a rather fetching chin.

Nokia Lumia 610 back
The rear of the handset is plastic with a matte finish, which improves grip.

Removing the cover reveals the battery, a micro-SIM slot and nothing else -- there's no microSD support on this device.

Nokia Lumia 610 micro-SIM
You'll need a micro-SIM to use the Lumia 610. Sadly, no microSD card slot made its way onto the spec sheet.

In terms of physical inputs, you'll find the volume, screen lock and camera keys on the right-hand side of the Lumia 610. The three standard Windows Phone commands -- Back, Home and Search -- are capacitive buttons below the 3.7-inch screen.

Nokia Lumia 610 controls
Windows Phone is navigated using the Back, Home and Search keys beneath the display.

The rest of the phone is entirely bare, apart from the 3.5mm headphone socket and micro-USB port on the top edge. You certainly can't describe the Lumia 610 as fussy, and that's to its credit. I really like the minimalist yet surprisingly robust design. Despite its restrained and understated nature, this feels like a handset that's worth more than its retail price.

Nokia Lumia 610 keyboard
Typing on the Lumia 610's on-screen keyboard is fantastic, thanks to a high degree of accuracy in auto-correcting misspelled words.

The phone's 3.7-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 480x800 pixels -- standard fare for Windows Phone devices. It utilises a capacitive touch panel, which means you don't need to apply pressure to register an input. This results in better accuracy and responsiveness, but it also means you can't use a traditional stylus, like the one supplied with the Samsung Galaxy Note.

The LCD screen itself is pretty average. Viewing angles are decent, but colours look a tad washed out, and blacks aren't as deep as they appear on phones with AMOLED screens. It's not the best display I've ever clapped eyes on, but to get the phone to market at such a low price, sacrifices are inevitable.

Nokia Lumia 610 screen
The 3.7-inch LCD screen isn't the best I've seen on a Windows Phone device, but viewing angles are decent enough.

Processing power and internal storage

The Lumia 610 is part of Nokia and Microsoft's new approach to Windows Phone. While previous efforts were subject to rules and restrictions on minimum specifications, these have now been relaxed slightly in order to bring in more affordable handsets.

The Lumia therefore has an 800MHz single-core processor and just 256MB of RAM -- about half the memory seen in most currently available Windows Phone devices. This move has created some headaches for Nokia -- with downloads such as Angry Birds and Skype refusing to operate with the reduced RAM -- but updates are expected to rectify such issues.

Fragmentation -- an ever-diversifying range of devices with varied capabilities -- has been an issue for the Android platform. If Microsoft and Nokia want to compete in the same sectors as Google and its hardware partners, they're going to have deal with the kinds of problems this throws up too.

Nokia Lumia 610 Angry Birds
Although developer Rovio has stated that an update is in the works, Angry Birds isn't currently compatible with the Lumia 610.

There's 8GB of internal memory included with the Lumia 610, but the aforementioned lack of a microSD card slot means you can't expand that figure. Thankfully, Microsoft's SkyDrive service offers 25GB of free cloud-based space for this device, which should help overcome your more pressing storage conundrums.

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