Nokia, which has traditionally done well in the low-price segment of the mobile phone market, will be facing the true test of its future relevance come May 5, when its budget Windows Phone – the Lumia 610 - hits shelves in Singapore.
Retailing for a very attractive S$379, the phone could well be offered by telcos on contract as a zero-dollar phone. This is a significant difference from the Lumia 800, its current highest-end Windows Phone available here, which is retailing for S$775.
Nokia touts a sleek metallic look in four colours – white, cyan, magenta, and black. However, based on hands-on photos and videos around the Web – such as Engadget’s take – it looks like it has more plastic than metal.
Powered by Windows Phone 7.5, this entry-level Windows Phone is actually underpowered compared to existing Windows Phone handsets. It runs on an 800MHz processor, 256MB of RAM and a 3.7-inch WVGA display. It also has a removable battery, an increasingly rare sight in today’s mobile landscape.
Despite the lower specs, the OS runs like a dream, and is as buttery smooth as it is on higher-end hardware. But I’m not so sure about the apps, as there have been reports that more resource intensive apps cannot run due to the weaker hardware.
For instance, playing Fruit Ninja on my old LG Optimus 7 is a terribly choppy experience, but is perfectly acceptable on my new Lumia 800. I don’t think the Lumia 610 can beat the Optimus 7 here.
Speaking of Fruit Ninja, the Lumia 610 has the same touch buttons as the Lumia 800. It’s nail-bitingly frustrating to accidentally launch Bing or go back to the start screen when one errant finger slides too far from your fruit-murdering escapades.
Of course, along with every Lumia 610 come the obligatory Nokia apps, including Drive, Maps and more. These are certainly great apps and offer added value to the handset.
The Lumia 610 looks to be a solid entry-level contender, and Nokia is targeting this at young, first-time smartphone owners, a strategy I view with mixed feelings. The young don’t get much financial say, that’s for sure, but they’re also more brand-conscious and will likely hanker after that shiny Apple or HTC instead of a Nokia.
There will even be an NFC version, making Nokia the first to make a Windows Phone with NFC. But there’s no word on when, if ever, that version will be available here.
So if all goes well, the Lumia 610 may finally sound the death knell for cheap Symbian smartphones. On the other hand, Symbian’s hardware variety such as physical QWERTY keyboards may still win out.