Today is the launch of the Nokia Lumia 810, the first Windows 8 phone on T-Mobile. The Lumia 810 is a smartphone that comes with cool features but is still easy to use.
The Lumia 810 has a 4.3″ screen, making it easy to read while still fitting comfortably in your hand. The screen uses Clear Black technology which is a process that makes the black on the screen extremely dark so the other colors on the screen seem especially bright and vivid.
The phone has 8 GB of storage space, which is expandable with up to a 64 GB Micro SD memory card for a total of 72 GB of possible storage space. The weight is 145 grams or 5.11 ounces, about the weight of the iPhone 4S which is 140 grams or 4.8 ounces.
The phone comes in black but T-Mobile offers exchangeable shells in cyan blue and black that allow for wireless charging.
The Lumia 810 has a 1.2 megapixel HD front-facing camera for Skype video chats. You can take still pictures and video with the front-facing camera. The rear-facing camera has 8 megapixels, dual LED flash and HD video recording. Geotagging of your pictures is available to remind you where you shot your pictures.
The phone also has a dedicated camera button on the side that will turn the camera on, even when the phone is off. This feature is extremely handy for easy access to the camera at a moment’s notice.
The camera software has software for enhanced images:
- Bing Vision – a built-in bar code and QR code scanner
- Panorama – for taking panoramic images
- Cinemagraph – for taking animated GIF images
- Smart Shoot – where you can blend the shots of each person in group photos to make one photo where everyone looks their best
You can also add other camera apps, called Lenses, with features such as adding filters, saving loyalty cards, and submitting videos directly to CNN.
The camera takes sharp, stunning photos that look vibrant on the phone screen as well as on the computer screen.
The camera also helps you take better pictures. When I started taking pictures with the phone, the camera displayed text suggesting that I hold down the shutter half way to allow the lens to focus before the image is taken.
Nokia Lumia 810 uses Windows Phone 8, a new, updated operating system from Microsoft. A key feature of Windows 8 phones is Live Tiles, animated icons that give you information without having to open an app. For example, the Weather Channel app’s Live Tile gives you real-time weather information for your location.
You can customize your home screen with a choice of 21 different colors for Live Tiles. You can also rearrange and customize the size of your Live Tiles to one of three different sizes so your most important apps can span the width of your home screen.
You can also add a Live Tile app to your lock screen, giving you real-time information without having to unlock your phone.
Here’s a video showing Live Tiles in action:
Although you can add all of your apps to the home screen, not all apps have Live Tile icons.
The Windows Phone app store currently has about 120,000 apps available for download. Windows Phone 7 apps work with Windows Phone 8 so even though the operating system is new, the app store isn’t starting from scratch.
While even though 120,000 apps may seem like a lot, the number seems a bit sparse compared to 600,000 apps for the iPhone and 500,000 apps for Android phones. Most of the standard apps are in the Windows Phone app store, such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Angry Birds, Netflix, Evernote and Kindle.
Other apps are noticeably missing, such as Dropbox, Spotify and Pandora, which are due to arrive in the app store in the future. Instead of Dropbox, you can use SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage program, which gives you 7 GB of free space.
Although the Windows Phone app store selection isn’t as abundant as iTunes or Google Play, once you get the apps on your phone, you may be able to do more with them. Live Tiles means that those apps can be working for you on the home screen even before you open them, making them more useful to you.
All of these Live Tiles use power but you can turn them off by using the Battery Saver setting. I didn’t use this setting and was able to make it through a day of heavy use without recharging the phone.
According to Nokia, the phone should get 10.2 hours of talk time on 3G, 360 hours of standby time and 52 hours of listening to music.
The Lumia 810 uses Nokia maps, which have 2D, satellite, public transportation and traffic maps available. The satellite images weren’t as clear as Google Maps when zoomed in to close range, though roads are clearly labelled in satellite view.
Turn-by-turn directions include voice prompts and are available through the free Nokia Drive app, which comes pre-loaded on the home screen. When you first use this app, you will need to download the maps and choose the voice that you want to use (US English comes pre-loaded with the app). Nokia Drive has maps from around the world and voice directions in dozens of languages available for download. You can also set custom speed limit alerts that will let you know when you exceed the posted speed limit by 0-18 mph.
Nokia City Lens is a very cool augmented reality app that shows you what you’re looking at through your camera lens using a text overlay screen. You can use this app to find stores, hotels, restaurants, public transportation, points of interest and other landmarks near you. City Lens is free and comes pre-loaded on the home screen.
Here is a video showing how City Lens works:
Windows Phone 8 has many features that make this phone handy, but Kids’ Corner might just be the killer feature of this phone for parents. Kids’ Corner is like having a separate user account on your phone just for your kids. Gone are your worries that your child will delete important emails, accidentally make calls to China or send embarrassing text messages from your phone. You can enable Kids’ Corner from Settings and add kid-friendly apps, music, videos and games.
When your child asks to use your phone, swipe your home screen to the right and the Kids’ Corner home screen will appear, filled with your approved content. They (or you) can customize their home screen with different wallpaper and Live Tile colors.
Windows 8 phones have a feature called SmartGlass that turns your phone into a controller/remote control for your Xbox 360. Sign into your Xbox Live Gold account from your phone and you can use the phone as a game controller, keyboard and second screen for your Xbox-connected TV.
By using SmartGlass, you can access additional content, such as sports stats, extra movie scenes and actor bios, for shows from ESPN, HBO Go and Paramount. You can also use SmartGlass to play Xbox games on your phone when you’re away from your TV.
SmartGlass can send the display from your phone screen to your TV screen, turning your Lumia 810 into a wide-screen experience. You can sync your TV screen to your phone so information can be sent back and forth between your phone and your Xbox connected TV.
More information about SmartGlass, can be found at the Xbox website.
Here’s a video showing what SmartGlass can do:
Note that you need to have an Xbox Live Gold membership ($49.99/year) for SmartGlass to work with your Xbox.
Xbox Music Store
Microsoft offers music through the Xbox Music store. You sign up for a subscription, which is free for 30 days, then $10/month or $100/year. With a subscription you can download unlimited songs to your phone or stream music if you don’t want to fill up your Lumia with music files.
Although Office 2013 hasn’t yet launched, when it does you will be able to sync Word, PowerPoint and Excel files between your computer and your phone.
The Lumia 810 has NFC (Near Field Communications) technology, which lets you transfer files, images, documents and contacts between two NFC-enabled devices.
Testing the Lumia 810
One of the benefits of Windows Phone 8 is how easy it is to use. People who are confounded by smartphones may have an easier time figuring out how to use Windows Phone 8 because the design is intuitive. Once you learn to press the Windows button at the bottom of the phone to get to the Live Tiles on the home screen, you pretty much have the most important function of the phone figured out. The Live Tiles may be able tell you what you need to know without even opening an app.
After I received the phone from T-Mobile for testing, I showed it to a group of friends who, while brilliant, confessed to their confusion about smartphones. I let them try this phone, only explaining that the Windows button was how they could get to the home screen. Each friend was able to figure out immediately how the phone worked and was delighted with how easy the phone was to use. They were impressed with the information provided on the Live Tiles and thought the screen was stunning.
While there is much to like with the Lumia 810, some annoyances managed to find their way onto this phone. The power button for the phone is on the right side, in between the volume button and the camera button. I often mistook the camera or volume button for the power button. Luckily, pictures are easily deleted on this phone. In time, I probably would get used to the position of the power button, but I generally prefer a power button to be the lone button on the edge of a phone.
A bothersome omission is the lack of a consistent battery meter on the phone. Every so often one shows up in an app, but often the meter is missing on the home screen. An enterprising app developer recognized the need and came up with this free Live Tile app: Battery Level for Windows 8, but I would prefer to have a battery meter adorn the top of each screen.
Update: I have heard from T-Mobile that the battery meter is accessible at the top of the phone from any screen by tapping at the top. I tested this and, sure enough it worked. So I can cross this annoyance off of my list.
While I like the home screen with Live Tiles with changeable sizes, a heavy app user may find the layout frustrating. You can move apps around on your home screen, but there are no pages to your home screen, meaning you have to keep scrolling down until you get to the end of your apps. App folders and/or home screen pages would help make apps more easily accessible for those who use a lot of apps.
I would also like to see Live Tiles become even more powerful. For example, Live Tiles would be more useful if they were able to display new emails and text messages instead of merely the number of new items.
The Lumia 810 is available for $149.99 after a $50 rebate and with a two-year contract on T-Mobile’s Classic plan. You can also get the phone for a $99 down payment, after the $50 rebate, and 20 monthly payments of $20/month with T-Mobile’s Value plan. More pricing information is available at the T-Mobile website.
If you’re in the market for a smartphone, take a look at the Lumia 810. The ease of use, beautiful screen and innovative features may be appealing to you. While some of the features of the Lumia 810 may be available on other devices, this phone offers these features in a format that makes them readily available and easy to use. If you have an Xbox 360 or use Microsoft Office frequently, the compatibility of the Lumia with other Microsoft products will be useful. If you’re a parent with a kid who likes to use your smartphone, Kid’s Corner may be your favorite feature.
What do you think of the features of the Lumia 810? Do you like the Live Tiles? SmartGlass? City Lens? Kids’ Corner? Let us know in the Comments section below!