The Nokia Lumia 610 is a budget Windows Phone mobile - and the cheapest big-name Windows phone to date. Sacrifices under the hood have been made to get there, but this is one of just a few Windows phones you can get SIM-free without spending a fortune.
With a 3.7in screen and 5MP camera, several specs haven't been cut down too obviously, but the 800MHz processor, 256MB RAM and 8GB of storage do have an impact.
Cuts have been made in the Nokia Lumia 610's design too, but are only obvious when compared to something like the higher-end Lumia 800. The lovely unibody frame of that phone has been traded-in for something more conventional. Its rear is a removable plastic battery cover that scoops around the front in unibody-apeing style, and its sides are finished in smoky silver plastic. There's no metal, and no advanced plastic treatments here.
Using touch sensitive front buttons rather than the physical type, the Lumia 610 is a bit moodier and cooler-looking than the middle-model Lumia 710, and the soft touch finish of the plastic rear is smooth and - you guessed it - soft-feeling. Inspired and impressive it may not be, but it's among the better-looking phones at the price. Only the slightly cheap-looking camera sensor housing and all-too-obvious speaker grille let the side down aesthetically. The Nokia Lumia 610 comes in four shades - black, white, blue and a red-pink.
Hardware and Connectivity
There's no video output, and no microSD slot. The non-expandable memory is one of the most likely deal-breaker issues, because the phone only comes with 8GB of internal memory. If you want a phone to act as your main music player too, there's a good chance this won't be enough.
Transferring files to the internal memory is more of a pain than it is with an Android phone too. You can't just drag and drop media files, you have to install the Zune software on your PC/Mac, and sync the phone through that. In this sense at least, Windows Phone mobiles are quite iPhone-like.
The annoying quirks are offset with a few hardware highlights, though. Point one goes to the power button, which is placed deliberately just under your right thumb (for right-handers at any rate) to make bringing the phone in and out of standby feel natural. Point two goes to the physical shutter button, which has been a mandatory Windows Phone 7 feature since the software's launch. It too fits right under a finger and has a bit of give to it, like the shutter button of a dedicated digicam.
One other hardware feature demanded by Windows Phone 7 is the trio of soft keys, used to navigate around the phone's menu system. As already mentioned, these are set into the glass front of the phone touchscreen, and they glow with a cool blue light when pressed. Unlike some cheap Android phones, there are no sensitivity issues with these virtual buttons, reaffirming that while the Nokia Lumia 610 doesn't have the glamour of a top-end phone, it is well-made.
In similar fashion, the Lumia 610 does not have a screen bearing any fancy marketing terms. Its high falutin' Lumia siblings use Clear Black displays (AMOLED, essentially) where this phone has a standard TFT LCD. It's far from a bad effort, though. 3.7in across and using the only resolution Windows Phone 7.5 allows - 480 x 800 - it's reasonably sharp for a budget model and viewing angles are great.
Contrast isn't as strong as the other Lumias, with a tiny grey-ish hue to the blacks, but image quality is good. The screen is also large enough to make typing quick an accurate, thanks in part to the excellent Windows Phone keyboard.