Nokia Lumia 810

Review: Nokia Lumia 810 -- A Solid Mid-Range Choice

4 stars
T-Mobile has an all-around device, if you're willing to give Windows a try.



Screen:
4.3-inches, 480 x 800 px, 16,700,000 colors
AMOLED (Polarization Filter / Light Time-Out / Ambient Light Sensor)
Camera:
8.7 MP / Carl Zeiss / Dual LED Flash / 4X Zoom / Touch Focus / 1080p Video Recorder / 1.2 MP / Video Chat

Processor:
1.5 GHz (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4)
Data:
HSPA-Plus
Memory:
8.0 GB
Slot:
microSD

Form:
Block / Windows Phone 8
Dimensions:
127 x 68 x 11 mm
Weight:
145 g
Battery:
1800 mAh Li-Ion
Talk Time:
10.6 hours
Standby Time:
17.9 days


Some devices are heavy on form, light on function. Fewer are the other way around. If you prefer less talk and more walk, the Lumia 810 is your type of phone.

It's not deja vu. If you feel like you've seen it, chances are you have -- it's called the 820 for AT&T and 822 for Verizon. They're essentially the same device, but different -- it's Nokia's way of skirting around its exclusivity agreements. The 820 is slightly heavier, the 822 has a slightly weaker camera and the 810 lacks 4G LTE. But they all run on Windows 8 software, a bright 4.3-inch display and a speedy 1.5-gigahertz chip.


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If you can't justify spending a fortune on the 920, the 810 is the next best option. While it doesn't have 4G LTE, it's still a better mid-tier device than many rivals on the market. It's a great all-around device with power, speed and, arguably, beauty. It's a bit big and chunky, but if you can stomach the size, there's a lot underneath to make it worthwhile.

Nokia calls the 810 a "monoblock" design -- and it's definitely monolithic and blocky. Unlike sleek devices that try to hide their bulk with bevels and curves, the 810 embraces its shape -- it's literally a brick with straight edges and flat sides. The back tapers in for a comfortable hold and easy one-handed use, but at a hefty five ounces, it's a bit heavy for the palm, easily outweighing the iPhone 5, Galaxy S3 and rival Windows phones like the HTC 8X and 8S.

The soft, matte black finish gives you a nice grip, and the back cover peels off so you can swap out for another bright hue or switch to wireless charging -- sold separately. Overall, the 810 feels great in the hand, but it's not much to look at and a far cry from the fashionable 920. It's definitely one of the chunkier devices out there.

Photo 1

The 4.3-inch screen is bright and vivid. At 398-lux, it's more vibrant than even the 8X, which clocks in at an average 300. For comparison, the iPhone registers a mind-blowing 525. The 800-by-400 resolution isn't as sharp as higher-end devices, but it's still crisp, especially in direct sunlight -- a polarizing filter helps to cut down on glare. Blacks are also deeper for an excellent contrast range, which is viewable at all angles. The screen does tend to lean on the bluish side ever so slightly, but I can't really complain -- it's a top-caliber display for the price you pay.

When you hear Carl Zeiss, you think of great optics -- and the 810 doesn't disappoint. Like the 820, it comes with an 8.7-megapixel camera that captures fantastic and detailed shots. But it uses a different setup than the revolutionary 920's lens, which has rock-solid image stabilization. Overall, though, I took very clear photos with true-to-life colors. A dual-LED flash lights up dimmest of environments, but predictably, the color of faces tends to wash out.

You can choose from software filters, which Nokia calls "lenses," to add Instagram-style effects, snap a series of photos and then swap smiles for the perfect group shot and capture large panoramas of landscapes. But my favorite: Cinemagraph, which combines a series of photos for a fun animated GIF. You can record nice 1080p clips, which look better outdoors than in, or video chat on the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, which is far better than the 820's VGA lens. In short, it's a great camera for everyday use.

Photo 2

Windows 8 is an acquired taste. If you think Android is too cluttered or iOS is too static, you'll love live tiles. They're not just shortcuts. Pick from one of three interactive sizes, and view dates and weather to news and Facebook updates from the homescreen. They move and you can click on them to bring up or minimize information. It's cleaner than Android and shows more than iOS. But of course, Microsoft is weak on the app ecosystem. You'll find popular titles like Angry Birds, but others like Infinity Blade are missing.

Nokia adds a few apps of its own, as well. You'll get GPS navigation and driving directions, but it's not as complete as Google Maps, and an app to listen to 150 channels and download up to 250 tracks -- it's like Pandora. City Lens uses augmented reality to overlay local information on a live-camera view, but it often showed stores that are a mile away, instead of the view that's in front. It has a long way to go before it's actually useful.

The 810 excels in battery life. With moderate use, I squeezed out about a day and a half, but when I continuously watched videos and browsed the Web, I needed to recharge at the end of the workday. It's pretty efficient on standby, but data tends to drain the power. If you're running low, it helps to turn it off.

The drawback of the 810 is that it runs on T-Mobile's slower 3.5G network for about 10-megabits per second. The 820 and 822, meanwhile, run on 4G LTE at a faster 30. The 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip is the same one on the high-end 920, and it's plenty fast. Apps and games run without a hitch, and even with several open in the background, everything was smooth. You'll get an ample 32-gigabytes for storage, enough for all but the heaviest of users. But if you need more, there's a microSD slot.

Photo 3

The 810 is a well-rounded Windows device, without a top-dollar price. The display is vibrant, camera is sharp, processor is speedy and memory is ample. What more do you need? The only drawback, if you can call it that, is the lack of third-party Windows apps. If you're on T-Mobile, the 810 is an obvious choice. But if you're tied to AT&T or Verizon, give the 820 or 822 a look. Sorry Sprint, you're out of luck.

It's a bit chunky, and if you think the size is too much to handle, there are smaller devices out there. If you're sticking to Windows, the 8S is another mid-tier device to consider, but it's a step down from the 810. For Android, you have a few decent options.

For the best bang for the buck, the Pantech Discover gives you a lot more for the same price, and if you're on T-Mobile the Nexus 4 is an affordable option with top-tier features. If you're on Sprint, you don't have much to choose from, but give the Flash a look.

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User Reviews



Best Mid-Range Windows Phone Around

Rating: 5 of 5 | Allan Waits on November 28, 2012

I'm impressed by the Lumia 810. When I bought it I wasn't expecting much, but since T-Mobile didn't have a lot of phones I wanted, I took the plunge. And boy was I surprised. The 810 is everything I wanted in the 920 -- but cheaper.

Nokia did a fantastic job crafting all the Lumia handsets. It's just beautiful. My friends always ask to see my phone and I can't keep my eyes off of it. The materials are quality, unlike Samsung's products, and the design is simple and gorgeous and lightweight. And it takes a licking. I've dropped it a few times already and it's it came through without a scratch. But you still might want to grab a case.

I'm a photographer, so the camera is important to me. I did a lot of research on this before buying the 810, and I can tell you the lens is fantastic. It takes sharp and clear photos. It doesn't have the innovative motion-sensing lens that the 920 has, but hey, if you have a steady hand, you won't miss it.

I'm new to Windows, coming from Android, and it took some getting used to for me. But once I adjusted, the software is smooth and steady. I haven't had any issues with any lag or crashes. The tiles are easy to pin and they update with information you want to see like Twitter and Facebook. Nice. Other tiles I have pinned are missed calls, texts and photos. You can adjust the size of the tiles as you like, and bigger tiles show more information. Unfortunately, the app store is a big minus.

I love the Xbox music feature -- it's so easy to upload and organize your song library. You can also store your songs on the cloud, so you don't have to use up space on your card. Windows is growing, but it's far behind Android and iOS. You'll be able to find popular titles like Angry Birds, but the more obscure are missing. The nice thing is you'll have Microsoft Office, so you can work on the road.

The battery life is long. I can get through the whole day and then some on one charge -- I usually have about a third left after the end of the work day. I'll check e-mails, browse Facebook and listen to music while reading the news. So I think I'm an above average user. If I don't use it that often, the standby time is amazing. If the power drains faster than you like, you change some settings to prolong the power. Turn off Bluetooth, for example, and don't leave apps running in the background. Those things will sap the juice out of your phone.

The only drawback is the 8-gigabytes of storage. I was considering the HTC 8X, but the fact that it doesn't have a microSD slot turned me off. The 810 does though, and I added a 64-gigabyte card to store all my songs and photos.

Overall, the Lumia 810 is a great mid-range phone. The thing is great inside and out. The design is beautiful and the camera and performance is great. If you're considering between Samsung and HTC's Windows phones, Nokia makes the best ones. And if you're on T-Mobile, it's a no-brainer. Go buy it now.

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Great Hardware, Great Software

Rating: 4 of 5 | Reina on November 22, 2012

Windows is a breath of fresh air from Android and Apple. After using my share of iPhone and Android devices, I decided to give Microsoft's new software a try. So when Nokia announced its new Lumia line, I was hooked. And since I'm stuck to T-Mobile, I was a bit disappointed when the Lumia 920 wasn't going to show up. So then 810 it is. And I'm still glad I chose it.

The other features are great. The design, the size and the materials are all fantastic. Windows 8 is simple to use and now I'm able to read and edit all my Office documents on the go, which is a huge plus for me. And the microSD slot lets me add up to 64-gigabytes of storage.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Lumia 810, and I don't plan on switching from Windows anytime soon. Buy with confidence!

Unlike the bigger brother, the 810 doesn't have any revolutionary camera technology -- no floating lens. But if you're not an action photographer, you won't miss it. For those worried about the lack of third-party apps, I was able to find everything I need.

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Beyond Expectations

Rating: 5 of 5 | Ty Teng on November 28, 2012

After three weeks with this phone, I can confidently say I'm thrilled with my Lumia 810. I'd previously had the 710, and the 810 is such a big improvement. For one, the display is larger and so much more vivid and sharper -- and more responsive -- and the processor runs smoother and faster too.

Nokia did a nice job moving around the buttons. The power button -- on the right now -- is easier to hit rather than on the top. Also the speakers are moved to the bottom so they don't get muffled like on the back.

I love taking impromptu pictures with the built-in camera. I take a lot of photos of my cat, and the red-eye reduction filter works well. The front-facing camera, meanwhile, is nice to chat with friends over Skype.

As I said before, I'm used to Windows, and Windows 8 is much improved too. It's easier to use, and feels more integrated. People often complain about the lack of third-party apps in the marketplace, but really, all the ones you use will be there. If they're not, there are nice alternatives that do pretty much the same thing.

People don't give Nokia enough credit for its GPS and maps software. City Lens is fantastic, and Transit and Drive will guide you through any city by public transportation or by foot. Of course, Microsoft Office works smoothly, and you'll get all the popular apps like Facebook and Twitter.

The reception and call quality are great. Nothing to complain about here. And the microSD slot is always a nice feature.

Of course, no phone is perfect, and the Lumia 810 has only a few covers to choose from -- most being sold out. The wireless charging pad is also hard to come across. But overall, I'm thrilled with the Lumia 810. Nokia outdid itself on this portfolio of Windows phones. If you're looking for one, Nokia is the one to get.

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Leaps and Bounds Ahead

Rating: 5 of 5 | Travis Barrows on February 08, 2013

After using this phone for the last month, I can say it exceed everything I expected in a smartphone. I use it for business mostly, and the software is the most stable I've seen. My old HD7, for instance, would stall and freeze -- and I'd have to pull out the battery just to reboot it. But the Lumia 810 runs really smoothly -- no problems whatsoever.

The best part of this is Microsoft Office. The 810 syncs Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and more, so I can work on the road. This one feature is worth the price of the phone. But since, I'm call customers, the quality of the voice is most important to me -- and it's exceptional. Friends have asked if I was calling on a landline because I sounded so clear.

Nokia has grown by leaps and bounds. And the display really shows it -- t's very clean and clear outdoors. The contrast is vibrant and the blacks are actually black, so watching movies on it is a pleasure. The other day, I decided to pull out my HD7 and I was surprised by the difference in clarity.

The camera is pretty good too. I took used it to take over 1,000 photos on a recent trip and I never bothered to take out my digital camera. They photos look great, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

As far as the few apps in the marketplace, I guess I can't really blame Microsoft or Nokia. The ecosystem is new by Apple and Google's standards, but it's growing quickly. I'm still waiting for my bank to release a Windows app, and NFL to watch on Sundays.

Overall, if you want a quality phone with a load of features and a solid operating system, you can't go wrong with the Lumia 810.

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Simple to Use

Rating: 5 of 5 | Brian Barbaria on December 11, 2012

I'm glad Windows 8 came along. The Lumia 810 is very smooth, and the interface is very easy to use. The learning curve is minimal, due to the intuitive nature of the operating system, and the options are simple to master. The materials are top-notch, and the build is solid. It just looks elegant, while rugged.

After a few weeks, I find myself loving my phone more and more each day. Some people complain about the lack of apps in Windows market, but I found there's a good balance of popular apps and the offbeat. I hope Microsoft pushes developers to create more software, because Windows is a solid platform.

The weight is a bit heavy compared to other devices. But that's due to the polycarbonate shell and the Gorilla Glass. That's the price for quality, I guess. Overall, I'd say the Lumia 810 is far better than my old Galaxy S2. I'm very happy with my choice.

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One of the Best Windows Phones

Rating: 5 of 5 | Dana H. on February 07, 2013

I got tired of the iPhone and Android, and I wanted to try something new and switch to Windows. The interface is great -- it's simple, clean and uncluttered. The buff processor makes it run very smooth, and I feel like I get more work done without being overwhelmed.

The design is great too. Unlike Samsung, I don't feel like I'm holding a hollow shell. The 810 isn't too heavy, but it feels solidly built. It's the best of both, really.

The touch screen is bright and responsive -- great for Web browsing and reading and the camera take excellent photos.

I've owned a lot of smartphones through the years, and the Lumia 810 ranks as one of the best. Well done, Nokia.

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Pleasantly Surprised

Rating: 4 of 5 | Z. Kalish on November 23, 2012

T-Mobile doesn't give you many options when it comes to phones. And I picked up the Lumia 810 because it looked like the best of the Windows bunch. After a few weeks, I found myself falling in love with it.

The phone is made of premium components. When you old it you can tell -- it just feels solid. Not flimsy like the others. The design is well thought out. For instance, the buttons are all located in intuitive places. It sounds stupid, but you'd be surprised how often handset makers screw this up and you try to operate it one-handedly and drop it. You can also remove the cover if you want other colors. It's a cool way to customize the look of your phone.

The touch screen is large and clear and sharp. It's not too big and fits comfortably in your purse or pocket. It's surprising so many phones forget the expansion slot these days. Fortunately, there's one on the 810. Buy an extra card because you'll run out of storage.

The battery life is very good as well. Compared to the HTC 8X, the Lumia 810, in my opinion, is a better phone at a cheaper price. Win-win if you ask me.

The camera has a tendency to produce grainy photos in low light environments. I can't say this is a big negative because it's kind of expected.

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Awesome Phone, Awesome Software

Rating: 5 of 5 | J. Patague on January 09, 2013

I bought this phone last week after ditching my old Windows 7 phone. And I'm impressed by how fast it is. The new software is really smooth and everything works flawlessly in one complete motion.

I used to own an iPhone and an Android device too, but I feel like Microsoft does a better job with the interface of Windows. With tiles, it's easier to see what I need and to get things done. As others have mentioned, the design of the 810 is elegant. The materials are quality and the build is solid.

But the best parts are the exclusive apps like Nokia Drive. Windows market is behind Android and iOS in terms of selection, but it's catching up in my opinion. The apps are getting better by the week. I would have bought the 920 if T-Mobile had offered it. But with the 810, it's just as good, albeit at a cheaper price.

The 8-gigabytes of internal memory is a bit on the low side. But that's why Nokia added a microSD slot. You'll run through the internal storage in a week or so. I have a big music collection and I ran out after adding a few albums, few apps and 10 or so games. I guess I could just uninstall a few things, but just to be on the safe side, be sure to buy a card.

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Fantastic Phone, Fantastic Value

Rating: 5 of 5 | Guy Greenspan on December 20, 2012

I normally wait a few months for the price to drop before buying a phone. I like a good deal, what can I say? The Lumia 810 was a different story though. I couldn't resist the urge to pick one up the first week T-Mobile released it. This phone is simply amazing -- the look is beautiful, the software is silky smooth and the photos are sharp, the music is crisp and games are entertaining. I used to have the HD7, the 810 is so much faster -- it's like night and day.

If you're waiting to get this point, don't wait. You'll be glad you did, despite the higher price. It's well worth it.

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Returning It

Rating: 2 of 5 | Eric Friese on December 18, 2012

The design is elegant, the sound quality is excellent and the touch screen is very responsive. However, I'm not as thrilled with the Lumia 810 as the other reviewers.

After a week with the phone, I couldn't handle the short battery life. I could get around a day or two in battery save mode, but any normal use leaves me high and dry by the late afternoon. The phone is rather thick too, and doesn't fit comfortably in my pocket. In addition, I had a bad experience with the camera -- even outdoors. The SIM card holder is easy to lose too. And once you lose it, T-Mobile won't have any replacement parts to give to you -- and that makes the phone unusable.

After the weekend, I'm going to take it back to T-Mobile and return it.

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