These days deciding which smartphone to buy is not the easiest thing in the world. There is no shortage of choice and there are numerous platforms offering varied user experiences. Perhaps, Google’s Android OS is the most widely available platform as it is available in devices starting from around Rs 6,000 to devices obscenely priced north of Rs 30,000 . The lion’s share of the market is still dominated by the low-end, but the mid-segment, the sub Rs 17,000 price bracket is the most prominent one and in this bracket Android is not the only major player. This is the most competitive segment and we have devices running Android, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, Windows Phone and Bada. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, Galaxy Z Flip3 launch on August 27? New report suggests
While Android dominates this segment, the newest player in the market – Windows Phone – in our opinion offers slightly more value to end users, apart from also offering users the most unique and intuitive user experience. Not only the Windows Phone devices in the sub Rs 15,000 price band come with more firepower, they also manage to offer a user experience comparable to Apple’s mighty iPhone in terms of fluidity. Users will also not face the problem of excessive choice with Windows Phone devices, as there are only a handful of smartphones due to the platform’s nascence. In our review we are attempting make things simpler for end users as we will compare the two best Windows Phone offerings in the sub Rs 15,000 price band – the Nokia Lumia 710 and the Samsung Omnia W. Read on to find out more. Also Read - Samsung now lets you make an appointment to shop at its stores, book demo via WhatsApp
With Windows Phone, Microsoft maintains tight control over the software experience, so OEMs don’t have the ability to modify the OS to provide a differentiated software experience. In the world of Windows Phone, OEMs can only differentiate their smartphones on the basis of industrial design, hardware specification and pre-loaded applications. Industrial design offers a sure shot way of differentiation; a prime example of this is the Nokia Lumia 800, which flaunts a decidedly tasty injection molded polycarbonate uni-body design. Of course, neither the Samsung Omnia W nor the Nokia Lumia 710 feature such advanced construction, but for the price they also do offer solid industrial designs, which are very different from each other.
Admittedly, the Nokia Lumia 710 was designed to be Nokia’s budget Windows Phone workhorse, so its plastic construction and slightly bulky form-factor does feel ancient in this day and age of super-slim devices. Having said this, in no way does this mean, the build of the device is cheap. In fact, the device exudes quality, albeit of a plasticky nature, but the matte back finish the device offers superb grip and a sense of solidity, something which is missing in many high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S II and even the prophetic iPhone 4S. Apart from the build, the Lumia 710 uniquely offers exchangeable back covers enabling the consumers to customize the look of the device after the purchase.
In comparison, the Samsung Omnia W is a different animal altogether. It offers a classic timeless candy-bar design, which is accentuated by the piano black glossy display. While the frame on the front is made up of plastic, the Omnia W borrows industrial design elements from the Wave 3 and features a quasi-metallic back cover which combines elements of plastic and metal. In my opinion, the Omnia W may not exude the immense solidity of a Lumia 710, though it is a decidedly classier looking device. Notably, it was released at a higher price-point, only to receive a price cut recently, so it looks and feels like a more expensive device, a notch above the Lumia 710.
On the whole, form factor wise; the Omnia W is lighter and thinner than the Lumia 710 at only 115grams and 10.9mm thin. In contrast, the Lumia 710 is a tad thicker at 12.5mm and weighs 125grams. The difference is minuscule, but if you care for such things here it is.
On the hardware front, there is literally no difference between the two. The same Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor clocked at 1.4GHz powers both devices and both have 512MB of RAM. In addition to this, both devices don 3.7-inch displays with WVGA resolutions, alongside 5.0 MP cameras and 8GB of internal memory. On the face of it there is literally no differentiation, but when one takes a closer look, there are substantial differences.
Firstly, the Omnia W employs a Super AMOLED panel, which on paper is superior to the ClearBlack LCD on the Lumia 710. Secondly, The Lumia 710 has an EDOF auto focus 5-Megapixel sensor, similar to one seen on numerous Symbian smartphones. Focusing on subjects with these cameras is difficult this camera was difficult as it was not ideal for Macro shots. Another area of difference is the size of battery. The Omnia W uses a bigger 1500mAh battery, while the Lumia 710 has a 1300mAh battery. The difference in battery performance is arbitrary as the Omnia W has a much brighter display, which should theoretically consume more power.
Besides this, both the devices have the same set of ports, however one major difference on the fascia of device is the type of Windows Phone controls. The Omnia W employs a suave capacitive mechanism for its Windows Phone keys, but unfortunately the Lumia 710 employs crummy plasticky buttons, which are not only stiff to use regularly, but also glow, with light leaking from corners.
If the Omnia W had an edge hardware wise, then easily the Lumia 710 has an edge software wise. Due to Nokia’s unique partnership with Microsoft, Nokia touts unprecedented access to the Windows Phone software experience. Nokia does not go as far as customizing the unique Windows Phone experience something what Android OEM make a living out of, but it provides exclusive Nokia centric applications which supposedly enhance the Windows Phone experience more than any other Windows Phone brand.
Perhaps, the most prominent Nokia app is the Nokia Drive. If you are a person who gets lost often, then this is possibly your best friend. It does everything you would expect from a navigation app, and to boot is has voice assisted turn-by-turn navigation even in Hindi. Apart from this, it has tremendous support for India, perhaps more than even Google Maps. In many ways, it is superior to Google Maps, but one gets the feeling in trying to push it out quickly Nokia ported it from its Symbian version rather than creating one for the Metro UI.
While Nokia is yet to launch its Mix Radio music offering in India, Nokia did provide an Internet radio app called Tune-In. Tune-In has the ability to access a number of Internet radios and find you the exact song you are looking for. It does not work all the time, and more often than not you will end up discovering a song similar to the one you had searched for, so in a weird sort of a way it is a cool way of discovering new music, rather than finding the exact song. Apart from this, the app can access genre specific radios delivering soothing melodies from your favorite genre. I tested ‘Blues’ extensively, and got a healthy dose of Buddy Guy, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. So as you can imagine, the app will keep you entertained for hours and hours if music is your obsession.
While these were the preloaded goodies, Nokia has further announced a magazine app called ‘Reader’ and a public transport app called ‘Nokia Transport’ at the Mobile World Congress. While there is no word on their official release, one can expect these apps to be available for free on Lumia handsets including the 710.
Besides these Nokia centric apps, the user experience on both the Omnia W and The Lumia 710 is very much stock Windows Phone Metro. The Metro UI is about simplicity and about accessing information in a glance and go format. The dynamic Metro Live Tiles facilitate the glance and go philosophy of Metro and this comes with the fast user interface of Windows Phone and its tight integration with social networking services like Facebook and Twitter punctuated in its ‘People Hub’. On the whole if one eliminates the Nokia applications from the UX, then the software is pretty much the same.
The main reason anyone will buy a Windows Phone device is the real world performance advantage it offers users over competing operating systems like Android and Symbian. The UX is optimized for a particular hardware spec hence the interface is fast and fluid. So choosing a Windows Phone device automatically becomes more difficult as there are hardly any differences in internal specs and hardly any differences in the software. The main calling cards become – ID and basic specs like camera quality, display quality, battery life and call quality.
Obviously as mentioned above, I think the Omnia W is a better looking device and even when it comes to real world performance it’s a notch ahead of the Nokia Lumia 710. Firstly just in regular usage, I found the Omnia W to be a tad fast, just because the Lumia 710 froze up a couple of times, but no such problems plagued the Omnia W. Of course this also could be a problem with the review unit, but there are more caveats to follow.
In terms of display quality, it’s a no-brainer. The Super AMOLED panel on the Omnia W is head and shoulders above the ClearBlack LCD panel on the Lumia 710. In fact, the display on the Omnia W rivals that of the Lumia 800, which in my opinion is amongst the best displays on the market. Its not that Lumia 710 has a bad display, it’s just the fact the Omnia W is using a way superior display technology, which delivers deeper blacks and crisper text. Obviously, this was bound to happen as the Omnia W started off as a much more expensive device than what it is, today.
We faced a similar trend with the camera. The sensor used on the Omnia W was the same as the one used on the original Galaxy S and the Wave 3. The results were pretty impressive both in still photography and 720p video. In low light conditions there were issues with poor lighting and heavy noise, but when we compared the results with Lumia 710, it was like chalk and cheese. The sensor on the Lumia 710 was of the 28mm variety with an f/2.4 lens. While this sounds good on paper, it was also of the EDOF (Extended depth of field) variety. Under low light conditions the fallacies of the EDOF sensor would become apparent and focusing on a subject would often become painful. Having said this, we were able to churn out many usable images after some tweaks and in some cases these images were superior to the ones from the Omnia W. My photographic endeavors were further crippled by the nonchalant two-stage shutter button on the Lumia 710, which again like the capacitive Windows Phone keys was stiff and would make it very difficult for me to quickly focus on a subject.
When it came down to call quality, the Lumia 710 was a tad better, something we always expect with Nokia devices. The Lumia 710 consistently managed solid signals in my basement while the Omnia W would often fail me.
As far as battery life was concerned both devices were neck-t0-neck. Both lasted me in excess of a day, something which my mighty Galaxy S II struggles to do so on a daily basis. As usual, I used both devices for a myriad of purposes such as browsing the web on Wi-Fi and 3G, taking photographs, watching video, listening to music, messaging and of course making calls, but the performance of the battery was very similar on both the devices. One would have expected the Omnia W to do slightly better considering it had a bigger battery, but with its brighter display, the performance was at par with the Lumia 710.
For web browsing we ran the Rightware Browsermark test both devices scored similarly. The Nokia Lumia 710 score 21,876 and the Omnia W scored 21,234. When compared to Android smartphones these results are not flattering, but generally Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Phone performs smoothly providing a superb web browsing experience, however it still is not in league of the Safari browser on the iPhone.
As far as Windows Phone devices go the Lumia 710 and the Omnia W are amongst the best with only the Lumia 800 being a better device than the two. But of course, the Lumia 800 also costs almost twice as much as the two. At a price point of below Rs 15,000 both devices offer insane amount of value. If one just judges a product on the basis of its hardware, then the Samsung Omnia W is clearly a better smartphone. It is perhaps the most well rounded Windows Phone device on the market which combines a solid feature set, a good design and superb value.
On the other hand, the Lumia 710 offers a compelling array of Nokia exclusive features such as the brilliant Nokia Drive application, which in itself is a reason to buy a Nokia Windows Phone device.