If you’re bored of Android, iPhone and BlackBerry, have you thought about trying out Microsoft’s platform, Windows Phone 7? The OS has been around for a year and a half now, and can be found on smartphones made by Nokia, HTC, LG and Samsung, amongst others. It has a Marketplace too, which is always expanding and now contains more than 50,000 apps, both free and paid for.
It’s taken a while, but finally manufacturers are starting to create more affordable Windows Phone smartphones, aimed at those on pay as you go, and those who want to buy a handset outright but on a budget. Two brilliant examples of this are the Nokia Lumia 710 and the ZTE Tania; both cost under £200 SIM-free and provide the Windows Phone experience with decent specifications for very little.
The Lumia 710 can be snapped up for as little as £150 or £160 on pay as you go (both Vodafone and O2 respectively have offered those two prices recently), whereas the ZTE Tania can be bought for a penny under £200. Many people may not have heard of ZTE before, though if we were to tell you they’re in the top 5 largest mobile phone manufacturers in the world alongside Apple, Nokia and Samsung, we’re sure it’ll change some inaccurate misconceptions.
So we’ve pointed out two great Windows Phones on a budget, but which one should win your heart? There’s only one way to find out… FIGHT!
Lumia 710: 3.7-inch LCD, 480 x 800 resolution, 252ppi pixel density, Corning Gorilla Glass
Tania: 4.3-inch LCD, 480 x 800 resolution, 217ppi pixel density
The Tania is a fair bit larger than its rival, and that’s due to the 4.3-inch display. It’s big, but not too big, and it’s a decent size for playing games, watching videos and so on. However, it features the same resolution as the smaller Lumia 710, which on a larger screen results in a loss of sharpness. The pixel density is lower on the Tania which means that text isn’t quite as crisp. The Lumia’s screen is also covered by a sheet of ultra-tough Gorilla Glass, which rounds off a win for the Lumia in this category.
Lumia 710: Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon 1.4GHz
Tania: Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon 1GHz
Both handsets feature the same chipset, although the Lumia’s processor is clocked at a higher speed, and it shows. The Tania is no slouch, and thanks to the undemanding Windows Phone OS, apps will open and close quickly, but the Lumia just edges it thanks to 400MHz of extra grunt. We noticed this especially when loading up games that are more demanding on the CPU, with the Lumia suffering no lag, whereas occasionally the Tania would stutter, albeit briefly.
Lumia 710: 119 x 62.4 x 12.5 mm, 125.5g
Tania: 128.6 x 67.8 x 10.5 mm, 158g
This category is a tough one to call, as we feel the choice comes down to the personal preference of the buyer. If you like your phone to be more ‘pocketable’, the Lumia 710 will cater to your needs perfectly – it’s small, it’s compact and it’s pretty light too. However, for those who want a larger smartphone that provides a bigger screen, the Tania is fantastic. It’s thinner than the Lumia 710 and in our opinion, it’s much more stylish. However, we understand that a 4.3-inch smartphone isn’t for everyone, so it’s horses for courses with this one.
Lumia 710: 8GB internal, no Micro SD slot
Tania: 4GB internal, no Micro SD slot
Unfortunately when it comes to budget Windows Phones, storage is usually one of the first components to get downgraded in order to cut costs. The Lumia 710 offers a decent 8GB of storage space internally, while the Tania only houses half of that at just 4GB. Neither handset has room for expansion, either, so what you see is what you get. If you like to use your smartphone as a multimedia player, we recommend the Lumia 710 simply for the extra storage that it offers. As a side note, all Windows Phone users can technically expand their storage by using Microsoft’s Cloud Drive internet storage system, storing documents and media online for retrieval on a smartphone.
Lumia 710 (Left): 5-Megapixel autofocus, LED flash, 720p HD video recording
Tania (Right): 5-Megapixel autofocus, LED flash, 720p HD video recording
On paper it’s a dead heat in the camera category for these two phones. Both offer decent results with both still shooting and video recording, with the usual variety of settings that can be tweaked on offer in the Windows Phone camera application (ISO, Metering, etc). It’s a tough one to call, so we’ve taken two identical sample photos with each phone and compared them above. In our opinion, the Lumia 710 wins out here with better colour representation, which is probably down to the company’s history in making great camera phones. The Tania still takes a decent photo, though, and the 720p HD video samples we took also looked good when played back on the device itself.
Lumia 710: 1300 mAh battery, up to 400 hours on standby
Tania: 1400 mAh battery, up to 200 hours on standby
Although the Tania packs the larger capacity battery, Nokia’s Lumia 710 handles its power much more efficiently, offering up to double the standby time. The Tania’s larger 4.3-inch screen is sure to be the biggest drain on the battery; whereas the Lumia 710’s smaller display makes it more efficient. When using both handsets on a day-to-day basis we found the Lumia 710 would go past the 24 hour mark, often lasting between 36 and 48 hours. The Tania lasted around 24 hours, but either way you’re looking at charging both phones overnight each day to ensure the maximum charge, unless of course you have an in-car charger or a backup at your place of work to keep the battery topped up.
We feel that both on paper and in tests, the Lumia 710 takes precedence as the best budget Windows Phone around. The Tania is a worthy rival, and we recommend it for those who consider a large screen as one of the key factors in choosing a new smartphone. It’s got great looks, too, with a glossy front and chrome bezel running around the front edge.
However, with several UK networks now offering the Lumia 710 for as much as £50 less than the Tania, we feel that double the internal storage, sharper screen and more processing power is simply too much to pass up at the price. If you’re looking for a budget Windows Phone, look no further than the Nokia Lumia 710.