Windows Phone 7 Doesn't Play Well At The Budget Level

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The Nokia Lumia 610 is a classic case of Windows Phone on a budget. As such, the issues that I am raising in this article should be common to all budget Windows Phone 7.X devices. For information purposes, the 610 is powered by an 800 MHz processor with Adreno GPU and 256 MB RAM. I have never believed that Windows Phone OS will run smoothly on this low-level specification, and over a week with the Lumia 610 has only reinforced my position.

Let me put it this way: the Lumia 610 is usable, but at the very risk of driving me insane at times.


A Significant Number Of Apps Not Compatible

I needed an app that lets me upload videos to YouTube. I found a handful of them in the Windows Phone Store, but they are not available to devices with such low specs as the 610. Skype isn’t too. And a number of others. It is one of the sacrifices that you pay for low-end on Windows Phone.

Laggy As Hell

I can’t shout, so I won’t go into diatribes. Here are examples. I get a PUSH notification that I have a WhatsApp message, so I hit the icon to launch the app. It loads a bit slowly, then sits down there blank, looking at me while pulling the message from the server. Even messages that I had read on the phone earlier take time in loading. Sometimes I have to close the app again to get the same notification and then re-launch before the incoming message finally pops up!

Aaaaaargh!!!!


Now, imagine what happens when I have multiple incoming WhatsApp messages. The same is true when I load the official Twitter app and a number of other apps. Like this:

WindowsPhone7-Loading

There are a number of issues here. First is the processor and RAM. Too low. Inadequate. Second is the PUSH notification system, as implemented on Windows Phone. When there is a poor internet connection, any Windows Phone user is in trouble. The notification comes in first, then when you tap to get your message, the app initiates action to download the message from the server to your phone….. Tsk, tsk. The guys who came up with this were not thinking of places with slow internet connections like here. Even on a HSDPA network, the performance is often below par, resulting in a very frustrating user experience.

Comparison With Budget Android Smartphones

After I explained how sluggish the 610 is at some tasks, Dayo and I did a direct comparison of launching WhatsApp on the 610 and the Samsung Galaxy pocket this morning, and he was shocked. He was in shock for quite a while.

I have another budget Android smartphone, the LG Optimus L3. When I tap on the WhatsApp or Twitter icon on the L3, the app loads right away and displays tweets immediately too. On the 610, it launches slowly and then stares at you with the scrolling dots while loading the content. Yes; the Pocket is powered by a 800 Mhz processor, 384 MB RAM, and has a smaller 3.2-inch display against thee 610’s 800MHz, 256MB RAM and 3.7-inch display. But the difference in performance is huge that it is clear that Windows Phone 7 is less efficient. Significantly so.


Not All Bad. Built-in Apps Are Better

This huge sluggishness is not on display in all apps. There are many things that work well enough on Windows Phone 7.X – mostly built-in apps. Email is nice. Web browsing is lovely. The lovely user interface is to die for. That interface does lag a bit, but seems really bad mostly in third party apps. Unfortunately, 3rd party apps are a part of the ecosystem. They cannot be ignored.

If I was complaining about low-end performance on Android, I ought to be screaming and tearing my hair out about performance on budget Windows Phone 7.X devices. And I am.

Windows Phone is much smoother and more enjoyable on higher end hardware. My experience with a handful of WP devices suggest that the minimum power specs should be 1 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM. This is the minimum that I recommend if you want an enjoyable experience on Windows Phone.

Yes; Nokia has done a good job attempting to bring Windows Phone to much lower price levels than anticipated, but this isn’t flying. This nice UI just doesn’t play well at the budget level. To be honest, if I wasn’t bent on giving he Lumia 610 a thorough review, I would have pulled my SIM out of it by now and moved on. That is my verdict.

PS: Don’t forget to read the sequel to this: You Need Broadband To Enjoy Windows Phone.


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2 comments

  1. Thanks for putting it the way it is. It is very obvious that Windows Phone 7.x was not designed for budget devices. The budget devices we are seeing so far are just there to attempt to take care of people on budget but since those were not considered from inception, it simply makes for a bad experience.

    Android also plays very badly on devices with especially low RAM of say 256MB and below. I could remember the Tecno T1 that I once tried. The value of the RAM visible to me was about 200MB and that simply makes nonsense of multitasking. It was sufficiently fast for most tasks but it could not multitask effectively. I could remember installing one office suite that was relatively heavy which causes a third party keyboard to have difficulty starting up when using a particular theme of the keyboard.

    I may say that the specs of the Nokia Windows Phone device would have played well on Android but I can’t be too sure given that relatively high screen resolution of 480×800. Yes, that’s more than twice the screen resolution of most budget Android devices below the price point of N30,000 or thereabouts and still work fairly well. Probably the screen is a major culprit here and maybe the original design of the Windows Phone 7.x

  2. This was the reason I opted not to buy the Lumia 610, attractive as it is. Last year I was chatting to a guy in a phone store, he basically said as much. We were chatting about 7.8 and he said it would probably be even slower if you managed to install it.

    And I was so looking forward to this device until I realised it had a slower processor. The same will no doubt be true for the upcoming Lumia 510.

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