Nokia's Lumia line has been put into overdrive for the early days of the Windows Phone 8 lifecycle, with no fewer than four separate handsets available in North America across a trio of carriers.
The Lumia 920 on AT&T is the Finnish company's standout handset in the bunch, while the Lumia 820 – also on AT&T – offers a step down in features with a similar downgrade in price. Meanwhile, the less flamboyant Lumia 822 is available solely on Verizon's stellar 4G LTE network.
So where does that leave T-Mobile's exclusive Lumia 810? While featuring many of the same hallmarks as the other Windows Phone 8 devices, including a speedy dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon processor and an 8MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics, the Lumia 810 features a much different design, and one that's notably less sleek and vibrant than its siblings.
And though perhaps most similar to the 820 in specs, it's oddly more expensive on contract than the more robust 920, plus T-Mobile lacks LTE coverage, meaning you're stuck with the provider's lower-grade 4G offering.
It's fair to say that the showpiece of Windows Phone 8 devices is the OS itself, with the stunning and customizable Live Tiles, but with so many handset options and notable differences between them, what makes the Lumia 810 warrant serious consideration besides its network of choice?
Prior to the release of Windows Phone 8, recent Lumia models had recast the line as the smartphone with pizazz, thanks to vibrant coloring and dramatic styling. Both the Lumia 920 and 820 continue that trend, while the rounded edges of the Lumia 822 at least give it a somewhat unique feel, even if it pales in comparison.
Comparatively, though, the Lumia 810 disappoints with bland, utilitarian design, with the end result a chunky black slab that lacks distinctive styling. Measuring 5.03 inches tall, 2.69 inches across, and 0.42 inches deep with a weight of 5.11 ounces, it's a fairly large and hefty phone, as well. Solid as it may feel in use, the Lumia 810 is not going to turn any heads with its plain build.
On the front, you'll find Nokia's 4.3-inch ClearBlack capacitive touch screen nestled behind Gorilla Glass, and at a resolution of 480x800 (217 ppi), it's at the middle of the road for such displays.
However, the clarity of the display overcomes the average specs, and both the WP8 interface and many apps look fantastic, with excellent contrast throughout. It won't fool many folks into thinking it's a Retina-quality display, but it looks a lot closer than the specs imply on paper.
Above the screen are small T-Mobile and Nokia logos that hew closely to opposite sides, with a small speaker grate and a 1.2MP camera for video chats and self-shot photos in the center. Below the screen are the standard Windows Phone touch buttons: Back, Start, and Search. There's slight visual gradation on the little icons when they light up, which is a nitpick, but it's something we kept noticing in use.
Both the back and sides of the phone comprise a single, lightly rubberized plastic shell that is incredibly difficult to remove. It took us several minutes to remove it the first time around, as it felt like we were either going to break the handset or a fingernail in the process.
On the rounded back side is the 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, which is next to the small Dual LED flash. Inside the shell, you'll find the 1800 mAh removable battery, along with a SIM card and slot for a microSD card. The Lumia's 8GB of internal storage can be supported with up to 64GB of additional external storage via microSD.
The top side of the phone houses a lone microphone jack, while the bottom features speaker grates and a USB input for charging and connectivity. Meanwhile, the right side of the Lumia 810 includes all of its physical buttons: a volume rocker up top, followed by a power button and a dedicated camera button near the bottom.
All told, the Lumia 810 doesn't stand out in terms of physical design, and it's a little chunky in the hand. However, the vibrant display is a definite highlight, even if the specs aren't remarkable, and the interface moves at a steady clip. If you find the other Lumia designs a bit fussy, perhaps this simpler build will suffice.