We've been prodding, poking and generally abusing the Nokia Lumia 710 and ZTE Tania this past week, two entry-level Windows Phone mobiles aimed at the budget-conscious user. We thought it only fitting that the two face off in a brutal heads-on conflict, the ultimate battle to discover which budget Windows smartphone is the best.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Design
The Nokia Lumia 710 in all its glory
Our Lumia 710 sample was a stern all-black model, but the final product is expected to come in a rainbow of colours. You also get interchangeable covers, so indecisive types can swap around depending on their mood. The ZTE Tania is rather less cheery, with white and black models confirmed.
And the ZTE Tania
Still, the Tania does look smart (if unremarkable), with its curved corners and built-in touch-sensitive buttons below the screen. The Lumia 710 has replaced the flat-edged design of the Lumia 800 with tempting curves, although there's an angular finish to the sides. Those shortcut buttons beneath the screen are presented as a physical strip, which you push in to select options – it's not as attractive as the Tania's touch approach, but at least the buttons are firm and responsive.
Unlike the Tania, the Lumia 710 features physical buttons on the front
We're not quite as enamored with the Lumia 710's side-buttons. The volume controls are very thin and uncomfortable to press, and we definitely preferred the attractive silver buttons on the ZTE Tania. We're also disappointed that the excellent charger port cover of the Lumia 800 hasn't been adopted by the 710 – we're guessing to cut costs.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Size
The Lumia 710 is a chunky beast
The Tania is a true heavyweight at 158g, and could easily crush the 126g Lumia 710 in a fist fight (if either phone actually had fists). Despite being more compact, the Lumia 710 is actually fatter than the Tania by 1.5mm.
And the ZTE Tania isn't exactly super slender itself
However, both phones are comfortable to hold, in part thanks to their rubberised rears which keep the handsets firm in your grasp. We had no trouble using them one-handed to type out texts, skim through menus and browse around the web. Which one you prefer will likely depend on how big your pockets are.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Screen
At 4.3-inches, the Tania's screen offers more prodding space than the Lumia 710's 3.7-inch effort. The difference isn't enormous, however, and we still enjoyed watching videos, playing with apps and messing around online on the Lumia 710. Resolution is 800x480-pixels on both devices. Images appear sharp and reasonably colourful on both screens, a commendable effort given the budget constraints.
Both phones are great devices for wasting time online
However, the Lumia 710's display is made from Gorilla Glass, which is super-tough compared to standard smartphone screens. If the sight of your phone skidding off your desk is all too common, you might want to invest in the Lumia 710.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Interface and apps
Both phones come loaded with Windows Phone 7.5, although the Nokia Lumia 710 has a couple of excellent pre-installed apps that set it apart. The first is Nokia Maps, a superior app to the frankly dismal Bing Maps. You can quickly and easily search for local shops and services, and it's smoother than George Clooney doused in Lurpak.Another highlight is the Nokia Drive GPS app. Drivers can get turn-by-turn directions to their destination, complete with strangely seductive automated voices. In terms of functionality, the Lumia 710 definitely wins this battle.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Camera
The Nokia Lumia 710 has a 5MP camera with flash, as does the ZTE Tania
Both phones rock a five-megapixel camera with flash, although being budget phones the results aren't perfect. We played at being tourist around London, taking lots of random snaps, and prefer the Lumia 710, which produces cleaner, brighter results outdoors. There's also less motion blur if your subject can't keep still.
A shot of Piccadilly taken by the Lumia 710
And a similar shot from the ZTE Tania
The Tania's auto-focus is better adapted to close-ups however, as the Lumia 710 seems to struggle to lock onto nearby targets. Thankfully, you can tap the screen on both phones to focus on a specific area, which produces similar results. Neither camera works well in low light, so you'll need to make full use of the flash.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Performance
Windows Phone 7.5 runs perfectly on both the Lumia 710 and the ZTE Tania. We saw no stuttering or lag when loading or playing around with apps, while web browsing was a smooth and satisfying experience.
Of course, the ZTE Tania is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, while the Lumia 710 boasts a 1.4GHz Qualcomm CPU. The Lumia 710 therefore sets you up for future updates, while the Tania risks becoming sluggish as the software changes.We haven't had a chance to fully test battery life on both handsets, but check back soon for our in-depth reviews.
Nokia Lumia 710 vs ZTE Tania: Verdict
After a fierce battle, the Lumia 710 and ZTE Tania seem to be pretty evenly matched. We prefer the overall construction of the Tania, but the Lumia 710 hits back hard with its super-tough Gorilla Glass screen. The Tania's camera boasts an impressive auto-focus, but the Lumia 710 captures cleaner outdoor shots.
However, the Lumia 710 does win bonus points for its faster processor and excellent Nokia apps, which help to set it apart from other Windows Phone 7.5 devices. Could it be enough to secure it a higher score? You'll have to check out our full reviews to find out!The Nokia Lumia 710 arrives on 1 February, price still to be confirmed. The ZTE Tania will be hot on its tail, hitting stores around 13 February. SIM-free it'll cost you £249.