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Meet the Nokia Lumia 710, the entry-level Windows phone

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(Read caption) The Nokia Lumia 710 is shown at an event in London.

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These days, most of the tech press spotlight belongs to high-performing, high-priced smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which will set you back a cool 300 bucks, assuming you opt into a 2-year contract (the phone costs even more if you don't). Budget-minded consumers might be forgiven for thinking they've been left out in the cold. 

Well, say hello to the Lumia 710, the new smartphone from the team at Nokia. The Lumia 710, which launches January 11 in the US, comes equipped with a 1.4Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (solid), Windows Phone 7.5 Mango software (lovely), a 3.7-inch screen (nice), and a very low price (woohoo!). How low? 50 bucks, with a contract. In other words, the Nokia Lumia 710 is one of the first real entry-level Windows Phones. 

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So how does it stack up? Well, over at Laptop magazine, Sherri L. Smith likes what she sees.

"The $49.99 Nokia Lumia 710 is one of the best value-priced smartphones out there. It offers an engaging user interface, snappy performance, and a clear and bright display," Smith writes. "Right now the HTC Radar 4G is free on T-Mobile, which offers better sound and a slightly better camera. However, we prefer the Lumia 710 because Nokia includes free GPS navigation, which will save you more money over the long haul," she adds.

But Athima Chansanchai of MSNBC isn't so sure. 

It was "cumbersome" to share pictures and other data on the Lumia 710, "which is one of the biggest selling points of jumping on the smartphone bandwagon," Chansanchai writes. "It was like a maze, the first time I started dabbling with this Windows Phone, and I was the little mouse that only found the cheese after many, many wrong turns and dead ends.

Eager to try out the Lumia 710? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.