Nokia Lumia 720 Review ” Display , Problems , Advantages , Disadvantages , Release date features “
Announced at MWC 2013, which took place this February, the Nokia Lumia 720 seemed like a promising mid-range smartphone. Now that the handset has visited our office in all of its retail glory, we're eager to see if this Windows Phone junior can really be a worthy competitor to the Android horde.
So, what is it that could make the Lumia 720 feel special compared to all the good mid-end smartphones out there? Well, if you're looking for some kind of hidden feature or secret weapon, you're in for a disappointment. However, that doesn't mean the Nokia Lumia 720 isn't a remarkable device. Quite the contrary – we find it to be one of the better Windows Phones that we've ever used.
Industrial design has always been one of Nokia's stronger sides, and the wonderful Lumia 720 is yet another prove of that. This is actually one of the best Nokia designs we've seen. Unlike most other handsets by the Finns, the Lumia 720 stands out with a rather thin body at just 9 mm. It's also quite light at 128 g. Comparing this to Nokia's current flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920, the 720 is definitely the more appealing handset, because it retains the 920's strong sides like the high-quality polycarbonate and stylish appearance, but is also thinner and lighter, which makes it noticeably more comfortable to hold and use.
As you can imagine, the physical keys situated around the sides of the handset are all very well made. The are made of zirconium and have a high-quality feel to them. Pressing the keys, including the two-step camera shutter on the lower right, is flawless. And since this is Nokia, we expect the keys to be quite durable, though that will certainly depend on the way they are used.
An interesting detail about the Lumia 720 is that it's available in a bunch of colors: white, red, yellow, cyan and black. Note that only the white version is made of glossy plastic, while all the others use a matte finish, but thankfully, this particular finish feels much better than the soft-touch coating utilized by HTC's Windows Phone 8X or 8S.
If you've been hoping to find one of those fancy 1080p screens on the Lumia 720, forget about it. Since it's a mid-range model, some corners had to be cut by Nokia in order to keep the price as low as possible. At first, it might be a little disappointing to know that the resolution is just 480 x 800 pixels, but then again, we should keep in mind that it's a 4.3” display, so the quality isn't really that bad. In fact, with Windows Phone's sizable text fonts, you'll rarely be irritated by any jaggedness.
One thing we really appreciate about this ClearBlack LCD display is that it is easily visible when viewed outdoors. It's actually just as visible as the iPhone 5, which automatically propels it to one of the top spots in this category. Not too shabby for a mid-ranger, huh? What's more, viewing angles and colors are also spectacular and up there with the very best. Thinking about it, the colors might be just a bit on the warmer side, but all in all, they are quite accurate and appealing.
Another feature of this display that you won't find in any many of its competitors is the ability to use it with gloves, fingernails and other conductive objects. Obviously, this can prove to be quite useful in many different situations, so it's a feature that's definitely good to have. We can only hope that more manufacturers will start employing such kind of super-sensitive touch technology.
Interface and Functionality:
What? If you've been expecting our enthusiastic tone to continue through the Interface part as well, you're in for a small disappointment. Not because there's something wrong with the Lumia 720 itself, but because we're simply treated to the same old Windows Phone UI, which is different from the competition, but not necessarily in a good way.
The Nokia Lumia 720 runs Windows Phone 8, so you have a full home screen of differently-sized Live Tiles to enjoy. As always, the whole OS is based around a number of hubs, such as Office, Music+Video, Games, People and so on. If you haven't seen a Windows Phone device before – these hubs are basically big, advanced applications that house various functions and options of similar type
Overall, Windows Phone 8 is an OK operating system. It gets the job done, although the assortment of third-party applications in the Store is still light-years behind those of the iOS App Store and Android Play Store, though Microsoft is making progress. The WP 8 user interface looks good in all of its simplicity and uniform layout, but we have to admit that we can hardly find anything that it does better than its competitors. Yes, it does things differently, but does that make it better than iOS or Android? No. The Live Tiles look good, but do they look better than iOS's icons or Android's widgets? Not really. In the end of the day, Windows Phone 8 is a good operating system that is still struggling to find an area where it can be better than its rivals.
Typing on the Lumia 720's onscreen QWERTY keyboard is a joy. Windows Phone 8 has a very convenient keyboard layout, and the phone is just the right size. Our only complaint with regards to the keyboard is that the landscape one doesn't take up the full width of the screen, which would have made typing even easier.
The Hotmail email application works very well. You can easily switch between all email, only the unread mail, flagged or urgent. We had absolutely no problems with the the setup of various types of accounts, but one thing we'd like to see Microsoft do is to come up with some form of easy switching between inboxes, because right now you either have to work with a unified inbox, or return to the homescreen and open a new inbox from there.
Processor and Memory:
The facts that the Lumia 720 is a mid-end smartphone and runs Windows Phone mean that we shouldn't expect any wonders in the specs field. Leaving any surprises for some other time, the Lumia 720 comes with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus chipset, clocked at 1 GHz. The GPU is the Adreno 305, while the RAM is no more or less than 512 MB. While these figures might seem scary to some Android smartphone users, we should note that the Nokia Lumia 720 runs very smoothly, without any performance issues. The handset should have no problem running the more demanding applications out there.
The handset comes with 8 GB of internal memory, which is a good amount for such a phone, but it also offers a microSD card slot for additional store.
Internet and Connectivity:
We've said it before that Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 is a wonderful browser. Thankfully, it continues to keep this status valid in the Nokia Lumia 720, as the handset delivers a great browsing experience. The only thing that hampers the experience here is the low resolution, which makes smaller text somewhat difficult to read. It's not such a big deal, though, and if you aren't too picky in this respect, the Lumia 720 will serve you well. Things like scrolling and zooming are executed very well with minimum delay.
Connectivity-wise, the smartphone should be able to achieve HSPA speeds of 21.1 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up in optimal conditions, which means that you'll never be able to reach them, but you knew that already. There are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 on board as well.
The camera of the Nokia Lumia 720 is pretty weird. It's neither 5MP, nor 8MP. It's a 6.7MP shooter with an LED flash. The Windows Phone 8 camera interface takes the middle ground between the simplicity of something like iOS, and the richness of Android, for example. What this means is that there are standard settings like ISO, exposure and white balance, but don't expect anything too fancy. Of course, that could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the type of user that you are.
At first, we were pleasantly surprised by the lush colors and decent sharpness visible in the Lumia 720's photos. It was then that we noticed the crazy amount of noise in the sky, and keep in mind that the images were taken in a beautiful spring day, without a single cloud in the sky. Obviously, the 720's camera is far from perfect, but we do enjoy the photos it captures, as they have good contrast, nicely-saturated colors and decent amount of detail. Sure, there's quite a bit of noise, but that's not a deal-breaker in our opinion.
As we said, Nokia had to cut some corners, and one of them is related to the camcorder functionality, as the Lumia 720 can only record 720p video. Generally, the recorded video is OK, once again treating us to jolly colors, nice contrast and so on, though it's not the sharpest one, as you can imagine.
The Lumia 720 is not the ideal phone to watch movies on, but it gets the job done. With a 4.3” WVGA display, the watching experience is by no means bad, but you might want to look for something with a bit more resolution (and size), if you plan on watching a lot of stuff.
We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the loudspeaker that the 720 is equipped with. Although it's covered by just a single, small grill on the back side, it's actually very loud, and remarkably clean, if listened to on a moderate volume setting.
Nokia has been doing a pretty good job when it comes to call quality with its phones, and thankfully, the Lumia 720 is not an exception. The earpiece certainly isn't the best one we've heard, but it is above average, with a decent loudness and likeable quality. The microphone is not quite as good, but it's still average at least.
As we said in the previous section, the loudspeaker is definitely one of the better ones we've heard with its loud and clear tones, so it's perfectly well-suited for conversation.
Equipped with a 2000mAh battery, the Nokia Lumia 720 is sure last through at least two days of moderate use. If there's one advantage to Windows Phone, it's that the platform is very well optimized in terms of system resource requirements. About 13 hours of 3G talk-time or 21 days of stand-by is what the 720 should be able to deliver, which is a pretty decent result.
We didn't see this one coming, but here it is – Nokia has come up with a wonderful mid-range smartphone. But don't imagine some kind of crippled experience when we say “mid-range.” The Lumia 720 is a very well-rounded smartphone with an appealing design, good camera and speakers, as well as an excellent screen. Sure the resolution can't match the HD wonders we have in premium smartphones, but it's not that bad.
The Windows Phone 8 platform is the Lumia 720's biggest weakness. The operating system isn't bad, but we're just having a bit of a hard time convincing ourselves that it has something more to offer than iOS or Android. If you don't mind it, though, we see absolutely no reason why you shouldn't pick the Lumia 720, especially when it comes at such a great price.
Nokia has covered pretty much all price points with its Lumias, with the 520 and 620 being even cheaper, but if you plan on going that way, keep in mind that you are going to get what you're paying for. We also don't encourage you to purchase the Lumia 820, because it simply lacks the finesse of the 720. Yes, it has a slightly better processor and a bit more RAM, but specs don't really matter much when real-life performance speaks otherwise.
- Likeable design
- Great screen quality
- Good battery and speaker
- WVGA resolution is outdated
- Windows Phone 8 is not particularly fun