Nokia Lumia 720 – The Budget-Premium Windows Phone
It was about time Nokia brought in something substantial into the mid-range smartphone market and from the very first glance it becomes obvious that Nokia has put in a lot of effort into the Lumia 720. The phone is ruggedly built and feels as solid as every other Nokia.
The Lumia 720 comes packaged with a 1 GHz dual-core Krait CPU but has only 512 MB of RAM on board. This places certain limits, such as not having access to some applications in the Windows Marketplace. But that shouldn’t hold you back from buying one as the Lumia 720 has a lot of nice tricks up its sleeve. The camera for example can be compared to phones one level higher, but more on that later.
Lumia 720 Specifications
Let’s start with some quick specs. The phone comes with a 4.3” ClearBlack IPS LCD display, and runs the latest Windows Phones 8 OS. It is retails at about Rs. 17000.
Display : 4.3” ClearBlack IPS LCD display, WVGA resolution with 217ppi pixel density.
Processor : 1 GHz dual-core Krait CPU, Adreno 305 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8227 chipset, 512MB of RAM
Connectivity : Quad-band 3G with 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.7 Mbps HSUPA support
Storage : 8GB of inbuilt storage, expandable up to 32GB via MicroSD card.
Camera : 6.1MP autofocus camera with F/1.9 lens and LED flash, [email protected] video recording
OS : Windows Phone 8
Battery : Non-removable Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery (BP-4GW)
Colors : Glossy White, Red and Matte finish Black, Blue.
What’s in the box
As mentioned, the Lumia 720 is built solidly and borrows its looks from the 920 which works well in its favour. The unibody structure is made of polycarbonate. The phone is 9mm thin and weighs 128g. The phone looks svelte and it gives you a premium feel. The Lumia 720 is available in four colors, White and Red in glossy finish and Black and Blue in matte finish. I prefer the matte finish as its less prone to finger prints and scratches. But hey it’s a personal choice; it actually looks the best in red.
On the right hand side, it has a dedicated Shutter key, power/screen off button and the volume keys. The memory card slot is on the left hand side and it is hot swappable. The phone comes with the industry standard micro USB charging at the bottom, the microphone is also placed here. If there is one thing to complain about then it has to be the bezels, they are too thick on all sides especially at the bottom. It would have been nimble if not for the thick bezels. The phone comes with a 2000mAh battery which should be good for 10h of 3G usage.
Display, User Interface & Handling
The Nokia Lumia 720 comes with a 4.3” ClearBlack IPS LCD display of WVGA resolution with 217ppi, while it may not sound on par with its competitors; the Windows Phones 8 is designed in such a way that the relatively low pixel density doesn’t really show.
Coming to the UI, I have always been a fan of Windows Metro UI and the Lumia 720 doesn’t fail to impress me. The phone comes with windows phone 8.0 out of the box. The Metro UI has come a long way and feels exceptionally smooth on the Lumia 720. The UI isn’t too predictable as its competitors and it might take some time getting used to. But believe me, it’s a very refreshing change. The UI is plain and simple, on click of the unlock button reveals the lock screen. The lock screen can be customized to show updates from any apps, it also displays a mini music player with basic functions. Upon press and hold of volume button on the lock screen, an icon to toggle vibrate and ring mode appears which comes in handy. A nice feature is the ability to change the wallpaper on the lockscreen automatically using apps from the marketplace or certain built-in ones. A swipe from bottom of the lock screen unlocks the phone. The homescreen is a vertical grid of live tiles; WP8 allows for resizing of tiles, an app can be pinned to the homescreen or start menu upon press and hold in the menu. An app tile can be sized to a quarter, normal or a double sized tile. There are options to change the background to either black or white, there also several accent colors to choose from in the settings menu.
The Messaging is pretty basic. The keyboard layout felt a little bit cramped, each key is elongated and as a whole takes up too much space on the screen. I personally would have preferred a wider space for each key and shortened a little bit. The keyboard also provides predictions but they are not quick enough neither are they accurate, you’ll have to wait for a fraction of a second longer than its competitors. Here again, the predictions take up too much space, the font size can be reduced to make more space.
The Lumia 720 comes with free 7GB space on SkyDrive, comes in handy to store or back up any data.
Switching between apps is pretty easy, just press and hold the back button and all the opened apps are revealed in a horizontal manner. However, there is no way to close apps from here; it only provides an interface to switch apps. One has to open the app and press the back button to close it.
The Camera clearly has to be the best part of the Lumia 720. The phone comes with a 6.1 megapixel autofocus camera with super-fast F/1.9 lens. That’s one of the fastest lenses fitted to a phone. The recently announced Lumia EOS comes with a F/2.2 lens to give you a perspective. The result is the images are just right, the colors are perfect and are sharp, and the photos are very pleasant to view on the ClearBlack LCD display. The phone comes with the shutter key on the right hand side which means you don’t have to look for the app, it is always ready.
Nokia seems to be taking their camera modules very seriously. The camera produces very well detailed photos and because of the fast lens nature you might as well get some nice bokeh, which mean it is also good for portrait photography. The Camera comes preloaded with a lot of tweaking; one can change the ISO, the White Balance and even the exposure value. There are also a few pre-defined scenes which can come in handy. There’s option to switch between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio. While Nokia smart shoot clicks a series of photos and helps you choose the best one, Nokia Cinemagraph takes small clips and convert them to GIFs.
The fast lens helps in capturing good low light pictures as well, thanks to the focus assist light. Though it might be a little grainy, it’s not a deal breaker and clearly trumps others in its class. Here is link to the comparison with the Nexus 4. The phone is equipped with a lot of photo apps. Nokia Glam Me, takes self-portraits only and as the name suggests polishes the photo with some touches. Further tweaking to the photo is available at the hands of the user. Options to increase the tone, adjust softness, making your eyes look bigger and even whitening your teeth are available. Head to the end of the post for more Camera Samples.
Connectivity and Browser
The Lumia 720 comes packaged with Internet Explorer and the browser is pretty powerful. It took whatever sites I threw at it without a problem. The one thing I would like to complain about is the images on zooming in might appear grainy. The browser was capable of handling HTML5, was also able to play HTML5 embedded videos.
Music Player/ Video Player
Apart from having the usual music player, the Lumia 720 has something called Nokia Music. This is nothing but Nokia’s very own music service and it comes free with the phone. All you need to do is register and then you are provided with unlimited music streaming and free music downloads. The Nokia Music store has a huge collection of songs across various genres. The Nokia Music app also provides you suggestions based on your music history, which is a nice touch. There are a plenty of equalizer presets, one can also define a custom one. When the screen is locked with music playing in the background, on wake a mini widget like music player with controls appears on top of the screen.
Apart from the Nokia Music app, you also get a Music Player which essentially just plays music with the same layout as the Nokia Music. But one thing missing here is an equalizer, so I’d rather stick to Nokia Music. Sadly, there is no FM radio, which comes as a surprise as Nokia doesn’t usually miss such basic features.
The Video Player is pretty powerful, I was able to play DivX, avi, mp4 and full HD movies as well. The layout is pretty minimalistic and doesn’t intervene with the video. You get your basic play/pause, forward and backward controls with a timeline and a full screen toggle button.
Apps/ AppsStore/ Office
The Lumia 720 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office, this is very helpful and one doesn’t have to look around for third party apps. This is such a blessing in disguise. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the apps which are available, and all documents can be synced with SkyDrive for easy access through Desktop and Phone. Editing is allowed only for Word and Excel while only viewing is permitted for PowerPoint files.
Windows Phone Store is slowly catching up with its rivals and it recently crossed the 100,000 mark too. Microsoft claims that most the Top selling apps are available for WP8. It has also the basic apps a sedate user need, while pro users may complain about some powerful apps missing. The phone comes with some very common games preinstalled. Xbox live is the Games Hub rival of Apple Games Center, the user can create a profile and avatars. Xbox Live keeps track of yours and friends’ profile, gaming achievements and avatars.
Another nice feature on WP8 is there is no need for a separate app for Gmail and Facebook. Just add your Gmail/Facebook account through setting menu and voila you are done. All your Facebook News feeds, mails, contacts are synced to the phone. The only drawback is that it’ll take time getting used viewing these as all the details are displayed in WP8 fashion, in black and white Metro style. Another issue is that if you’re a heavy Gmail user who likes a threaded conversation, just be prepared to give this up: the Windows Phone mail app doesn’t work very well with Gmail (or some might say it’s the other way round), and it breaks conversation threading.
The Lumia 720 come pre-loaded with Nokia’s proprietary Here Maps, Bing maps is totally out (which is a really good thing). The Here maps is great and is on par with the industry standard Google Maps, the maps are pretty accurate and I didn’t have any problem finding places of interests. The maps come with four different types of views: Maps, satellite, public transport and traffic. In Bangalore, the public transport gave me only the Metro route. Traffic view, like in Google Maps, gives you a color coded guidance of traffic around your city. Green for smooth flowing, Red for slow and Orange for moderate. One nice feature with I liked is it gives you guides of certain prominent buildings. The building with the guide is highlighted as a transparent building, zoom in and you can it shows you where the lifts, elevators, showrooms and restrooms (very useful feature in a big mall) are located. Click on the building and you can get a floor wise guide of all the facilities in the building.
Nokia Here Drive is a turn by turn navigation app. Sadly it wasn’t working on this device as it is not yet available in India. Supposedly it provides turn by turn voice guided navigation and also provides the same capability offline.
Nokia has struck the right balance with the Lumia 720, it’s solidly built with a great Camera and a refreshing UI. I feel that WP8 has a great potential ahead, it just needs more support from us users. If one can live with the limitations of the apps available, this shouldn’t fail to impress anyone. It’s a great phone for first time buyers; while the funky Red and Blue suits college kids and the Black and white will suit professionals. It could be a very good second phone for those who like to experiment with phones. Solid build quality, great camera and refreshing UI: Put all these together and I say Nokia has got a winner on their hands.
More Camera Samples from the Lumia 720
Click on the images for a bigger version.