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

What's in the Box for the Lumia 720

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.

Lumia 720 in hand

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.

The Lumia 720

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.

Camera

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.

Lumia 720 Camera Sample2

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.

Lumia 720 Camera Sample1

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.

Maps

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.

Conclusion

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.

Nokia Launches a Slim Aluminium Bodied Lumia 925

In a press event yesterday in London, Nokia announced the latest entrant into the Lumia family, the Lumia 925. Apart from being slimmer than the Lumia 920, this device also features sobered down colors unlike the others in the Lumia Family – white, grey or black. Also notable is that Wireless Charging on the phone has been removed but you can snap on a Wireless Charging Case to bring back that functionality.

Quick Specs of the Lumia 925

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  • Processor: 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon
  • Dimensions : 129 x 70.6 x 8.5  mm weighing 139g
  • Display: 4.5-inch AMOLED WXGA (1280×768) with Gorilla Glass 2
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 16 GB user memory – not expandable
  • Camera: Rear Camera – PureView 8.7-megapixel with OIS, Autofocus, dual LED flash. Front Camera: HD 1.2MP wide angle
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, BT 3.0, NFC, WiFi, Positioning via A-GPS and Glonass, 3.5mm audio connector
  • Battery: 2000 mAh
  • Wireless Charging: Only via a charging case.
  • Networks: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900, WCDMA, 2100, 1900, 850, 900, LTE 2100, 1800, 2600, 900, 800
  • Audio: -IHF speaker, 2 microphones, HD voice compliant, 3.5mm AV connector
  • Expected Price :  469  Euros before taxes and subsidies (approx Rs. 34,000 in India )

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What’s different from the Lumia 920?

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  • Build – The 925 features an Alumium body with a Polycarbonte  back, while the 920 is a fully polycarbonate.
  • Screen – The 925 comes with a AMOLED screen vs the IPS one on the 920. Also the 925 features Gorilla Glass 2 vs the original Gorilla glass for the predecessor.
  • Better battery – According to the specs the 925 has a maximum talk time of 12.8 hours on 3G compared to the 10.8 on the Lumia 920
  • Camera – The 925 has upgraded optics ( a 6 lens optic ) for better low light snaps, and Nokia Smart Camera. The 920 will receive the Smart Camera app in a future OS upgrade.
  • ISO ( Camera’s Light Sensitivity): The Lumia 925 has a max rating of ISO 1600 compared to the 920’s ISO 800
  • Wireless Charging – The Lumia 925 requires a Wireless Charging case if you want to charge wirelessly, where as the 920 comes with that built into the device itself.

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Camera – Nokia’s Claim to Fame

1200-nokia_lumia_925_back

As with most of Nokia’s flagship devices, the Lumia 925’s claim to fame is also the PureView camera which is bundled along with the phone. This device comes with 6 piece lens optics from Carl Zeiss, with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and  a light sensitivity rating of ISO 1600, which is double that of the Lumia 920. This combination makes for better night and low light snaps on this new flagship.

Nokia’s latest camera software lens dubbed the Nokia Smart Camera adds more features to the camara software on Windows Phone 8, allowing a more creativity in the images shot using the device. The main features –   Best Shot, Action Shot, and Motion Focus allow you to choose the best photo in a group shot and remove moving people or objects from a snap, create action shot with multiple images superimposed on each other to show the subject multiple times in the same snap, and adding motion blur while focusing on the subject accordingly. Here are a few sample snaps using the Lumia 925 and Nokia Smart Camera. (Images courtesy Nokia)

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Oggl with Instagram Sharing Announced

Nokia, during their launch, announced Hipstamatic’s new app, Oggl, which allows users to take pictures apply filters and share it with other users on the Oggl network or to Facebook, Twitter and wait for it …. Instagram. Even though an official Instagram app is still not forthcoming, users can now share to Instagram officially using Oggl, since this not via a hacked API unlike another app on the Windows Phone Store.

Windows Phone Amber coming in the next month or so

Nokia also announced that an update dubbed “Windows Phone Amber” will hit existing users of Windows Phone 8 devices which will bring the  Nokia Smart Camera along with a few more goodies to our existing phones as well. Here’s a list of features we’re aware of which should be coming in:

  • Nokia Smart Camera App.
  • The ability to choose which app to start-up when the camera button is pressed.
  • FM radio is one of the features which will get turned on once the upgrade happens. Unfortunately the Lumia 620 it won’t get this feature it seems.
  • Tap to wake, featured on the 925, will also be available for the users of the Lumia 920 & 820 phones.
  • International Podcast Support
  • CalDav and CardDav support for Windows Phone 8 which allows better sync with services like Google

 In Short

Nokia’s Launch of the Lumia 925 is an attempt to augment the Lumia family. The Metal body design and sobered down colors will attract some more folks ( probably the corporate types) who were wary of the bright polycarbonate bodies of the older devices.  The phone being slimmer and lighter also helps, since quite a few people I know were complaining about the size and weight of the Lumia 920. Unfortunately, to make it so, Nokia removed the native ability to charge the phone wirelessly, and requires a special charging case of you wish to do so.

I’m still not sure of how much better this device’s camera fares compared to the older 920, but the specs do show that it is more capable in low light situations.

For users of the Lumia 920, the minor upgrade in the specs really don’t shout out to me to go upgrade immediately, since the  Windows Phone Amber upgrade will bring the software goodies into our devices as well. But I think for first time buyers the 925 will be a better buy than the 920 is.

Petition for Instagram on Windows Phone with Nokia’s #2InstaWithLove

2InstaWithLoveA lot of Windows Phone users are still waiting patiently for Instagram to be launched on Windows Phone 8. There are also quite a lot of rumors (new and old) floating around for quite a while about the arrival of Instagram for Windows phone.

Instead of just sitting around and waiting, Nokia has launched a new novel way to campaign for Instagram for Windows Phone. They’ve just released an app on the Windows Phone store called #2InstaWithLove. The app allows you to take or choose an existing photo, add a Polaroid filter (yes, just one) and share that on your Social Network with the hashtag #2InstaWithLove. The photos get uploaded to a Nokia owned site, and the link to that is shared with your friends. Here’s one I uploaded with the app.

Their app description says it all:
The app allows you to take a photo using the classic polaroid filter and automatically adds the hashtag #2InstaWithLove. It’s all about showing Instagram just how passionate the Windows Phone community is – so be creative, have fun and be sure to share your favorite photos with us using a social network of your choice.

So get the app, and start sharing if you want to petition for Instagram on Windows Phone! Head to #2InstaWithLove on the Windows Phone store to download the app, or scan the QR code below with Bing Vision on your phone to get the app.

 #2InstaWithLove QR Code

Photosynth finally arrives for Windows Phone 8 users. Hurray!

Finally my favorite Panorama app arrives for Windows Phone 8. I’m a long time Photosynth user, way back when Windows Phone 7 didn’t even exist. In fact most non-iDevice users may not know that Photosynth from Microsoft was first released for the iPhone way before Windows Phone was even released. My complaint last year was that Microsoft was dragging their feet while getting Photosynth for Windows Phone 7 and this year that Photosynth was notably missing from the Windows Phone 8 yet again!

Finally Microsoft has announced that Photosynth is now officially available for WP8 users through the Windows Phone Store. For those of you who haven’t yet tried it or know about the app are advised to first go download it!

Capturing a scene using Photosynth

 The app allows you to create immersive panorama spheres which you can later explore by scrolling both sides and even up and down. It’s almost like being there. The best part is that it’s quite easy to capture the photo. All you need to do is to keep moving your camera around and up and down to capture the entire scene, while the app guides you and auto clicks the scene. Once you’ve captured the entire site, the app stitches up the entire scene allows you to preview it and save it to your phone. You can then share it from there with your friends through Facebook, Twitter and Email. To give you an idea of how the final image comes, here’s one I captured quite a while back with Photosynth.

Do keep in mind that Photosynth like most panorama captures work well when you’re not trying to capture very near by objects, but from a distance.

The Photosynth blog also mentions that the new features for Windows Phone 8 are:

  • Camera lens integration – Quickly capture and view panoramas by launching Photosynth directly from the built-in camera app
  • View shared panoramas – View panoramas shared with you via email, Facebook, or Twitter directly on your mobile device
  • More camera controls – Adjust for various lighting conditions by using new exposure and white balance locking options

Download Link

 

 

via: Photosynth Blog

Wordament – Find words in two minutes & compete against the Internet

Wordament LogoOne of the first games I tried on my new Nokia Lumia 920 is a game from Microsoft called Wordament. I took it for a spin, just because it was a preloaded game on the phone. Little did I suspect that point that  I’d soon be hooked on this game. iOS users can also enjoy this game, since it’s available on iTunes as well.

Wordament is a simple enough game to start off with. You are presented with a 4 by 4 grid of alphabet tiles and you have to find words by sliding your fingers over letters which are adjacent to each other. Check the image below to see how the Game tiles look. Just moving your fingers over the letters PARING, selects and adds the word to the your list of words which you found.

Wordament Game Letter Tiles

Oh. Did I mention yet that you have just Two minutes to find as many words as you can? Wordament is also a real-time game which means players around the world are competing to find as many words as they can within that two minute time window. It’s quite easy to find around 10-15 words per game, but then that’s below par, since most of the times have upwards of 200 words which you can find with in the grid, some of the being real obscure words as well.

As soon as the time is up, you can then look at how many words you found, and how many you missed out on and tapping on the words in the list of words you didn’t find, shows you how you could have made those words on the grid. After that, you are taken to the word score screen, where the app shows you where you stand among all the other players online.

Being a Microsoft Xbox game, you can also sign in with your Xbox creds both on the Windows Phone and iOS versions of the app and have your achievements uploaded to your XBox account. It’s also free, so if you have a few minutes to spare, go get it. Fingers crossed that you don’t get addicted to the game like I did. Download links are available for Windows Phone and iOS right after a few tips to help you score better.
Wordament Game Screen

Wordament Tips for Scoring:

Just playing the game straight up may not help you get the best of scores, or the number of words you can find. Here are a few tips to help you score better and come higher up on the world ranking:

  • Check the top of the tiles to see if there are any “Themes” for the game. Finding words based on those themes get you extra points.
  • If you get to a point where you can seem to find any more words, touch the rotate icon at the botton right of the screen to rotate the tiles. Believe me this helps finding those extra words you missed out on.
  • Two minutes is not a lot of time. Once you are immersed in the game, you’ll find yourself easily running out of time, so lock in those finds as soon as possible.
  • Words with uncommon letters like (U,W,X, Z, Y) get you more points, so try finding as many words with these letters as you can.
  • Find plurals of the words. In the grid above – RAT, RATS, RATE, RATES are all scoring words so get them all!

If you have more tips on how to score better on Wordament, do let us know by leaving a comment.

Download Links:

Windows Phone Store:

iTunes App Store:

‎Microsoft Wordament
‎Microsoft Wordament