With a shared launch of Lumia 720 and Lumia 520, +Nokia has added two new members to its lineup of WP8 models. 

So far, we’ve seen Lumia 520,620, 720, 820, and 920.

If we categorize them, then all these models come under two categories based on shared core specifications: a high-end type and a low-end category. 

Does this raise the need for two new models when they share the same SoCs, the same amount of RAM, and exact screen resolution?

Yep, both these models have relatively the same core features. However, there are differences in design, camera technology, and display technology. 

But do these changes make 720 way better than other smartphones of the same category? Do these changes justify the relatively bulky (it’s clunky compared to that of 620) price tag of 720? 

Let’s find out what it strictly has to offer.

Hardware

The design philosophy of Nokia has remained good once again. The phone looks like a clean rectangle of 127.9 x 67.5 x 9mm.

It has sharp angles, just like HTC 8X and Huawei’s Ascend W1. Still, Nokia hasn’t forgotten to add the playful Lumia flair to the device. 

It has round edges, but as you can see in the images, they aren’t as round as they were in Lumia 620.

A sculpted Gorilla Glass 2 covers the entire front face, so rest assured from the side of scratches. Corners, sides, and back – all are constructed of a single piece of polycarbonate. 

In my case, it was red, but other colors are available, including cyan, yellow, black, and white. The rounded edges and flat back collectively provide a firmer grip on the handset. It’s also pretty light at 128 grams only.

 Of course, it could be filled with metal, but the build quality of this piece is robust. It doesn’t feel like a piece of bloated hardware with a small screen, and also, there’s not a lot of space left on the sides.

There are back, home, and search keys on the same Gorilla Glass sheet, while above the screen, there’s a small grey Nokia logo below the earpiece.

Just to the left, there’s a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. 

There’s a mic and a micro-USB port on the bottom edge, while on the left side, there’s a microSD card drawer. 

There’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack and another socket for micro-SIM on the top edge. In contrast, on the right edge, there’s a volume rocker, a power button, and a two-stage camera button.

Nokia Lumia 720 Back, SD Card Drawer, and Sim Card DrawerOf course, the back panel is also as clean as the rest of this handset.

In the middle, there’s a Nokia logo written from the black color on my review device (this color may be different on yours if you choose different hues). Atop, there’s a 6.7-megapixel rear-facing camera lens with flash.

There’s a rounded loudspeaker grille on the bottom right. In contrast, there’s a glossy CE mark in the middle of the bottom edge with the statement “Model: 720 Made in China”. 

However, this statement is written in illegibly smaller font. Above the mark, there are three rounded metallic pads for providing a wireless charging facility to its sizable 2000 mAh battery. 

The battery is non-removable due to the cleaner construction of this device.

Finally, I would like to say that I like the overall construction of this smartphone.

Display Technology

The 4.3-inch IPS LCD comes with ClearBlack technology and a sensitive touch screen.

Screen resolution is 800×480; pixel density is 217 PPI. Now let’s face that most device manufacturers don’t want to tell you – WVGA displays are still pretty common among WP8 devices. 

These 800×480 resolutions have generally been used in most WP8 devices, including Lumia 520, 620, 720, 820, HTC 8S, and Huawei Ascend W1. 

Reasons for this selection may be following:

  • WVGA Screens and the resources required for manufacturing them allow the development of more affordable smartphones; or,
  • Live Tiles and WP8 UI render the best on this resolution.

Whatever the reason is, still, I must say that the screen itself looked somewhat astonishing during my testing. 

You’ll be surprised to hear that there’s not much difference in the display quality compared to Lumia 620. Six hundred twenty packs the same screen in a 3.8-inch panel, while this one packs the same in a 4.3-inch forum. 

There was room for a notable drop in the quality, but still, Nokia has managed to prevent that drop somehow. Pixelation exists to some degree, but it has been disguised from WP8 UI. 

You won’t be able to see it until you stare hard enough at a certain point. Colors are crispier and vibrant, blacks and whites are far more accurate, and the screen looks perfect for most tasks. 

Viewing angles, brightness, outdoor visibility, and auto-adjust settings are all great enough. 

Overall we want to say that this device’s display feels awesome even at a typical resolution of 800×480.

Software

Windows Phone 8 UI of Lumia 720

You’re already aware by now that Lumia 720 runs Windows Phone 8 OS. WP8 is a stripped-back, simple, and unique OS made by Microsoft. 

This is the only OS that runs smoothly, even on the hardware that Android handsets laugh at. You may already have seen Windows Phone 8 UI several times by now. 

Along with the lock screen, there’s a home screen filled with Live Tiles and an adjacent panel for showcasing your apps and core features (i.e., settings, emails, messages, and so on). 

Since it’s a Lumia, it supports several exclusive apps that aren’t available on other handsets. Some of those apps include PhotoBeamer, Nokia Music, and Pulse Messenger (beta). 

Many image and camera apps preinstalled on this smartphone allow you to take even more advantage of your camera; for example – Creative Studio, Cinemagraph, Smartshoot, Panorama, and Glam Me. 

Many Nokia Here navigation aids also come preinstalled with this smartphone, and you can download even more from the WP8 store.

Camera

The rear-facing camera is the main feature that sets it apart from other handsets of the Lumia lineup. 520, 620, 8S, and Ascend W1 all have 5 megapixels on the camera name, but this one comes with a BSI sensor of 6.7 megapixels.

The camera uses a Carl Zeiss lens and f/1.9 aperture. But before we go into the details of this one, let’s take a look at the front facing 1.3-megapixel camera. 

This wide-angle lens shooter with an f/2.4 aperture can shoot some crispy photos in the daylight. But if you’re taking pictures in low light or even in room light, results may be noisy. 

And in some cases, extremely noisy.

 You can see the exposure compensation stuttering in the viewfinder in the artificial light as it struggles to adjust the settings under artificial light.

Lumia 720 Camera App

Shooting 720p videos on the front-facing camera also give the same experience if bad lighting has caught you. You’ll end up with grainy videos. 

Under favorable lighting conditions, you may get acceptable quality. Front-facing cameras do not act as the main selling points in most smart devices. 

You’re not going to overcome the disappointment while using the shooter for video calling or self-portraits.

 The Glam Me app of Nokia, an airbrush or filtering app, is mainly for front-facing cameras. You can play with it for better quality.

Like most touch screen handsets, you can tap on the screen for focusing and capturing. Still, there is also a physical two-stage camera button on the right side to focus the camera before taking shots.

 The toggle worked flawlessly during my testing. But there’s a lot to be desired in the shutter response. It takes good 2 seconds to focus on the object and a lot more time capturing and saving the image.

 It would help if you had a very stable hand; otherwise, you will end up with blurry, low-quality images. 

It takes more than enough time before you’ll be able to capture the next shot. Painful.

If you’re not familiar with the core Camera app of WP8, then I would like to tell you that it’s pretty basic. 

It has only a few options like scene type, white balance, ISO, exposure, and aspect ratio.

 There are limited options in subsections, and I just used the automatic settings for capturing images in low light. 

On the viewfinder, you can switch between multiple cameras and still / video modes. You can also access other photography apps from the viewfinder itself. There aren’t any advanced features in the core Camera app. 

Suppose you want to enjoy the features like HDR, burst shot, panorama, and slow-motion video recording. In that case, you’ll need some other apps like Cinemagraph, Panorama, Glam me, Smart Shoot Photosynth. 

All these apps are preinstalled on Lumia 720. You need to play with them.

Lumia 720 Rear Facing Camera

I was now coming to a 6.7 megapixel rear facing shooter. It provides mixed feelings. With my first few shots, I didn’t play much with settings and only chose the right mode (i.e., night, close-up, and so on). 

Results were not too great in those circumstances. But when I gave it the choice of auto adjustment, I got the best results. 

However, if you’re an expert photographer, you would not like to stay at your handset’s mercy by choosing auto (and I know that).

But if you do not have expertise in photography, then choosing the auto option will be right for you.

Macro shots captured from the handset were consistent and satisfactory, but things started getting crapping up with artificial light. Flash itself works fine and releases enough light rays for keeping overexposure to the minimum. 

But you’ll not need flash in many circumstances because the BSI sensor and f/1.9 aperture suck up every single light ray for providing better snaps under low lighting. And sometimes it works perfectly! 

Since it comes at a low price point, it won’t provide an intense light performance like that of Lumia 920, but still, you’ll be glad to hear that the quality is comparable.

Video recording with the handset is not as sound as stills. Still, you’ll eventually feel the advantage of the f/1.9 aperture and BSI sensor in the recording. 

Since there’s nothing good in the name of image stabilization, you’ll need to stabilize your hands firmly. 

The autofocus eventually stuttered, and brightness also didn’t remain consistent during my testing. Noticeably the startup time for video recording is 1 second, half of the time required for capturing stills.

Performance

1GHz Snapdragon S

Lumia 720 comes with 512MB RAM, a dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, and Adreno 305 GPU.

Benchmarks have shown that there’s not much difference in performance compared to other low-tier WP8 handsets. So basically, there’s nothing much to say about the performance. 

Booting time is roughly 30 seconds. You can jump into core features like messaging, emails, and settings within a matter of seconds.

Since it’s WP8, there is a minimum amount of lags. Apps won’t freeze, stutter or lag in this smartphone. Right now, most WP8 apps run smoothly on the 512MB RAM, but this case isn’t going to last for a long time. 

Now there are many more feature-rich apps coming to the WP8 Store that requires at least 1GB of RAM. 

Two such names are Asphalt 7: Heat and Modern Combat 4. So in the future, you may find 512MB RAM insufficient for completing your requirements. But that’s not the case right now.

Internet browsing also seems to be fine on the handset. Most sites load quickly, whether they’re mobile sites or full desktop sites. Zooming in web pages also works smoothly. 

For browsing the web, you’ll be using either Wi-Fi or HSPA+ at a peak speed of 21.1 Mbps. Both work entirely even on the longer distance. Radios are just fine for GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900), and WCDMA networks and LTE Chip is missing from the device.

Sound Quality, Bluetooth, and NF

The sound quality through headphones is pleasing and well-balanced, but I don’t expect it to match the iPhone. 

Don’t make it too loud. Otherwise, you’ll be ending up with low-quality noise. However, call-quality is sharp, and you’ll not feel a problem in hearing calls. Bluetooth and NFC also work correctly.

During my testing, 720’s 2000 mAh battery lasted for four and half hours. This is the best battery backup I’ve ever seen in any low-end WP8 handset. 

You may get a day of heavy usage out of it, but it may last for 36 hours without any trouble, even on regular use. 

Battery backup has always remained a plus point for Nokia. Once again, they’ve provided the best power pack to this 1GHz smartphone.

 And yes, it refuels at a rate of 50% per hour. Fast enough, isn’t it?

Wrap-Up

Finally, I would like to say that it’s a great handset from the outside, but the lackluster inside leaves us desiring more. 

Especially at a price point of £300, it could be better with some more features. 

Except for battery life, there’s nothing worth remembering about this smartphone. 

You can say that to reveal a mid-range handset. 

Nokia has ended up filling old wine in the new bottle, which is actually not enough for justifying the price hike.

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