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Nokia Lumia 720 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Fantastic battery life

The Bad

  • RAM may be a concern for future
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The Nokia Lumia 720; what is the Nokia Lumia 720 and why would you choose it over its incredibly priced little brother, the Nokia Lumia 620 or its LTE clad bigger bro, the Lumia 820?

For starters, the Lumia 720 is a unibody handset. It’s skinny at that, measuring in at just 8mm thin, complete with the most attractive styling of the three in our opinion.

The screen is also tasty – 4.3-inch WVGA IPS coupled with Nokia’s Clear Black technology. Think we’re done? Not just yet. The Nokia Lumia 720 camera is a bespoke 6.7-megapixel sensor, which, when paired with its f/1.9 lens delivers the strongest low-light performance on the block, save for the flagship, Nokia’s Lumia 920.

It’s obviously got some strengths, but with a £300 asking price, is it worth your cash?

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Design

Unibody Nokia Lumia. Anytime those words are combined, we immediately think of the classical, the seminal Nokia Lumia 800. Indeed, the 720 is the first of the Nokia Lumia 2013 line that carries forward that rich, stylish and elegant feel.

Describable as a blunter HTC 8X, the Lumia 720 is curvaceous and nuanced. Its curved glass delivers congruity, while its matte plastic body screams sturdiness. 

Nokia Lumia 720 review design image frontNokia Lumia 720 review design image front

Measuring 8mm thin, it’s a good fit in the hand and all the buttons are within reach, with the standard array of Windows Phone buttons to the right. There’s also a microUSB port down below and a 3.5mm headphone jack up at the top.

In the box is a pin, used to eject the microSIM eject tray at the top side and the microSD eject tray to the left. Turn the phone around for the 6.7-megapixel camera, LED flash and loudspeaker. Three curious dots also lie on the reverse, suggesting wireless charging. This isn’t available out of the box, but with the right case, you can wireless charge away.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Design imageNokia Lumia 720 review design image

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Screen

While WVGA resolution spread across 4.3-inches doesn’t sound all that great, when coupled with Nokia’s Clear Black technology and an IPS panel, it gets our vote.

The Lumia 720’s display looks punchy, vibrant and deep, complete with pure whites and a superficial quality we generally associate with HTC handsets and iPhones.

The slight bevelling of the glass helps the polish extend across both sight and touch, with a thumb over the edges producing a rich, subtle tactility. The fact it packs Nokia’s Glove Touch tech means it’s loaded with high-sensitivity for mitten-on operation. 

Nokia Lumia 720 review screen close-up

We would have loved to see a 720p panel on here in BlackBerry Z10 and HTC 8X styling, but, as we’ll come onto later, the power under the hood probably wouldn’t have coped. As it stands therefore, the Nokia Lumia 720 screen produces a very solid experience just shy of greatness.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Operating system

Running Windows Phone 8 has become a sure-fire sign of quality on a phone of late. It’ll be at least good, with a cohesive look and a functional UI. App support is poor when compared to Android and iOS, but the out of the box experience is generally more premium.

Nokia Lumia 720 screenshotNokia Lumia 720 screenshot 2Nokia Lumia 720 keyboard

Opting for a Nokia Windows Phone 8 device like the Lumia 720 delivers even more oomph thanks to the Nokia Services on board. 

What services? Nokia’s Here Drive, Here Maps and Nokia Music for starters. These add oodles of value to your Lumia, ranging from free offline mapping and satellite navigation through to downloadable music.

The Lumia 720 doesn’t pack the Here Drive+ app as found on the Lumia 620, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920. This means your offline satellite navigation is restricted to the UK, but this isn’t too big a deal, with the option to purchase additional maps available should the need arise.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Nokia MusicNokia Lumia 720 review: Nokia TransitNokia Lumia 720 review: Nokia Maps

The Lumia 720 also comes loaded with Nokia’s incredible Mix Radio service. Available for free, this feature of the Nokia Music app delivers hand picked playlists to Lumia owners across a range of genres. Now, we’re talking about hundreds of playlists here, not just one or two. 

What’s more, these can be downloaded free, for offline music when you don’t have a data connection. It was ace when it launched, it’s even more ace now, and if you want to take your Mix Radio experience to the next level, you can subscribe and remove any restrictions Nokia pairs with the free version. Nokia has also released a Windows 8 app to bring the experience to your PC or tablet.

There are a number of other Nokia exclusive Windows Phone apps you can also find on the Windows Phone Martketplace such as Nokia Transit and Nokia City Lens, all bolstering to the value adds that make Nokia WinPhos such great buys.

What’s more, even though the Lumia 720 has 512MB RAM, a figure that would send alarm bells ringing on Android, it’s silky smooth throughout the UI. Swiping and typing are instantaneous and the Windows Phone 8 keyboard is a dream when spread across the phone’s comfortable 4.3-inch display.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Camera and multimedia

As if we weren’t transparent enough with what we thought of the Lumia 720 camera. Last week, midway through our review we shared a low-light comparison in which it blew the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Xperia Z out of the water.

A weekend later and we’re no less enamoured with the Nokia Lumia 720 camera. It isn’t the greatest snapper out there, but in its price range, nothing comes close.

Nokia Lumia 720 camera sample - macroNokia Lumia 720 camera sample - colour

This is interesting given the 6.7-megapixel sensor weighing in at a lower pixel count than much of the mid-range 8-megapixel competition. Maybe the f/1.9 lens on the Lumia 720 has something to do with it, or the fact it’s a sensor bespoke made for this phone; either way, it’s working for us.

In good lighting, 6.7-megapixels provides ample detail for a decent sized print out. The phone’s quick to focus and macro shots produce a pleasing background blur and sharp, in focus foregrounds. What’s really great is the face low-light macro shots look passable even without a flash.

Nokia Lumia 720 camera sample - macro 2Nokia Lumia 720 camera sample - food

Nokia Lumia 720 camera sample - low lightNokia Lumia 720 review: Camera sample

Darker scenarious can wash out vibrancy occasionally, though for the most part, the Lumia 720 is capable of capturing great amounts of ambience, with strong colour and well metred shots. There’s also a flash which, when coupled with a steady hand lights up a scene well, though won’t be a patch on Xenons – come on Nokia, a Xenon flash on a Lumia – make it happen.

720p video shot on the Nokia Lumia 720 also looks good, with decent detail levels and impressive continuous focus. We wish Windows Phone had touch to focus mid-recording, though this doesn’t hamper an altogether decent experience. The sample below shows a couple of tests putting the video camera through its paces.

Remaining multimedia capabilities are also good to great for a handset of the Lumia 720’s price. Thanks to the strong screen, apps like Netflix make getting movie content on it a breeze. The OS’s strong codec support coupled with the fact Windows Phone 8 devices can now be read as mass storage devices on a PC mean getting your own videos on it should be a breeze.

We’ve talked about Nokia Music in the OS section, but we didn’t touch upon Xbox Music. This service can be likened to Spotify with a £10 a month subscription. This opens up offline downloads of a virtually unlimited collection of music and tight integration with the OS and its Livetiles. Like Spotify, it works across your PC but has the added perk of working on an Xbox too. The loud speaker performs well in terms of volume, though at higher levels, lacks base and gets tinny.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Xbox musicNokia Lumia 720 - Xbox music screenNokia Lumia 720 screenshot - Xbox music

With the 4.3-inch display, eReading isn’t incredible on the Lumia 720. With pixel density being half decent though, text looks good and with apps like Kindle available, it’s a perfect supplement to an eReader or a tablet.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Storage and connections

The Lumia 720 offers 8GB of memory on board, with a healthy 7.2GB user available for all your pictures, movies and music. This should be enough for most casual users, but for the more intensive media-muncher, you can pop up to 32GB of additional storage into your Lumia 720 via microSD card.

The Lumia 720 isn’t loaded with the most cutting edge data connections such as LTE or DC-HSDPA, but it still offers HSDPA giving you download speeds of 21.1 Mbps and uploads of 5.67Mbps. Wi-Fi is also on board to keep you connected as is NFC and a GPS module to take full advantage of all of Nokia’s fantastic mapping services.

Nokia Lumia 720 web browsing

Web browsing on the Lumia 720 is subject to all the pros and cons that are associated with Windows Phone 8. On the plus side, Internet Explorer 10 tends to render pages very well and interaction is a silky experience.Things iOS and Android users take for granted though such as password saving and easy to navigate tabs aren’t a given though. 

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Performance and battery

The dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 1GHz and coupled 512MB RAM could go either way. On the one hand, it’s Windows Phone 8 inside, efficient and elegant, across price-points. On the other, 3D games are hitting the platform now. Take Asphalt 7, it looks awesome on the upper-end Lumia devices, but how does it fare on the 720?

Well. Very well indeed. While 512MB RAM would make us shudder on most Android device, in Windows Phone 8’s current state, it’s enough.

The UI looks smooth with instantaneous interaction with the display and stagger free transitions. A WP Bench score of 156.04 didn’t impress on a numbers front, but going back to Asphalt 7, one of the most demanding games on the OS and it played perfectly.

This means real-world power is ample, though spec-fiends might feel let down.

Speaking of power, the battery life is astounding. 2000mAh gets you through at least two days of moderate use, making the Lumia 720 the first smartphone not branded ‘MAXX’ to save us charging nightly.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Conclusion

Anyone who’s checked out our YouTube channel comments will know, there’s been a lot of talk about the Nokia Lumia 720 being overpriced. With an RRP of £300 offline therefore, what do you get for the money?

The most attractive Lumia phone since the Lumia 800 for starters. The design is seamless and vibrant; we happily paraded the phone while reviewing it, and to much onlooker admiration at that.

You also get a very good screen that only falls shy of greatness because of its lower than HD resolution. Couple that with a smooth Windows Phone 8 experience, front facing camera, Nokia services, not to mention astounding battery life and the device quickly becomes as good as the HTC 8X – a pricier flagship.

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Unibody designNokia Lumia 720 review: Buttons

Throw in a camera with better low-light capabilities than any phone out there save for the HTC One and Nokia Lumia 920 and it’s an easy recommendation, in the Windows Phone sphere at least; and that in spite of the 512MB RAM and the lack of HD display.

If you’re thinking about Androids, the Google Nexus 4 addresses the RAM and screen contentions, but packs a worse camera, no expandable memory and a significantly shorter battery life. The Motorola RAZRi costs about the same, though doesn’t up the screen resolution significantly and once again, the camera is a lot weaker, as is the design.

So why’s it getting this reaction? Perhaps Nokia’s biggest mistake was pricing the Lumia 720’s little brother, the Lumia 620 too low, considering its comparable feature-set. In the same breath, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Lumia 720 is the best Windows Phone 8 device out there for the money and one of our top mid-rangers across operating systems.

Specification

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