Nokia Lumia 720 review: Complete
[tabgroup][tab title="Packaging, Design and Built, Display"]
Packaging for the Nokia Lumia 720 is in sync with Nokia’s new package design strategy. The packaging box is super compact and vibrant, with pictures of the Lumia 720 spread out across the box in different body colors. The package contents include the Lumia 720 handset, USB charging adaptor, microUSB-USB data cable pair, pair of basic earphones and the phone manual. There’s also a SIM door key which lets you eject the SIM and microSD card tray.
The USB charger-cum-data cable is rather short and could be a reason for complaint for many consumers. The earphones you get out-of-the-box are pretty basic, so don’t get swayed away by the Monster in-ear earphones that you see in the Nokia ads.
Design and Built
Nokia revolutionized its design strategy with the introduction of the Lumia range, and the Lumia 720 is no exception. The 720 shares the same design nitty-gritties as the Lumia 920 and 520: squarish edges, rear camera at the center towards the top, volume rocker, device lock/power and camera shutter buttons on the right panel. The phone also has the usual touch capacitive buttons in the front-the Back , Start and the Search buttons, which are thankfully backlit as well.
We laid our hands on a red Lumia 720 for our review. The phone looks nice and cheerful, almost as much as the other colours retailing for this handset. The phone has a typical Nokia unibody design, and hence the battery is not replaceable by users. This implies that unlike the Lumia 520 & 620 that have a removable back panel the Lumia 720 does not allow you the luxury of the same. This also means that you will be not be able to exchange your body shell with the other available colour shells.
The phone has a slim body profile (thanks to the unibody design), and a smooth matte finish at the back. The body of the phone has smooth edges all over, be it at the corners or the side curvatures. The phone has a neat finish that shows in the nice flaps that cover the SIM and microSD card slots. The SIM and microSD cards are supposed to be placed in trays that effortlessly eject from the respective slots. The placement of the speaker grill has been done at the back of the phone as a consequence of which you might hear feeble sound from the speaker if it is lying on your bed or amongst your clothes, where it can get muffled.
The feel of the phone is quite solid and didn’t give us the feeling of cheap plastic which is otherwise found in even high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S3. It is also less likely to slip out of your hands unlike its younger siblings the Lumia 520 & 620 which have a very slippery finish to the plastic body. The rear panel of the phone does attract fingerprint on its surface, but thanks to the vibrant colors Nokia has on offer, you will rarely notice it unless you place it at an angle to direct light. The front panel area is sculpted Corning Gorilla glass, underneath which is the 4.3 inches touchscreen display and the black bezel surrounding it. The display is, indeed, a huge fingerprint magnet and unless you don’t have a screen protection film, be prepared with a cleaning cloth.
Front: 4.3 inches WVGA display, 1.3 MP HD camera, touch capacitive buttons, ambient light sensor & earpiece
Rear: 6.7 MP camera, single LED flash, NFC chip, loudspeaker grill, Nokia logo
Left: microSD card slot with flap
Right: Volume rocker, power/lock button, camera shutter button
Top: 3.5mm audio jack, SIM card slot with flap
Bottom: microUSB port, mouthpiece
The Lumia 720′s 4.3 inches IPS LCD display is a deal at the phone’s price considering that none of its rivals offer the same display size. The downer here, although, is the WVGA resolution of the display, for a phone that otherwise looks so premium. At 480 x 800 pixels spread across 4.3 inches of diagonally sized display, the pixel density comes to just 217 ppi, which is sub-par . Having said that, thanks to the large fonts and Live Tiles used in the Modern UI of Windows Phone 8, you wouldn’t find the low pixel density to be much of a disappointment.
At moderate brightness, the display portrayed good contrast levels, but owing to the low pixel density the images, aren’t as sharp as to impress us. Thanks to the ClearBlack technology employed with the display the blacks are deeper than most other displays, but is still a far stretch from the Super AMOLEDs produced by Samsung. At full brightness the display has very good luminosity, but don’t expect it to match any of the flagships from other OEMs. There’s auto-brightness too thanks to the ambient light sensor and it works well.
Viewing angles are exceptional and there is no loss of colors at all when viewed from any angle. Sunlight legibility is great and you would have no hassles while you’re out under even scorching sunlight!
[/tab][tab title="User Interface"]
Windows Phone 8
The Lumia 720 comes with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS, much like all other Lumia devices. The good thing about having the WP8 OS on-board your phone is that you get the same UI and experience as you would on any other low-end or high-end smartphone running Windows Phone 8. Unlike Android, Microsoft’s mobile OS does not allow customization at an OEM level and hence you would see no variation whatsoever across the UI on devices by any OEM that run Windows Phone 8. Keeping that in mind, there is not much to talk about overall in the UI front.
All in all, the UI feels very fluid even with the 512MB of RAM and 1GHz Dual Core CPU under the hood. We experienced no lags whatsoever and response times when opening an application are pretty decent. No crashes were experienced, true to Windows Phone promise.
Phone, messaging and mail
The Dialler interface is the stock WP8 one and is pretty simple and neat. No smart dialling here though, which is missing from the WP8 OS itself.
The Messaging app on WP8 manages messages using the thread approach, much like all latest smartphone OSes. You also have an ‘Online’ tab in the messaging app that is the central console for all messaging linked to social networks like Facebook, Google, etc.
E-mail setup for various service providers like Microsoft, Google, AOL, Yahoo, etc can be done from the native mail app. For each e-mail that you set up, you get a separate mailbox that can be accessed from the apps menu. However, if you may wish to, you can link all your selected mailboxes and have a unified mailbox, something which we found very cool and useful!
The phone uses WP8′s stock browser, Internet Explorer 10, the performance on which is pretty zippy with a no-frills interface. You have tabbed browsing as standard functionality on IE10.
The soft keyboard that comes with WP8 is one of the very best in the industry and has one of the cleanest layouts. The buttons are appropriately big and you will encounter very few mistypes. There is a dedicated smiley button as well. On the downside, there is no haptic feedback from the keyboard, as is the case with the WP8 keyboard across all devices. Also, there is no gesture typing with the stock keyboard. You however have intelligent text prediction which suggests and lets you choose the next possible word you can use in the current sentence.
All your pictures can be viewed from the Photos app where you have various modes to view your pictures in- Camera Roll, Albums, Date & People. Swiping through pictures is pretty smooth and pictures can be zoomed in or out using the usual pinch-to-zoom technique that all smartphone OSes now make use of. You can share your pictures right from the app using various connectivity options as well. you also get an option to edit your photos from within the app so that you can crop, adjust, rotate or apply necessary effects to them.
Music + Videos
The Music + Videos app retrieves all media from your internal and external storage, and this is from where you can play all your songs and videos , and share them as well. The stock music player is a no-frills app and has just the basic controls. What’s disappointing, and is standard WP8 limitation, is the inability to seek through a song. You don’t have an in-app equalizer or sound enhancement settings, so that is another letdown.
The video player too does what is expected of it, and nothing more. It however does, thankfully, have the option to seek through the video, unlike the stock audio player. There is no option to take a screenshot of the video while it’s being played either.
The camera app on the Lumia 720 is nothing different than other Windows Phone 8 camera apps, save for the different lenses Nokia provides with its Lumia smartphones. The camera can be accessed with a press of the dedicated hardware shutter key, from the Start screen or from the applications menu.
The camera app has very basic settings and will be a bit of a letdown for avid photographers while using such a wonderful camera (we’ll come to that later). Again, the video mode doesn’t throw any surprises and is very basic with minimal customization capability.
The camera app has no setting to downsize the resolution of captured photos. Other settings like exposure, ISO sensitivity and scene modes are present. Being a basic camera, there is no native support for HDR as well. While in video mode, you do get an option to downsize the video capture resolution, which is very welcome. There is continuous autofocus in the video mode as well. Expect a maximum of 720p HD recording capacity with the phone’s camera, which is another drawback considering most phones in this range now come with Full HD 1080p recording. The front camera with 720p HD calling/recording capability is a nice touch.
You can download a handful of Nokia apps for free that can act as ‘lenses’ for your camera and that is where you can apply your photography skills, some of them being- BLINK, Panorama, Glam Me, Smart Shoot, Cinemagraph, etc.
Other apps that came with our Lumia 720 (Indian model) include some region-centric apps like BookMyShow, BIGFlix, Hike. Other apps include navigation apps like HERE Drive, HERE Maps, HERE Transit and HERE City Lens. Then there are ‘lenses’ for the camera which are Cinemagraph, Smart Shoot, Panorama, Bing vision, and Glam Me. You also have Nokia Music+Videos which lets you download and stream music from the Nokia Music Store.
[/tab][tab title="Connectivity, Performance, Verdict"]
Connectivity options are pretty much what you expect of a phone in the mid-range, no surprises here as everything imaginable is available with the exception of a microHDMI port. So stuff like WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC, GPS, microUSB and 3.5mm jack are what you get.
As with Windows Phone 8 on any other phone, the UI is super-fluid and there is no lag whatsoever. Response times when opening applications are also good. Resuming background applications from the recent apps menu also is acceptably fast. The downside of having 512MB RAM in the phone is that some of the apps will not be available from the Windows Phone Store, hence be prepared for that if you plan to buy the Lumia 720.
Sound output from the loudspeaker is one of the loudest we have seen lately and has a rather flat output, well we’re not complaining. Although, the sound tends to get muffled when the phone is kept on a mattress or is hiding within your clothes. The earphones are pretty basic and the output again is flat. We would have really loved in-ear earphones as do other phones in the segment these days.
As far as the camera is concerned, expect some exceptional images from the 6.7 MP Carl Zeiss-equipped rear camera in daylight and even in low-light conditions. The flash does its job well in the dark and we got reasonably well-lit pictures that were shot in total darkness. The camera does, however, takes time to focus in on an object and capture times can vary anywhere from 3 to 6 seconds, depending on the lighting and proximity of the object in focus. The hardware shutter key is a big bonus and is a pleasure to use!
The front camera has a 1.3 MP sensor but has 720p HD recording standard and has decent recording output, a pleasant surprise considering the price bracket the phone belongs to.
Video recording was effortless and there were no lags experienced when moving the camera around. The colors came out just fine and it was as good as any other ordinary 720p phone camera. Contrast levels were appropriate and sound recorded in the video was of acceptable quality.
We were particularly impressed with the panorama mode which has a very useful marker on the screen that lets you take panoramic photos in the most convenient manner. Using this marker you can get panoramic photos without any gray areas and your images will always come perfect, unlike in other phones where you have to struggle to get a linear panoramic photo.
We tested the performance of the Lumia 720 using the AnTuTu benchmarking app from the Windows Phone Store and we got the following result on our review device.
The Lumia 720 has a 2000 mAh non-replaceable battery which provides good backup for a smartphone. On our test run, with 3G data switched on continuously, the phone lasted for around 16 hours which constituted of 3 hours of music playback, 1 hour of video playback, 1 hour of internet browsing, an hour of calling and the rest of the time the phone being idle. Nothing to write home about, but still acceptable considering modern smartphone backup standards.
The Lumia 720 also supports wireless capacitive charging, which can be achieved by attaching a wireless charging shell to the back of the phone and a wireless charging plate connected to the power supply.
The Nokia Lumia 720 is an honest effort from the Finnish manufacturer which has been struggling with its sales lately. The clean design, zippy interface, incredible camera and impressive display work in favor of the phone and will help it win a couple of fans for sure, but the lack of availability of apps in the Windows Phone ecosystem, the peculiar limitations in some of the core stock apps like the media players and camera, and the low RAM may work against the otherwise-capable smartphone as well. We included the low RAM as a drawback of the phone not because it affects the performance of the phone, but because of the reason that most popular apps and games like Temple Run will be unavailable on the phone owing to the limits set by the Windows Phone Store.