Windows Phone devices for all their goodness are not the most popular phones in the market currently. It seems like nobody takes them seriously and you can actually understand why that happens. In fact, it was a startling moment, when one of the several online sellers put up a Lumia 920, the flagship Windows Phone 8 device on sale for Rs. 20,900 about 13,000 lower than the market price, and yet the general reaction was ‘Windows Phone: Don’t want’.
If that is the sort of tide you are swimming against, then obviously you have to come up with a radically amazing product to turn people’s opinions. Nokia Lumia 720, although no where near perfect or a market shaker of a device, does go a fair mile on it’s part to make itself a viable contender in it’s segment, which is the lower mid range segment. We picked our device towards the end of May and have had the feel of the phone for a good 15 or so days to share our thoughts about it. Does the Lumia 720 fill up that gap between low end and high end devices? Or is it just another square peg in the round hole? Let’s find out as we review the Nokia Lumia 720.
Availability and Pricing
A device may be absolutely fantastic, but it of little significance if it is not available easily. Thank God there are no such issues with the Nokia Lumia 720. The device was easily available in the market and most of the online retail stores had the device well in stock and promised a delivery within a couple of days. The Lumia 720 will cost you Rs. 18,094 from Flipkart here. But strangely the red unit will cost some Rs. 400 extra, which is pretty odd.
In the market though, if you have decent bargaining skills, you can pick the device for as cheap as Rs. 16,800 which is pretty reasonable for a device like Lumia 720. We got our unit in white color, though just like most typical Lumia devices, the 720 does come in various other options such as Cyan, Yellow, Red and Black.
Do make sure you pick up a silicon or a hard shell case if you pick a white unit as it does tend to pick up smudges and scratches
Hardware and Build Quality
One thing you pretty much are guaranteed when you pick a Nokia device is a supreme build quality. The Nokia Lumia 720 is no different and feels extremely solid in hand without ever feeling too bulky. The device fits in very well for someone with average sized hands, and for someone with slightly larger palms, one hand operation is definitely an option.
The device measures a cool 128 grams on a weighing scale and the body dimensions read 127.9 x 67.5 x 9 mm.
To put in to a contrast the Lumia 720 weighs 128 grams versus 185 grams of Lumia 920.
The right flank of the device is dominated by three buttons, the volume rocker, the power unlock button and the Camera shutter button. All three buttons provide a very decent feedback and we had no issues with them in our everyday usage. The power button though did stop responding for about 20 seconds after continuos clicks and a slight lag of a micro second maybe, when the screen lights up after the power button has been pressed, was a minor annoyance.
The left side of the device features the tray which houses the Micro SD Card slot. We faced absolutely no issues with inserting the card. In theory the device supports up to 64 GB of external storage but we used an 8 GB card and things were perfectly good.
The bottom of the device houses the Micro USB port which doubles up as the charging point as well as the primary microphone.
The top the device features the 3.5 mm headset jack which supported just about every headphone we threw at the device, and the SIM tray. The Nokia Lumia 720 supports Micro SIM, but unlike some of the other devices on market, inserting and removing SIM card was an absolute breeze.
The back of the Nokia Lumia 720 houses the 6.1 MP Camera with Carl Zeiss Optics and an LED Flash as well as the speaker grill at the bottom left hand side. There are three pogo pins located on the back of the device which help attaching various accessories to the device such as a wireless charging jacket. Also located is a dedicated Microphone for noise cancellation. The speaker although really loud, muffles up when the device is placed on a soft surface.
The face of the device is dominated by the 4.3 inch IPS LCD Display with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 on top for protection and Nokia’s very own Clear Black Display Technology built in. You have the grille to hear your calls on top and a 1.3 MP front facing camera to the left. The bottom of the screen has the three touch capacity Windows Phone Buttons, Back, Home and Search, which we have come to expect in all WP8 devices.
Lumia 720 alongside the Galaxy Nexus
The device feels sturdy and well built, and despite one drop, we did not really find any noticeable scratches. The unibody construction of the device makes sure there are no creeks in everyday usage and although not premium, the device does not give the feeling of cheap plastic. The white unit of ours was really glossy and as result finger smudges were very easily noticeable. The corners are neatly rounded and carrying it in normal dude jeans did not cause any obvious bulges or problems while sitting. Overall, the device is a typical Nokia built device where at least from the outside, things look shiny, stylish and good without being flashy or bling or too much into the face.
Screen and Visibility
The Nokia Lumia 720 sports a 4.3 inch IPS LCD Display with a resolution of 480×800 giving it a PPI of 217. Now, if you are coming from a high end display such as the Retina display on an iPhone or even one of the newer HD displays, then the Lumia 720 display would fall well short.
Coming from the HTC One, the Lumia 720 display looks ancient
But that is not supposed to be the barometer of measurement here. There are Android devices in the market which sport a 720 P HD Display well within the price budget of Lumia 720 and against those devices the Lumia 720 does fall short. By no means the display is bad or inadequate, if you have never used an HD display smart phone, you will probably love it, but for us, those clearly visible pixels were a little cause of concern. However, given the large tiles of WP 8, you will not really have a problem in day to day usage.
The Screen is reflective and that does cause bit of an issue
The device does have Clear Black Technology which offers a great contrast between blacks which are very deep and other colours such as red and blue, really pop up against the blacks. The display really shines because of it despite having an LCD panel instead of an AMOLED one.
A smaller resolution also resulted in lesser content when we fired up websites. It was an annoyance having to move left and right and zoom in and out to view the content unless the site did have a mobile version.
Browsing a content rich site like The Verge was a real pain
The outdoor visibility of the device was pretty good and viewing angles surprisingly were amazing. We had the device running at Auto Brightness, and had no problems at all. Even at 50% brightness, the display performed very admirably. We did try putting the ‘Super Sensitive Display’ technology to test by using the device with gloves and it worked very well.
All the display tests were performed with Sunlight Readability switched on
Performance of the Device is as good as any other WP
The Nokia Lumia 720 ships with a Qualcomm MSM8227 SoC with a dual core CPU rated at 1 GHz each. The device has a dedicated Adreno 305 GPU to help you render those graphics neatly and there is 512 MB of RAM.
Although these specs are pretty good for any lower midrange device, but the 512 MB of RAM does hold the device back. No, you will not notice it in everyday usage as the device does run smoothly and the animations are neat, but due to 512 MB of RAM there are plenty of games such as Temple Run that the device is not able to support. If you really are one to nit pick things, then switching to the menu in the Camera app, shows a little stutter but it is not something you will notice unless you really stick your head in the device.
Apart from that, the device handled multi tasking well and we faced no delays in the resumption of apps when we ran them from multitasking menu. The games did well, the ones that were supported.
We subjected the device to WP Benchmark test, and the results were as shown above. As you can see, the GPU rendered at 51 fps and although, that is acceptable performance, we would have liked if the device had reached the 60 fps marker.
The AnTuTu Benchmark results were also pretty pretty impressive and you are lead to believe that is the device had that elusive 1 GB of RAM, this would have been a total killer.
Although the performance is generally smooth, there are apps like camera that do stutter; a 1 GB RAM would have made this device probably the best in the segment
Calls and Connectivity
Another segment that Nokia totally dominates is the connectivity of the device. The calls were crisp and clear and the noise cancellation microphone at the back of the device made sure the person on the other end did not make out we were on a cellular phone.
The device does support all the standards of WI-Fi apart from 802.11 ac but that is understandable given the lower mid segment the device is targeting. We faced no problem connecting the device via 3G or Wi-Fi and the speed remained pretty much consistent. There were no notable dropped calls either unless we were on highways where it was a total blackout of network, so absolutely no issues with it.
The Lumia 720 comes with Bluetooth 3.0 and it served the purpose well, pairing easily with our old Nokia Bluetooth headset.
For those who like keeping tabs on standards will lament that Bluetooth 4.0 is not present, but 3.0 will serve you just fine as well albeit not save you energy like 4.0 which are present on Lumia 820 and Lumia 920
The Lumia 720 also comes with mass storage mode, meaning, if you connect your device to your computer, you can directly transfer Media files to it just like any USB drive. This is extremely handy if you are one of those who hates the proprietary softwares you had to install such as Zune on older devices.
Camera Performance will pleasantly surprise you
Nokia usually gets their Camera performance bang on target with most of their smartphones, but you just get the feeling, they went a little further ahead with the Lumia 720. The device comes with a 6.1 MP rear Camera with Auto Focus and a single LED flash light. Although there is no Xenon Flash involved here, the low light performance of the device is actually well above average.
Another thing worth noting is that the device comes with a F/1.9 aperture which is the largest on Nokia devices and also a 1/3.6 inch sensor. Both of these translate into a very good performance in broad day light and good low light performance. There is no OIS present on the device, which meant the videos were a little blurred out.
The Camera interface is simple, and similar to any other Lumia device. You have the option to switch to various lenses such as Cinemagraph, Panorama, Smart Shoot etc right from the camera app which was useful. You can also select scenes from the settings menu. Some of the options you have are Close Up, Night, Sports, Night Portrait. For those who like to fiddle with more intricate details can also play around with the ISO Value, White Balance, Aspect Ratio, or Exposure Values in the settings Menu.
The lack of OIS like we mentioned really hampers the video performance of the device unless you can keep your hand perfectly still or even mount the device on a stand, but still the quality is pretty usable, especially for sharing across social networks. The device does record video in 720 P, but you do have the option to lower the resolution to WVGA. You have very basic settings in the Video mode, and you can only change the White Balance or change the option of using Continuous Focus. Here are some of the Camera Samples:
The LED flash does a very decent job of shots at night and we generally did not have a problem with over blown images or unnecessary noise. The colour reproduction was good but not out of the planet results like you get from a dedicated Point and Shoot camera. The images came out realistic but a bit of post processing on your PC would be advisable. The macro shots came out with enough details and we were left really impressed.
If you a Lumia 720 in your pocket, you have as good a Camera device as you can hope for in the price bracket. All the images above, are taken on Auto mode without playing with settings
Software and the same Windows Phone 8 OS
If you are reading this review, chances are you are well versed with the Windows Phone 8 UI which powers the Lumia 720. The popular notion is that Microsoft is holding Nokia back and they would have been much better going with Android than WP. There are places you feel the same on this device too.
Although Windows Phone 8 OS is really snappy and the tile layout looks really neat and lively against the clear black background, you still are always left wanting for more. The transitions are smooth, the typing on the device is certainly a joy as the keyboard is broad and tall enough without ever restricting your view of the screen and live tiles such as people’s tile make for a good eye candy.
Typing in landscape mode is a little painful given the size of the device
The Windows Phone App store although not as comprehensive as the Android or iOS counterparts, but it is sufficient for most people. Even if there is an app missing like say Instagram, there are sufficient alternates to it. We really like the Office suite on WP 8 and it was pretty handy when we had to quickly edit a document on the move.
The Notifications were an annoyance though, and we missed having a feature like Do Not Disturb or even a dedicated center where we could simply look at all the impeding notifications from apps. There is also no way to have a battery percentage in numerals on the status bar, and if like to know exactly the juice remaining in your device you might have to go a third party route.
There are plenty of Nokia exclusive applications for Lumia 720 such as Xpress Browser, Music, City Lens which are really handy add ons. The Nokia Drive or Here Drive now worked very well and we had no problems with the navigation. The music player and the default browser are pretty much standard WP 8 and nothing new has been added.
The GPS was a bit wonky though when picking up the location and we had to refresh a couple of times in an app like Foursquare to really lock the target. The Video playback was very decent on the device and it played Xvid/DivX formats very well. The apps were responsive enough and you have to hand it over that on a budget smart phones, Windows Phone 8 does more than a very decent job without ever giving you the customizations that Android does.
The Lockscreen is standard WP8 one and you can set a wallpaper of your choice or choose an app to do it for you. Kids mode worked without a problem as well and we had nothing major to complain about the Lumia 720 apart from our general grievances with WP 8.
The battery Life on Nokia Lumia 720 is ginormous. It easily got us through the day and with moderate usage the device easily lasted well into the next day too. On Wi-Fi alone, the device performed very well and although there was a little drop when using on 3G, it is something we expected.
The 2000mAh Battery is non removable though, so that, depending on if you like removable back panels could be a problem. For us though, it was never a problem, and we absolutely loved the battery on the Lumia 720.
If you are in the market for a device sub Rs. 20,000 then Lumia 720 deserves a very serious consideration. If you can live with Windows Phone 8, then the device really checks just about every other box. Yes, the 512 MB of RAM is the only real issue we had with the device because we would have loved to played some of the high end games.
As a standalone performer, the Lumia 720 does everything well, even excelling in categories such as camera and battery life. It would be unfair to say that this is the very best mid range smart phone, because there are some very decent Android options with much better specs and performances, but by no means the 720 will let you down. And if you are a Nokia fan, and would like to get a first hand experience with a WP 8 device without spending a fortune, then this definitely is the Lumia to get.
If you have any queries or doubts regarding the Nokia Lumia 720, feel free to hit us up in the comments section below.