We’ve already established that the Lumia 720 is Nokia’s best effort as far as Windows Phone 8 handsets go. This could soon change once the Lumia 925 hits markets, but as it stands now, the Lumia 720 offers the best blend of features and performance, wrapped in a beautiful package that’s quite affordable. The only limiting factor we saw during our brief stint with the phone was the limiting 512MB RAM. But how much of a deal breaker is it? Let’s find out.
Design and build
The Lumia 720 features a polycarbonate unibody design, just like the Lumia 920 – only this time it’s slimmer, lighter and much better to hold. The 4.3-inch display has a much slimmer bezel as well as width, making it one of the slimmest Lumia’s at just 9 mm and super light at 128 g. The ClearBlack display blends seamlessly with the rest of the chassis, giving it a very elegant look.
The button placement is very similar to the other Lumia’s; we have the volume rocker, power/sleep and the camera shutter all lined up along on one side. The button size and tactile feel is very good and it’s easy to figure out which one is which by just a simple touch. There’s a microUSB port at the bottom, microSD card slot on the side followed by the microSIM slot and headphone jack on the top. Around the back, we have a 6.7MP camera sensor with Carl Zeiss optics and an LED flash. The speaker grille is at the bottom and is fairly loud for alerts.
The Lumia 720 scores full marks for aesthetics and ergonomics in our books. The handset is very well put together – even better than the more expensive Lumia 820.
The 6.7MP Carl Zeiss camera
Nokia hasn’t held back when it comes to the display. The Lumia 720 features a fairly dense 4.3-inch IPS display with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. The ClearBlack technology certainly helps when it comes to viewing the screen under direct sunlight. The IPS panel produces bright and vivid colours with very good viewing angles.
A familiar interface
The Lumia 720 runs Windows Phone 8 (WP8) OS and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon chipset from Qualcomm. This is the same MSM7227 SoC used in the Lumia 620 and the Lumia 520. The RAM configuration also remains the same, which is 512MB. The reduction in RAM is not much of a problem for the OS functioning, but it is a problem when it comes to using apps. Most of the good games for Windows Phone 8 require 1GB of RAM, so you’re straight away limited, which is a shame since there are just a handful of good games to begin with. Luckily, all popular apps make do just fine with 512MB of RAM and work well.
Good placement of buttons
The OS itself offers the same typical user experience as you’d find in the higher-end models, and it does so quite well for most part. The WP8 UI with its Live Tiles and social network integrated phone book worked seamlessly and was as smooth as they come.
The Lumia 720 is a well-equipped media device. Thanks to Dolby’s Headphone Sound Enhancement technology, the handset provided well-balanced tones with a resounding bass line and slightly sharp but well-managed higher tones. There are equaliser presets in the main settings menu and you can also toggle the Dolby enhancement mode and Audio levelling. The enhancements work on a system-wide scale and not just for the music player.
1080p files play with ease
The video player is capable of reading a few DivX and XviD coded files as well as MP4 – even those in full HD. HD files didn’t seem to have any issue during playback. What’s missing is an FM radio, so you’ll have to suffice with third party apps for online services, if that’s your thing.
Nokia has included most connectivity options we’d expect from any standard mobile handset these days, minus a couple of features. The Lumia 720 features quad-band 3G capabilities, Wi-Fi (dual band), EDGE and GPS with GLONASS for Nokia Drive, Maps and apps like Nokia City Lens, all of which work well. NFC, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and, of course, USB 2.0 for PC interfacing and charging is also present. What the handset lacks is Wi-Fi Direct and AV out (MHL). Wireless charging is available as an option through a charging jacket. Since the body is non-removable, there are contact points on the back for the charging jacket. You’ll also be happy to know that the memory expansion slot supports cards up to 64GB.
Bundled productivity apps
The primary camera is a 6.7MP with wide-angle lens and Carl Zeiss optics. While the resolution has been dropped a little as compared to the Lumia 820, the 720 does one better by offering a much larger aperture of f/1.9, which is quite a rarity in smartphones. This allows much more light in as well as gives us very good depth of field, which is evident from the image below. Other features remain pretty much standard, such as scene modes, manual and auto white balance options, ISO settings and Nokia’s array of lenses – Cinemagraph, Panorama, Smart Shoot and Bing Vision. Having a dedicated camera button also lets you start the camera without having to unlock your phone.
Camera excels at macro shots
The battery life is very good as compared to other Windows Phone 8 or even Android smartphones of similar shape and size. The 720 easily chugged along our complete battery suite which lasted 8 hours. This involved 2 hours of calls, 2 hours music, 2 hours video and 2 hours of YouTube streaming. All this time, the brightness was kept at "Medium" and Wi-Fi was on. We still had 27 percent battery remaining after the test.
Verdict and price in India
The Nokia Lumia 720 is priced at roughly Rs 18,200 and will go head on with the Sony Xperia L and even the Samsung Galaxy Grand. We haven’t reviewed the Xperia L yet, but looking at the specifications, we can safely say that the Lumia 720 is slimmer and lighter, and will have a much better display and battery life. In that respect, the Lumia does make a better buy. The only thing holding us back is the 512MB of RAM, which will restrict you from installing many good apps that would typically need at least 1GB to run. If gaming is not a priority, then it’s still a very good option. For those who don’t mind a bulkier – but more powerful – handset, there’s always the Galaxy Grand for a grand more.