[Review] Nokia Lumia 720 – Part 1: Design and build, key features, camera

The Nokia Lumia 720 review
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While ideally we would want the best flagship device that money can buy, sometimes reality can hit us all hard on the head, when our pockets refuse to cooperate, that is. The flagship Nokia Lumia 920 had a cult-like following when it debuted, featuring top-of-the-line specs – fast dual-core processor, NFC, wireless charging, amazing PureView camera and packing Windows Phone 8. With the rich features also came along a high price tag and most of all, unloved ‘heft’. The new Lumia 720 though, aims to change all that. In fact, it’s very much an improved Lumia 920 in many ways. Here’s Part 1 of our review of this mid-range Lumia device.

Design and build
The Lumia 720 is unmistakably a Lumia – clean rectangle with slightly rounded edges, sophisticated yet playful at the same time. The polycarbonate unibody design is beautiful, and feels premium and solid-feeling. It feels great in the hands and the grippy shell is very comfortable to hold. By the way, the shell is non-removable.

Measuring 127.9 x 67.5 x 9mm and weighing just 128g, it’s a huge departure from the brick-like nature of its slightly older sibling – the Lumia 920. In fact, I consider the Lumia 720, at least in design, a ‘pseudo-Lumia 920 Mark II’.

Up top is a 3.5mm audio jack, and a drawer for a micro-SIM. On the right side are the volume rocker and power buttons; and the familiar two-stage camera button. On the opposite side is a slot-loading microSD slot. Meanwhile, at the bottom is the microUSB port and mic.

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Overall, signature Lumia design language that we’ve come to know and love.

Key features

Gorilla Glass 2 protects the 4.3-inch IPS LCD (800 x 480 @ 217PPI) display, which comes integrated with Nokia’s ClearBlack and Sensitive Touch technologies. Sure, it isn’t Retina Display or a 400PPI WXGA-type display, but you’ll be hard pressed to fault the WVGA as it still offers rich and vibrant colours and also thanks to ClearBlack technology, blacks are well, really black.

Nokia’s product line is quite distinct, in terms of underlying hardware. On one side you have the Lumia 820, 920, 925 on the higher tier – sporting dual-core 1.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus and Adreno 225 GPU. And then there is the lower tier Lumia 520 and 620 that share the dual-core 1Ghz Snapdragon S4 Plus with Adreno 305 GPU.

The lower tier that the Lumia 720 belongs to also shares the same 512MB RAM, 8GB onboard storage with expandable storage via microSD (up to 64GB) specifications.

Through an optional cover, the Lumia 720 will allow Qi wireless charging, something Nokia introduced with the Lumia 920.

The mid-ranger also comes with NFC, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and radios supporting GSM and WCDMA. Sadly, the Lumia 720 does not come with LTE. You’ll have to look at the Lumia 625, 820 or 920/925 for that option.

Nokia has generously packed a 2,000mAh battery in the Lumia 720. The bigger the battery, the better obviously.

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Camera
With the Lumia 720, Nokia ups the main snapper to a newly developed 6.7MP module with BSI sensor and LED flash, Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and f/1.9 aperture. This is heaps better than the 5MP commonly found in the Lumia 520 and 620. In daylight and general lighting conditions, the new module works well, more than capable of capturing crisp and well-balanced photos.

Under low light conditions, the BSI sensor and f/1.9 aperture works overtime to absorb all available light. Like the talented (and amazing) PureView camera on the Lumia 920, this is the Lumia’s specialty. Of course, it doesn’t equal the sheer performance of its bigger, better sibling, but still impressive nonetheless.

Shutter speed performance however, can be a little touch and go. Sometimes it works quite efficiently but at other times may appear to be laggy. The two-stage physical camera button does help in some cases, although I personally find it fiddly due to the thinness of the device.

The front camera is a 720p camera, great for video chats or selfies.

Nokia’s bundled in familiar image-based apps like Cinemagraph, Glam Me, Panorama and Smart Shoot to complement the rather basic camera app.

The camera shoots video at 720p @ 30fps and results are generally good. Shame it doesn’t have Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), but that’s probably a little too much to ask from a midrange device.

Go ahead and read Part 2: Software, Performance, Battery Life, and Wrap-Up

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