Nokia Lumia 720 – Review


Nokia Lumia 720 was made available worldwide a few months after when it was first announced at MWC in February this year. Right when the Q1 was at its end, the Nokia Lumia 720 was launched in Pakistan as well. After the high end premium Windows Phone 8 devices Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, the Lumia 720 is categorized as mid-range contender little above the Lumia 520 and Lumia 620.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Windows Phone 8

Nokia Lumia 720, however is the younger brother of Lumia 820 but got the uni-body outfit as the Lumia 920. It’s also been said that Lumia 720’s camera outperforms the one in Lumia 820. We’ll have our own shot tests. Lumia 720 is much lighter and thinner than the Lumia 920 and almost than Lumia 820. What keeps the Lumia 720 in the mid-range shelve, is the core hardware components including the CPU and the RAM.

Lumia 720 equips with the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and only the 512MB of RAM. Well that specifically made us impressive, Windows Phone 8 has much optimized to run on such hardware specs. It should be taken in mind that it also depends on the third party app, how much optimized code it’s been written with. Memory hungry apps may slow down device. Not seen however till our review stood on.

You can find the Lumia 720 in red, white, cyan, yellow and black. But let’s have an overview of the key specifications of Lumia 720.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Available Colors

Nokia Lumia 720 Specifications:

  • Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 1.0 GHz Dual Core Krait CPU (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8227) with dedicated graphics with Adreno 305, 512MB of RAM
  • 4.3” IPS LCD display + Nokia proprietary ClearBlack coating with WVGA resolution of 480 x 800 pixels.
  • 8GB Internal Storage + Extendable via microSD card + 7GB cloud storage space on SkyDrive.
  • 6.7 Megapixels Camera Sensor
    • Effective 5.4 MP for 16:9 aspect ratio, 6.1 MP for 4:3 aspect ratio
    • Resolutions: 3088×1744 pixels for 16:9, 2848×2144 pixels for 4:3
    • Aperture opening: f/1.9 , Focus Range: 10cm to infinity
    • 720p video recording at 30 frames per second.
    • LED Flash.
  • 1.3 Megapixels Secondary Camera (Front facing)
  • Wireless LAN (WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 3.0, NFC.
  • Qi Wireless Charging with addon back cover.
  • GPS/AGPS and GLONASS – Digital Compass, 3D Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor.

Unboxing the boxed:

Nokia Lumia 720 - Box Nokia Lumia 720 - Box

Lumia 720 came in the Nokia’s standard slot-in blue box with the stacked compartments inside it having the top tray filled with the device itself, Lumia 720, wrapped beautifully into a transparent plastic bag.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Unboxing Wraper

The break down of the box is not anything different than the shown below. The SIM door key is pasted with a bit of glue in the device box tray which was revealed after picking up the device. It’s requirement for the unibody design of Lumia 720 to get off the SIM card slot and the microSD card slot.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Unboxing Nokia Lumia 720 - Unboxing Nokia Lumia 720 - Unboxing

A user manual is added like always (like a universal truth or a thumb rule for any consumer product). The box contains the stereo headset and the fast travel charger with a requirement of a USB data cable to be connected for charging purposes. USB connectivity/charging cable is in the box.

Build & Design:

The look of Lumia 720 is similar to the one of Lumia 820 as some extent but the product design for handling the device takes Lumia 720 to exactly on another route being a unibody design. There is no opening of the device hence you can’t remove the battery just like the Lumia 920 or any other unibody designs from Nokia.

Looking at the profile views, the Lumia 720 shows every part of it hosting some business to the user. What front, what rear; what top, what bottom; what right and what left; there is none left blank or useless and that, we guess, is because of its unibody design.

Front screen is fully covered with the Gorilla Glass 2 protection. On the edges there is the curved body coming from the back.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Front View

Top side of the screen hosts earpiece and the front facing camera with proximity and ambient light sensors while the bottom of the screen provides access to the standard Windows Phone 8 soft touch sensitive keys

Nokia Lumia 720 - Front Facing Camera Nokia Lumia 720 - Windows Phone Soft Keys

That, below, is the rear profile view of the Lumia 720. The glossy white finish feels stunning and solid in hands. Putting a camera lens with a single LED flash, NOKIA branding in the middle and the loud speaker in the bottom left corner on back right where in the middle a terminal connector is provided to connect with an additional wireless charging back cover.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Carl Zeiss Camera & LED Flash Nokia Lumia 720 - Loud Speaker and Wireless Charging Terminal Nokia Lumia 720 - Rear/Back View

With the additionally purchased accessory: wireless charging back cover CC-3064, the Nokia Lumia 720 will be able to get charged with any wireless charging device like the one below, Nokia JBL PowerUp Speaker.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Wireless Charging with JBL PowerUp Speaker
Above picture is just a demonstration but not actually with the back cover, hence not charging in the picture.

Top side of the phone hosts the SIM card slot that ejects with the SIM door key provided with the box (see after the break.) along side there the 3.5mm audio jack.

Nokia Lumia 720 3.5mm audio jack Nokia Lumia 720 - Micro USB port

The micro USB connector, with a microphone aside, is hosted on the bottom of the device.

Left side of the device has also been used with providing access to the micro SD card slot which is also eject able with the SIM door key like wise. Right side of the device hosts the hardware keys for volume control, power or lock/unlock key and the 2-step camera shutter key for 1st focusing and 2nd capturing the photo.

Nokia Lumia 720 Design Nokia Lumia 720 Hard Keys

Long pressing the camera shutter key 2-step down, awakes the phone and directly takes into the native camera application for quick access to the camera UI. Even when the lock-screen password is activated, the procedure will give access to the camera UI but will not give access to the interfaces without giving a correct password. A “lock icon” will be provided in the camera UI in such a case.

That’s the Lumia 720 below, when the SIM card slot and the micro SD card slot is ejected with the SIM door key.

Nokia Lumia 720 SIM Card Opening Nokia Lumia 720 SIM Card and microSD card opening

Both the slots seems to be little bit fragile when opening, but they always opened. That of course is the requirement due to the unibody design. Nokia has also used a plastic/rubber door on the SIM/micorSD card slots in its previous models but I guess the eject able slots look more premium as far as they survive not to be damaged.

So anytime you get stuck while playing with the Windows Phone 8 on the Lumia 720 when it doesn’t respond to your interactions, you do a dual-key combination forced-reboot by long pressing the (volume down + power) keys until a vibration feedback is felt.

The first thing noticeable, when the Lumia 720 got into hour hands, was that it’s the slimmest Lumia device till date. We also got the Lumia 520 in hands while reviewing the Lumia 720 so it’s an ideal situation to put down two of them below.

Nokia Lumia 720 & Lumia 520 Nokia Lumia 720 & Lumia 520 Nokia Lumia 720 & Lumia 520 Nokia Lumia 720 & Lumia 520

We do not have Lumia 820 and/or Lumia Lumia 920 in hands but as per our previous little experience with both of them, Nokia Lumia 720 feels exactly lighter in weight as it is in specifications. It’s 128 grams only. Lumia 920 is 185 grams and Lumia 820 is 160 grams.

Screen & Display:

Nokia Lumia 720 serves exactly the same pixel density of 217 PPI on the display as does the Lumia 820 for sharing the same display size and the resolution. That’s 4.3” screen serving the 800×430 pixels resolution. The remarks of ours are also same for that reason. For such a resolution the screen size is too big for a clear view specially when examining text. At most places this resolution is enough to deal with and for sure is due to Windows Phone 8 OS for being too good for less.

Nokia Lumia 720 - Display Nokia Lumia 720 - Display Nokia Lumia 720 - Display

Resolution factor of the device is actually a thing to take care of, when you get on to some document reader or browsing the internet on the Internet Explore. The page/content won’t fit in the screen with clear readability unlike the high resolution smartphones where you (not easily though but) can read text when the content is fit into page.

Lumia 720 equips with the IPS LCD display. For me personally, that’s behind an AMOLED. The credit goes to Nokia for putting in the ClearBlack display which seriously works on the IPS display to make it much appealing with almost total black screen and the sharper colors of Windows Phone 8.

The user interface floating on the display of Lumia 720 with bright colors makes it viewable impressively from any viewing angle. Outdoor visibility was also good. We really got satisfied with the IPS LCD display on Lumia 720. You just want to see how does it stand against the littler brother Lumia 520.

Nokia Lumia 720 vs Lumia 520 - Display Nokia Lumia 720 vs Lumia 520 - Display

Camera & Photography:

Nokia Lumia 720 as officially specified is powered only with the 6.7 megapixels CMOS sensor which gives the maximum resolution of 6.1MP (2848×2144) for 4:3 aspect ratio pictures or 5.4MP (3088×1744) for 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s the way of making sensor to use maximum height or width available on the sensor for both the aspect ratios, Nokia has been making since Nokia 808 PureView, unlike the most conventional sensors in smartphones out there which produces the 16:9 image only from a crop of 4:3 image loosing ~25% of the resolution when switching to wide mode (16:9) from 4:3. Nokia’s this type of sensor looses only ~11% when switches from 4:3 to 16:9. Of course a larger sensor (e.g. 6.7MP) than the maximum effective resolution (e.g. 6.1MP) would do this. To understand more about it checkout this article we have written to explain about the sensor of Lumia 920 with illustration.

What’s impressive on the Lumia 720’s camera module, is it’s lens aperture which is f/1.9. It’s the widest opening of lens on a mobile phone till so far. Single LED flash on device is little less impressive for indoor shooting.

Specifically the 6.1MP camera in Lumia 720 is rather smaller than the ones on smartphones from its class. Most of the smartphones from other manufacturers, no mater what other things are but, add an 8MP camera module into the device. Though we have tested the 6.1 MP camera of Lumia 720 and found it to be “OK” for still image quality and “better” for video recording quality.

Outdoor shots during daylight comes out to be grainy with little excessive sharpness on edges. The detail is good and noise reduction is not heavily present with less and good soft images. That all could be said for a smaller sensor. But the over saturation during daylight still exists. Overall they are good being from a 6.1 MP sensor in smaller size.

Totally sunny day when the Lumia 720 produced grainy pictures with heavy (but not badly) oversaturation. The image over looks good.

The wider aperture f/1.9 lens in Lumia 720 produces much better and soft blurry background as well as brings more light to the sensor to create a better picture in low light conditions.

1st and 2nd pictures showing long/short distanced background blurred objects. 3rd is the indoor lowlight shot with only light source above the corner rack as shadowed the object. Following shots are indoor 1st/2nd without flash and 3rd with flash with the same light source from the front of the object.

We can see much fine detail in the black/dark shades as well as less noise when shot without flash. That is impressive. The 3rd one is with the flash-on. That also shows much sharper detail in the image due to the fact the shot was taken nearer than a meter to make the flash light actually work.

We are OK with the still images quality from the Lumia 720’s camera.

Video recording on the other hand worked better to get some appreciation. However the maximum resolution supported is 720p at 30fps with digital zoom up to 4x, the quality of the video is better with some fine detail and less noise visible. Color saturation is not as much over as it could be called “oversaturation”. Autofocus worked pretty good for us. Dynamic range was not as impressive as we have seen in previous Nokia models. Switching exposures was rather fast.

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Camera UI & Software Add-ons (lenses)

Camera interface in Windows Phone 8 is one of the basic interfaces out there. Android is undoubtedly way ahead when talking about the camera user interface. In Lumia 720 or any Windows Phone 8, you will find very straight forward options to handle white balance, flash, ISO settings, scene modes, exposure values and aspect ratio. The good thing is that these settings at least can be set at vast variations e.g. the ISO sensitivity can be set from the base ISO-100, 200, 400 and 800. The resolution however is limited to the two maximum resolutions, 4:3 aspect ratio (6.1MP) and 16:9 aspect ratio (5.4MP). Focus assist light can be turned off. Flash can be set at auto, strictly ON or OFF. A switch icon for toggling the viewfinder to capture still photos or to record video.

Nokia Lumia 920 - PureView Camera Review with Optical Image Stabilization Nokia Lumia 920 - PureView Camera Review with Optical Image Stabilization

On the view viewfinder the swipe gesture is supported for bringing the “Images” the gallery application interface in front with the images taken. A little left arrow icon is also provided to do the same. Swiping back from the “Images” takes you to the camera interface. A pinch-to-zoom feature is available on both still and video mode. Lumia 720 won’t allow zooming in/out once the recording has been started in the video mode.

Nokia Lumia 920 - PureView Camera Review with Optical Image Stabilization

What we liked in the Camera User Interface of Windows Phone 8 is that it’s well integrated with the third party camera plugins as well as the extra camera features provided by the manufacturer. Within the Windows Phone platform, they are called “Lenses”. Lumia 720 (or any other Windows Phone from Nokia) can be preferred with it’s camera hardware and software bundle pack over any Windows Phone from other manufacturers. However other manufacturers also provide their own collection of software/plugins.

The lenses we must mention here, are the “Smart Shoot” and “Cinemagraph”. “Smart Shoot” comes with the stock lenses in Lumia 720. The later one along with many others including “Panorama” can be downloaded from Windows Phone Market under “Nokia Collection” of apps.

Remember the “Scalado acquired by Nokia”? Smart Shoot is the new born after the acquisition. Scalado, before acquisition, had announced its “Remove” app for Android to remove unwanted objects from the photos after taking a series of shots and evaluating the differences. “Smart Shoot” in Lumia 720 does the same. Additionally it brings another option to merge multiple shots into one to make it a perfect. Simple, it takes 5 shots of the scene and provides you the interface where you can choose auto-identified differences/spots on the image. e.g. you can pick best faces from 5 different shots in a case of closed eyes of one or two persons in a group.

Cinemagraph on the other hand generates the moving stills. What’s it? It examines a scene for specific duration of time (e.g. a few seconds) and then offers you a picture with highlighted areas identified as moving objects. You have to keep the camera steady, or you can use a tripod. You select from the highlighted areas or add or trim as per your choice. What you see in the final picture, is an image with most of the objects being still having parts of them animated. It produces a GIF image for ease of use.

Panorama lens creates the regular panoramas by pointing the camera forward and moving side wise until the Panorama app finishes taking shots and process to make a final wider shot by combining the images.

With the camera in Nokia Lumia 720, we are happy considering its cost and being a mid-range smartphone with all the Windows Phone 8 capabilities.

Battery and Power:

As per the specifications Nokia Lumia 720 can afford up to

  • 9.4 hours browsing on a WiFi network
  • 23 hours talk time on a 2G/GSM network
  • 79 hours music playback
  • 8 hours video playback

These all depends on your local network for talk time and video encoding algorithms used in the video.

Well I have used the this Lumia 720 as my primary day to day device with all the things active and running e.g. WiFi network (also in sleep mode), 2G network, GPRS/EDGE, One email account (set to “as items arrive”), Location services with most of the apps which use them, Web browsing at normal rate, Switching brightness on random basis from auto to manual (high/medium).

Excluding the gaming parts and active Navigation/Maps, the Lumia 720 could spend a whole day with me at minimum. I would really want to see if the Lumia 720 would give a great time while using as a GPS Navigation system which is unluckily unavailable for Pakistan as far now.

Wireless charging option with an accessory cover is also creditable for an additional charging option.

Windows Phone and Productivity:

In our opinion, considering its price value, Lumia 720 is best for office and productivity consumption. If you are a technical guy working in some IT or telecom sector, who has to stay online all the time for quick responses, you got a good deal with quick Email arrival on a Windows Phone like Lumia 720 with the well maintained integration of connected accounts and online text chat.

Plus the Microsoft Office in Windows Phone 8 is always appreciated for being too good for a consumer on Windows Phone. Provides access to Excel, Powerpoint and Word documents with writeable functions. Email Solutions on the other hand cover the Mail for Exchange for your private/public networks and additional IMAP4, POP3 and SMTP support.

Personal email accounts are also supported including Outlook/Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail.

Conclusions and Remarks:

During a whole lot of weeks with regular usage as primary smartphone, Nokia Lumia 720 went smoother with its 512MB of RAM. 1GHz Dual Core processor with dedicated GPU keeps the things running with no issues. While during the usage, an issue was spotted on the web and so it did to us. The RAM limitation was found to be restrictive on the Windows Phone store when the popular game title the Temple Run could not be download and installed on the device we were testing. Let alone the tricks to get the hands on such limitations. Upon spotting the issue, the developer of the game reviewed and made the game available to the devices with 512MB RAM. We couldn’t find any issue with running such a game on Lumia 720 after all. It was all smooth as it was on any high end device.

But the problem does exist on the store. Applications are set to be visible or downloaded as per the device hardware requirements matched. So one should expect the limited entries of the apps/games in the store for the devices with lower hardware specs.

Battery life is also fine for being a smartphone. A day minimum, must be a requirement of a mobile phone to be passed for power consumption. You would sure charge up your phone after getting back home in regular days.

Having some reservations about the resolution and the screen size incompatibility, we can tell that it’s a mid-range package Nokia gave to the customers. So if you want to get on to the Windows Phone metro and not want to spend a huge amount on the devices like Lumia 920 or Lumia 820, we sure do recommend to get a Lumia 720 which is for around Rs. 33,000/- Pakistani Rupees. Or wait for our next review of Nokia Lumia 520, an even low cost Windows Phone 8 smartphone.

We do listen to our readers and try to reply the queries we are asked. So do write below what do you think about Nokia’s midrange Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the Lumia 720.

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