Review: Nokia Lumia 720, a mid-market offering

Alora Uy Guerrero
Technostorm Reviews
Nokia Lumia 720

The Nokia Lumia 720 at a glance:

*Price: P14,950
*Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8227 chipset
*1GHz dual-core Krait CPU
*Adreno 305 GPU
*512MB RAM
*8GB internal storage
*microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
*4.3-inch IPS-LCD display with Nokia ClearBlack technology and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 (480 x 800 resolution; 217ppi pixel density)
*6.1-megapixel rear camera with Carl Zeiss optics and LED flash
*1.3-megapixel front camera
*2,000mAh non-removable battery
*127.9 x 67.5 x 9mm
*128 grams
*Windows Phone 8

By now, you probably know that Finnish phone maker Nokia, the company that once lorded over the mobile landscape, has started its climb back to the summit. The Nokia Lumia 720 represents a bold bet on the Philippine smartphone mid-market, the oft-ignored segment where only a few have found success.

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Price still reigns king in this country, so consumers are more likely to stick to their budgets than their aspirations, more likely to choose an aggressively priced hardware than one that's smartly designed and well-made. Perhaps the Finns understand this sentiment very well, because it is likely with this in mind that the Nokia Lumia 720, a Windows Phone 8 handset that's as handsome-looking as it is affordable at P14,590, came into fruition.

So is it a more compelling package than the Androids on the bargain deck? Does it pack enough punch to entice budget-smartphone fence-sitters?

The Nokia Lumia 720 borrows heavily from the Lumias 820 and 920. The Finns' tried-and-true design language is applied throughout the phone's exterior, except that the Lumia 720's aesthetic looks more finely tuned.  

The phone is noticeably slimmer and lighter at 9mm and 128 grams, respectively. It looks and feels right: It's not oddly shaped, not excessively chunky or hefty. More importantly, it provides a comfortable handling experience.

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The form factor itself is made from a single mold of hard plastic, with rounded edges and a flat back. That being the case here, the top and left sides feature ejectable microSD and microSIM card trays that can be accessed using the supplied pin.

With a 4.3-inch real estate, the Nokia Lumia 720 is appropriately sized for a mid-market offering. It's neither too big nor too small, so it rests nicely in the hand. Its front is also covered from edge to edge with a sheet of damage-resistant Gorilla Glass 2, which curves inwards to allow a firmer grip on the phone.

As is customary for Windows Phone devices, this Lumia features a trio of capacitive navigation buttons that brightly light up when the device wakes from sleep. With the screen turned off, the black bezels, coupled with the ceramic hardware keys on the side, give the handset a nice, two-tone appearance.

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Our review unit is swathed in white, as you can tell from the image above, but should you prefer other color schemes, you'd be pleased to know that the Nokia Lumia 720 also comes in red, yellow, cyan, and black paint jobs.

The generous sampling of color options notwithstanding, the smartphone represents the best expression of the Lumia design language we've seen thus far. Never mind its susceptibility to fingerprints; this is the Lumia form factor executed to near perfection.

As mentioned earlier, the Nokia Lumia 720 flaunts an IPS panel measuring 4.3 inches diagonally. The screen rocks a 480 x 800 resolution and is bolstered by Nokia's ClearBlack technology, meaning it produces deeper blacks and higher contrast than the average IPS-LCD affair. Of course, you still get the perks of an IPS-backed display: sharper viewing angles, vibrant colors, good brightness levels, to name a few.

The obvious downside here is the screen's resolution, which is so-so by today's smartphone standards; there are cheaper Androids that sport bigger, sharper screens.

Nokia's mid-range Lumia sports two cameras: a 6.1-megapixel rear shooter with Carl Zeiss optics and LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel front-facer. Both work fine for casual photography, and nothing more. Pictures taken under a bright sun have accurate colors and a good amount of detail. Sadly, the same can't be said about its low-light performance, as the phone struggles to focus and get decent shots in dim areas.

We also found that images shot using a 4:3 aspect ratio appear sharper than those taken with a 16:9 setting. It bears noting, though, that the Nokia Lumia 720 has a shutter button mounted on the right side; at least it helps you fire up the camera app almost instantly and snap images at a quick and rapid pace.

Here are some photos taken with the Lumia 720's 6.1-megapixel camera.

Specs and performance
With regard to hardware performance, you'd be happy to know that Nokia's Lumia 720 has enough power under the hood to run Windows Phone 8 smoothlynot that Redmond's mobile platform requires four cores or more for slick operation. Inside, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8227 chipset armed with a 1GHz dual-core Krait processor, Adreno 305 graphics, and 512MB of RAM.

Hardware performance does not disappoint: The handset regularly boots from cold to home screen in under 30 seconds, and apps usually take no more than 5 seconds to load. Scrolling is likewise fluid. The same can be said of multi-tasking.

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Internal storage is respectable at 8GB. Should you need more than that, there's always the option of putting in a microSD card for up to 64GB of additional spacea rarity for Windows Phone 8 handsets. The 2,000mAh non-removable battery is rather generous for a mid-level offering and delivers roughly two full days of normal usage.

Our only gripe is that its paltry serving of RAM limits the number of titles you can play on the Nokia Lumia 720. Case in point: Temple Run and Modern Combat 4 both require 1GB of RAM, meaning you can't play them on the handset.

Unfortunately for the Lumia 720, the dearth of AAA games on Windows Phone 8 will surely be a deal-breaker for many, and we hope Microsoft addresses this issue soon. At the very least, the company should help kick-start the development of more polished, 512MB-compatible titles.

All things considered, the Nokia Lumia 720 is a handsome-looking package with most of the bells and whistles you'd expect from a midrange model. Those who are big on mobile gaming should probably look elsewhere, though, as its RAM handicap gets in the way of Windows Phone 8's more polished titles. The same goes for those who are not too keen on Microsoft's phone interface.

For everybody elsethose who haven't set their eyes on flagship devices, in particularthe Nokia Lumia 720 should prove to be a very good smartphone pick.