Nokia Lumia 720 review
Design & looks
The Lumia 720 slots into Nokia's Lumia range of Windows Phone 8 smartphones just below the Lumia 820. It looks very much like the 820, feeling substantial to hold, but not as big as the 920. It's slim, measuring just 9mm in thickness, and weighs significantly less than the overly-heavy 820 and 920.
The screen is practically the same as on the Lumia 820, measuring a generous 4.3 inches and with a sufficiently sharp resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It's an IPS display, so viewing angles are excellent, and Nokia's ClearBlack technology delivers impressive contrast, helping to make it easy to read in sunlight. The screen is super-sensitive too, so it responds to the lightest of touches. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2.
Windows Phone 8
It's the operating system that sets this phone apart from the mass of rival smartphones. Nokia has aligned itself with Microsoft, and the Lumia 720 runs the latest Windows Phone 8 operating system. At S21, we're fans of Windows Phone, and the operating system is slowly but surely winning over more fans.
Although there are far fewer 3rd party apps available than for iOS or Android, the phone comes with a wide range of pre-installed high quality apps, including the very comprehensive Nokia Maps, integrated facebook and twitter feeds, LinkedIn, a document editor compatible with Word, Excel and PowerPoint (Office), Internet Explorer, a media player and a YouTube app.
Windows Phone 8 brings interactive Live Tiles onto your customisable home screen, so you can see all the information you need at a glance. The operating system integrates easily with other messaging systems, so for example porting your contacts from an Android phone with a Google account is very straightforward. The high degree of flexibility and security when it comes to communication, plus the inclusion of Microsoft Office makes it an obvious choice for a business user.
Like the more expensive Lumia 820, the 720 uses a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, but running at a slower clock speed of 1GHz. It's adequate for the job, but makes it a phone that's less attractive to power users. The 512MB RAM is on the small side, and limits the possibility of running data-intensive apps. These specs are definitely a drop from the more capable Lumia 820.
There's no problem when it comes to memory however. You'll find 8GB of built-in storage plus a microSD card slot accepting cards up to 64GB. SkyDrive gives you 7GB of free cloud storage too.
The camera has a 6.7 megapixel sensor, which is typical of a mid-range camera phone. As you'd expect it's equipped with autofocus and a flash. It also features a BSI sensor for improved low-light performance, and interestingly the Carl Zeiss Tessar lens has an unusually large f1.9 aperture, allowing it to gather significantly more light than other camera phones. This helps to make the camera one of the best we've encountered in a mid-range device. In low-light conditions in particular, you could describe the camera's performance as stunning.
You'll find plenty of features and gadgets here too, such as a picture editor, photo effects, geotagging and automated upload of photos and videos.
It's slightly disappointing then that the camera can record video only at 720p HD resolution and not at 1080p.
A front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens enables self portraits and can record video at 720p HD resolution.
Unlike the more expensive Lumia models, the 720 isn't 4G compatible. Instead it offers quadband GSM and 3G with HSPA support allowing download speeds up to 21.1Mbps.
All other expected connectivity options are available, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (version 3.0), USB (version 2.0) and NFC. A 3.5mm headphone jack lets you connect stereo headphones and it's even compatible with wireless charging.
When it comes to battery performance, the Lumia 720 just keeps on giving. Its high-powered 2000mAh battery is a match for anything in the mid-range, including the exceptional Motorola RAZR HD. It has even more battery power than the more expensive Lumia 820. Battery life is prolonged by the power-saving Snapdragon processor which enables each core to power up and down independently as required. Nokia claims an astonishing 79 hours of music playback time for the Lumia 720. We see this extended battery life as a key asset of the phone.
Conclusion - punches above its weight
The Lumia 720 clearly sits below the high-end 820 and 920 models, and above the budget Lumia 620, but things aren't quite that simple. In many ways, its spec marks it out as a typical mid-range smartphone, but the Lumia 720 has one or two surprises up its sleeve, outperforming the 820 in certain respects.
The operating system punches above its weight, with many useful Office, social networking and productivity apps pre-installed. Enterprise users will appreciate its security and integration features. The camera performs significantly better than most at this price, especially in low light conditions. But it's perhaps the battery life that marks the phone out as truly exceptional. For any user who makes big demands on a phone's battery, the Nokia Lumia 720 should definitely be high on the list.
At launch, the 720 is priced around the £20 per month level on a two-year contract. We feel that this should fall to £15 per month soon, and at that price the phone feels like a bargain.
Nokia Lumia 720 features include:
Nokia Lumia 720
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