Review: Nokia Lumia 720

The Nokia Lumia 720 has a stylish design but is a little expensive

Nokia Lumia 720

Nokia Lumia 720

The Nokia Lumia 720 has a stylish design but is a little expensive.

Design & display

The Lumia 720 is the perfect size. Its screen is large enough to display the attractive Windows Phone 8 interface but the phone is small enough to comfortably use with one hand.

The Lumia 720 has a polycarbonate shell with rounded, curved edges and an almost completely flat front. At 9mm thick and weighing 128g, it's one of Nokia's thinnest and lightest Windows Phone devices.

The Lumia 720 feels impeccably well constructed and there's no evident creaks or rattles, even when significant force is applied to the polycarbonate body.

Our review unit of the Lumia 720 was a "glossy white" colour variant which was very slippery to hold and showed up plenty of fingerprints.

The Lumia 720 is also available in glossy yellow, glossy red, matte cyan and matte black colour variants. Opt for one of the matte colours for a far more comfortable experience.

The Lumia 720's battery isn't removable but the phone does have a microSD card slot on the left side for extra storage, so the 8GB of internal memory can be expanded.

There's a standard headphone jack on the top, volume, power/lock and a dedicated camera button on the right and a standard micro-USB port for charging on the bottom.

The buttons on the right side are very well positioned for comfortable single-handed use. Windows Phone's standard, touch-sensitive back, home and search buttons sit just below the screen and they're very responsive.

The Nokia Lumia 720 has a 4.3in IPS touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480. This resolution obviously can't match more expensive phones and therefore the Lumia 720 can't display the same crisp text as many devices on the market.

However, it displays excellent and accurate colours, has good viewing angles and is bright and clear. Nokia says the Lumia 720 is the first phone to feature curved glass at this price point and it gives the effect that the images are floating on the screen.

There's visible pixels if you look close enough but the ClearBlack display does a relatively good job of displaying the vibrant Windows Phone OS and sunlight legibility is better than many smartphones on the market.

Software & performance

The Nokia Lumia 720 runs the latest version of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, Windows Phone 8. One of the best feature of Windows Phones is the fact that the user experience is virtually identical on all models, despite the price range.

Nokia's range of apps and features are significantly impressive. The Here Maps application is more comprehensive than Apple Maps and even betters Google Maps on Android phones in some ways. It allows you to download a range of maps from entire countries to use when you don't have any mobile network coverage.

In addition, Here Drive Beta provides free turn-by-turn navigation in a clean and easy to navigate layout. The ability to download maps means the navigation service doesn't use any mobile data, just the Lumia 720's built-in GPS chip.

The Windows Phone 8 OS itself also has some excellent core features. All users receive 7GB of SkyDrive Storage for free. The built-in, free Microsoft Office app handles Word and Excel documents with ease and is without a doubt the best office client on any mobile platform.

The Xbox Music service is also decent value at $11.99 per month or $119.90 per year for unlimited music streaming.

The biggest downside to the Nokia Lumia 720 is a lack of popular third-party apps. Many apps we use on a daily basis on iOS and Android simply aren't available on Windows Phone.

The store continues to expand and improve over time, but the price of paid apps on the Windows Phone platform seem higher than competing platforms. This is a particular concern for mid-range handsets like the Lumia 720.

The Nokia Lumia 720 offers excellent performance. The 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM might not sound like much on paper but they make for a smooth and fast user experience.

Scrolling is smoother than almost any Android phone, there is no lag when switching between apps and performance is consistent and snappy.

There is one significant issue with the Lumia 720's 512MB of RAM, however. There are some games in the Windows Store that require a minimum of 1GB to work. The likes of Temple Run and Real Football are two examples of games that therefore aren't compatible with the Lumia 720.

Camera & battery life

The Lumia 720 has a 6.7-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens and an f/1.9 aperture. The company claims the latter is bigger than almost any high-end smartphone on the market and will therefore capture better photos in low-light conditions.

The camera can't record full HD video, topping out at a maximum of 720p. Video quality is excellent for a phone in this price range.

The Lumia 720 produces impressive photos in low light, even if you don't use the single-LED flash. Photos outdoors in good light are a little less impressive. In these kinds of environments, we found that the Lumia 720's camera produced images with dull colour.

The Lumia 720 also includes a 1.3-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, which means you can capture more area than most other front-facing smartphone cameras. We found it worked well for front-facing video calls through Skype.

The Lumia 720 comes preloaded with a number of Nokia's existing digital camera lens apps, including the Cinemagraph, Smart Shoot, and Panorama lens, while the 'Glam Me' lense can be installed for free from the Windows Marketplace.

The latter is a filter that allows users to spruce up "selfies" captured with the front camera. These are all valuable additions, but they open in a seperate app to the camera despite being present in the options menu, which is annoying.

The Nokia Lumia 720 doesn't include native wireless charging but Nokia sells an optional snap-on cover that includes wireless charging capabilities.

The Nokia Lumia 720 has excellent battery life. It easily lasted a full day during our testing, and if you forget to charge it overnight you should find that it will last a few hours into a second day.

The Nokia Lumia 720 is available now through Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and other retailers for $429 outright, though Harvey Norman is currently selling the device for $347.

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