1. alexwilks88's Avatar
    Hey folks, this review is from my site but I've copied it into here to avoid being charged with link-baiting :) Any feedback or questions appreciated.



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    Having flourished off a deluge of demand for almost half a decade, the smartphone market is starting to look a bit stale. Most hardware manufacturers have united around a ~4.5” candybar form factor with only subtle differentiations in CPU speed and camera sensors.

    There once was a time when I felt liberated by the ending of a contract and the opportunity to peruse the phone shop for my next life-enhancing device. Instead, I have spent the last few months clinging loosely onto the Lumia 800 that had so valiantly served me since I picked it up at launch, ambivalent to the upgrades on offer. Unfortunately though a few pertinent details meant it was destined to be substituted:

    - No upgrade to Windows Phone 8
    - Missing features (front-facing camera, NFC)
    - It stopped working

    Given that I was so smitten with the 800 and felt no desire to fork out the inflated tab for a high-end device I set my sights on the Lumia 720 which, despite Nokia’s numbering system, felt like the spiritual successor to the 800.

    Design

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    The Lumia 800’s standout polycarbonate design, inherited from the N9, has grown to become Nokia’s signature and is as much a part of the company’s new identity as its imaging and mapping technologies.

    The 720 feels like an evolution of this style that borrows its curves from HTC’s 8x and adds some of its own tweaks without adding superfluous metal flourishes as on 925, which in my opinion detract more from the look of the device than they add in quality. The Windows Phone OS is a flat pallet of uniformity with sprinklings of colour and so the choice of matte soft-touch finishes that Nokia uses on the 720 compliment the software perfectly. What irks me slightly is that for all Nokia’s efforts in offering phones in a range of attractive colours, half of them seem to be non-existent outside of their website, and so instead of getting the 720 in a punchy shade of cyan I conceded to the handsome understated black model instead.

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    Regardless, the Lumia 720 is one beautiful slab of glass and plastic that opts for graceful subtlety over the enticing seductiveness you get from the iPhone and HTC One. Thanks to the pillowed edges it’s also very comfortable to hold, even if I’d have preferred a smaller screen (for all Apple’s stick in keeping the iPhone ‘small’, 4” is still the perfect size for a smartphone if you ask me).

    Nokia also chose to replace the glossy ‘chrome’ plastic buttons of the 800 with black ones which, after a week of deliberating, I’ve decided are slightly classier.

    One of the biggest surprises was how well the screen performs, despite only sporting an archaic 800480 resolution. Almost everything looks convincingly smooth and the black levels make the background flow onto the border, creating a seamless canvas on which the Live Tiles sit. There is a forgivable amount of backlight bleed but all in all the display doesn’t fall too behind its retina-level peers unless you deliberately place them side by side on a text-heavy website.

    Flaws

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    Having been a Windows Phone user for nearly two years now I was prepared for the well-known faults that hamper an otherwise brilliant and unique piece of software. Top of my list of complaints with the Lumia 720 though was that the microSD card slot, which supposedly compensates for the conservative 8Gb of onboard storage, would only store files from the phone’s own media apps. This means that any Spotify users like myself can’t stick an extra card in and fill it up with offline playlists, and essentially renders the feature useless.

    Performance on the phone is mostly stellar given that Windows Phone is a very frugal and undemanding servant, but there are a small number of apps such as Fifa 13 that simply refuse to install because of the phone’s 512mb of RAM.

    I was also slightly disappointed that Nokia didn’t manage to squeeze their wireless charging technology directly into the phone, and instead expect you to buy a cumbersome charging cover that you’re unlikely to keep on in order to do so. Given that wireless charging still isn’t a common place feature it’s hard to hold it against them, but as a former Palm Pre owner I can appreciate how useful and seamless such technology is when done right. Hopefully more manufacturers will take note and unite around an industry standard (Nokia favours Qi themselves) like they did with Micro USB.

    Camera

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    The Lumia 720’s camera doesn’t carry Nokia’s ambiguous PureView branding which means it doesn’t get all the love an attention of their flagship models such as floating lens design and Pro Camera app, but it’s still a perfectly competent snapping device for its price range. I was never impressed with the Lumia 800’s glass which seemed to add a horrible green tint to half my photos, but fortunately the 720 doesn’t suffer from the same problems.

    Low-light shots are still grainy and the inbuilt camera app only offers a limited amount of control but macro shots are vastly improved and I’m likely to be much quicker to upload photos straight from the phone from now on.

    Conclusion

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    Mid-range smartphones are typically compromised products. All the high-tech R&D is squeezed into the top-tier phones, and all the focused budget-baiting into the entry level models. For the Lumia 720 to be a standout device on its own merits and not just a price point filler is something of a rarity, but one that I’m happy to have stumbled upon. It won’t turn any heads (in black at least) and hasn’t pushed the market into an innovative new direction but it’s a balanced product that delivers in equal measures in everything it does.

    -

    Nokia

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    As I mentioned at the start of this review, the big smartphone players spent considerable energy throwing dozens of phones a year at consumers and almost guessing which features it was that people liked in the models that sold well. Much like how Motorola ruined the Razr brand by slapping it on a new phone every half an hour regardless of whether they had the soul of the V3, Samsung are still flooding the market with spinoffs of popular phones in the hope of finding a Frasier amongst the Joeys and Cleveland Shows.

    Nokia’s product line-up might still seem stretched when you place it against the three generations Apple has on offer at any one time, but what’s at least refreshing to see is that each device appears to have some purpose and character that isn’t that of an embittered little sibling with watered down specs trying to dress like its older sister. The Lumia 620, for example, takes aim at the PAYG teen market with the cutesy colour options I’d have killed for 10 years ago, whilst the pricier end of the family is the 1020’s class-leading 41mp sensor that manages to be both bulbous and beautiful.

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    Similarly, the recently announced 4g-equipped Lumia 625 may seem like an innocuous gap-filler at first glance but is probably the biggest statement yet on Nokia’s on-going strategy. When my mother and sister purchased their first smartphones a few years ago, they both ended up with the entry-level Galaxy Ace. The Windows Phone market didn’t offer anything in their price range but cheap Android phones were almost littering the streets. Skip ahead a year and dad has a Lumia 710. Add another year and my brother has a 620. The sister that bought the Samsung first time round? She’s now after a Lumia 520.

    Anecdotal as this may seem, Nokia’s brand in its traditional markets still holds as much if not more power than any Sam-Droid power couple. My not-technically-incompetent housemate was unaware that her Galaxy SII even ran Android until I pointed it out to her. The Lumia 1020 will not sell as many units as the S4 or iPhone 5, but it at least has a USP that builds on Nokia’s strengths. The 520, 620 and 625 aren’t going to win the Nobel Prize for Planet-Shifting Futurism, but they’ll most likely be the tallest pile in Nokia’s inventory.



    Six years ago the company released the N95, a phone that offered a huge leap in spec but nothing to help improve the experience. These days it barely talks about what’s inside but instead how the little features all conspire to make their products a joy to use. I’d rather have a screen that works with gloves in the winter than an extra half a gig of RAM, and Nokia knows that.

    Their issues lie in remaining tied to an operating system that’s moving slower than a drunk tortoise, and one which may not deliver any meaningful upgrades for quite some time. Although the low end customers may not fuss over notification centers and VPN support, Nokia needs to know it’s bet the its existence on software that can keep pace with Android and iOS. If not, they risk becoming the sole carrier for a proprietary ecosystem, essentially going full circle with their MeeGo disaster.

    Steve Jobs once responded to a question about Apple’s goals by saying that they wanted to make products that they’d be proud to recommend to their friends and family. Whether word of mouth will be enough to keep Nokia going is hard to say, but for now they can count me among their advocates.
    Last edited by Dave Blake; 07-31-2013 at 08:08 PM.
    07-31-2013 05:32 PM
  2. Dave Blake's Avatar
    Nice job on the review
    07-31-2013 10:07 PM
  3. rmichael75's Avatar
    my father in law is using it for the past month or so.. no compaints. he is very happy.

    Now can you tell us why Nokia care didn't accept to fix it?
    08-08-2013 12:16 AM

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