BARCELONA: Nokia unveiled the Lumia 720 alongside its lower-priced Lumia 520 sibling at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday, listing the device as a mid-tier smartphone specially engineered for non-LTE markets.
The 720 is designed to offer business users several of the screen, camera and location services originally seen on the Finnish phone maker's flagship Lumia 920 at a more affordable €249 price.
In fact, viewed from a distance the 720 and 920 are almost indistinguishable. The two devices are both very similar in size with the 720 measuring at 128x68x9mm and the 920 a slightly larger 130x71x10.7mm.
From afar, the only clear design difference between the two is that the 720 doesn't feature a metal lining around its camera.
This is also a subtle clue that the 720 doesn't feature the same Pureview camera technology as the 920. Another consequence of this is that the 720 is far lighter than the 185g 920, weighing a more modest 128g. In hand this means the 720 is very comfortable.
In terms of build quality, while we didn't get a chance to do any drop tests on the showroom floor, like all Nokia devices, the 720 did feel solid.
The Lumia 720 comes loaded with a 4.3in 217 ppi pixel density 480x800 capacitive touchscreen, complete with Nokia's own ClearBlack display technology.
On paper that means the 720 has the same screen performance specs as its £400 sibling, the Lumia 820. While we weren't too impressed with the specs on the 820, considering the 720's more modest price, we're surprised Nokia hasn't downgraded the 720's display.
During our hands-on at the show floor we were impressed with the 720's screen; it was far better than most similarly priced Android smartphone's displays. We're guessing this is because of the inclusion of ClearBlack, a custom technology designed to make blacks richer thus making other colours pop out more.
The deeper blacks also serve to make the screen perform better in adverse outdoor lighting conditions.
Operating system and software
The Lumia 720 runs off Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8 operating system. However, unlike many other Windows Phone makers, Nokia has chosen to make some changes to Microsoft's tiled mobile OS.
Like the 920, 820 and 620 before it, the 720 comes loaded with a number of custom Nokia services. These include the company's GIF-making Cinemagraph app and custom Here mapping, Drive and City Lens services.
While we didn't get a chance to see how the apps ran on the demo device we tried at the MWC showroom floor, on other Lumia devices the services have been a massive selling point and are marked improvements over WP8's native Bing maps and photo features.
Nokia's fitted the Lumia 720 with a Qualcomm MSM8227 dual-core 1GHz that's backed up by 512 MB RAM.
While this spec won't sound very special when compared to similarly priced Android handsets, it's worth noting that the Windows Phone 8 OS is significantly less demanding than Google's. Microsoft claims that this means Window's Phone 8 handsets should be able to match more powerful Android devices' performance.
During our hands-on we didn't get the chance to thoroughly check how the 720 performed as our demo unit wasn't connected to the internet. However, in the past we have found there is some truth to Microsoft's performance claims and are guessing the same will be true on the 720.
The Lumia 720 features a 6.7MP 2848x2144 pixel camera complete with custom Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus and LED flash features.
Nokia claims the 720's sensor will markedly improve the camera's low-light performance. However, given Nokia's bright showroom floor we didn't get a chance to see how the 720 performed in low light.
Nevertheless, the few test shots we took on the well lit showroom floor were surprisingly good quality. The shots boasted decent levels and weren't over exposed despite the bright lights littering the Nokia stand.
Come our full review we're really looking forward to putting the 720's camera through some more rigorous tests.
Battery and storage
The 720 comes with a puny 8GB of storage which thankfully is upgradable to 64GB via its microSD slot.
The device is powered by a non-removable Li-Ion 2,000mAh battery which Nokia claims will last up to 13 hours and 20 minutes off one charge.
We didn't get anywhere near enough time with the Lumia 720 to test Nokia's claims, though if true, the 720 will have a better battery life than most smartphones, which usually struggle to pass the 10-hour mark.
Overall, while the 720 is nowhere near as high-end as Nokia's 920, considering it's set to retail for half the price, we're pretty impressed.
From what we've seen the device will offer business users on a budget a taste of the top-end Lumia experience, with the added email and Office benefits inherent in any Windows Phone 8 device.
Check back with V3 later in the year for a full review of the Nokia Lumia 720.
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