With the arrival of the Lumia 720, Nokia has what could be described as a full house of Windows Phone 8-based Lumia mobiles covering a range of prices, screen sizes and capabilities. To recap in case you’ve missed anything in recent months, the Lumia range of Windows Phone 8-toting handsets comprises the Lumia 520, 620, 720, 820 and 920. Oh, and there’s also the Lumia 900, 800, 510 and 610. That’s nine Windows Phone 8 handsets in the current Nokia range.
If you want to confuse the average prospective purchaser there is no better way than to offer them too much choice, and when you combine lots of products into three different lines (the '00', ‘10’, and ‘20’ series) then you’re heading for trouble. Add in how the handset names don’t actually mirror value for money and you might really have a problem. For example, I thought the Lumia 520 was a lot better value than the more expensive 620.
Certainly, there’s nothing middle-of-the-road about the Lumia 720’s design. The rubberised polycarbonate shell is distinctively Lumia and high quality. The backplate is very tough, I couldn’t significantly bend or bow this phone in my hands. The rubbery finish is good for grip. The backplate wraps around the four sides of the phone adding toughness to the edges and corners. If it's robust and tough you are after, then the Nokia Lumia 720 has that nailed. Oh, and that Nokia trademark of making its Lumia range available in a variety of colours is here too. As well as black and white there are blue, red and an amazing canary yellow option too.
The backplate is fixed – it doesn’t come off to let you get at the battery. Your micro-SIM goes into a caddy on the top of the chassis. The right edge is very familiar, with its Lumia-esque volume rocker, power button and camera button. They’re coloured the same as the surroundings so they blend in, and are slightly raised so they are easy to find by touch alone.
The Lumia 720 has a relatively large screen at 4.3 inches, and it is sharp, bright and clear. The IPS technology means colours are vibrant and Nokia’s own ClearBlack technology plays its part in providing good screen readability too.
The screen resolution is relatively low at 800 x 480 pixels, but as I’ve noted in the past the Windows Phone user interface is friendly to lower resolutions. It is when you break out of the cage and go onto the web, or start reading emails that the lower resolution grates. Zooming and scrolling are required more than they’d be on a higher resolution screen.
The screen, incidentally, is one of those that is glove-friendly. As the summer months rock in that might not matter, but come winter it could be a feature to please.
Looking under the hood, the specifications are about what you might expect for a mid-range handset. The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 is a dual-core model and runs at 1GHz. It is supported by just 512MB of RAM and this means the Lumia 720 doesn’t fly under the fingers as I might have liked it to. But then again it isn’t a juddering disaster either. It does the job.
There’s good news on the longevity front, with a 2,000mAh battery powering the Lumia 720 through a working day without too much bother, except on really high usage days. And if you are the kind of person that hankers for wireless charging, then you might like that an optional wireless charge cover lets you do that.
On the software front, Nokia provides the Lumia 720 with the same goodies that it adds into its other Lumia handsets so you’ve got pre-installed HERE Drive for navigation guidance and HERE Maps for general mapping and finding places in a specific locality such as bars or banks. And there’s the wonderful Nokia Music on board, too, for music streaming and downloading.
The camera has a rather odd resolution of 6.7-megapixels. It shoots a decent picture, and as is usual with Nokia’s phones you can download free enhancements. Out of the box, the camera benefits from Nokia’s Smart Shoot, which takes five shots in quick succession enabling you to select the one you want to keep. Smart Shoot even lets you swap faces from different photos to ensure that you have everyone in a group shot looking their best, or erase bits of a shot that look as though they’re surplus to requirements.
Nokia says the camera is enhanced for low light performance thanks to its f1.9 aperture and it did do better than many in dimly lit indoor conditions. Video shooting tops out at 720p which is a bit disappointing. There’s also a 1.3-megapixel front camera.
Taken as a whole the Lumia 720 is all a bit of a muchness with no real standout features, but then again it does fill an obvious gap in Nokia’s range by nestling into that middle slot.
There’s nothing about the Lumia 720 that makes me want to dismiss it. It could use more RAM, a higher resolution screen and arguably more internal memory, but it is well made and a decent performer. Nokia’s software enhancements make the company my 'go to' Windows Phone 8 manufacturer. But in the end I can’t help thinking that the Lumia 720 is a handset too many. With five in the '20' range it’s a crowded space and Nokia could maybe drop one, or even two, from it.
Manufacturer and model
Nokia Lumia 720
1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core
4.3in, 800 x 480 pixels
127.9 x 67.5 x 9.0mm
Windows Phone 8