Nokia introduced two new Lumia smartphones at Mobile World Congress this year, one destined for the U.S. and one (so far) shunning America for other parts of the globe. The Lumia 720 offers a bigger display and a better camera than the affordable 520, yet won’t cost much more. The starting price of €249 is pretty tempting, and it will start to hit the market in March of this year.
Like the Lumia 520, the 720 shares a common design language with the Lumia 920 and 820 series but takes a decidedly high end approach on the outside. Inside, it has similar specs to the other Lumias and every other Windows Phone 8 device. The premium hardware additions do make a difference, especially in the camera department.
Here’s the hardware breakdown: 4.3-inch, 800×480 pixel resolution IPS ClearBlack LCD protected by Gorilla Glass 2 with super sensitive touch for use with gloves. Inside, a 1.0GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor runs the show backed by 512MB of RAM. There’s 8GB of internal memory with microSD card expansion that takes up to 64GB. It’s capable of running on GSM/EDGE, WCDMA, and HSPA+ networks. Wireless radios include dual-band a/b/g/n wi-fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS+GLONASS, and NFC. HD Voice is on board for better phone calls. The 2000 mAh battery is rated to last for 13.5 hours of talk time.
As with other Lumias, the 720 isn’t the slimmest but it’s also not a chunky mess, measuring 127.9 x 67.5 x 9 mm and weighing 128 g. This is Nokia’s first unibody design and the company claims a high build quality despite the price. It comes in a variety of colors: red, white, cyan, black, and yellow.
That theme ran throughout the presentation of the 720: affordability without compromise. Nokia claims that the display rivals more expensive phones while keeping the budget price. Blacks are truly deep and overall the screen is meant to offer crispness and clarity, even out in the sunlight.
Like the 920 before it, the Lumia 720 can also boast some really nice cameras. The 6.7 megapixel camera on the back features a Carl Zeiss lens and f/1.9 aperture, backed by an LED flash. That apeture allows the camera to take in a lot of light for great pictures even when you’re in a dark area. It can also balance light and color well, if the sample pictures are anything to go by. Around front there’s a wide angle 1.3-megapixel camera capable of fitting more people into the shot as well as Skype HD video chats.
To take pictures further, the Lumia 720 includes photo enhancing features Cinemagraph and Smart Shoot. Cinemagraph allows you to capture images that combine movement and still areas for creating photos akin to animated gifs. It’s very similar to what HTC introduced with the new One. Smart Shot takes a series of pictures and allows you to choose which one is best – again, something we’ve seen on other phones, but always appreciate when done well. Nokia is also introducing a new feature soon called Place Tag, which can automatically add the name of your location to your pictures, then turn them into postcards.
Just as with the Lumia 520, the 720 will come with Here Maps, here Drive, and Here Transit so that you’ll never be lost and can always find your way when walking, driving, or taking public transit. To facilitate local discovery, the Lumia 720 adds augmented reality capabilities via Nokia’s LightSight, which helps users find places via the camera’s viewfinder.
On the music side, users will experience great audio quality as well as having access to Nokia Music+ for unlimited streaming and downloadable playlists.
All of this adds up to an impressive phone, and with an unsubsidized starting price of €249, it’s hard not to wish that the Lumia 720 was coming to the US. It will be available in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore in March and China, Europe, other parts of Asia, Africa, and India in the second quarter.