It’s been a while since I last held a Nokia phone (the first mobile phone I ever owned was an Islacom-issued Nokia brick) and I was almost happy keeping the buggy but workhorse of a smartphone at the time, the N95, before I finally gave it up for an iPhone 3G when it was released locally. And with mobile photography, while it’s either iOS or Android that has become the popular platform/device of choice, I think it’s never too late for Nokia’s Lumia, powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, to join the race. I was hoping to get my hands on a Nokia Lumia 920, but when the opportunity to review the mid-range 720 presented itself, I couldn’t resist giving it a phoneography spin.
There’s a reason the Nokia Lumia 720 is known as the mid-range standout – it’s loaded with the right mix of specs and features – and it’s easily affordable. I agree that this is the perfect phone for the chic and social, it’s eye-catching you’ll stand out from the selfie-camphone-snapping crowd.
I had a short and sweet 2-week affair with the Nokia Lumia 720. While it took time to boot up and initialize settings the first time I turned it on, you can use it right out of the box. I’m liking its unique unibody design, that’s matte polycarbonate in white, and the colors the screen capably displays are crisp and vibrant. As with my first impression of Android, it took me a while getting used to Windows Phone 8’s metro-inspired interface, but I did enjoy Live Tiles – a configurable home screen with tiles that turn with realtime updates – it’s simply wonderful.
The monoblock Nokia Lumia 720 is of course bigger compared to the iPhone 5, what with its 4.3” Corning Gorilla Glass 2 touchscreen, but with the advantage of a super-sensitive touch feature that let’s you tap on the screen even with gloves on, that remains bright and visible even under direct sunlight.
Snapping photos with the Nokia Lumia 720 is quick and easy, pressing a dedicated button activates the 6.7-megapixel camera – that’s Carl Zeiss Tessar optics with a wide-angle lens that works well in low light – and you have almost the entire screen as your viewfinder. The rear camera has an aperture of f/1.9 and a focal length of 26mm and a minimum range of 10cm, with a 2-stage capture key for auto focus, while the front camera snaps wide and in HD, albeit 1.3 megapixels. The main camera on the Nokia Lumia 720 allows manual control of exposure and white balance – that’s a biggie – and the add-on lenses complement the already feature-rich snap-shooter.
I used the Nokia Lumia 720 as our only camera on one of our summer outings and the battery outlasted the whole trip, producing snapshots that are sharp and vivid, friends thought they’re snapped with my iPhone 5!
As expected, there are only a few photography apps in the Windows Phone Store, save for some collections that were developed by Nokia, which are actually very good. There are two apps though that I really liked, with the look and feel that’s familiar to Instagram’ers and phoneographers, being one myself.
#2InstaWithLove is like petitioning for Instagram to release a version for the Windows Phone using your photos. It lets you snap a photo then apply a classic polaroid filter, adding the hashtag #2InstaWithLove automatically when the photo is shared to social networks. With the many creative output from the Windows Phone community, I sure hope Instagram listens.
Lomogram almost made it look like I’m using an iOS app, it’s a photo editing app with over 40 filters, including borders and light effects, that may be mixed and matched to your liking. If you want to give your photos that instant or retro look, then this app will do.
I wish I had more time to explore apps, but I used the native camera app in snap-shooting most of the time, in the entire 2 weeks the review unit was with me. Here’s a collage of unedited snapshots I took with the Nokia Lumia 720.
The Nokia Lumia 720 works really well in typical snap-shooting and lighting conditions. I couldn’t use it for rapid (or burst) snapping (there’s a Smart Shoot feature though), probably because of the half-press-focus mechanism. While the LED flash is good, use it sparingly, and the 4x zoom falls short of being helpful, you might as well use your “foot lens” and get as near to your subject as you possibly can. Focusing real close isn’t exactly easy, but I had fun using it for macro shots of flowers, and the photos are awesome. And that selfie turned out good thanks to its powerful front camera.
For phoneography, the Nokia Lumia 720 is indeed a mid-range winner. It’s affordable (below the 15k price range locally) and well-specced for its category, available in bold colors that will surely make heads turn.