A couple of months ago, Nokia announced the other members of the Lumia x30 family: the Nokia Lumia 830, which was touted as the “affordable flagship”, and the Nokia Lumia 730, which is their premiere mid-range phone.
Both phones have since been available in the Philippines early this month, and we’re glad to be loaned review copies! I’m more interested with the very budget-friendly Lumia 730 and how it stacks up to its little brother, the Lumia 630.
I’ve used this phone for more than a week now, and I’m happy using it. So, I guess you know what score I’m leaning on, but let me explain why I like it
Nokia Lumia 730 Specs
- 4.7″ Corning Gorilla Glass 3 AMOLED HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels), at ~316 ppi with ClearBlack technology
- 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with Adreno 305 GPU
- 1GB RAM with 8GB internal, expandable via microSD card up to 128GB
- 6.7MP main camera, with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, and LED flash
- 5MP front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS + GLONASS
- Dual SIM (Lumia 730), Single LTE SIM (Lumia 735)
- Windows Phone 8.1
- 2200mAh removable battery
- SRP: PHP11,990.00
As a mid-range device and based on its price, the specs are good enough. I wished the screen was at the 5″ range, but as it is, it’s good enough for its purpose. Nokia touts this phone as giving consumers an excellent selfie-centric phone at a very affordable price, and I think they succeeded here. Nokia has had some of the best camera phones around, and the fact that they gave us a high definition front-facing camera that works as advertised is a good deal.
Packaging and Accessories
The new box design is the same as what we’ve seen with the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930. It’s just as simple and elegant as the rest. The front has the phone’s clock in the packaging image set to the phone’s model, in this case 7:30, which is as witty as ever.
Unlike the Lumia 930, we get the standard number of accessories this time around. The phone comes with the required charger and cable, and the should-now-be-a-standard pair of earphones. As far as accessories go, there’s nothing to write home about, although I’ve always liked Nokia’s OEM earphones even against Apple’s.
Design and Build
Nokia have never disappointed us when it comes to build quality, and this phone is no exception. Its outer body is all polycarbonate but Nokia seem to have mastered the material to the point that they’re able to make very classy, elegant-looking shells with it. The phone comes in orange, green, white, or black. My Nokia Lumia 730 review unit was the black version, which is more of a darker ash color than black. Still, it looks very nice.
The right side of the phone has the volume rocker and the power button. For a camera-centric phone (albeit in the front), I sure wish this phone sported a dedicated camera button, much like the Lumia 930 did. However, I do understand that the current trend on phones is going the minimalist approach, and one of the usual casualties are hardware buttons. I’d rather have dedicated camera buttons over on-screen buttons any day, though. Sometimes, the on-screen buttons prove to be cumbersome to use, and experienced it on the phone on some occasion. The back only has the camera, the dual LED flash, and speakers.
The top and bottom parts of the phone are as minimalist as they can get, with the 3.5mm jack at its top center, and the bottom has the microUSB port at its center as well.
Display and Touchscreen
At 4.7 inches, the screen is smaller than I would have wanted, but not by much. With its ClearBlack technology, Nokia’s screen is good regardless of size. It displays colors beautifully with black parts being truly black. At 720p, the screen resolution is appropriate for its size. I had no problem watching high-resolution videos, whether it be 720p or 1080p. Reading with this phone is adequate as well. I never had problems with font sizes despite the high resolution.
Touchscreen controls are expectedly responsive and as smooth as adamantium through a wall of butter. Whether it be surfing, navigating, typing, or playing games, I never experienced any lag.
As said before, the hardware and software go together for a rich, smooth experience. RAM is adequate enough despite having only half of what I’m used to. In today’s generation, I’m still amazed to see phones sporting internal memory lower than 16GB. It’s not much of a problem now, but with the apps population growing, it will be. Thankfully, this is mitigated by microSD support.
As for battery life, I found it to be good enough. I’m able to get at least a couple of day’s worth of average use with the phone, f.e. always-on WiFi, average social media surfing, taking a few photos, and average calls and texts. It took a hit when I used it as as GPS device, though, so make sure to use a car charger.
With Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 at the helm, it performs remarkably well, even given the seemingly modest hardware. In fact, I can’t really recall anything indistinguishable from my experience with the Lumia 930, which isn’t a bad thing, really. It means that you don’t have to shell out high-end level of money to be able to reap the platform’s benefits, fortunate because the new version of the OS is pretty solid.
Between my time with the Lumia 930 and this phone, there hasn’t been much improvement in the apps department, which isn’t surprising since it’s just been a couple of months. It’s the platform’s main weak spot, but as I said before, the platform’s app selection is vastly improving, with majority of the high profile apps getting an equivalent in the platform. Anything from high profile games, such as Gameloft’s popular Modern Combat 4 to productivity apps, such as feedly, can be found here, and here is where my caveat with this phone kicks in. All these new apps take a lot of space, and it’ll make that paltry internal space very limiting. In fact, I didn’t even install my RSS reader since that takes a lot of space over time unless you constantly clear cache. I would’ve really liked at least 16GB internal, especially at the price point that this phone is in.
As a phone, the Lumia 730 does very well, as expected from a company that seldom disappoints in this category. Audio clarity is great, provided you have good reception. Microphone also does well. I’ve also hadn’t encountered any difficulty sending text messages. The default keyboard does remarkably well as well (which is a good thing since you can’t change it).
As an entertainment device, Nokia Lumia 730 is great. The adequate combination of screen size and resolution make it a very pleasurable experience to watch videos in. Watching videos on it is good in short bursts (my bias towards larger screens), and audio is good as well. The speakers perform well, though I wished I can crank it up a little more.
With the games library slowly improving, the platform is slowly becoming a viable gaming platform. Of course, it also helps that controls run smoothly. I’ve never encountered any problems in terms of control sensitivity and overall responsiveness. I tried Real Steel this time around and it ran smoothly.
But what really made me love the phone is its camera performance, which is amazing considering that it’s not a PureView camera. It worked well in both low light and ambient lighting conditions, although it’s admittedly a tad darker than I would like.
Photos taken are adequately sharp for the most part, and noise is controlled very well.
As a GPS device, it performed as well as the software that runs it. Nokia Here+ is still the King of the Hill, the gold standard by which all other offline navigation apps in ANY platform seem unable to equal, let alone surpass. For me, it’s still the single, best reason to own a Windows phone, with camera performance coming in at second place, down a notch only because we’re still lacking some apps that can take advantage of this feature. It does eat up a lot of battery juice, same way as what I experienced when I used the Lumia 630.
Overall, I have to say that using the Nokia Lumia 730 was such an enjoyable experience. In fact, I can even readily recommend this over the Lumia 930 in some ways. You get majority of the experience at a drastically more affordable price. The camera experience isn’t the best, but it’s much better than many phones out there, even besting those that are at a higher price point.
Between this and the Lumia 630, then I’ll get this one hands-down. I find the main camera performance of this phone marginally better, but you get an awesome front camera as well as a higher resolution screen.
With those in mind, I highly recommend this phone. If you’re invested on the WP platform, then you won’t go wrong with this phone. And if not, then this phone’s price tag makes it a good starting point to wet your feet on the platform. I’ll gladly exchange my secondary phone with this one any day.