Lumia 730 : Mid range all rounder

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Lumia 730 is the successor to Lumia 720, which was a mid-range smartphone from Microsoft released almost 2 years ago. The older 720 was one of the best in its class phone at the time of its release. It also comes with latest Windows Phone 8.1 OS which brings in lot of new features. Let us see how it fares.

Hardware Specifications

Being a mid-range phone, Lumia 730 has good hardware specifications:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 Quad-core 1.2GHz CPU
  • 4.7 inch Clearblack OLED Multi-touch Display screen with 1280 X 720 Resolution
  • Gorilla Glass 3 for protection
  • 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash Storage, micro SD extension up to 128GB
  • 7 MP Camera with Carl Zeiss lens, 5 MP front camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 2G/3G Dual micro-SIM
  • 2220 mAh Battery

Form Factor

The phone looks good, Nokia/Microsoft has taken the design from 920/820 rather than 720 and managed to add a removable back panel to it. So you can easily change the color of the phone if you wish to by simply changing the back panel to a different color. Also, it carries a curved Gorilla Glass 3 on top similar to other Lumias like 920, 820, 720 etc. The dimensions are 134.7 x 68.5 x 8.7 mm. It is relatively thin at 8.7mm and feels solid to hold in a hand. The curved sides and the back panel make it easy for the user to grip the phone. At 130 grams, it feels light on the hand. The phone is quite easy to operate in one hand since the screen size is less than 5 inches.

The buttons go on the right side with volume rocker on the top followed by the power/lock-screen button. Unlike many other Lumias of x20 generation like 720, 820 etc., 730 doesn’t have a dedicated camera button on the side. A 3.5 mm audio jack is on the top and a micro-USB port at the bottom of the phone. The 2 micro-SIM slots, micro SD slot are accessible once you remove the back panel. The micro-SIM slots are hot swappable, while the micro SD slot requires you to remove the battery to insert/remove the card from it. We would have preferred it to be hot swappable without having to switch off the phone. You won’t find any hardware buttons on the front side below the screen, since the 3 standard windows are on-screen buttons here in 730, which can also be hidden with a simple gesture from the bottom edge through the button strip.

The 4.7” OLED screen with a 1280 X 720 resolution produces a very good 316ppi display with colours that are crisp, which is a treat to look at. The polarizing ClearBlack technology makes the screen display deep blacks more effectively and outdoor visibility is best in its class. You can actually use the phone for even watching movies in direct sunlight. And this screen is protected by Corning Gorilla glass 3, which means it can take quite a lot of punch.

Interface

Lumia 730 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2 GHz quad core processor with 1GB RAM. It shows while operating the phone because the UI is very fluid and buttery smooth. Windows Phone 8 UI in itself is very smooth. The animations and transitions play out without any stutter. The UI of WP8 is very user friendly, without any hassles and simple to use. Windows Phone 8 has a new home screen, wherein you can customize the home screen by resizing the tiles in 3 different sizes. With 8.1 update, you can also group the tiles together which expand on tapping them. Although the UI is very good and all, we are yet to see lot of choices for apps on Windows Phone Store, when compared with iOS and Android. There are some popular apps like Angry Birds, Facebook and Twitter etc. and the number is still growing and has a long way to go before it catches up with Android or iOS. Some popular apps like Candy crush are still missing, more on Windows Phone 8 on another day. You won’t be disappointed with the UI for sure.

Media

The built in video player (Xbox Video) comes with quite a few codecs and hence plays most of the videos out of the box. Lumia 730 supports HD videos upto 1080p, which played without any hitch or glitch. The playback was very smooth. However it doesn’t support 4K videos. The other downside that we found was that the built in video player does not support .mkv files. Other than that, it managed to play all the files we threw at it: .avi, .mp4, .wmv, .m4v etc. Since the VLC Player is well on its way to Windows Phone 8, we’ll have to wait for it to play .mkv files on Windows Phones.

The default app for music is Xbox Music. The music is arranged according to artist, albums, genre, playlists and all songs. Nokia has also given a 7-band equalizer, which, sadly is not accessible in the music player and can be accessed on the settings page, which makes it little inconvenient because you have to navigate every time there whenever you have to change those settings. The Music can be accessed using the default app or the MixRadio app, which also allows you to download songs from MixRadio Store, which has pretty good collection, and also allows you to stream songs, which can also be downloaded for offline listening, which is a nice feature given that we don’t have good internet connectivity while on the move.

Connectivity

You are left with 3G or EDGE. Wi-Fi (dual band) support is also there and so are NFC and Bluetooth for data transfer, it can also act as your personal Wi-Fi hotspot with the internet sharing feature, allowing you to tether up to 8 devices at once. Wi-Fi is also useful for sharing via DLNA using the PlayTo app.

WP8.1 comes with IE11 which has full support for HTML5 and browsing is smooth and easy, with no issues. There are a few alternatives like UC browser on the app store if you don’t like IE11. Setting up accounts is quiet easy. WP8 supports Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nokia, Yahoo, Google accounts for now. It also supports e-mail accounts via POP and IMAP. Setting up these accounts is clutter-free and it automatically pulls contacts and calendars from Facebook, although you would need the Facebook app to be installed in order to do so. The social integration with the phone is unmatched. You can link the same contact from Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn into one contact, which is quite handy. Email and the social accounts sync very well without any problem.

GPS with GLONASS support is also thrown in for the location based services and apps like HERE Maps, HERE Drive, City Lens etc. HERE Maps also offers maps to be downloaded onto the device so, that you can use the maps in offline mode, which is a very useful feature wherein you can use the maps where there is no network coverage.

Other Features

WP8.1 comes preloaded with Office Suite with OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The downloaded games can be accessed through Xbox game tile. Microsoft has thrown in a number of exclusive apps for its Lumia phones in Windows Phone Store like Lumia Camera, OneDrive etc.

Apps corner – It is a kind of guest mode where you can make only some select apps appear there, which is useful if you are sensitive about the data in your phone and have to give a small demo kind of thing to somebody else.

Kid’s corner – As the name suggests, it allows for parental control of the content and apps, music, games etc.

Backup – You can set auto backup to back up your settings, installed app list, photos, videos to OneDrive storage, so that you can restore it in any of the devices linked to your Microsoft ID.

Motion data/sensor – It collects the motion data like number of steps etc. which can be used by fitness & health apps that are installed, like Bing Fitness & Health, adidas miCoach etc.

Double tap to wake – This is a neat feature to wake your phone by double tapping on the screen instead of pressing the lock button on the side. It feels more intuitive than pressing the button.

Camera

Lumia 730 comes with 6.7 Megapixel Carl Zeiss lens. It also has a front 5 MP camera which is also very good, which is the reason that Microsoft is promoting this phone as a “Selfie” phone. Both cameras support 1080p Full HD video recording.

The main camera, with f/1.9 BSI lens takes some very good photos in low light conditions, which can easily rival some high end flagship phone cameras. But the lack of OIS makes you to keep the phone steady when taking the photos, especially in low light. Microsoft packages a very good app called Lumia Camera which is the default camera app in Lumia phones. This app allows lot of control over how you can shoot the picture. It allows you to change most of the settings like exposure, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. This is the best mobile camera app out there in any platform. It allows for manual focus. The UI for this app is very intuitive, with all the dials where you drag the along the arc to change the values. Very slick.

There is also a LED flash, which is OK for snapping a picture in a medium sized room in total darkness. It is not a powerful flash though. It won’t illuminate objects satisfactorily at a distance of more than 10 feet. The built-in picture editor offers some basic features like rotating, cropping and an auto-fix option. The Lumia creative studio is a better option at that. There are also Adobe Photoshop express and many more such apps available at the windows store which offer more options for post processing. The 5 MP front secondary camera is very good at taking selfies in wide angles and great for skype calls.

Video recording allows for capturing in 720p and 1080p resolutions on both cameras, which is great since most other Lumia cameras support only 720p video on front cameras.

 

Here are some sample photos taken by 730.

 

Battery

Lumia 730 packs in a 2220 mAh battery, which lasts almost 2 days on moderate usage, which is great for a smartphone. With heavy usage it will still sail through the day. There is also a battery saver mode which automatically kicks in at 20% which turns off live tile animations and background apps to save the power, which will extend the battery life by few more hours.

Price & Verdict

Lumia 730 has been launched for Rs. 15,299. For this price this is one of the best phones  you can buy after Xiaomi Mi3, which sells at 13-14k at Flipkart. No other phone offers the features and such good camera at this price. It’s a very good all round phone with good multimedia performance. The only issue with this is that being a Windows Phone, you won’t find apps as much as in Android or iOS. Otherwise, it’s a great buy at this price.

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