The latest Windows Phone powered handset comes from Microsoft’s mobile division. The Nokia Lumia 735 is pitched at the selfie niche, but don’t be blinded by the buzzword, this is a mid-range handset that has a lot of power and potential.
Before I start, let me address the tricky question of how to identify the team that has designed and built this handset. The phone is branded Nokia on the hardware, the model is the Nokia Lumia 735, the name string in the device is Lumia 735, and ultimately it’s been released by Microsoft. For this review, I’m going with ’Lumia 735? for the handset and ‘Nokia’ for the design and manufacturing team.
Just be aware that the back-story to the handset is still convoluted, but when it reaches the stores, the consumers aren’t going to want forensic details in the organisation of the parent company. All they’ll want to know is if the Lumia 735 is a good handset.
The short answer is, yes it is.
A Design With History
One of the reasons I felt comfortable with the Lumia 735 the second it came out of the box is the design. Built around Nokia’s Fabula design language, the 735 is reminiscent of the Nokia Lumia 800 (the first Windows Phone from the then partnership), the Meego powered Nokia N9, and the Symbian powered N8. Picking up this ’blown cushion’ effect, with a shallow bevel across the back plate, curved sides on the left and right of the handset, a flat top and bottom, and a hint of curve on the Corning Gorilla Glass, is like welcoming back an old friend.
Sentiment aside, it sites nicely in the hand, and the shape has a long association with Nokia. That consistency of brand is going to be vital to Microsoft’s strategy of transitioning the Finnish devices and services section into Redmond.
There is one key difference in the Lumia 735?s implementation of Fabula – it is no longer a sealed unibody design. The rear polycarbonate case can be completely removed by leveraging the top-right corner (helpfully demonstrated by a removable sticker). This gives access to the nanoSIM card and microSD card slots, and the user-removable 2220 mAh battery.
The extra bulk added by these design choices is noticeable in the dimensions of the Lumia 735. At 134.7 mm x 68.5 mm x 8.9 mm, the 735 has a footprint that feels large in comparison to other modern smartphones. Nokia has not focussed on making a ‘small’ handset here, it has focused on making a handset that works well at a SIM free price of £220 (around $290). At just under 9mm thick, with a replaceable back shell and a Qi wireless charging plate, the fashion for thin is still in, but on balance the design choices here are smart, and well implemented. Given the lineage of Fabula, that’s not a surprise.
Powerful Performance At A Price
In its 8.1 guise, Windows Phone remains an efficient operating system. If you are used to Android specs, the Lumia 735?s numbers would not suggest this handset would be as slick and fast as it is. The CPU is a quad-core Snapdragon 400 series, running at 1.2 GHz. The 735 comes with 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage.
When you have an OS that is coded well, then the above represent more than enough resources to deliver a very strong experience. The Windows Phone UI involves a lot of window effects, scaling, and scrolling, yet I never experienced any judder or lag while testing the handset, and everything responded to touch events and key presses. Windows Phone can run in 512 MB of RAM, although some third-party apps (notably games) require the full 1 GB of memory to be present to run. Thankfully those limitations don’t apply to the Lumia 735.
The 4.7 inch screen on the Lumia 735 is one of the best in this price range. The resolution is 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) giving a pixel density of 316ppi. That’s ahead of the qHD 960×540 that is still popular in this price band, and matches handsets at the next level.