The Nokia Lumia 735 Review - Is The Selfie Smartphone A Good Smartphone?

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Nokia Lumia 735 is the first smartphone from Microsoft that is marketed as the smartphone designed specifically for selfies and Skype video calls. When looking at its specs, you can't ignore its 5 megapixels front-facing camera, which is definitely impressive, at least in the world of Windows Phone devices. But what about the rest of this smartphone: is it good for photography in general? What about its hardware performance? Does the battery last for at least a day? We tested this device for about a week and now we are ready to share our conclusions, in this review:

Hardware Specifications & Packaging

The packaging of the Nokia Lumia 735 is the same as the one used for the Lumia family with Windows Phone 8.1.

Inside the box you will find the smartphone, a micro-USB charger, the user guide, the warranty, some leaflets and a pair of Nokia stereo headphones. This is the only Lumia launched in recent months with headphones included, which is great.

For the complete unboxing experience, don't hesitate to watch the short video below:

Nokia Lumia 735 is powered by the same Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor at 1.2 GHz that is found in the Lumia 630 and the Lumia 830. It has 1GB of RAM memory and 8GB of storage space which can be extended through the use of a microSD card.

The display is a 720p ClearBlack OLED screen with 4.7" in size. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and it features automatic brightness control and several sunlight readability improvements.

In terms of size, the Lumia 735 measures 134.7 mm (5.3 inches) in height, 68.5 mm (2.69 inches) in width and only 8.9 mm (0.35 inches) in width. It weighs only 134.3 grams (4.73 ounces). It is an average-sized smartphone that is easy to carry around and easy to hold in your hands. You won't have any troubles using it with only one hand.

The star of this smartphone is the front-facing camera which has 5 megapixels and is capable of shooting pictures and recording video at 1080p. In contrast, the rear camera is rather average: it has only 6.7 megapixels, autofocus and LED flash. Unfortunately it doesn't include the PureView technology that has made the Lumia lineup famous.

Nokia Lumia 735 has a 2220 mAh battery, an FM radio chip which will be appreciated by users that travel a lot, Bluetooth 4.0, it works with nano-SIMs and it can connect to both 3G and 4G cellular networks. In terms of wireless connectivity, it can connect to 802.11b/g/n networks but not to 802.11ac wireless networks. It can also charge itself wirelessly using the Qi standard.

If you want to get a more detailed look at all its specifications, go to this page: Nokia Lumia 735 - Detailed specifications.

Design & Build Quality

When you first look at the Nokia Lumia 735, you have the impression that it is a unibody design like the Lumia 930. That is not the case. You can actually remove its cover even though doing so is not very easy. As a result, you can change the battery, insert the nano-SIM required in order to use this smartphone and plug in a micro-SD card when you need to use one.

The covers are available in black, white, green and orange. As you can see from our pictures, we have tested the black version of this smartphone.

The button layout is the standard used for Lumia smartphones: all of them are on the right right side and they are easy to reach and press. Unfortunately Lumia 735 doesn't have a hardware camera button which would have been very useful especially when taking selfies and no hardware buttons on the bottom of the screen.

Speaking of the screen, it is a ClearBlack OLED screen and not a ClearBlack IPS LCD screen like that on the Lumia 830. Fortunately this doesn't mean that the screen is bad. The ClearBlack technology helps a lot and the black and white levels are as great as on other higher-end Lumia smartphones. Also, the outdoors visibility it is generally good and the automatic brightness control helps a lot when using it outdoors. The screen has good contrast and color reproduction and decent viewing angles, even
though not as good as the displays found on more expensive Lumias.

Nokia Lumia 735 is perfect for people with small hands and pockets who do not want a big, heavy smartphone. The quality of the materials used for its cover is reasonably good and you don't get the sense that you are using a cheap smartphone.

The build quality of the Nokia Lumia 735 matches its mid-range price. You won't feel that you are getting less than what you have paid for and you will be pleased with the way it looks and feels. The weight and dimensions of this smartphone are great even for people with small hands.

The Phone Experience On The Nokia Lumia 735

The phone experience on the Lumia 735 is generally good. The audio quality of your conversations is good and so is the quality of your video conversations, due to the front camera. Lumia 735 is the only Windows Phone that allows you to have HD video conversations while using its front camera. In terms of signal strength - it was good in our testing and we did not notice any weird signal drops while using this smartphone.

When listening to music or watching videos, the audio quality is generally good. There are some audio enhancements available (though not as many as on higher-end Lumias) which generally do a good job.

This smartphone's hardware, in spite of not being very powerful, is good enough to make the camera feel snappy. The Nokia Camera app launches quickly, in about two or three seconds. Also, taking one picture after another is rather fast, as the app quickly processes and saves each image. Lumia 735 offers Living Images - a feature that turns static pictures into short videos, or dynamic pictures if you want. When viewing your pictures you get to see small videos that last about a second which end with the pictures themselves. It's a new and cool way of viewing your pictures.

We found it surprising that the rear camera on the Lumia 735 is not that great. At least not as great as you would assume when referring to a smartphone that's supposed to be great for selfies. It is your average camera that delivers average results, both when taking pictures and when recording video. It shows that it has only 6.7 megapixels and that the Pureview technology is missing. The front 5 megapixels camera is good for a front-camera. It will help you take better selfies than on other smartphones but don't expect anything extraordinary from it. In the album below you will find several picture samples, including a few selfies made with the front-camera, so that you will have a better understanding of the picture quality offered by Lumia 735. All the pictures were made with the Auto settings in a cloudy and rainy day. Unfortunately we did not have any sunny days when testing this smartphone.

When it comes to video recordings, one of the biggest downsides of the rear camera is the fact that it doesn't have the special features that are found on the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930: optical image stabilization and rich recording with surround sound. In the demo below, you can see how the lack of these features impact the quality of a recording while you film a moving target and you are moving yourself:

We also recorded a demo in which we filmed our surroundings. As you can see for yourself, the quality of the recording is okay but doesn't shine in any way.

If you will be using the Lumia 735 for things like turn-by-turn GPS navigation and you will be downloading offline maps or some large games, then the 8 GB of storage space might fill relatively quickly. Combine this with lots of picture taking and you will soon have to purchase a micro-SD card to increase the space available on this smartphone. This may be a downside for some users during their experience with the Lumia 735.

The 2220 mAh battery on the Lumia 735 is good enough to last for an entire day in normal usage scenarios. If you are not using your smartphone that much, it can even last up to two days. The only things that drain it fast are games and turn-by-turn GPS navigation.

Overall, we were pleased by the phone experience on the Nokia Lumia 735. The only downside was the fact that the camera is not as great as you would expect it to be on a smartphone that's marketed as the smartphone for selfies.

Windows Phone 8.1 & The Nokia Apps

Nokia Lumia 735 comes with the Lumia Denim update which was announced to include some new features like: Live folders, Apps Corner, Consumer VPN, Lumia Camera and a new Glance Screen. The most expected improvement is the new Lumia Camera which is replacing the Nokia Camera. It is supposed to be faster and more intuitive than the old version.

The Nokia Lumia 735 we received for testing purposes is running on Lumia Denim. However, the only camera app installed on it is the Nokia Camera. We didn't find any Lumia Camera: not in the apps, nor in the Store. Most likely, this app will be released in the following weeks, through the Windows Phone Store. Other features Windows Phone users were waiting to see are the Live Folders and the new Glance Screen. Live Folders are available on the Lumia 735 but the Glance Screen is not.

Many of the improvements in Lumia Denim are system enhancements that help in offering Windows Phone users a better phone experience.

The app collection for Lumia is increasing both in the number of apps and in their quality. The most important addition that's relevant to the Lumia 735 is the Lumia Selfie app. With it, you can easily take selfies, improve their quality and add all kinds of filters and effects.

While we loved the way this app works, we couldn't help missing the hardware camera button. This button is very useful especially when making selfies and having to push the software Camera button from the Lumia Selfie app is not that easy when making a selfie. Yes, setting a timer in the app helps but a hardware camera button would have made the selfies experience great.

Windows Phone 8.1 is a solid operating system and it works fluidly on this smartphone. We did not hit any performance issues and all the apps that we used were generally snappy.

Performance In Benchmarks

In order to compare the performance offered by the Nokia Lumia 735 with that of other models, we have run several benchmarks. We compared its results with those obtained by Lumia 530, Lumia 630, Lumia 830 and Lumia 930.

The first benchmark app we have used is MultiBench 2. In the processor test, Lumia 735 was just as fast as its siblings - Lumia 830 and Lumia 630. The same was true in the graphics test, which makes sense considering that Lumia 735 shares the same processor and graphics chip with the models mentioned earlier.

In terms of data transfers - again we see very minor differences when compared with other models. The same is true regarding the speed of the RAM memory.

Then we ran the WP Bench benchmark app. First, we looked at the results of the CPU test and we noticed the same trend: the performance difference between Lumia 735, Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 is less than 1% because they share the same processor.

Below you can see the results obtained in the graphics, storage and memory tests, which are just as boring, in the sense that they do not reveal anything special. The same hardware returns the same performance no matter which smartphone you are using. The reason why you see the Lumia 630 and Lumia 530 having more frames per second in the graphics test is only due to the fact that they have smaller displays with smaller resolutions.

Then, we used the Sunspider benchmark to quickly evaluate how fast web browsing is on this smartphone. The browsing performance offered by Lumia 735 is on par with that offered by Lumia 830, which is good. The only truly fast smartphone in this test is Lumia 930.

Next, we measured the time it takes for the Lumia 735 to start and load the Windows Phone operating system. A cold-boot was done, on average, in about 30 seconds, which is a good result in our view - very similar to that of the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930.

Last but not least, we used WP Bench battery test to measure how fast the battery drains when the smartphone uses all its hardware resources and it is stressed to its maximum capabilities. Lumia 735 had a great result, lasting 5 hours and 15 minutes. If this isn't proof enough, the battery of the Lumia 735 will outlast most Windows Phones and it will surely take you through a whole day.

Where To Buy

If there's one conclusion to be drawn from our benchmarks is that the Lumia 735 offers the same level of performance as Lumia 830 and Lumia 630. However, its battery will outlast that of these other smartphones and it currently is the Windows Phone with the best autonomy.

Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

Nokia Lumia 735 is not a perfect smartphone and it doesn't even try to be. Yeah, it does better selfies than most smartphones but the lack of a hardware camera button makes the selfie experience less fun. Its performance isn't stellar but Windows Phone 8.1 runs smoothly on it anyway. The rear camera is not great but its picture-taking skills are good enough for most people. An unexpected area where this smartphone truly shines is the battery which will outlast many other Windows Phones. The truth is that, at its price-point, you will have a hard time finding a better deal. Nokia Lumia 735 is a great smartphone for budget-conscious users.