Nokia’s Lumia 720 and Lumia 820 are similar-looking smartphones running Windows Phone 8. At first glance, you might think that the more expensive 820 is better than the 720, but life just isn’t that simple. The cheaper 720 has a couple of surprises that might make it a better choice for some users.
First, let’s have a quick overview of both phones. The phones are a similar size, although the 720 is a millimetre slimmer and weighs 32g less, making it a lot easier to handle. Both have good-sized 4.3 inch displays with 480 x 800 pixels giving a reasonably sharp resolution.
Both run Windows Phone 8 with its Live Tiles and useful range of pre-installed apps, including Office, Internet Explorer, Nokia Maps, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, a YouTube app and a media player. Nokia City Lens and Nokia Drive rival the functionality of Google Maps, although there’s no equivalent to Google’s Street View.
Both devices are equipped with dual core Snapdragon S4 processors, enabling a smooth user interface response, but marking out both phones as mid-range, since high-end handsets usually now feature quadcore processors.
Both have reasonably generous amounts of memory, with 8GB onboard user memory and the ability to add microSD cards for extra storage of photos, videos, music and apps. In addition SkyDrive gives 7GB of free cloud storage and the phones can be configured for automatic upload and backup of user data.
Naturally, GPS satellite positioning is included and in fact both handsets have GLONASS in addition to GPS.
The 720 and 820 both come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB and NFC connectivity as well as wireless charging using an optional charging accessory.
So, both the 720 and 820 are competent mid-range handsets. More illuminating is the differences between them. These aren’t exactly what you’d expect.
The 820 has a faster processor, running at 1.5GHz instead of the 720’s 1GHz. It also has a full 1GB of RAM available, which is twice the 512MB available to the 720. This makes the 820 a more versatile handset for the power user, or anyone who wants to make full use of the smart features available.
The 820 is a 4G phone, compatible with LTE bands 800, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600. This enables data downloads up to 100 Mbps, compared with a theoretical maximum of 21.1 Mbps available using HSPA with the Lumia 720.
In addition, the 820 comes with an 8 megapixel camera capable of recording full 1080p HD video, whereas the 720 has a 6.7 megapixel camera with 720p video recording.
So, for all these reasons it may look like the 820 is the better choice, especially for more demanding users. It may be heavier and a little more costly, but it seems to offer so much more. However, the 720 has a few tricks of its own.
Camera and battery power
Although the headline megapixel count of the Lumia 820 exceeds that of the 720, under many conditions the Lumia 720’s camera outperforms its big brother. That’s because, although both cameras are equipped with an LED flash and a low-light BSI sensor, the Carl Zeiss Tessar lens of the Lumia 720 has an exceptionally large f1.9 aperture. This compares with the f2.2 aperture of the Lumia 820. The difference means that the camera in the Lumia 720 receives 30% more light, enabling better performance in low-light conditions (indoors or at night), which is when photos are most commonly taken. Actually, both phones have great cameras, but the Lumia 720 has the edge.
Another key difference is in battery power. It’s well known that smartphone users are always complaining about battery power. While the Lumia 820 has a modest 1650 mAH battery, the Lumia 720 has a significantly larger 2000 mAH battery, giving it much longer life. In fact Nokia’s official figures show that the Lumia 720 can deliver up to 23 hours of talktime, 79 hours of music playback or 13 hours of browsing via Wi-Fi.
Both phones are good mid-range smartphones. Key features include the 4.3 inch displays, Windows Phone 8 operating system, dual-core processors, good connectivity, high quality cameras and generous amounts of memory.
The Lumia 820 is a heavier, more expensive handset, but it’s faster and comes with the benefit of 4G.
The Lumia 720 is more of a mid-range handset, but it over-delivers on battery life and camera quality.
It seems like Nokia aren’t making the choice simple for consumers. Why can’t the 720 be cheaper and the 820 better? Then life would be simple! I reality, it seems that in the 5 months since the release of the 820, technology has moved forward and Nokia is able to bundle some bonus features into the 720 at no extra cost. It’s an indication of how quickly the smartphone market is moving, and why buying the latest product has a certain undeniable logic.