Introduction

The battle in the midrange has never been so intense and manufacturers have to work harder than ever to climb to prominence. Microsoft is surely feeling the heat from Android with makers, big and small, churning out solid and affordable phones that get the job done and sometimes even exceed expectations - for the price.


Nokia Lumia 735 official photos

The Nokia Lumia 735 will definitely try and do just that. It's taking charge of Microsoft's updated Windows _phone_ midrange with the latest Lumia Denim firmware, an HD screen, LTE and a selfie-centric wide-angle front cam. The Lumia 720 is one of the company's top sellers and it's now been upgraded two-fold by the Lumia 730 and Lumia 735. They share the 4.7" ClearBlack AMOLED screen, the Snapdragon 400 chipset and the imaging department, combining a wide-aperture primary camera with a high-res, Skype-optimized selfie cam.

The Lumia 730 is a dual-SIM package while the Lumia 735 has LTE. That's the only difference between the two - nothing on the outside to set them apart but they'll obviously be offered on very different markets. Let's see what the LTE-capable Lumia 735 has to offer to the budget-conscious smartphone buyer.

Key Features

  • 4.7" 720p (316 ppi) 16M-color ClearBlack AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Microsoft Windows _phone_ 8.1 with latest Denim update
  • Quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 305 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, 1GB of RAM
  • 6.7MP camera with 1080p video recording @ 30fps, 1/3.4'' sensor size
  • 5MP front-facing camera, wide-angle 24mm lens, 1080p video recording
  • 8GB of built-in storage, microSD card slot up to 128GB, 15GB free OneDrive storage
  • LTE Cat. 4 (up to 150 Mbps) support, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS/GLONASS, Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 2,200mAh Li-Ion battery, wireless charging

Main Disadvantages

  • Chipset is rather dated now
  • The loudspeaker is on the quiet side

A Snapdragon 400 chipset (with LTE support) with a quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM used to be the default choice in the midrange, although we are now seeing most OEMs move to 410. The Lumia 735 hops on the selfie bandwagon with a 6.7MP camera at the back and a 5MP wide-angle front-facer, both making good use of the Selfie app, courtesy of the latest firmware. The Lumia 735 is the first phone to launch with the Lumia Denim update to Windows phone 8.1.

Specs aside, the Lumia 735 is simply beautiful - another piece of top-notch hardware with consciously understated finish, as if to emphasize the extra solid build. The fit in the hand is terrific, too.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The Nokia Lumia 735 live photos

We're going to talk more about the build and finish of the Lumia 735 in the following chapter, so let's get cracking.

Nokia Lumia 730/735 360-degree view

The Lumia 730/735 is a sleek looking fella, strongly reminiscent of the Lumia 800, which in turn was identical to the iconic Nokia N9. Another way to describe it is a smaller version of the Lumia 1520. In any case, the phone looks the part - with a streamlined body and clean, understated design.

The Lumia 735 is thinner than its predecessors. The phone measures 134.7 x 68.5 x 8.7mm. This is the same thickness as a Lumia 1520 - the slimmest the Lumia lineup has ever offered.

Yet, the Lumia 730/735 could've been more compact, the space below the display in particular is not used for anything. More on that in a bit.

Design and handling

When we said the Lumia 735 looked like the Nokia N9 we meant it. The very shape and the smooth finish create a convincing impression of a polycarbonate unibody - which isn't the case. It looks like it but it's not - yet the build quality is all there, plus you get a user-replaceable battery.

The Lumia 730/735 is carrying the heritage of the lineup with pride. No risks are being taken - the design is well familiar but relevant enough. Granted, it's not a phone that stands out from the crowd but one that looks solid, dependable and by no means cheap. Sounds about right for a midranger.

The sides of the phones are rounded and they blend into the back seamlessly making for a nice feel in hand. The bottom and top sides are flat.

The entire inner body pops out of the polycarbonate shell, which encloses the screen. To open the cover and get access to the card compartments and the battery, you need to push the top of the frame right above the display and then repeat on the bottom side.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Handling the Lumia 730/735 is a nice experience

There are other color variations available including green, orange and white. Since it's a single piece, it completely changes the overall look of the phone, which is nice.

With a weight of 130 grams, the phone feels pleasantly light in the hand. Don't think however, that this takes away from its sturdiness. The phone gives out the impression it can endure a lot of bumps and drops. And since the entire plastic cover can be replaced, damaging the body of the phone isn't too much trouble, as long as you keep the screen safe from damage. A Gorilla Glass 3 protective layer on top of the display will perhaps give you extra peace of mind.

Windows phone 8.1 enables the use of virtual on-screen keys for navigation and the Lumia 730/735 takes advantage of them ditching the traditional capacitive keys below the display. One downside of reusing a design is Nokia didn't get rid of the resulting blank space below the screen. It currently serves no purpose than housing the main microphone (which we're sure could've been located elsewhere on the bottom).

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The front of the Lumia 730/735

On top of the 4.7" ClearBlack AMOLED display, there's the earpiece and the selfie-centric 5MP front cam in the top right corner. The Nokia logo, which will be gone very soon, is below the earpiece. A chance to enjoy it one last time.

Nokia Lumia 730/735

The top houses the 5MP selfie camera

The basic button layout remains the same as on Lumia smartphones of old. On the right side, there's the Power/Lock button placed in the center and above it is the volume rocker. The left side is bare.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The sides of the Lumia 730/735

On the top, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack in the middle and that's just it. The bottom houses only the microUSB port.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The top and bottom are almost bare

The back of the Lumia 730/735 is also quite uncluttered. There's a 6.7MP camera lens complete with a LED flash. There's also a second microphone for noise cancellation next to the LED flash.

At the bottom right sits the round-shaped loudspeaker grille.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The 6.7MP camera joined by the LED flash are on the back

The device is powered by a 2200mAh Li-Ion battery. Next to the battery compartment are the nano-SIM and microSD card slots. The battery is removable as well, so you can carry a spare with you if you need.

Overall, we like the feel and handling of the Lumia 730/735. We are rarely disappointed by a Nokia-built smartphone and this one makes no exception. It's not a premium device but benefits from an excellent choice of materials and the build is impeccable.

The Lumia 730/735 is one of the thinnest phones in the lineup and it's also reasonably light. It's also tough and fits great in hand. Had Nokia also made it a bit more compact it would be a proper engineer masterpiece.

Display

The Lumia 735 is built around a 4.7" ClearBlack AMOLED display. It has 720p resolution resulting in a pixel density of 316ppi. On top, it's covered with a protective layer of Gorilla Glass 3.

The capacitive touch sensor on the display features the supersensitive touch technology that allows it to detect fingers even through gloves.

The Lumia 735 comes with the Lumia Color Profile option in the settings, which gives you two sliders to play with - one for color temperature (which spans the cool, neutral and warm range) and color saturation (natural to vivid). It's a nifty feature to have on a midrange device.

The Nokia Glance screen keeps the clock and notifications visible even after you lock the screen. Those can be set to appear only for a short while after you lock the screen, intermittently on and off and always on. There's a dedicated Always On setting for when the device is charging. Night mode allows you to pick a different color for the Glance screen info - Red, Green or Blue - if the default White setting is too bright for your sleepy eyes.

Nokia Lumia 730/735

The viewing angles are solid with only a minor shift in contrast when viewed at an extreme angle. Color rendering is also great and, as an added bonus, you can tweak the white balance and saturation to your liking. Contrast is great due to the AMOLED panel.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia Lumia 735 258 363
HTC One mini 2 0.19 220 1141 0.42 501 1196
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 226 432
Motorola Moto G 4G 0.42 387 916 0.7 651 929
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
Sony Xperia SP - - - 0.7 568 816


The ClearBlack tech does help minimize reflectivity, which means that the relatively low brightness doesn't hurt the outdoor performance at all - the Lumia 735 is among the best in bright light.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Rich connectivity

The Nokia Lumia 735 has quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support, quad-band 3G with HSDPA and tri-band LTE. The Lumia 730 has the same except it swaps the LTE radio for dual-SIM support.

In terms of local connectivity, it offers dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n with DLNA and Wi-Fi Hotspot, and stereo Bluetooth 4.0, with file transfer support.

The Wallet app also uses NFC connectivity. Unfortunately, we won't know whether that has any potential to expand beyond its out-of-the-box functionality for at least a few more months.

NFC is still useful for file sharing and it works across other platforms with NFC support. Sending a picture to a Samsung phone, for instance, wasn't a problem and the same goes for web pages.

NFC also plays nice with some cool accessories - like the JBL PowerUp speaker that automatically starts playing when you place the Lumia 735 on it - and charges the phone too, while at it.

Battery life

The 2200mAh Li-Ion battery inside the Lumia 735 is rated at up to 17 hours of 3G talk time and 600 hours of standby. It's a tad larger than a potential main competitor's, the Moto G.

We ran our usual battery tests including web browsing, calls, video and standby. The phone managed an overall rating of 59 hours, which means it will last about two and a half days if you do an hour each of watching videos, browsing the web and making calls each day.

Our routine also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating. Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it. If you are interested how these results compare to other tested devices, check out our battery life test result table.

WP8.1 with Update 1 treated with Lumia Denim

The Nokia Lumia 735 is running the latest available Windows phone 8.1 (with Update 1) out of box. On top of this, the company is blessing it with the Lumia Denim software expansion package. The Windows phone 8.1 major firmware update has already rolled out to Windows phone 8 devices, and represents the latest that Microsoft has to offer in a mobile OS. The Update 1 expansion adds folder support, customizable snooze alarms, enables Cortana in UK and China, plus includes some under the hood improvements.

Windows phone 8.1 brings a plethora of new features and UI improvements. Lumia Denim enriched the user experience with better and faster Lumia Camera app, Moment Capture feature and Rich Capture.

Before we dig into details, here comes our traditional UI walkthrough to get you warmed up.

Once you unlock your Nokia Lumia 735, you'll get to the familiar interface with resizable live tiles.

Under Windows phone 8.1, you can now select a background image to make some of your live tiles look more uniform. This looks great, except that not all live tiles are transparent, which can ruin the overall effect.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The Start background

With Update 1 you can now create folders at your Start page. Using them is easy and intuitive.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Using a folder

One of the major novelties brought by Windows phone 8.1 is a unified notification center. Microsoft calls this the Action Center and you access it by pulling down from the top of the screen, just like on Android.

The Action Center lets you access quick toggles as well as various app notifications. You can swipe individual notifications off the screen or you can click the dedicated clean all key to remove them all at once. Sliding down the Action Center also reveals a battery percentage indicator below the battery icon, as well as the date and carrier network below the clock and reception icons, respectively.

The Action Center

The four toggles at the top are fully customizable. The available options include Airplane mode, Bluetooth, brightness, camera, internet sharing, location, project my screen, quiet hours, rotation lock, VPN, Wi-Fi, and more.

The different toggles have different actions, however: a tap on the Wi-Fi button will get you to the Wi-Fi settings menu, while a double-tap on the Bluetooth - won't. It's a somewhat confusing inconsistency and detracts from the overall usability of the toggle system.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Customizing the notifications • choosing a quick action button

Just like on iOS, here you can customize the notifications - you can choose whether banners, sounds and vibration are available for each notification type.

Microsoft chose Apple's way of handling apps running in background - most of the apps are suspended upon hitting the Windows key and will be resumed once you bring them back. There are others, of course, such as Navigation, Cortana and Battery apps, which will continue to run in background unless you specifically kill them.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Multi-tasking

Quiet Hours mode is pretty much the same as Apple's DND mode - it can be set to block calls and messages over pre-defined time interval, plus it can also go on automatically during events you have marked in your calendar. Just like its competing services, Quiet Hours supports the so-called Inner Circle - the notifications from your Inner Circle will always break through. There is also an option to allow calls from people who call you more than two times in less than three minutes.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Quiet Hours

Windows phone 8.1 doesn't offer a full-featured and system-wide file manager out of the box but Microsoft allows you to download their newly released Files app, which would service the purpose of accessing the storage memory and manage all files stored there regardless of which app they are meant for.

Windows Phone, just like iOS and Android, offers Find My phone option. If you lose your phone, you can log into WindowsPhone.com with your Microsoft ID and try to locate your phone from there. Ring, lock and wipe options are available as well.

Benchmarks and performance

Nokia Lumia 735 is powered by the widely used Snapdragon 400 chipset. It has four Cortex-A7 processor cores clocked at 1.2GHz, Adreno 305 graphics common for most of the Windows phone gang and 1GB RAM.

First, we ran the multi-platform compound test BaseMark OS II, which takes in consideration CPU performance, graphics, web benchmark, and memory. Surprisingly, the Lumia 735 posted a poor result compared to its Snapdragon 400 Lumia siblings.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1116
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    1067
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    526
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    478
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    465
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    451
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    435
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    332

Then we ran AnTuTu for Windows phone and things got a bit better. The benchmark gauges the overall system performance, too, and here Lumia 735 is on par with the Lumia 630.

AnTuTu 4

Higher is better

  • Nokia Lumia 930
    26206
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    12112
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    12095
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    12035
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    11969

Finally, we ran the JavaScript-centric Kraken benchmark and the compound BrowserMark 2.1. Unfortunately, the Internet Explorer browser isn't on par with today's mobile competition - it isn't even close to Chrome and Safari. The raw performance isn't bad, it's just unimpressive.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    15885
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    15988
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    16118
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    26542
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    26913

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1085
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    911
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    861
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    625
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    599

The Lumia 735 isn't chart-topping in the benchmark tests, but Windows phone devices were never meant to compete on a benchmark basis. It's the real-world performance that matters.

Happily, the phone offers a lag-free experience and didn't stutter in every day usage. Some of the more heavy apps opened with a slight delay, but that's about as slow as the phone goes. The Lumia 735 offers pleasing performance that would be more than enough for non-power users.

Cortana at your service

Cortana, which premiered on Windows phone 8.1, is Microsoft's answer to Siri, S Voice and Google Now. It does a pretty good job with voice recognition and it has the potential of helping you out on a number of occasions throughout your day.

Cortana is very similar to Siri. The voice comes courtesy of Halo's Jen Taylor and is probably the most human-like sounding virtual assistant we've encountered. It recognizes your voice commands and questions in natural human language and provides voice feedback.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Cortana in action

So, what can Cortana actually do for you? First you need to personalize it in order to utilize its full potential. The Settings are called Notebook and are divided into Interests, Reminders, Quiet Hours, Inner Circle, Places, and Music Searches. In Interests you can assign literally everything you like and Cortana will help you track specific news, plan trips, find restaurants or bars, and more.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Finding the answers to simple question, making notes and setting alarms are all supported

Cortana supports reminders including people-based ones - you can tell her to remind you of something next time you call some of your contacts. It also supports reminders by location (home, work, university, stores), so it can remind you to wish a coworker a happy birthday before starting with the work-related questions.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

You can turn on your Bluetooth or check the currency exchange rates • she can do fun stuff too

Cortana can also remember places, important people to you (it can even suggest such people based on your activity), plus it can actively control your quiet hours mode.

Cortana can fully interact with your phone and carry out all kind or commands related to it - make a call, send a message, add appointments, take notes, set alarms, play specific music or playlists, navigate you to locations or simply search the web. It can also turn on/off settings or give you straightforward answers to simple questions.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Asking what's for dinner • Who are you? • Settings

Cortana is also capable of checking the traffic in your city and it will remind you to leave early or warn you if your bus or train has been delayed. It can also provide alternatives routes to avoid traffic jams.

Unique among virtual assistants, Cortana can also forward your commands to third party apps, so you can for example ask it to open Skype and call some of your contacts. Only Skype, Facebook and Twitter currently support this functionality, but others should follow sooner rather than later.

As far as the speed of voice recognition is concerned, WP's virtual assistant does a fine job. Words are recognized almost in real time, and the accuracy has greatly improved since its earlier iterations.

Siri can do a lot more than Cortana today, while Google Now with its automatically appearing cards is probably the most useful of the bunch, but those two have quite a head start. Microsoft does remind you that Cortana is still in beta, so we expect even better performance and functionality once it's finalized.

We'd also like to see Cortana hitting other regions and languages as the US, UK and China are the only ones supported for now. It recently became available in early alpha version in Australia, Canada and India, but this is surely not enough. The good news is you can bypass that limitation by simply changing your region in the settings menu - no complicated hacks required.

A socially-friendly phonebook called People

People Hub is the phonebook that you'll find on the Nokia Lumia 730/735, and is one of the more capable such applications we've seen. It supports multiple accounts, including social ones, and has multiple pages like the rest of the WP interface. The first page is your contacts list, the second one is What's New with all of your friends' social updates, then come (chat) Rooms, and Groups.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Contacts

Just like the People app, viewing a single contact also allows you to check this specific person's social updates plus you can view the complete history of exchange with this contact in one place, displayed chronologically. Everything but status updates is listed here: calls, texts (actually threads from the Messaging hub) and emails.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Viewing and editing a single contact

The Me tile is also available, which acts as your collective social hub - you can see all of your social updates here, post statuses across all services, and even a check-in option is available. You can send IMs to your Facebook/Twitter friends from the Me app, too.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The Me tile

Telephony

The phone application on the Nokia Lumia 730/735 shows you call history with call duration, courtesy of the WP 8.1 update. There are shortcuts to voice mail, dialer and phonebook. Smart dial is not supported, but you can use Cortana to dial someone in a flash.

One new feature you'll notice in the in-call screen is the Skype button. If you hit it, your call will be automatically transferred into a free Skype video chat. Of course, the other user must have a Skype client installed plus an active internet connection.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The call log • the in-call screen with Skype integration

The Nokia Lumia 730/735 passed through our loudspeaker test, but didn't do so with a bang. In fact, it managed a below average result meaning that you'd want to have the phone near you at all times if you don't want to miss any important calls.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia SP 66.6 61.9 68.2 Below Average
Nokia Lumia 735 67.6 66.8 63.7 Below Average
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 66.3 66.2 72.7 Average
HTC One mini 2 69.3 66.6 75.9 Good
LG G3 70.2 66.6 80.2 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent


Feature-rich messaging

The Messaging hub has two new options - a shortcut to go to the contact's full details in People Hub, plus a setting to mute the thread. If you choose Mute, then you'll stop receiving any notifications for incoming messages from this number, though the messages will still be saved in the thread.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Messaging • adding multimedia content is easy

Threads are the building blocks of all non-email messaging. As a sort of conversation view, threads mash together SMS, Facebook and Windows Live messages. That's one thing we love about Windows Phone: the Messaging hub removes the old division between texts, IMs, social messages.

The native email client has very simple interface but it offers everything an email client should feature - support for multiple accounts, threaded view, batch operations, search.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Reading through new emails • only unread emails • email folders • popular email services are supported

Linked Inbox is available too - you can link all of your mail boxes into a single one from the Outlook app's settings.

While retaining the same looks, the virtual keyboard now supports Wordflow - a Swype-like input method allowing you to quickly input words without lifting your finger by swiping through the letters. It is extremely accurate and recently managed to set a new Guinness Record for typing on a virtual keyboard.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The Wordflow keyboard

Nice Photos app

In Windows phone 8.1 the Photo Hub has lost the magazine UI in favor of the traditional WP page view. You get three swipe-able pages - all, albums and favorites - all pretty much self-explanatory.

Automatic OneDrive backup is available, you just need to enable it from the settings. Microsoft gives you 15GB for free plus 3GB for the each device on which you turn on the automatic OneDrive camera upload.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Pictures hub

Sharing options include Bluetooth file transfer, messaging, email, Facebook, OneDrive and other available social services.

Xbox music app

The default Xbox music player in Windows phone 8.1 uses the familiar page layout - you get Now Playing page; Collection view with shortcuts to artists, albums, songs, genres, playlists, and Music Store highlights. It also allows you to create, edit and delete playlists straight from your phone.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Music app with Now Playing screen and its album view • Collection and Music Store

The player is compatible with your Xbox Music account and can stream your songs if you have active connection without saving them on the phone.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Browsing your collection

Unfortunately, the Music app doesn't support FLAC playback. Equalizer options are available from Settings -> Audio. You can either user presets or customize your own. Dolby Virtual Surround and Dolby Dialog Enhancer (in movies) are available, too.

FM radio with RDS

There's an FM radio with RDS support on board the Lumia 730/735. You can use the loudspeaker for the FM radio, though you still need the headset connected as it doubles as an antenna.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

FM radio

Same video player with limited codec support

The video player is a separate app called Video. It has a four-page layout - your collection, movie store, TV store and spotlight.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The Video hub

The video player supports XviD, DivX, MOV and MP4 videos up to 1080p resolution. The few things it won't play are MKV files and videos using the AC3 audio codec. There is a limited subtitles support.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Playing a video

Audio quality is solid

The Nokia Lumia 735 is a pretty solid smartphone when it comes to audio playback duties. Its scores when plugged into an active external amplifier were great and the volume levels are higher than the majority of smartphones out there.

Plugging in a pair of headphones does cause a notable spike in stereo crosstalk, while the frequency response worsens a bit but still remains very good. Volume levels drop a bit too but again remain above average.

Overall, the mid-range Lumia may not be the best audio player on the market, but it punches well above its price class and that's a pretty decent achievement too.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Nokia Lumia 735 +0.07, -0.04 -90.6 91.4 0.0093 0.084 -91.2
Nokia Lumia 735 (headphones attached) +0.35, -0.21 -89.4 91.2 0.013 0.194 -55.9
Nokia Lumia 930 +0.12, -0.02 -91.4 90.7 0.0099 0.101 -90.3
Nokia Lumia 930 (headphones attached) +0.19, -0.43 -89.4 90.7 0.012 0.501 -55.8
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini +0.03, -0.04 -92.6 90.7 0.016 0.018 -94.0
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (headphones attached) +0.23, -0.05 -86.7 86.2 0.052 0.167 -55.7
HTC One mini 2 +0.02, -0.09 -94.8 93.8 0.010 0.011 -93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.03 -94.9 93.8 0.028 0.022 -90.1

Nokia Lumia 735 frequency response

Nokia Lumia 735 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

6.7MP camera with Zeiss optics fails to impress

The Nokia Lumia 735 comes with a 6.7MP sensor with Carl Zeiss lens. Similar to plenty of Nokia sensors in the past though you can't use the full resolution of the sensor - you get 16:9 photos in 3072 x 1728 (5.3MP) and 4:3 photos in 2848 x 2144 (6.1MP).

Nokia has created a proprietary app for all Lumia smartphones called Nokia Camera, which is soon to be renamed to Lumia Camera due to Microsoft's completed acquisition.

The (Lumia) camera interface is very familiar - it offers white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed up to 4s and exposure settings. Expanding the top settings menu puts the camera in Pro mode, which lets you adjust such things as ISO, exposure, shutter speed, white balance, and more, via a nifty slider interface that pops up on the right side of the frame. Your adjustments show up real-time so you can easily set up the exact shot parameters that you're looking for.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Camera UI

The samples on the Lumia 735 are somewhat noisy but have plenty of detail and look pretty decent overall. However, the dynamic range is subpar and white balance is a bit off. Out of the several dozen samples we shot, only a third came out with semi-decent white balance.

At least when the white balance is right, the colors come out pretty great - nicely saturated without going overboard.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Lumia 735 16:9 camera samples

Happily, you can get more camera functionality via Lenses. Our Lumia 735 came only with Bing Vision, Vine and Twitter modes, but you can also download numerous other free and paid lenses which enhance the camera functionality. Highlights include Lumia Cinemagraph, Panorama, and Refocus lenses, but there's a whole bunch more that can be downloaded directly from the lenses interface.

Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Lumia 735 panorama shot

With the Lumia Denim update, Nokia has preloaded a couple of more camera-centric apps, chief among which is the Lumia Selfie app. It focuses on taking selfies with the 5MP front-facing camera and is pretty good at what it does in terms of user interface.

However, we feel that the average user can be a bit overwhelmed with all the camera choices they're presented with - particularly those that will settle for a modest 6MP shooter.

Lastly, here's a macro shot taken with the Lumia 730/735.

Nokia Lumia 730/735

Nokia Lumia 735 macro shot

Photo quality comparison

We've added the Nokia Lumia 735 to our dedicated photo compare tool, where you can compare its 6MP shooter to some of its main rivals.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Nokia Lumia 735 in our photo quality comparison tool

FullHD video recording

The Nokia Lumia 735 camcorder can record video at 1080p@30fps, with a solid 17.5Mbps bitrate and an unwavering 30fps. Sadly, videos are recorded in a single channel AAC mode with a 192Kbps bitrate and 48KHz.

The camcorder interface is pretty much the same as the still camera. It offers only white balance and manual focus settings, and also allows you to choose the audio bass filter (off, 100 Hz or 200 Hz). Opting for 200 Hz (Strong) will capture much better sound in concerts or clubs.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Camcorder UI • Settings

In video recording, the Lumia 735 performs similarly to its still photography shooting chops. White balance is off and the dynamic range could be better. The level of detail is decent, though.

Here is a 30s sample we've uploaded on YouTube.

Also here is an untouched 1080p@30fps video for you to download.

Video quality comparison

The Nokia Lumia 735 is ready to stand up against the competition in our video comparison tool. Its page will give you information on what to look for.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Nokia Lumia 735 in our video quality comparison tool

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is the newest version of the Microsoft's mobile web browser. You bet it went through an extensive upgrade and is a marked improvement over previous versions. IE 11 is what the Windows phone browser should have been from the get-go.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft took several cues from the competition and now provides private browsing, a Reader mode, unlimited tab support with new UI, saving passwords, tab and bookmark sync across devices and support for inline videos to name a few. Back and Forward gestures have been added too - just swipe from the left or right edge of the screen. Yes, just like in iOS.

The first new feature you'll notice is the unlimited tab support in IE 11. The tab manager has a new UI too, plus a dedicated shortcut right next to the address bar. InPrivate browsing is available too, you can launch a separate incognito tab from the tab manager.

Once you open an article on the web you'll notice a small book icon appearing in the address bar. If you tap it you'll activate the so-called Reader mode. It does the same as its iOS namesake - it strips down the article you are reading down to the text and images. This way you can enjoy seamless reading of long articles without any unnecessary content or ads. You can configure the Reader background color and font size from the IE 11 settings.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The tab manager • InPrivate browsing • Reader mode • Reader settings

IE 11 also supports inline video playback. In case the browser is capable of playing an embedded video, you will be able to do it right from within the article. No external players or pop ups are needed.

Much like its Android and iOS counterparts, the new web browser supports tab and bookmark sync across devices. This means you can start exactly where you left off on IE on Windows PC or slate.

By the way you can pin web pages to your start screen. You'll get a Live Tile, which will show the latest updates to this website.

Another important upgrade in IE 11 is the option to remember passwords and sync them to other devices. You no longer need to type in the same usernames and passwords over and over again.

The Internet Explorer 11 web browser, just like the overall UI, seems to be faster, with excellent page loading times and scrolling performance. We've enjoyed the new version and we think you'll like it too.

Pre-installed apps

Office is one of the key selling points of Windows Phone. Document/Excel/PowerPoint viewing and editing is absolutely free and integrated into the OS. OneDrive integration is available as well. Docs are automatically synced between the phone and your computer through OneDrive.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

MS Office

OneNote is Microsoft's collaborative note taking tool. It has great (and easy to use) support for lists of multiple levels, and you can add photos and voice memos or send notes via email when you're done. OneNotes can be synced with your OneDrive as well.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

One Note

The Calendar app can view sub-calendars for each account you have and can color-code them to make them easier to tell apart. It offers day and agenda views for more comprehensive hour-by-hour browsing of your appointments.

Weekly view makes the days expandable in case you have more events than the small square can show. This mode even searches for weather forecast and displays it with small icons on each day.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Calendar's weekly view • other views

Naturally, Lumia 730/735 comes with Alarm, Calculator, and Weather apps pre-installed.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Weather • Alarms

Microsoft's Travel, Sports, Finance, Food & Drinks and News apps are available, too.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Travel • Food & Drinks

With the Lumia 730/735 you get a few Nokia exclusive apps - Storyteller interactive diary, Creative Studio for advanced photo enhancements, and, of course, HERE Maps and HERE Drive+.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Storyteller • Creative Studio

HERE Drive+ offers free, life-time voice-guided navigation anywhere in the world. All you have to do is download a voice in your language of choice and you're good to go. Of course, to make use of the key selling point of Drive - offline navigation - you have to download a map for a country of your choice, too.

HERE Maps takes on other duties - instead of navigation, it's more of a replacement for paper maps that you can take as you explore a city. It will help you discover new places, read a quick description, see photos, read reviews and check what renowned guides like Lonely Planet, Insight Guides and Qype have to say.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

HERE Drive+ • Here Maps

Windows Phone's traditional Games app is present - it carries over many features from the similar Xbox profile - from your avatar to your scores and achievements. It is also your gaming hub - here you can find all of your pre-installed games, spotlight news and store links.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Games hub

Windows phone 8.1 introduced a couple of new apps: Storage Sense and Battery Saver. Storage Sense tracks your internal memory and allows you to configure which content will be saved where. Battery Saver now not only shows you the battery percentage and allows you to configure when the battery saver goes on, but it can now track battery usage too. You can also allow or restrict apps to run in the background while the battery saver is turned on.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Storage Sense • Battery Saver

Finally, Windows phone now features a dedicated and feature-rich file manager. It's called Files, developed by Microsoft and you can get it for free from the Store.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Files - a proper Windows phone file manager

By the way, the Microsoft Store now supports automatic app updates. You can choose whether those happen only when connected to a Wi-Fi network, or if cellular data is allowed as well. Check for updates button is available, but now the Store checks for available updates quite a few times a day, so you probably won't need to use this key regularly.

Final words

Microsoft is doing well to shake things up in the Lumia lineup. A couple of devices shown at IFA in September have hit the shelves and, the software boost courtesy of Lumia Denim aside, the lineup is being updated in the right place. The upgrades are even slightly overdue perhaps - busy adding a tablet and a couple of phablets to the lineup, along with dual-SIM support and cheap screen real estate, Nokia and Microsoft somehow overlooked the midrange.

The Lumia 720 went nearly two years without an upgrade and it was by no means a phone that deserves such treatment. OK, this maybe just our opinion but we liked the 720 and the Lumia 735 we've just finished reviewing is showing due respect as well.

LTE and HD screen resolution look nice on the list of upgrades but the good news don't end there. It's an AMOLED screen now with the ClearBlack technology for great contrast and outdoor legibility. The 5MP wide-angle front cam is perfect for selfies and the 1080p videos are welcome as well.

The phone handles great and still looks good, although honestly it's not going to wow onlookers. Well familiar and deliberately understated, it's a design we've seen minor variations of on many Lumia handsets. Fair enough. This is one of the last Lumia phones to carry a Nokia brand and Redmond may be saving the fresh hardware for the ones that have the Microsoft logo. Just a thought.

Anyway, the polycarbonate shell is pleasant to the touch and gives the phone a solid, near premium feel. It's not a unibody but the customizability and, especially, a user-replaceable battery are always a point in favor.

We were quite impressed by the phone's 4.7" 720p ClearBlack AMOLED display. It's not only got vibrant colors and excellent contrast, but great viewing angles too. The resolution is spot on for a midrange device and the size hits the right balance between manageability and screen real estate.

Nokia Lumia 730/735 key test findings

  • Build quality is great and the phone has excellent handling. The polycarbonate shell is a bit hard to pop open but the flipside is the handset feels rock solid
  • The display is bright, contrast is excellent, sunlight legibility is very good
  • Battery life is solid
  • It has a rich connectivity package including LTE (735 only), NFC and an FM radio.
  • Speakers aren't very loud
  • Audio quality is solid
  • Capable camera of very good quality, some nice software perks, high-res selfies
  • The video recording quality is very good
  • Plays various video files except MKV videos, even AC3 audio is an option
  • Snappy and powerful Windows phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim firmware

The AMOLED display will work in your favor when it comes to battery life too. The 2,220mAh battery will last you a good couple of days on a single charge and that's something few of the Lumia 735's competitors can match. Wireless charging is a nice little bonus.

Power efficiency is helped by the Snapdragon 400 chipset too, which is par for the course in this price bracket. With LTE and 1080p videos on the spec sheet, the S400 just cannot be held against the Lumia 735. The phone never felt sluggish.

Lumia Denim adds a few bells and whistles to the camera department, including the Lumia Selfie app to complement the high-res wide-angle front-facer. The main 6.7MP rear camera of the Lumia 735 shoots very decent photos and the stills won't disappoint either. The excellent 5MP front cam is optimized for Skype video chat too.

Now, the competition. It's by no means a coincidence that we start with a phone that launched at about the same time as the Lumia 735's predecessor, the Lumia 720. That's some 18 months ago but the Sony Xperia SP is undoubtedly a near perfect match with a 4.6" 720p screen.

Sony

Sony Xperia SP

By the way, the Sony Xperia SP was an extra-solid upper midranger that we liked immensely but instead of seeing more of its kind, the market got somehow skewed towards big but low-res screens and dual-SIM support. Speaking of, the Lumia 730 is the exact same package as the 735, only swapping the LTE radio for an extra SIM slot.

Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIMMORE PICTURES

Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

There're some of the Android minis too, of course. The HTC One mini 2 has a 4.5" 720p screen and is powered by a Snapdragon 400. It even boasts a 5MP selfie cam as well. Another HD 4.5-incher, the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini has more processing power courtesy of Exynos with the same 4 Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.4GHz. The water-resistant Samsung has an AMOLED screen.

HTC One mini 2MORE PICTURES
Samsung Galaxy S5 miniMORE PICTURES

HTC One mini 2 • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

The Motorola Moto G 4G is spot-on too if you're weighing up your alternatives. The phone sells like hotcakes and for a good reason. Although prices vary across markets, you're likely to get the Moto at least a little cheaper than the Lumia 735. It has the same Snapdragon 400 chipset, LTE connectivity and microSD card support. It has a tad smaller screen at 4.5" of the same 720p resolution, which is a bit sharper, but the Lumia 735's AMOLED screen has the better contrast and outdoor legibility.

Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto G

Of course, there're even cheaper, S400-powered droids, which will offer LTE if you're willing to sacrifice some screen resolution. The HTC Desire 510 looks quite alright and sports the newer Snapdragon 410 chipset. The Sony Xperia M2 has a solid 8MP camera but a cannot match the high-res selfies of the Lumia 735.

HTC Desire 510
Sony Xperia M2

HTC Desire 510 • Sony Xperia M2

Anyway, now that we mentioned it yet again, the high-res front camera is by no means the Nokia Lumia 735's biggest asset. Microsoft calls it a "smartphone made for selfies" but there's more to it than that. An extra solid AMOLED screen of HD resolution, LTE, wireless charging, free global offline voice-guided navigation, Office apps, nice stills and videos, plus value-added imaging apps. A lot more actually. More than enough to not only retire a Lumia 720 but perhaps give rival droids a warning.

Nokia Lumia 730/735 360-degree view

The Lumia 730/735 is a sleek looking fella, strongly reminiscent of the Lumia 800, which in turn was identical to the iconic Nokia N9. Another way to describe it is a smaller version of the Lumia 1520. In any case, the phone looks the part - with a streamlined body and clean, understated design.

The Lumia 735 is thinner than its predecessors. The phone measures 134.7 x 68.5 x 8.7mm. This is the same thickness as a Lumia 1520 - the slimmest the Lumia lineup has ever offered.

Yet, the Lumia 730/735 could've been more compact, the space below the display in particular is not used for anything. More on that in a bit.

Design and handling

When we said the Lumia 735 looked like the Nokia N9 we meant it. The very shape and the smooth finish create a convincing impression of a polycarbonate unibody - which isn't the case. It looks like it but it's not - yet the build quality is all there, plus you get a user-replaceable battery.

The Lumia 730/735 is carrying the heritage of the lineup with pride. No risks are being taken - the design is well familiar but relevant enough. Granted, it's not a phone that stands out from the crowd but one that looks solid, dependable and by no means cheap. Sounds about right for a midranger.

The sides of the phones are rounded and they blend into the back seamlessly making for a nice feel in hand. The bottom and top sides are flat.

The entire inner body pops out of the polycarbonate shell, which encloses the screen. To open the cover and get access to the card compartments and the battery, you need to push the top of the frame right above the display and then repeat on the bottom side.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

Handling the Lumia 730/735 is a nice experience

There are other color variations available including green, orange and white. Since it's a single piece, it completely changes the overall look of the phone, which is nice.

With a weight of 130 grams, the phone feels pleasantly light in the hand. Don't think however, that this takes away from its sturdiness. The phone gives out the impression it can endure a lot of bumps and drops. And since the entire plastic cover can be replaced, damaging the body of the phone isn't too much trouble, as long as you keep the screen safe from damage. A Gorilla Glass 3 protective layer on top of the display will perhaps give you extra peace of mind.

Windows phone 8.1 enables the use of virtual on-screen keys for navigation and the Lumia 730/735 takes advantage of them ditching the traditional capacitive keys below the display. One downside of reusing a design is Nokia didn't get rid of the resulting blank space below the screen. It currently serves no purpose than housing the main microphone (which we're sure could've been located elsewhere on the bottom).

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The front of the Lumia 730/735

On top of the 4.7" ClearBlack AMOLED display, there's the earpiece and the selfie-centric 5MP front cam in the top right corner. The Nokia logo, which will be gone very soon, is below the earpiece. A chance to enjoy it one last time.

Nokia Lumia 730/735

The top houses the 5MP selfie camera

The basic button layout remains the same as on Lumia smartphones of old. On the right side, there's the Power/Lock button placed in the center and above it is the volume rocker. The left side is bare.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The sides of the Lumia 730/735

On the top, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack in the middle and that's just it. The bottom houses only the microUSB port.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The top and bottom are almost bare

The back of the Lumia 730/735 is also quite uncluttered. There's a 6.7MP camera lens complete with a LED flash. There's also a second microphone for noise cancellation next to the LED flash.

At the bottom right sits the round-shaped loudspeaker grille.

Nokia Lumia 730/735
Nokia Lumia 730/735

The 6.7MP camera joined by the LED flash are on the back

The device is powered by a 2200mAh Li-Ion battery. Next to the battery compartment are the nano-SIM and microSD card slots. The battery is removable as well, so you can carry a spare with you if you need.

Overall, we like the feel and handling of the Lumia 730/735. We are rarely disappointed by a Nokia-built smartphone and this one makes no exception. It's not a premium device but benefits from an excellent choice of materials and the build is impeccable.

The Lumia 730/735 is one of the thinnest phones in the lineup and it's also reasonably light. It's also tough and fits great in hand. Had Nokia also made it a bit more compact it would be a proper engineer masterpiece.