• Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
  • Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on

Seeing as the official invite for Microsoft’s MoreLumia event featured a selfie, we weren’t surprised to see that there really was a selfie phone announced at the event.

Available for just €219 (S$355) this month, the Lumia 735 is practically similar on the inside to the Microsoft’s affordable flagship phone the Lumia 830, which also made its debut. The only difference lies in the phones’ cameras as well as the materials they’re made of – this one is primarily plastic while the €330 (S$535) Lumia 830 has a metal casing. Does the fact that it’s 30%  cheaper make the Lumia 735 the more compelling option then?

The ultimate selfie phone

Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on

The main focus on the Lumia 735 is of course it’s front-facing camera. A 5MP wide-angle affair of 24mm, it’s even capable of full HD 1080p videos. Microsoft’s even thrown in three months of free Skype worldwide subscription for people to try it in real-world scenarios. True, other phones such as the HTC One M8 and Oppo N1 have put large-sensor cameras on the front for better selfies before, but this time Microsoft’s even built an entire app around selfies to make them better.  

Very simply named “Lumia Selfie”, the app and camera combine to shoot selfies that aren’t just better in quality, they’ve got a larger field of view too. Images taken on the front camera are some of the best we’ve seen from a narcissistic perspective, while a demo during the MoreLumia event highlighted that the phone could comfortably fit over 11 people in one picture. ]

What’s more, Microsoft has done something very Japanese/Korean and added photo editing tools to enhance your facial features. That includes being able to alter your eyes, smile, teeth, and even smooth out wrinkles. It’s almost like digital plastic surgery.

Meanwhile, the rear shooter is a 6.7MP unit with an LED flash, but since the Lumia 735 isn’t privy to the Lumia Camera app found in Microsoft’s flagship devices, isn’t anywhere near as good as that in the Lumia 830. The fact that it isn’t a PureView camera doesn’t help, but at this price, there’s no cause for complaint. Image quality in general is acceptable, though we didn’t really have much opportunity to test it fully. We were preoccupied with the front camera, after all. 

Plastic all around

Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on
Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on

Sporting Nokia’s signature polycarbonate design, the Lumia 735 doesn’t particularly stand out besides the fact that it’s got the same bright colours as Microsoft’s recent phone offerings. At 8.9mm thin and weighing 134g, the curved plastic back fits comfortably into the hand, with good grip and feel on the matte plastic.

The back of the phone is removable as well, and swappable with other covers available in black, white, orange, and green. The orange cover we encountered had a glossy finish though, which honestly felt quite clammy and attracted smudges. It wouldn’t be good for humid environments at all.

While the phone’s button layout is sensible and easy to reach, Microsoft decided to do away with the dedicated camera shutter button. It’s probably because you won’t need that button for selfies, but it was still a convenience that’s conspicuously missed.

Initial verdict

Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on

We talk about the 735 as one model, but really it’s two – there’s also a dual-SIM Lumia 730. Available for just €199 (S$325), it’s also cheaper, though you also lose built-in wireless charging. You could always just buy the wireless charging shell for €15 (S$25) though.

Without Lumia Denim’s extra features, the Lumia 735 is strictly a budget affair, and it seems Microsoft hopes to make up for this by focussing on its selfie capabilities. We’re not sure this is enough to make it a very compelling option, unless you really like taking photos of yourself or suffer from extreme narcissism, of course.

However, at just €219 (S$355), it’s still a very good phone for its price, with solid build quality and value-for-money.