Mainstream smartphones seem to have settled in on a five inch display being the average, with a few just a bit larger and a few just a bit smaller. The Lumia 735, with a 4.7 inch display, is a great size for people who do not want the largest phone they can get.  Although the Lumia 735 is not created with ultra-high end materials, it carries the traditional Lumia design forward with a fully polycarbonate body finished with a glossy shell.

The 735 really feels like a successor to the original Lumia, the Lumia 800. Although larger, it features the same shape, with rounded sides and a squared off top and bottom. The curve continues into the display glass, with the sides of the glass featuring the same radius as the body, and it creates a great look and feel to the phone. The curved sides also compliment the smaller body size (as compared to the Lumia 830 and other five inch smartphones) and make it very comfortable to hold on to.

The top of the phone features the 3.5 mm headset jack, and the bottom of the phone has the micro USB connector for attaching to a PC or for charging. As with all Lumias, the left side has no buttons, and the right side features the power and volume rocker. Nokia has made a distinction with this year’s lineup of phones that any device without a PureView camera will not get a dedicated camera button, so the Lumia 735 lacks this. Windows Phone 8.1 does not have an easy way to access the camera through software other than to add the camera to the quick launch buttons in the Action Center, so this ends up being more of a burden than you would think. Also, unlike on the Lumia 830 and higher devices, the physical buttons are plastic, and are the same material as the body. They have great feedback though.

Speaking of buttons, the Lumia 735 follows in the footsteps of other devices like the Lumia 630 in that it lacks capacitive buttons for back, home, and search. The Lumia 630 compensated for this with on-screen buttons which had a dedicated number of pixels set aside for this task, but the Lumia 735 lacks this dedicated space on the display. The buttons will auto-hide when something like a photo is displayed, and can be accessed by swiping up on the display similar to modern HTC devices. I found this to be a less than perfect solution, and would prefer actual capacitive keys over losing display real estate to the on-screen versions but it does represent a dichotomy in the way of doing these - there will be users who prefer one over the other.

On-Screen Buttons appear in Screenshots since there is not a dedicated amount of screen for them

The back of the phone has a fairly minimalist look, with the Nokia logo subtly located in the center. The 6.7 MP camera sensor is in the center as well, near the top of the phone, and is flanked by the LED flash and one of the microphone grilles. There is also a faint Zeiss logo to let you know that this camera carries Carl Zeiss optics. The bottom of the back features the speaker grille. The back is also removable to get access to the micro SD slot as well as the battery. Even though the back is removable, there is no creaking or movement when installed. If you did not know the back was removable, you would think this is a unibody phone.

The Lumia 735 does not break new ground on industrial design or material choices, but it does continue with the traditional Lumia feel and look. The color choices are vibrant, and the orange that I received as a review unit looks great with the glossy finish. The phone fits well in the hand, and the curved glass on the front fits well with the design and provides a smooth transition to the body of the phone. Considering the back is removable, the smooth transition shows attention to detail.

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  • peterfares - Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - link

    PenTile screen? Yuck.
  • Paulo Constança - Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - link

    Great article as always! I decided to finally create an account just to comment on this one. I have this phone, bought it 3 when it barely came out to replace my old and ageing trustworthy Nokia 5800. I tried several phones before making the decision to buy this one, several androids from several brands, i even glimpsed at the iphone (but that one was is too expensive for my poor pockets), and then i tried windows phone on a low end device. After seeing how fast it was, i decided to search for the lumia phones. Seeing this one had just came out 2 weeks ago back then, i decided to check for the pricing, and it was with a great discount: Unlocked for 189€ (it was, and still is, 249€ in most stores), so I decided "what tha hell, let's jump into the windows phone and see what's it about.", as i pretty much already knew well what android and ios could offer me, and kept hearing how "bad and lacking windows phone was".

    God damn it's great!

    Phone runs super smooth, the hand feel is just right, screen has incredible colous, love the blacks, the entire system just pieces together incredibly well, and the so called "app lacking" problems are not nearly as close as people say it is: actually so far i haven't felt the need for any app that's lacking, even multilayer games a few of my collogues have and want me to play with them, i have them available on the store.

    I can't believe i went for 6 years with Nokia 5800 thinking not a single phone could replace it anytime soon, and it seems this one was a heck of a deal for the price i got it (it was back in November, it had just arrived to my country it seemed).

    Battery lasts for me 2 full days, and i do use the phone quite a lot during my day. Only thing i found sad to discover this one didn't have is the glance screen, but it's not that much of a big deal breaker.

    A few stores have knocked the price down to 199.90€ (unlocked, it's at 168€ in Vodafone right now, locked of course) recently, so this phone should start being a hit, IF people stop being idiots saying Windows Phone isn't any good and actually try it out.

    So far I don't have any problems with it, except for one: My wallet is screaming right now, as i just bought a second one to offer my sister for her 38th birthday haha. Got the Orange one for her as well, mine's the dark grey one.

    Slap on it a SD card and you wont have any storage issues. 16GB fast mSD cards run so cheap this days (8€), it's a steal really. I got a 64GB card for mine to store all the things and more though :)
  • faizoff - Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - link

    Just to piggyback on your comment, before I bought my first smartphone (iphone 4) in 2010 I had the Nokia 7250i since 2004. I too went with the older nokia phone for 6 years. I bought a cheap lumia 525 and I'm seriously thinking of getting a high end windows phone once my iphone 6 plus dies (probably another 4 yrs).
  • Cpt. Obvious - Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - link

    The Glance Screen is available as a download from the app-store. See:
  • AlluringRaja - Friday, February 13, 2015 - link

    Yes I saw that but I think glance screen is not available to download for Lumia 520. There is no download button.
  • atata - Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - link

    Why you never test audio output quality from jack? Is no one listening to the music anymore?
  • cbf - Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - link

    Well, I guess this is good review for users outside the US. But why does Microsoft give you a phone to review that's not really available for sale here, or support the common US LTE bands?
  • BMNify - Thursday, February 5, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the review Brett, I have bought the dual sim Lumia 730 for $200 factory unlocked version, so its a very good deal when compared to the $375 Lumia 830 in my country. I was sick of carrying two phones and badly needed a dual sim phone and the Lumia 730 announcement got my interest.

    I don't like huge phones, so the 4.7inch screen is perfect for me, the OLED screen is of good quality, windows phone has the best implementation of MicroSD cards and thus storage is a non-issue, the phone design is nice with light weight and comfortable curves, got the Matte finish dark grey colour as i prefer matte finish and dark colours. The camera quality is actually good and can be bettered only by flagship phones, no other $200 phone can compete with Lumia 730 in this department !!

    Now, looking forward to Windows 10 technical preview, i know that the final W10 launch will be in Fall-2015 but its nice of Microsoft to allow direct OS updates via technical preview or preview for developers app.
  • loimlo - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    The charge time is incredibly long given its battery capacity! Is it possible to charge the Lumia 735 using beefier chargers like 5V/1A or 5V/2A so as to reduce charge time?
  • BMNify - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Definitely, you can charge 730/735 with the beefier chargers, i charge my Lumia 730 Dual Sim with a 2A charger and i haven't timed it but its much much faster than the 0.75A charger i got in the box.

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