Last week I gave you my first impressions on the Lumia 735 available from Verizon. Since then I've been using the 735 exclusively, and I have to say, despite some usual Verizon anomalies, this smartphone is what all future Lumia's should emulate. It's a fantastic device for a number of reasons.
I reviewed the Lumia 640 recently. The 640 is a nice handset with a few glaring gotchas and not one I'd instantly recommend. However, the 735 gets my full seal of approval. If you're a Verizon customer, the 735 is the Windows smartphone you want.
Instead of giving you a feature-by-feature breakdown, I'll highlight those pieces about the 735 that make it a desirable purchase. So, let's take a look at the reasons that sets the 735 apart.
Form Factor. I'm not a fan of big screen smartphones or handsets that when held to your head makes you look like a college student trying to absorb a text book through osmosis. If you want a tablet, buy a tablet. I want a smartphone that fits in my pocket easily without it looking like I'm transporting a masonry brick. The 735 is just that. It fits easily and comfortably in my hand and almost disappears in my front pants pocket. In fact, the form factor reminds me so much of the old HTC 8X Windows Phone – which I loved. If you're familiar with that HTC model, you know what I'm talking about. The 735 is just a tad bit thicker than the HTC 8X, but the hand-size is the same.
Battery Life. This is by far one of the big improvements over the 640 I tested. The blame could actually be lobbied at the network and how often the device pings for connectivity, but the 735 is the clear winner in battery life. It's not as good as the HTC M8, but really, really close.
Heat. Another big ding I gave the 640 was the extraordinary heat output. Since I'm an avid front pocket carrier, the heat got uncomfortable extremely quick, forcing me to just tote it around in my hand. I tested various scenarios with the 735 to push performance, trying to get it to heat up, but was unable to do so. So, just as comfortable as the 735 is to hold, it's just as comfortable carrying in a pocket.
Camera. This is a Lumia. Lumia's provide the best possible camera experience of any smartphone I've ever tested on any platform and is quite possibly one of the biggest deciding factors for choosing one. The 735 is no exception. Not only is the camera output clean and clear, but the 735 takes advantage of all the special Lumia photo and video features including providing some of the best automatic, on-the-fly photo adjustments. I use the HTC M8 as my daily smartphone driver and the 735 makes me extremely jealous. The 735 sports a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 6.7-megapixel rear camera with full HD video at 30fps.
Wireless Charging. I'll cover my thoughts on the provided power plug a bit later, but the 735 does provide wireless charging capability, and that's a huge plus. I've invested heavily in wireless charging plates around the house and even in the car for the Lumia users in the family. One of the things I gave up when I chose the HTC M8 was wireless charging and the 640 doesn't even support it. The 640XL supports wireless charging, but that also comes with a higher price.
Screen. The 735 has one of the more vibrant screens I've tested and definitely on a level beyond what the 640 offers. It's really a pleasure viewing the crisp, clean screen. Impressive.
Miracast. (update) Since posting this original review, someone asked already about the 735's Miracast capability. I have tested the 735 with both the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter and the NetGear PTV3000 for audio and video streaming over WiDi and it works flawlessly. The wife and I watched the latest episode of Hawaii 5-0 last night on our bedroom television and saw no strange video splotches or heard any audio burps, which sometimes happens with the Surface Pro 3.
Verizon. I could only ding this unit for one area and that's the provider. And, really this is just from personal experience and has no true bearing on the 735 itself. A few years back, Verizon was the clear leader in cellular connectivity, but it seems that the company's competitors have been working extremely hard to improve their own networks. When I tested the 640, the best part about it was the Cricket service (which runs on the AT&T network). That surprised me, and since have been testing out other service providers. During my testing I've found that Verizon's network has degraded so much (at least in my area) we're seriously considering moving the entire family to another provider.
And, this is a sad case because Verizon has finally gotten a worthy Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8.1 is an awesome platform, but is still failing in market share. I put a lot of that blame on Verizon. Last year I told the story of how Verizon seems to go out of its way to not sell Windows Phone. Salespeople try to steer you to Android or iPhone and Verizon stores tuck Windows Phones away in the back room and only bring them out if specifically asked. This is still happening today.
Dedicated Camera Button. I've been using the HTC M8 for so long that I've forgotten how useful a dedicated camera button can be. I've just gotten used to not having one and it really doesn't bother me not to have it. However, per a conversation on Twitter, I understand how important this is for many. The 735 DOES NOT have a button that is designed for operating the camera. And, that could be its only flaw.
Power plug. I just can't seem to harp on this enough. Consumers generally own and operate a number of gadgets and devices, all of which require power to charge. When manufacturers include a power plug that either takes up too much space or, like the 735, hangs the corded connection off to the side, it defeats the purpose of having adequate electrical outlets. Fortunately, and unlike the 640, the 735 offers wireless charging capability, or you could invest in something like the Omaker 5 Port USB Desktop Charger I reviewed a few days ago. Still, no one likes a fat plug.
Absent headphones. Just like the 640, the 735 does not include headphones. Personally, I think this should be a standard practice by now. Standalone media players are almost a thing of the past and most everyone uses their smartphone for playing music or watching videos on the go.
Using and testing the Lumia 735 as my daily driver for the past few days I found it difficult to find something about it that was horrible. In fact, I love this device so much that I'm already trying to scheme a way to either keep this review unit or obtain one directly. Yes, I'm actually considering replacing my HTC M8 with the 735 – it's that good.
The Microsoft Lumia 735 is available from Verizon for $192 off contract or $29 with a two year agreement.