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Battling It Out in the Crowded Mid-Range
In the mainstream market segment there are two key questions that need to be considered: is the phone any good, and is the price competitive?
The first question is easy. The Nokia Lumia 735 is a fairly decent phone that does well in many areas. The Lumia 735 is well designed, the materials used make the handset feel great in the hand and look nice as well. It doesn't venture far from the standard Lumia design, and as far as I'm concerned that's a good thing because not every mid-range device is tough, dependable and also reasonably stylish. Ideally this handset would be a little slimmer and more compact, but it is what it is.
Performance from the Snapdragon 400 SoC is as expected. Android currently trumps Windows Phone for fast app loading and multi-tasking on similar hardware, but the Lumia 735 holds its own in general app performance and optimization across the board. LTE is also quite welcome (if you get the 735 and not the 730), and I found battery life to be adequate.
The 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED is a perfectly fine display for a mid-range handset, bringing good color reproduction and crisp enough text for everyday usage. It's one of the easiest AMOLEDs to see outdoors, thanks to Nokia's improved sunlight readability mode.
And let's not forget this is supposedly Nokia's selfie phone. While the five megapixel front facing camera is very good in strong lighting, as is the rear camera, it's just as underwhelming as any other selfie camera in poor lighting. For this device to truly deliver as the selfie smartphone, it needs to take great selfies in all common conditions, and in that respect it doesn't reach the mark.
Aside from the selfie camera, the rear camera is fairly decent. It's somewhat lacking in terms of sharpness and resolution, but it makes up for this by delivering photos with great color quality.
Windows Phone is still tricky to rate, because it does some things very well and other things very poorly. For those who are upgrading from a previous Windows Phone, you'll love how Nokia includes almost every feature from their flagships. If you're coming from another platform, the app selection is still weak compared to the competition, however the core features of the operating system are very solid, especially if you have access to Cortana in your location.
So while the Lumia 735 is generally a good mid-range handset from a hardware standpoint, I can't recommend it at its current price. For $300 (unlocked), the handset is too expensive to make it a clear winner in this market segment. Aside from LTE support, there is no clear advantage to getting the Lumia 735 over the impressive and affordable 2nd-generation Moto G, which comes with similar hardware for just $180.
To put things in perspective on the higher end, you can grab last year's LG flagship, the LG G2, for $35 more. Either of these devices present much better value, leaving the Lumia 735 as a good device at entirely the wrong price – unless you got to have a Windows Phone.
Pros: Attractive design uses great materials. Decent battery life and display for a mid-range handset. Both cameras can deliver great results, so long as the conditions are right.
Cons: Expensive in a world where the more affordable Moto G exists. For a 4.7-inch device, it could be more compact. Weak indoor performance from the all-important selfie camera.