Nokia Lumia 735 – the selfie smartphone

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Microsoft is getting bedded in with its new Nokia acquisition and one of the more interesting devices to come off the production line recently is the Lumia 735 – a smartphone with a rather unusual USP.

It’s a 4G phone with a 4.7” (720×1280) OLED display and 2.25D curved glass, which helps it to achieve a clear 180 degree viewing angle and supposedly good sunlight readability so those around you can enjoy whatever you’re doing on your smartphone at the time. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad core processor at 1.2GHz, 8GB of storage (with 15GB OneDrive included, alongside a microSD slot) should be enough for most, and it features wireless charging via an optional shell. If you’re interested it’s also the first smartphone in the UK to go on sale with Windows Phone 8.1 and a beta version of Cortana – Microsoft’s “personal assistant” that goes by the codeword of “Lumia Denim” for some reason.

But the big seller from Microsoft’s point of view is the camera, and not the one you might expect. A full HD 5MP front-facer promises “unbeatable selfies” by touting a wide angle lens that captures more of the scene around you and a Lumia Selfie app that helps you get more from your portraits. And as if to hammer home the point even further the regular camera is just 6.7MP, so the front snapper is truly the star of the show.

Is there a market for a phone that seems so squarely oriented around this rather strange selfie obsession? Read on for the lowdown.

TechRadar goes hands-on with what it calls a “cheap and cheerful” handset but isn’t too impressed with the build:

It’s obvious that the 735 has taken its design cues from the Nokia 800. However here the plasticky build feels a bit cheap, though not overly tacky, while it’s both lighter and thinner than its inspiration.”

It also comments that despite leading with camera technology, there’s no dedicated shutter button, which for selfies in particular does seem like an oversight. When it comes to a market for the phone, it quite astutely points out that with a wide range of colours and reasonable price point Microsoft could find a bit of a market with younger users, though “if you’re not so face-focused, you’re probably better off coughing up a bit more for Microsoft’s other ‘affordable’ phone of IFA, the Lumia 830.”

PCPro is quite impressed by the design though, explaining how a smooth, matte plastic back panel and comfortable curves produces a “simple, but tasteful design, once again showcasing Nokia’s talent for endowing budget devices with premium looks.” As well as crediting the wide-angle for group shots on the front-facing camera there’s a bit more information on the Selfie app here, which “adds a series of beautifying options such as a slimming option and the ability to make your eyes appear bigger and teeth whiter.”

Even the selfie-obsessed need a phone with more going on than a fancy camera though. Knowyourmobile takes some time to focus elsewhere and is quite impressed by the display, which uses Nokia’s ClearBlack technology for improved contrast and deeper colours, resulting in a screen where “image quality is fairly high, with a sharp, colourful picture, viewing angles are also fairly wide”. General performance is also snappy and responsive, which is largely down to well optimised software that brings a number of enhancements:

“It introduces a proper drop-down quick settings and notifications menu, and the app drawer is now sorted alphabetically with quick access tabs. Customisation has improved with the ability to set a picture wallpaper behind the transparent tiles on the Start screen, and you can add an additional row of Live Tiles if you wish.”

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You can expect the Lumia 735 to be available from all the usual retailers from 2nd October in a range of colours including bright orange, bright green and stylish neutrals such as dark grey and white. There’s no UK price confirmed, but it will start at €219 ex VAT in Europe. As to how it translates to the UK market, we’ll have to wait and see.