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Nokia Lumia 730 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini: Review

I won’t lie, I came into this review worried that the Lumia 730 would lean too hard on the selfie angle at the expense of other features, much like the 720 did. Happily, this isn’t the case. The 735 (and by extension, the 730) is really a capable, stylish budget smartphone that just happens to take some nice self-portraits. Much like Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Mini which, in my retina’s (see what I did there) has the perfect selfie lens as apposed to its bigger brother.

Microsoft Mobile has ironed out many of the kinks from the 720 while simultaneously lowering the price. How can you not like that? To us, the 730 is the real successor to Nokia’s cult favorite, the Lumia 620. And so is the GS5 Mini a great to its GS4 Mini successor. Both models obviously costs a bit more, but still strikes a fine balance among attractive design, affordability and solid performance. The 630, 635 and GS4 Mini are only worth considering if you simply must have a modern Lumia or KitKat running device and can’t justify spending more.

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Nokia Lumia 730[/title]

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In terms of design, the Lumia 730 is even sleeker than the 830, eschewing the exposed aluminium edges and lens housing for a much more cohesive design. The smooth, matte plastic back panel curves all the way around the sides of the phone, terminating at the 4.7in 720 x 1,280 OLED screen.

It’s a simple, but tasteful design, once again showcasing Nokia’s talent for endowing budget devices with premium looks. The Lumia 735 weighs 134g and it struck us as a very slim, light and portable device, yet felt tough and well built.
The only thing we don’t like about the design is the omission of the camera button. Like the Lumia 830, the Lumia 730 runs Windows Phone 8.1 along with the Lumia Denim update, and under the hood, its powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC running at 1.2GHz with 1GB RAM. Like the 830, the 730 has a microSD card slot, but unlike its higher-end cousin, only has 8GB of built-in storage. The 730 boasts dual SIM slots but lacks LTE.

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The 730 features Nokia’s Lumia Camera update and all its accompanying bells and whistles. But it isn’t the 730’s 6.7-megapixel rear camera that Nokia is keen to showcase. Nokia has instead decided to meet the selfie market head-on, producing a front camera built specifically for taking snaps of yourself. The wide-angle makes group selfies much easier, and 5 megapixels is generous for a front-facing camera on a budget smartphone. The phones also comes with the Lumia Selfie app, which adds a series of beautifying options such as a slimming option and the ability to make your eyes appear bigger and teeth whiter.

[title type=”h2″ class=””]Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini[/title]

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As far as design goes there’s no mistaking this is a close relative to the Galaxy S5, with the Galaxy S5 Mini sporting the familiar ribbed faux-metal band around its circumference and the dimpled polycarbonate rear linking it directly to its bigger brother. It’s got the HTC One Mini 2, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, iPhone 5C and the LG G3 Beat in its sights, as these shrunken smartphones look to do battle a couple of tiers below their flagship brethren.

As I’ve mentioned when it comes to design it really is a mini version of the Galaxy S5, although there’s no annoying flap over the microUSB port at the base of the handset. Now you may think the omission of this protective flap means the Galaxy S5 Mini has lost the dust and water resistant features of Samsung’s flagship, but you’d be wrong.

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In fact the Galaxy S5 Mini holds the same IP67 water and dust resistant rating, meaning you can drop your phone in the bath without it dying. Seeing as this can be done with an open microUSB port it’ll be frustrating for any Galaxy S5 owners who are having to manipulate the fiddly flap every time they want to charge the device.

Behind that rear cover you’ll find microSIM and microSD slots as well as removable 2100mAh battery which should provide a strong offering, although the Galaxy S5 Mini won’t benefit from the power efficiency of the Qualcomm processor its big brother houses as it’s stuck with a Samsung own-brand 1.4GHz quad-core chip.

Slightly annoyingly you have to remove the battery to gain access to the microSIM and microSD slots, so you can’t easily switch out a card while keeping the phone on. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini measures 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1mm, meaning it’s a little chunkier than the 8.1mm Galaxy S5, but its smaller 4.5-inch display means that in terms of height and width it’s easier to manage.

I found the Galaxy S5 Mini sat in the palm nicely, but the metallic effect band and plastic rear offered very little in the way of grip and I did come close to dropping the handset on numerous occasions. You may want to invest in a cover for this device. No smartphone these days would be complete without a camera or two, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini is no exception with an 8MP rear snapper and front facing 2.1MP option. You get a single LED flash with the rear camera that sits alongside the heart rate monitor I’ve already mentioned in this review.

That’s not quite the 16MP camera found on the Galaxy S5, and you lose the ability to record video in 4K with the S5 Mini maxing out a 1080p (full HD).

[title type=”h2″ class=””]In Closing[/title]

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If you’re taken with the Galaxy S5’s design, fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, but can’t afford its lofty price tag – or want a handset that’s more manageable in the hand – then the Galaxy S5 Mini is a strong replacement. IF that’s still a tad heavy for your pocket then the Lumia 730 is perfect.

Shop around a little more though and the likes of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, HTC One Mini 2, iPhone 5C or OnePlus One make for some tough competition.

Samsung may have created this sector of the mobile market with the Galaxy S3 Mini, but it no longer rules the roost and unless you’re wedded to the firm’s ecosystem there are better options available at this price point. The Nokia Lumia 730 retails for a recommended R4499 or at Cell C stores countrywide for just R229 per month on a SmartChat 1GB contract while Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Mini retials at R6699.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.